A SCOTS aid worker fighting death and disease in Yemen says the odds for the country “are not looking good”.

Jenny Lamb, from Aberdeen, returned from the impoverished nation at the start of the month after heading Oxfam’s efforts to provide much needed sanitation to the 25 million strong population.

The public health engineer has been with the international charity for more than a decade, responding to disasters around the world.

However, she says Yemen is among the most complex environments in which she has worked, with a cholera epidemic now compounding need driven by poverty, famine and war.

It is thought that one child contracts the illness, a bacterial infection of the small intestine often caused by unsafe water and unsafe food, every 35 seconds. Death can occur within hours.

Lamb said its spread has taken aid workers by surprise. The cholera outbreak took hold in late April and has now killed around 1000 people, a quarter of whom were children.

The National:

Lamb, above, told The National: “Originally we thought we would have 100,000 cases in six months, but we now have 125,000 and it is widespread.

“There are still the stark issues of famine and conflict. You’d think Yemen would have enough to cope with. Times are desperate.”

Lamb, who will return to Yemen next month, is working to provide clean water and toilet facilities in both urban and rural areas, including remote mountain communities. This includes providing solar-powered water systems as well as more basic supplies such as rehydration salts and chlorine.

These, however, are in short supply, with blockades reducing the volume of medical supply imports by two-thirds since the start of the conflict in 2015, and Oxfam is now exploring the option of sending a charter flight of goods to ease the need.

But ongoing fighting between Houthi rebels and government forces, as well as the Saudi-led coalition that supports them, means there are still “real challenges in terms of security and access”.

Oxfam and other charities are trying to overcome these through the use of the WhatsApp messenger service, which allows them to co- ordinate aid teams and volunteers.

Meanwhile, there is frustration that a preventable illness has been allowed to spread to such critical levels and international recognition of the situation in Yemen remains low. Recounting its impact on the populace, Lamb told how she visited a hospital that has been brought back into use after a bombing last year.

She said: “Some of the women are coming in in one piece of clothing, covered in sickness and diarrhoea. They have no clothes to change into and they have had to travel several hours to get assistance.”

Lamb, who described a country “littered pink” with chewable tobacco packets as waste collection has collapsed, went on: “We need to bring home to people that we may have Brexit and the election to deal with, but the reality is a lot of countries really have nothing.

“Yemenis do not have simple access to food, let alone a safe haven.

But they keep soldiering on and they now have a further burden to deal with.

“What hope can they cling on to? The odds are not looking good.”