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Yemen Crisis

Yemen Crisis

Yemen remains the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The country has become increasingly unstable since the conflict escalated dramatically in 2015, severely disrupting the economy, including the agriculture sector, collapsing essential services and exhausting coping mechanisms. 

Nearly 16 million people, more than half of Yemen’s population, are in crisis or worse levels of food insecurity. An analysis of the southern districts indicates a potential deterioration in the situation in late 2020, as the number of people facing acute food insecurity was projected to increase from 2 million in February-April 2020 to 3.2 million in July-December 2020. 

Children under five are facing acute malnutrition at rates that are the highest ever recorded in parts of Yemen, with more than half a million children suffering in southern districts, representing a 10 percent increase in 2020. Moreover, the number of children suffering severe acute malnutrition rose by more than 15 percent in 2020.

Millions of Yemenis engaged in agriculture lack access to critical inputs and are now at higher risk and less able to cope than at any stage of the conflict. Price pressures are felt on core commodities, and fuel shortages continue, impacting agriculture, food prices, water supply, transport, electricity, health and sanitation services, and humanitarian aid. Agricultural production and fishing, employing nearly 70 percent of the workforce, have shrunk by a third. 

More than 80 percent of the population live below the poverty line, an increase of one-third since the conflict began. These Yemenis rely on humanitarian assistance, but support has been significantly reduced in 2020 as a result of decreased funding. 

Food prices in Yemen have soared and are the highest on record. Vulnerable people’s purchasing power is further diminished by the massive devaluation in Yemen’s currency: the rial’s value decreased by 25 percent in 2020 and by 70 percent over the past five years. 

The rapid spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 and the associated control measures are anticipated to worsen food insecurity. It is expected that local food production will decline, markets will be disrupted, sources of livelihoods will decrease, remittances will be reduced, and social protection programmes will be cut.

Crop pests including fall armyworm and desert locusts are having a disastrous impact on Yemen. Desert locusts, considered the most destructive migratory pest, began widespread breeding in the country in early 2019. Since then, the pest has consumed vast quantities of vegetation and crops, causing an estimated USD 222 million worth of damages and losses during the 2020 agricultural season, further endangering agricultural livelihoods. Locust are currently breeding, and bands and swarms are forming on the Red Sea coast, threatening to cause even greater damage if surveillance and control measures are not scaled up. Limited access continues to impede control efforts.

Yemen is largely dependent on imports from international markets to satisfy domestic consumption, in addition to wheat – its main staple. This is heavily impacting local agricultural production and marketing. As a consequence, the supply and distribution of locally produced food to markets is poor, causing devastating effects on livelihoods and the nutrition situation.

Although only a small prportion of food is produced domestically, nearly two-thirds of Yemenis derive their livelihoods from agriculture. FAO is working with partners in the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster to increase access to food for highly vulnerable families across the country and to increase household incomes and rehabilitate food security assets in areas with high levels of food insecurity.

FAO’s priority interventions are to:

  • Increase food and livestock production, and income diversity of vulnerable households through cash activities (including cash-for-work, cash transfers and cash+ assistance), provision of agricultural inputs, animal feed and beekeeping kits, vaccinating and treating livestock, restocking of small ruminants, homestead-based poultry production and dairy processing equipment.
  • Rehabilitate agricultural infrastructure and irrigation systems by restoring facilities and sites, and provision of drip irrigation system and accessories, greenhouse kits and solar pumps.
  • Strengthen coordination for effective humanitarian response through Famine Risk Management assessments and/or IPC, cash programmes, conflict-sensitivity and monitoring, capacity building and technical assistance, food security and nutrition information generation, analysis and reporting, disease surveillance and control, joint programmes and early warning and actions.

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