Yemen faces a protracted humanitarian crisis of enormous scale. Out of 26 million people, 14.4 million do not get enough to eat and more than seven million are severely food insecure – a 36 percent increase since late 2014 and a 12 percent increase since July 2015. Conflict and displacement, volatile food and commodity prices, a sharp drop in remittances and drought have pushed more people into poverty and hunger. More than half of the population now lives below the poverty line, compared with 35 percent in 2006. FAO is working to revitalize crop and livestock production in Yemen so that the poorest and most vulnerable – the displaced, women-headed households, children – have access to nutritious food and are better equipped to cope with future shocks.
Boosting crop and livestock production
Local conflict and protracted displacement have devastated agricultural livelihoods, causing the extensive loss of crops, livestock and inputs needed to restore production. The lack of quality agricultural inputs and the steep rise in their cost are further reducing production and incomes. The situation is extremely precarious for internally displaced persons (IDPs) – 80 percent rely on farming and nearly one-third own livestock. Families forced to flee their homes, often with whatever they could carry, now struggle to make a living in camps or host communities. Insufficient agricultural investment and services, poor water management and limited arable contribute to the already massive challenges facing Yemen’s agriculture sector.
FAO is working to boost food production through sharecropping, providing displaced and host community farmers with quality grain and vegetable seeds, fertilizers, tools and technical advice to improve water-harvesting and storage. Likewise, FAO is restocking families’ animal populations and providing veterinary supplies, supplementary feed, shelter and training on animal health management to prevent future livestock losses.
Promoting livelihood diversification
Yemen imports about 90 percent of its staple food, so when food prices spike (as they have in recent years), the country really feels it. Poorer families often eat fewer meals, reduce their meat and fish intake or sell off assets – to the detriment of their nutrition and livelihoods. FAO is providing inputs and training for alternative livelihoods and income-generating activities – from beekeeping, to food processing and marketing, to community animal health work – to increase the food security of at-risk groups, including IDPs. FAO is also helping women, who have fewer opportunities than men and less access to resources, to improve honey production. Having the means to earn a living will help pave the way for the displaced to return home.
Pinpointing food and nutrition needs
There is a pressing need for timely and reliable information on food insecurity and malnutrition in Yemen. FAO has introduced the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, a standardized tool to classify the nature and scale of food insecurity across the country – information that is then shared with key decision-makers. FAO also co-leads the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster in Yemen with the World Food Programme. The Cluster, which continues to grow as international Non-governmental Organizations scale up their presence in the country, ensures that the response to the country’s humanitarian crisis is more needs-based, coordinated and strategic.