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Ten million people in Yemen do not get enough to eat; five million – about 22 percent of the population – are severely food insecure, nearly double the number in 2009. Conflict and displacement, an economic downturn, high food and fuel prices and drought have pushed more people into poverty and hunger. About 43 percent now live 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 shocks in the future.
Boosting crop and livestock production
Insecurity, displacement, drought and poor water management have reduced agricultural production. Fields lay idle, livestock numbers are reduced and seeds, tools, irrigation systems and animal feed are difficult to access. Some 500 000 people fled their homes because of conflict, many with whatever they could carry, including cash and livestock. In camps or host communities, they struggle to make a living.
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 and inputs to improve water-harvesting and storage. Likewise, FAO is providing veterinary supplies, supplementary animal feed, shelter and training on animal health management to prevent further livestock losses.
Creating job opportunities
Yemen imports about 90 percent of its staple food, so when food prices spike, which 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 working to create new job opportunities for displaced and host community farmers – from beekeeping, to food processing and marketing, to community animal health work. 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.