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The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2013: Yemen

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2013: Yemen

Dec 2012

Despite positive political developments in Yemen, security is volatile in some parts of the country, especially in the south, and poverty, hunger and malnutrition are rife. The combination of high food prices – Yemen imports more than 90 percent of its food – declining agricultural production and reduced incomes, makes it difficult for many Yemenis to make ends meet. Humanitarian needs are expected to increase in 2013, especially as migrants continue to arrive from the Horn of Africa and people become newly displaced by localized conflict.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

Some 10.5 million people in Yemen do not get enough to eat, nearly 1.5 million of whom are severely food insecure. More than 250 000 children have severe acute malnutrition, which, if left untreated, could result in death. Yemen relies heavily on food imports, so when global commodity prices spike, which they have in recent years, local markets are affected. With nearly half of the population living on less than USD 1.25 a day – and incomes being squeezed by the lack of employment and remittances – many families cannot afford the food they need. As a result, they are eating smaller meals and getting less variety.

At the same time, agricultural production in Yemen has been declining over the years. Sorghum, maize and millet harvests in 2012 are expected to be 8 percent lower than the previous year and 10 percent below the average from the last five years. This is largely due to the lack of quality inputs, inefficient water management, degraded terraces –  vital for conserving rainwater and protecting soil from erosion – climate change and insufficient agricultural investment and services.

The conflict forced thousands of people from their homes, most of whom rely on agriculture for part of their income, with goats and sheep providing much-needed food, milk, meat and cash. Yet fewer than one-third of those displaced managed to take their animals with them. Some lost their livestock after travelling days without much animal feed, while others sold their animals at a low price. In the host communities where the displaced are living, insufficient animal feed and grazing pastures are affecting the health of their animals and those of their host families.

Parts of Yemen have become more stable, paving the way for some families to return home. However, localized conflicts, especially in the south and parts of the north, are creating new waves of displacement and uneven humanitarian access. More than half of the Yemeni population does not have access to safe water and basic sanitation. Migrants, many of them coming from the Horn of Africa in search of safety and economic opportunities, and the newly displaced are straining limited resources and services.

Women are primarily responsible for household duties – including feeding their families – as well as agricultural work, from drying and grinding grain to processing and storing dairy products. Some women are the main providers for their families; however, most do not have access to agricultural services and training that would enable them to improve production, diet and household income.

FAO response

With donor funding, FAO seeks to protect and restore people’s agricultural assets in Yemen so they can produce enough food – and in turn, reduce the number of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

Improving income opportunities and the nutritional status of the displaced and their host families is an important part of the Appeal. Animal feed, shelters to protect animals from high temperatures and vaccination campaigns will help families keep their livestock healthy and productive. The training of community animal health workers, especially women, will improve access to animal health services and increase job opportunities for qualified workers. Support to women in growing vegetables and improving dairy and honey production will mean more fresh, nutritious food available – and income to meet household needs.

Efforts will also be made to expose more families to nutrition education. This will be done by training women on best feeding practices, including breast feeding, and educating men on the importance of increasing women’s decision-making and management of food production assets and family nutrition. FAO will work closely with other partners involved in supplementary feeding, health, education, water and sanitation.

FAO aims to rehabilitate some of the country’s agricultural terraces – most of which are in disrepair – and the water structures that feed them. This will involve improving spate irrigation systems that harvest flood waters, as well as canal controls and embankments, and training farmers on their repair and maintenance. Better water management coupled with the use of quality seeds and improved agricultural practices will go a long way toward boosting farmers’ crop production.

In 2011, FAO introduced the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification in Yemen – a standardized tool to classify the nature and scale of food insecurity and malnutrition across the country. Donor funding will enable Integrated Food Security Phase Classification capacity to be strengthened at national and governorate level so that timely, relevant and reliable information can be fed to key decision-makers planning the country’s humanitarian and early recovery response.

Legend: FAO funding requests for Yemen from 2008 to 2013

As co-lead of the Food and Agriculture Cluster in Yemen, FAO, along with WFP, will continue to ensure a more coordinated, effective and efficient humanitarian response – from improving the flow of information to developing contingency plans and preparedness activities in areas where disaster risks are high.