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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 03-June-2016


  1. Limited progress made towards attenuating conflict and resolving political instability

  2. Desert locust infestation worsens, insecurity and remoteness hampering survey and control efforts

  3. Over 21 million people in need of humanitarian assistance (HNO 2016)

  4. Economic prospects deteriorate further

The complex political dynamics and escalating conflict have resulted in a power vacuum, raising serious concerns about the political and economic stability of the country.

Conflict and locust impacting agricultural production

In Yemen, owing to a variety of natural conditions, agricultural activities vary greatly depending on the location. Land preparations for the first season start in February/March. Planting of sorghum (the main crop for the central and southern uplands), to be harvested from September, concludes in June. Wheat, the second most important crop in the country, is also usually planted in June. The first rainy season normally lasts in both central and southern uplands from March to May. Cumulative precipitation so far in 2016 across Yemen has been close to average, with flash floods in some of the governorates.

During the first half of April, several desert locust adult groups and swarms formed in at least one area along the southern coast of Yemen. As vegetation dried out, the locusts moved into adjacent interior areas where heavy rains fell in Al Jawf, Marib, Hadhramaut, Shabwah and Al‑Maharah regions. Consequently, infestations declined on the coast but increased in the interior, including an agriculturally important area of Central Highlands (Marib), the most rich and fertile zone in Yemen, typically farmed by subsistence farmers. Insecurity and remoteness hampering survey and control efforts. There remains a high risk that locust numbers will increase further. The swarms are likely to attack crops and threaten food security in the country, and may also move to other countries within the region and to other regions.

Below-average cereal harvest in 2015 but stable import requirement

Harvesting of the 2015 main season wheat crop was concluded in September and that of sorghum in November. Total cereal production was estimated at 653 000 tonnes, including 300 000 tonnes of sorghum and 165 000 tonnes of wheat. Decreases in both cultivated land and agricultural production compared to 2014 have been reported.

Yemen is largely dependent on imports from the international markets to satisfy its domestic consumption requirement for wheat, the main staple. The wheat import dependency is close to 95 percent and in the last five years, an average of 2.8 million tonnes per annum of wheat was imported annually out of a total domestic wheat utilization of about 3 million tonnes.

The import requirement for cereals in the 2016 marketing year (January/December) was estimated at about 4.1 million tonnes, including 3 million tonnes of wheat, 700 000 tonnes of maize and 420 000 tonnes of rice. As of April 2016, about 1.67 million tonnes of food were imported.

The ongoing conflict has serious impacts on food imports, transportation network and market supply, and hence on prices of both imported staples and locally‑produced commodities.

Economic prospects deteriorate further

The oil production in Yemen is almost stopped since the escalation of the conflict. According to a report from the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the total State’s public revenues declined by 54 percent due to the suspension of the production and exports of crude oil and Liquefied Natural Gas, suspension of donor support to State’s budget and reduction in tax revenues.

Conflict-induced disruptions on commodity supply chains and the likely depreciation of the Yemeni Rial are expected to put upward pressure on prices, despite the prevailing low levels of international prices. The exchange rate in the parallel market, currently at 290 YER/USD reached 300 YER/USD in May 2016, compared to 214.9 YER/USD in February 2015. Increases in inflation, currently estimated at over 30 percent yearly, are expected to increase further reducing the purchasing power of a large number of the population. The Gross Domestic Product is estimated to decrease by 34.6 percent.

Moreover, millions of poor households who relied on the suspended crucial social welfare/safety net programmes, including public works and budgetary support implemented by the World Bank and the Gulf Cooperation Countries, are seriously affected.

Shortages of food and fuel prevail although some improvement is reported

The fuel price fluctuation varies by governorates depending on the access and supply of fuel. Actual imports are lower than the estimated national monthly fuel requirement of Yemen of 544 000 tonnes. At the moment, shortages of fuel are reported in Sana’a and elsewhere. The price has reached to YER 10 000 per 20 litre gallon in Taiz and YER 7 000 in Sana’a.

Fuel shortages are severely hampering everyday activities, including the delivery of commercial supplies of food and other essentials, humanitarian aid and medicines to the vulnerable, conflict‑affected population. The operation of water pumps for domestic water supply, cooling, sanitation and irrigation for agriculture is also affected, particularly in the coastal areas.

In April 2016, the average prices of locally‑produced commodities (sorghum, millet, and maize) were stable but over 70 percent above their pre‑crisis (February 2015) levels. Prices of imported wheat and wheat flour also stabilized but were still 11 and 15 percent, respectively, above the pre‑crisis levels.

Over 21 million people in need of humanitarian assistance

The humanitarian situation has sharply deteriorated not only at urban centres where the conflict is more intense but also in the rural areas, and this is affecting agricultural livelihoods.

Around 21.2 million people, 82 percent of the population, require some kind of humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs or protect their fundamental rights. An estimated 14.4 million are food insecure (including 7.6 million severely food insecure), 19.3 million lack adequate access to clean water or sanitation and nearly 320 000 children have severe acute malnutrition. With the rapid escalation of the conflict and insecurity, the disruption of markets, employment opportunities and rural livelihoods, the food security situation continues to deteriorate significantly. Humanitarian assistance has been seriously constrained by the lack of access and shortages of fuel, as well as the challenging security situation.

Political instability exacerbated by ongoing conflict in the north and south of the country, means that millions of Yemenis have little access to Government services and support. Many people do not have access to clean water and are struggling to feed themselves and their families. Basic service infrastructure is near collapse; with fewer and fewer people able to access life‑saving assistance, basic health care and education. Children and women have been the hardest hit.