The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2011: Yemen

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2011: Yemen
Nov 2010

Yemen has suffered from internal conflicts and clashes for several years, resulting in severe disruptions of services, lack of security and a large number of IDPs.

The outbreak of fighting in August 2009 in the north between Government forces and members of the opposition group, Houthi, in the Governorate of Sa’ada presented the most serious internal security threat to the country and triggered the displacement of over 320 000 people within Sa’ada and its neighbouring governorates.

Persons internally displaced by conflict in northern Yemen, as well as refugees from the Horn of Africa, continue to rely entirely on humanitarian agencies for survival. The dire situation is further compounded by climate change, water scarcity, population growth, gender disparities, widespread unemployment, low levels of education and general insecurity. These factors have resulted in a very vulnerable population with high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. According to the May 2010 WFP Comprehensive Food Security Survey (CFSS), 7.2 million Yemenis are food insecure.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

While a large majority of Yemen’s mostly rural population relies on agriculture for their livelihoods, less than 3 percent of the country is arable land. The small fraction of arable land is becoming rapidly depleted due to overuse, land erosion and human expansion, which puts additional pressure on already impoverished and vulnerable communities.

The rural population in Yemen accounts for about 85 percent of the total population, of which the vast majority earn their livelihood from agriculture, including both crop and livestock production. Although agriculture contributes to only 15 percent of the national GDP, it employs over half the labour force and is the main source of livelihood for more than two-thirds of the population. Activities such as beekeeping, petty trading, including selling of qat, or even the sale of pump water by land owners are some other sources of income for rural communities.

Agricultural communities have suffered hardships, which have severely affected rural livelihoods. In the conflictaffected areas of the north, damage and destruction of agricultural equipment and crops have significantly impacted on the income of farming households. Although Yemen has received a good amount of rainfall in the past months, this will not be sufficient to ensure full recovery of harvest potential.

Yemen relies heavily on imported food items, importing 90 percent of wheat requirements and 100 percent of rice. As 97 percent of poor rural households are net food buyers, high food prices are one of the determining factors of household food insecurity; for they continue to erode the purchasing power of poor households and contribute to a vicious cycle of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition. All the while, the Government’s ability to provide basic services has been challenged by declining oil production and prices.

FAO response

In 2011, FAO aims to protect livelihoods and reduce acute malnutrition by improving the food security status of refugees, IDPs and other vulnerable groups and communities whose food security has been adversely affected by shocks. Furthermore, emergency food and agricultural assistance will be provided to save essential agricultural assets and to maintain livelihoods, nutrition and food security in the rural communities.

Responding to these critical levels of food insecurity, the FAO co-led Food Security and Agriculture Cluster will provide emergency seasonal assistance to the more than 1.8 million severely food-insecure people in targeted districts in the 14 governorates where the CFSS highlights that over 10 percent of the population is suffering from severe food insecurity. In these areas, food assistance will supplement the Government’s social safety net system.

With donor support, FAO will also provide emergency food and nutrition support and targeted seasonal food assistance to displaced populations, distribute seeds, fertilizers and agro-chemicals to crop farming families and ensure that emergency veterinary health care is provided to livestock-hosting families.