Japan donates $8 million to boost food and nutrition security in conflict–ridden Yemen

Putting agriculture back on track is crucial to avert famine in the country facing the world’s worst food crisis

31 January 2019, Rome - Japan has contributed over $8 million (JPY 891,000,000) to back FAO's work on enhancing food and nutrition security for the most vulnerable households in conflict-ridden Yemen, which is facing the world's largest humanitarian crisis.     

This will be achieved through the provision of crucial agricultural inputs and services, including the distribution of cereal and legumes seeds, restocking of livestock, and the rehabilitation of irrigation systems and other agricultural facilities, using "cash for work". These interventions will help food insecure households produce life-saving food and generate income as well as stimulate local economies through rural job creation.

The two-year project aims to reach about 200 000 conflict-affected Yemenis.

The funding agreement was signed today at FAO headquarters in Rome by Ambassador of Japan to Italy and Permanent Representative to FAO Keiichi Katakami and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

"FAO is on the frontlines in the fight against hunger in Yemen, providing extremely vulnerable people with the means to resume and maintain food production for their families and their communities," said Graziano da Silva. "This generous contribution from the Government of Japan allows us to continue supporting the Yemeni people in this time of their greatest need. It will enable FAO to help save the lives and the livelihoods of the country's most food insecure people and to put agriculture back on track to reduce their dependence on food assistance and food imports in the long run".

"It is our great pleasure to announce that Japan will support FAO's work through this project which aims to enhance the agricultural productivity of more than 27,500 households", said Katakami. "This project will provide critical humanitarian assistance to rural populations by improving agricultural and livestock sectors, which would stimulate household food production and build their resilience to the crisis".

Under the project, FAO also intends to focus on emergency livestock assistance and protection. Provision of animal feed and animal health services such as vaccination campaigns will ensure that products, especially milk, are available to the most vulnerable members of the poor families - especially children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

In addition, the Japanese funding will enable FAO to improve food production practices and strengthen communities' ability to manage land, soil and water resources in a sustainable manner.

FAO Famine Prevention Plan to avert a looming catastrophe

This vital contribution will help meet livelihoods support needs identified in a new famine prevention plan for Yemen, just released by FAO. The plan highlights that some $83 million in funding will be needed in the next six months to assist 1.6 million most vulnerable and food-insecure people with cash-based assistance and agricultural livelihoods interventions.

The emergency assistance is expected to boost purchasing power of the most vulnerable households, stimulate local demand, boost market functioning and improve availability and access to food in famine-risk areas. It will also help rehabilitate community agricultural infrastructure.   

The world's worst food crisis

The current humanitarian situation in Yemen is worse than any the world has experienced in the last few decades. With the conflict now entering its fifth year, the effects on people's lives continue to deepen with each passing day.

People have exhausted their coping mechanisms leading to widespread food insecurity and malnutrition in the country.  The conflict has severely compromised food production, destroyed people's livelihoods and reduced their purchasing power, making it difficult for many Yemenis to meet minimal food needs.

According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis in December 2018, almost 16 million people in Yemen (53 percent of the population) are experiencing severe acute hunger. Without humanitarian food assistance, over 20 million people (67 percent of the population) would be severely food insecure, with a significant number being on the brink of famine.

Malnutrition levels also continue to soar in Yemen. A recent survey showed that almost one third of families have gaps in their diets, and hardly ever consume foods such as pulses, vegetables, fruit, dairy products or meat. More than 3 million pregnant and nursing women and children under five need support to prevent or cure malnutrition.

Agriculture is a vital sector for food and nutrition security in Yemen, ensuring employment for 54 percent of the population, and must be an integral part of the humanitarian response to prevent Yemen's dire food security situation from worsening, FAO warned.

In total, FAO is appealing for USD 218.5 million to provide agricultural support to 8.6 million people in 2019.

FAO-Japan partnership

Japan is the second largest contributor to FAO's regular budget, and a leading voluntary contributor to FAO's ongoing field programmes. Between 2014 and 2017, Japan generously invested more than $310 million, including $90 million in voluntary contributions. In 2018, Japan's essential support to FAO's global humanitarian programme reached just over $17 million.

Photo: ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto
Ambassador of Japan to Italy and Permanent Representative to FAO Keiichi Katakami and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva at the signing ceremony at FAO headquarters in Rome.