Food... the priority of the vulnerable in Yemen
About 19 million people - six out of ten people - are acutely food insecure in Yemen, while 3.5 million people suffer from acute malnutrition with the rate of malnutrition among women and children among the highest in the world. An additional 1.6 million people in the country are expected to fall into emergency levels of hunger, bringing the total to 7.3 million by the end of 2022, according to UN agencies.
A survey conducted by the World Food Program (WFP) in its latest update on food security in Yemen which included a number of families from different parts of the country showed that food insufficiency exceeded very high levels of 40% in 19 Yemeni governorates.
These are alarming numbers and confirm that a catastrophe is looming. Several internal and external factors that contributed to the continued deterioration of food insecurity combined to pose a threat to millions of Yemenis.
This is confirmed by Richard Ragan, the representative of WFP in Yemen, by saying that the food situation in Yemen is "catastrophic". And according to Ghada Mudawi, Acting Director of Operations and Advocacy at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), during a recent briefing to the UN Security Council, fewer people are now able to buy food.
There is no single solution to the food crisis in Yemen, but humanitarian projects meet the minimum food needs of the most vulnerable. This is what HUMAN ACCESS has done through the GFA Food Project, funded by the World Food Program (WFP), which has been able to spare many people the risk of starvation, in a country that an increasing proportion of the population is facing emergency levels of hunger.
Many crises combined to pose a threat to millions
A number of factors have combined to contribute to food insecurity in Yemen, foremost of which is the ongoing conflict for the eighth year in a row, which is the main driver of hunger. Added to this is the economic crisis, which has weakened people's ability to buy enough food.
A previous World Bank report shows that the Yemeni economy has shrunk by more than half since the outbreak of the conflict, with more than 80% of people now living below the poverty line. The collapse is largely manifested in the loss of income and the devaluation of the local currency.
Climate change poses an additional threat to food security in Yemen, which imports 90% of its food. The World Bank expects the Yemeni economy to shrink in the medium term by up to 24% by 2050 due to climate change and the expansion of some phenomena such as desertification and its impact on livelihoods and food security.
The conflict in Ukraine since last February added another blow to food security in Yemen. This crisis has led to rising food and fuel prices, posing a major challenge to millions of families who are already struggling to stay away from hunger. Yemen relies mainly on direct imports of wheat from Russia and Ukraine, which is one of the basic foodstuffs in the Yemeni diet.
In an earlier statement, Corinne Fleischer, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “We are deeply concerned about the millions of people in this region who are already struggling to get enough food as a result of multiple toxic factors coming together: conflict, climate change and the economic crisis".
“The war in Ukraine was the final blow to Yemen, which is suffering from a protracted conflict, its consequent economic crisis and dwindling funds for the humanitarian response,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative in Yemen.
The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Qu Dongyu, stresses that many families are deprived of basic food needs due to the interplay of some factors. He says conflict and crisis-induced slowdowns and stagnation have been and will continue to be the main drivers of food crises, highlighting the importance of achieving peace, addressing the climate crisis and enhancing resilience everywhere.
Aid is the only source of food for most Yemenis amid challenges
Yemen has been plagued by one of the world's worst food crises. People's resilience has reached a critical point and food aid has become the only source of food for millions of Yemenis. That is why humanitarian organizations, including HUMAN ACCESS, continue to provide aid across the country, ensuring that an average of 12.6 million people receive humanitarian assistance per month. However, these organizations operate in a very difficult environment.
This year has seen an alarming increase in attacks against aid workers in Yemen, according to the Office of the UN OCHA and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen.
A severe underfunding of the humanitarian response presents the biggest challenge to the efforts of humanitarian organizations, and further cuts in aid could push people into more hunger. As of the end of last July, the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan for 2022 had received $1.24 billion, or 29 percent of the $4.27 billion required to provide life-saving humanitarian aid and protection services to 17.9 million people.
65,679 families benefit from the GFA food project in Lahj and Taiz
HUMAN ACCESS, a large humanitarian organization in Yemen, rescues people in emergencies and works to enhance people's access to food aid and services to prevent further deterioration of food insecurity.
HUMAN ACCESS is keen to provide emergency and life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people, including women, displaced, marginalized people and helpless host communities. The governorates of Taiz and Lahj are among the Yemeni governorates at risk.
HUMAN ACCESS implemented the GFA Food Project funded by the World Food Program (WFP) in 12 districts during the period from January to August 2022.
The objective of this project is to enhance food security by meeting the immediate food consumption needs of both severely food insecure families and IDPs in the targeted communities.
The project targeted Sala district in Taiz governorate, benefiting 6,975 families in this district from the distributed foodstuffs. As for Lahj governorate, 53,091 families benefited from cash assistance in 11 districts.
These are the districts, namely: “Al-Hadd, Al-Madharibah Wal Al-Arah, Al-Maflihi, Al-Maqatirah, Al-Qabbaita, Habeel Jabr, Halmin, Tor Al-Baha, Yafa’, Yahar, and Al-Malah”. Moreover, 5,613 families in Al-Qabbaita district benefited from food vouchers during the project period.
In a special statement, Dr. Abdulwase Alwasei, Secretary-General of HUMAN ACCESS, said that the GFA food project contributed to meeting the urgent food needs of the most vulnerable and needy groups in the targeted areas, as it enhanced resilience and overcome the difficulties and challenges of food and its high prices, especially at the present time.
Dr. Alwasei added that the support of the World Food Program for Yemen is essential and has a significant and important impact in making people's lives better. This comes at a time of great need, stressing that providing food is a priority for millions of Yemenis in light of the years-long conflict.
In his turn, the Director General of HUMAN ACCESS, Riyadh Mohammad, confirms that the GFA food project represented a lifeline for the beneficiary families, as the aid provided helped avert famine in the targeted districts and had a positive impact on the nutritional situation in Yemen.
Mr. Riyadh explained in a special statement that HUMAN ACCESS sets strategic plans and makes sufficient efforts to contribute to not worsening the food and humanitarian situation in Yemen, according to well-studied food projects, due to its awareness of the importance of securing food for the population.
Tahani.. From desperate measures to survive to the return of hope
Tahani, 39 years old, her husband passed away, leaving her 5 daughters. The family lives in a dilapidated house in Tor Al-Baha, Lahj Governorate. They have no source of income, and their mother is neither a worker nor qualified to work, in light of a scarce reality.
Widow Tahani has resorted to desperate measures to survive with her daughters after losing the family's sole breadwinner. As the girls were unable to continue their education due to school costs, they cut back on their diets.
Because the family is one of the most vulnerable groups, it has had a share of the GFA food project, implemented by HUMAN ACCESS, with funding from the World Food Program (WFP). The family received food and cash assistance, the girls were able to return to school, and the family's living and economic situation improved significantly.
Tahani describes her condition before the humanitarian access to her, saying that she was experiencing difficulties in providing food, medicine, and clothes for her and her daughters. Today, she says, she is very happy to have received this humanitarian aid, which enabled her to provide for some of her needs.
Tahani hoped that this support would continue and be doubled, and would help empower them economically in light of the persistently high prices.