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Food insecurity quietly persists in Yemen

In Yemen, number of people who are food insecure has doubled since 2009. The UN’s Food and Agriculutre Organization and World Food Programme are providing food and nutrition assistance to nearly 5.2 million food-insecure people.

Previous estimates showed that 5 million people in Yemen are food-insecure and another 5 million are moderately food-insecure. The high rate is tied to the civil unrest that started in 2011 and has wrecked havoc on the nation’s economy.

The UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that a total of 13.1 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance, in 2013. More than 400,000 people are displaced from their homes. There are now roughly 10,000 homeless Salafis living in capital city of Sana’a, after they were asked to leave the town of Dammaj.


Estimates show that real GDP in Yemen has contracted between eight and fourteen percent. The recent harvest was harmed by an invasion of desert locusts, in the west. An analysis by the Famine Early Warning System Network predicts that the damaged harvest will contribute to further food insecurity in Yemen.

The poor food situation in Yemen was reflected in Oxfam’s report on the quality, affordability and availability of food. It ranked 6th worse on the index, driven by being the second lowest country on the measure of having enough to eat.

Though there are some signs of improvement. The alarming rate of food insecurity in Yemen is improving, said the International Food Policy Research Institute, in October. The group cited optimism that the government of Yemen is willing to re-engage on the issues of hunger and nutrition.

Three months later, the government does not appear to be mobilizing in the right direction. Yemen’s deputy minister of trade and ministry for industrial development affairs and investment, Abdullah Abdalwali said that the Oxfam report on food in Yemen was right. He openly admitted that the government was not doing enough to fix the problem of food insecurity.

“Frankly speaking, the best the ministry has done in regard to food security is to create strategies [on paper]that have not been acted upon during the administrations’ of a long succession of ministers,” said Abdalwali to Yemen Times.  “[Issues like food security] have never previously received a fair budgetary allocation.”

The UN’s Central Emergency Relief Fund disbursed a total of $86 million to ten countries experiencing chronically neglected crises. The money and announcement were meant to draw attention to ongoing problems in places like North Korea, Uganda, Colombia and Yemen.

“People living through some of the most critical humanitarian crises do not always receive the attention that they need,” said UN Humanitarian Chief and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos. “These allocations will go to help millions of people who are caught in crises that have been forgotten or overshadowed by other emergencies.”


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]