Local News

Poverty Rate in Rural Areas Reachs 40%

Government report finds that more than half of the population lives on less than two dollars per day

A recent government report revealed that poverty is still one of the most important problems facing Yemeni society and its rate varies between the rural and urban populations. In rural areas it reaches at 40.1 percent, versus 20.7 percent in cities.

For the sake of the survey, poverty is measured in terms of income and food in addition to material, social, and psychological deprivation.

The four main causes of poverty, the report found, are a lack of employment opportunities to enable citizens to earn a living, no resources or assets such as agricultural land (as poor communities often depend on seasonal activities), high prices, and the scarcity of water resources and drought.

Another important factor reported was large family size, which relates to illiteracy and the resulting inability to get jobs.

Economic challenges

Dr. Mohamed Al-Afandi, former Minister of Supply and Trade and Chairman of the Yemeni Center for Strategic Studies, highlighted in the recent study that the problem of poverty and unemployment is one of the biggest economic challenges facing the country, with more than half of the population living on less than two dollars per day.

The extent of poverty goes higher in the Yemeni countryside and in some provinces, as the rate of unemployment among young people aged 15 to 24 amounts to about 53 percent.

Al-Afandi adds, “The food gap widens and the percentage of self-sufficiency of food commodities declines, where the percentage of self-sufficiency of food commodities of wheat is estimated at around 7 to 8 percent, and there are 7.5 million people who do not have access to adequate food. Some official statistics suggest that 32% of the population is below the risk of food insecurity.”

According to the Yemeni economic researcher, Abdullah Al-Khatib, the two problems of poverty and equitable distribution of income is one of the major economic and social problems faced by the country, especially in rural provinces.

The social fieldwork survey, carried out by Social Welfare Fund during 2008, which had its final results approved recently by the Council of Ministers, has revealed that the number of cases of poverty that have been surveyed have amounted to more than a million and 602 thousand cases, 500 thousand cases more than the cases researched previously.

The Executive Director of the Fund, Mansour Alfayyadhi, points out that 116 thousand and 102 cases are the most deserving of direct cash assistance and that 540 thousand and 601 cases need assistance, which depends on the availability of funds.

Al-Fayyadhi said that the total number of illiterate people among the cases covered by the survey amounted to a staggering one million, and that most of them are women without a bread-winner and unemployed.

According to local and international documents, Yemen is considered the poorest state in the Middle East and North Africa region and the rate of the Yemeni population who earn less than two dollars per day arrived at 47.6% in 2008, bearing in mind that the global food crisis has undermined the achievements made in reducing of poverty in Yemen.