On October 6, the World Food Program (WFP) held a press conference to discuss the ongoing food security situation in Yemen and WFP’s vision for the 2014- 2016 period.
Mr. Bishow Parajuli, WFP representative in Yemen and country director, presented the food security update for Yemen, which revealed that 43% of population in the country can be classified as “food insecure” in 2013. Parajuli said that 4.5 million people are severely food insecure and over 10 million are food insecure.
Parajuli said that food insecurity is still more widespread in Yemen’s rural areas, where 49% of people have trouble securing guaranteed access to food. This exceeds the rate in urban areas of 36%. Both regions witnessed an increase from 37% in rural and 17.7% in urban areas as reported in 2003-2006.
In his presentation, Parajuli said that the major underlying causes of the high level of food insecurity include extreme poverty and Yemen’s high unemployment rate, compounded by political instability, conflicts and insecurity.
“In my meeting with President Hadi, he said that one of the priorities that they should address is poverty issues. I think the NDC and all the legislation will be made useless if the Yemenis cannot depend on themselves,” Parajuli.
Although Yemen is facing difficult times at present, the food security situation has improved in some areas, including the al-Bayda, Mareb, Adaleh, Sana’a, Sana’a city, Amran, Hajja, Taiz, Dhamar, Rayma and al-Mahra governorates.
On the other hand, the food security situation has deteriorated in Abyan, Lahej, Ibb, Shabwa, Aden, Hadramout and Al Mahweet.
“Abyan is now the highest food-insecure governorate in Yemen; 82% of its population is food insecure, and 27.1% is severely food insecure” Parajuli said.
Over a quarter of the Yemeni population has to resort to taking loans to be able to buy the most basic food items, according to the WFP survey on food insecurity.
The WFP has initiated several programs to tackle this very critical phenomenon in the Yemeni society.
The emergency safety net that provides basic food necessities to the most at risk families is currently serving about 4 million people.
Moreover, special assistance is provided to IDPs and returnees, refugees and girls. Also, 200,000 children under the age of five have been the target of the nutrition support program carried out by WFP.
The major donor countries and entities for the WFP activities, which required about US$260 million this past year to cover expenses, were the US, Japan, ECHO/EU, Germany and Canada.
In his presentation, Parajuli identified the major areas of action that needed to be addressed. These included supporting good governance and strengthening public-private partnerships, as well as ensuring national ownership. Furthermore, building resiliency and capacity to overcome and deal with natural and social crises is also key.
Failing to establish and implement these practices could lead to political instability and increase volatility in the country, creating civil disorder and insecurity and potentially hijacking the success of the transitional period.
WFP’s two-year vision for the years 2014-2016 in Yemen include breaking the intergenerational cycle of hunger and enabling people to meet their own food and nutrition needs.
“Children are the future of Yemen, and we should focus on their future to develop Yemen by implementing the best strategies to reduce poverty” Parajuli declared.