The military conflict in Sa’ada that began in 2004 and continued to 2010 adversely affected the livelihoods of most of the Yemeni people. The limited resources that were intended for poverty reduction efforts were diverted to support military operations in Sa’ada and that resulted in the deterioration of the social indicators. The number of people living under the national poverty line increased from 34.2% in 2006 according to the Household Budget and almost 54% in 2012 according to the Joint Socioeconomic Assessment.
The poverty situation in Yemen exacerbated when the Youth Peaceful Revolution started in 2011, where military operations shifted to the capital city Sana’a and extended to central regions, Taiz and Ibb, and the southern region of Aden, Abyan and Lahj. As a result of instability in many parts of Yemen, the number of internal displaced persons increased to over a half million during 2011 and 2012 and many of the community livelihoods opportunities were either fully or partially damaged.
To provide a comprehensive understanding of livelihood opportunities and gaps in vulnerable governorates in Yemen, the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) launched the findings of a comprehensive Multidimensional Livelihoods Assessment (MLA) in Conflict Affected Areas of Abyan, Amran, Hajja and Taiz governorates.
Mr. Ismail Ould cheikh Ahmed, UNDP Resident Representative, mentioned that Yemen is the first country worldwide to have undertaken this innovative approach to livelihoods research. Mr. Ahmed said that the findings provide analysis on the link between poverty, unemployment and conflict, “this assessment is now a global model, and more importantly it provides the necessary information to break the negative cycle and support youth and women to identify and initiate viable livelihoods that will sustain them and their families in dignity,” Ahmed added.
He also said that the main findings of the assessment confirmed that most households have been affected by conflicts in one way or another and the findings disclose that even better off households were not immune to the shocks and stresses. “67% of those affected referred to major impacts from conflicts in 2011 while 28.8% referred to the year 2010”.
Dr. Saad Al-Deen Bin Talib, Minister of Industry and Trade, said that the people of the affected governorates have shown a spirit of resilience in the face of chronic and conflict.
“For a long time development was unfair in Yemen and has contributed to the inequality between Yemeni citizens and regions. Yemen required local and national level initiatives to address the broad range of livelihood challenges including providing new jobs,” Dr. Talib said.
He emphasized that people who return to their damaged or destroyed homes need special support which takes into account their safety and social basic needs. The minister confirmed that the findings of this assessment will be used by the Government of Yemen in the coming national planning frameworks and urged development partners to support Yemen in restoring livelihoods opportunities for affected population in the country.
According to Talib, Yemen since its reunification in 1990 has seen various types of conflict, including natural disasters that have affected the population, especially in rural areas where there are only limited options in livelihood and these findings will help a lot in overcoming these limits.
In his part, Dr. Mohammed Saeed al-Sa’adi, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, said that dedicated work was carried out in close collaboration with the Central Statistical Organization (CSO), and the four Governorates of Abyan, Amran, Hajjah and Taiz were covered in the first phase.
Al-Sa’adi noted that the assessment has highlighted valuable information on the characteristics of the conflict induced constraint the societies faced and the coping mechanisms that they adopted during the crisis period and thereafter.
“More importantly, the assessment has also covered the aspects of social cohesion and conflict prevention, which will contribute to peace building in the future. Along with the outcome of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), the output of this assessment will be used to articulate the national planning frameworks, programs and projects in order to strengthen communities’ resilience to overcome the impact of human-made and natural disasters,” he added.
Ms. Mikiko Tanaka, country director, said that this survey is the first in Yemen and even in the world to analyze the relationship between conflicts and poverty. People’s lives in particular depends on many elements, human, financial, physical, security and they directly affect in conflicts and make poor people more vulnerable. “It is important to get jobs and give employment opportunities but this is not enough. We should think logically and make sure those people in the affected places are safe, have health centers and houses,” Tanaka added.
It’s time to work on the application of the results for the benefit of the Yemeni people and to respond to the demands that put forward since the beginning by young people in their peaceful revelation three years ago, and there is an urgent need to unite the efforts of all parties to secure and create an environment that is safe and suitable for the implementation of the NDC outputs.