Report: Grinding Poverty Persists in Yemen

According to a recent study by the Ministry of planning on poverty in Yemen, 41.8% of people live below the poverty line. Despite development efforts aimed at reducing the statistic in Yemen, the ratio is still very high compared to other Arab countries. Surveys, especially the latest family budget survey of 2005/2006, indicated the disparity in poverty rates in Yemen, between rural and urban populations reached 40.1% in rural areas and 20.7% in urban ones.
According to the survey, the poverty gap amounted to 8.9% and the deficit of individual in the budget of poor families arrived at 497 riyals, while it needed to reach 1431 riyals per month on average to eliminate the gap between actual expenditure of poor families and the poverty average line. Therefore, the average is no longer able to bridge the poverty gap for the individual with high prices.
The average is expected to be doubled or more in the circumstances and changes experienced by the economy of Yemen. High prices, particularly of food, during the past three years is due to several external and internal factors represented in the international economic crisis, which directly contributed to the rise in the prices of rice, wheat, sugar and other staples.
On the other hand, the high price of oil derivatives has an impact on the deterioration of the citizens’ living standards. Thus, the citizen’s purchasing power has highly decreased. A study of the third developmental, economic, and social plan aimed at eliminating poverty indicated that most of the poor people in rural and urban areas drink tea without sugar, eat rice without meat, and they only eat meat on Eid day.
The study showed that the high prices caused economic problems for all citizens, women, men, and even children, with no exception.
Educated members of society, along with those engaged in manual labor and handicrafts in urban and rural areas as well as employees indicated that salaries no longer fulfil their basic needs, which confirmed a remarkable deterioration in the living standards of Yemeni society.
In the meantime, the third phase of the governmental employees’ wages haven’t been completed and it is not expected to be completed before March of next year.
The study points out the inefficient role of development of the third developmental plan of 2006 – 2010 in most areas. In addition, women in urban and rural aren’t encouraged enough  to take part in the economy.
Data show that the gains achieved by third development plan are limited. The failure of the plan has had a grave impact on the development of the economic sector and fisheries sector as well.
Furthermore, the deterioration of the oil and agriculture sectors have contributed in exacerbating poverty in rural areas. On the other hand, the tourism sector has witnessed heinous actions, such as kidnapping of tourists as well as a security unbalance in some cities in Yemen.
Despite the decrease in poverty of the population living below the poverty line from 41.8% to 34.7%, the poverty rate has not changed and remained the same compared to the population living under the poverty line during the years of 1998 – 2005, which estimated nearly 7 million poor people. Moreover, there has not been a noticeable change in the poverty rate in rural areas, according to the poverty report in 2007.