This analysis examines the socio-economic conditions underlying Catastrophic levels of food insecurity in 45 districts of Yemen to identify key drivers which made these communities so vulnerable to food insecurity and the risk of famine.
Twenty million Yemenis are food insecure and 238,000 people in 45 of Yemen’s 333 districts were at risk of experiencing Catastrophe (IPC 5) levels of food insecurity in early 2019 in the absence of humanitarian aid.
What are the drivers of food insecurity in Yemen?
There is a lot of evidence documenting the drivers of food insecurity in Yemen.
Conflict has devalued Yemen’s currency, exacerbated the fragmentation of the country - increasing the cost and risk of importing and moving key commodities - and damaged productive infrastructure, assets, roads, and port facilities. This has driven up the price of essential items in Yemen’s import dependent economy. Both commercial and humanitarian imports were disrupted by blockades of sea and air ports and administrative restrictions imposed by all sides to the conflict.
At the same time, business closures, reduced agricultural production, the drop in government salary payments and rising restrictions on access to the Saudi labour market have reduced the money coming in to many Yemeni families. Food is available in local markets, but fewer people can afford to buy it. Caught between the dual challenges of rising prices and dropping income, 20 million Yemenis have fallen into food insecurity.
Water, sanitation, and health infrastructure has collapsed in many parts of the country because of damage or lack of maintenance. Conflict frontlines, checkpoints and rising fuel prices make it more dangerous and more expensive to travel to reach services and access clean water. Local communities are compensating by digging new wells and pumping water, but rising fuel prices make this form of water extraction very expensive, further increasing the gap between incomes and the cost of living. With over 50% of health facilities damaged or non-functional, health and nutrition services are unable to respond to growing caseloads of malnutrition, cholera, and other diseases. The lack of access to safe water, sanitation, and healthcare increases people’s risk of disease which can interact with malnutrition to lead to mortality.
Large scale displacement due to conflict has also put pressure on overstretched local services and poor host communities.