High assistance needs persist in Yemen as the country enters its seventh year of conflict. The macroeconomic situation continues to deteriorate, driving further increases in food prices. High levels of displacement continue, separating households from livelihoods and assets and increasing competition for income-earning opportunities and resources in host communities. Widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist, with some households facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes. Although not the most likely scenario, Famine (IPC Phase 5) remains possible should there be a significant shock to commercial import levels or if food supply is cut off from particular areas for a prolonged period.
In April and May 2021, WFP resumed monthly distributions of approximately 80 percent rations of emergency food assistance in 11 northern districts under the control of the Sana’a-based authorities (SBA). WFP plans to resume monthly distributions throughout nine of thirteen northern governorates in June. Food assistance has been delivered once every two months to beneficiaries in SBA-controlled areas since April 2020. This is expected to improve access to food for around 6 million beneficiaries, reducing consumption gaps for many households.
The monthly average parallel exchange rate in both SBA- and Internationally Recognized Government (IRG)-controlled areas remained stable from March to April 2021 (slightly appreciated by an average of 1 percent and 2 percent, respectively) according to the FAO Market Information Dashboard. However, concern is growing over an ongoing delay in the announcement of the next cycle of Yemen’s letters of credit (LOC) import financing mechanism that provides foreign currency to traders at preferential exchange rates. Although applications for the LOC mechanism are usually filled on a quarterly basis, no action has been taken since the Central Bank of Yemen in Aden completed the January round according to key informants, which has increased importers’ reliance on the parallel market for hard currency. While levels of staple food imports will likely remain stable given stable demand for staple food commodities, retail prices are expected to increase further across the country in the coming months.
In SBA-controlled areas, unofficial prices of petrol and diesel decreased by 1 percent and 4 percent, respectively, from March to April according to FAO Market Information Dashboard. This is mainly attributable to increased fuel availability following some fuel imports through the Red Sea ports in March and April. However, overall fuel supply remains insufficient to meet demand and prices remained around double the prices of the same time last year. Meanwhile, retail prices of most basic food commodities continued to rise from March to April. At the national level, rice prices remained relatively stable while prices of wheat flour, sugar, and locally processed cooking oil increased by 2 to 7 percent according to FAO. April prices of these basic food commodities were 1 to 26 percent higher than the same time last year in SBA-controlled areas and were 18 to 65 percent higher than the same time last year in IRG-controlled areas.
Heavy rains from mid-April to the first week of May caused severe flash flooding, impacting around 6,855 families (41,130 people) in Aden, Hadramout, Hajjah, Lahj, Abyan, Dhamar, Taizz, Marib and Al Bayda governorates according to OCHA, about three quarters of whom were IDPs. Floods caused damage to property, farms, and infrastructure, including houses, power supply, roads, sewage systems, and IDP sites. On the other hand, heavy rains have improved vegetation conditions and availability of pastures in some areas, which will likely support livestock body conditions. In other areas, below-average vegetation conditions persist according to the normalized difference vegetation index for the period of May 11-20, particularly in the highlands. Land preparation and planting is currently ongoing in highland areas, and recent rainfall has likely been beneficial for these activities.