Climate Change and livelihoods in Yemen: Policy Implications for Sustainable Rural Development Strategy
The Case of Socotra
Yemen is an arid Middle Eastern country, occupying an area of about 527,970 square kilometers at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. In 2009, Yemeni total population reached about 22.5 million, of which about 75 percent are in the rural areas. The annual population growth rate of Yemen is about 3 percent which puts much pressure to the limited basic infrastructure and services such as water, education, health and access roads. Yemen experiences numerous development challenges which include high population growth rate and poverty, inadequate access to basic social services, limited infrastructure, high illiteracy rate, low per capita income, slow economic growth, and environmental degradation. Poverty is among the largest challenges to Yemen’s development. Rural poverty in Yemen is also more pronounced in rural areas.
Although rural areas have 72.6 percent of the total population, it accounts for 84 percent of the poor. On the other hand, urban areas have 27 percent of the total population, but accounts for only 16 percent of the poor. Agriculture remains the major livelihood activity in rural Yemen. However, agriculture productivity is constrained by numerous factors which include droughts, rain variability, declining underground water tables, and land degradation. Yemen's natural resources are the basis of the national economy. The depletion or degradation of these resources represents not only a loss of the country's national capital but undermines the sustainability of its economy.