Challenges in Yemen

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The future of Yemen will be determined by its ability to ‘transition’ from a war torn country to an inclusive, democratic and peaceful nation, as outlined in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) political agreement in November 2011.

In its Transitional Programme for Stabilization and Development (TPSD) the Government of Yemen (GoY) highlighted the need for “economic recovery, stabilization, and growth foundations” and the need to “Assist Internally Dispaced People (IDP)s and expand humanitarian efforts to cover affected groups in all regions” in parallel to a political process for all populations in Yemen, in order to address the root causes of the 2011 uprising.

Poverty and lack of employment opportunities and social exclusion were key triggers for the social and political unrest that reached crisis in 2011.

Underdevelopment and resultant symptoms in food insecurity and malnutrition are well documented. The cyclical nature of poverty, local conflict and political unrest is clear.

Groups of populations in the north and south of the country have also suffered from prolonged armed conflict. In the north there have been six successive wars between 2004 and 2012, between the Houthi’s and the GoY, in Sa’dah, Abyan, Amran and Hajjah governorates. In the governorate of Abyan in the south there was open warfare between the GoY and the Al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP), between 2011 to June 2012.

Populations in the north and south have thus been rendered doubly vulnerable and a humanitarian crisis has evolved in those areas. Thousands of families have been displaced or lived through years of violence, their assets, dwelling, livelihoods and social services have been damaged or destroyed and in most areas local governance collapsed. In addition, resources of hosting communities have been depleted, by IDPs taking refuge.

Since June 2012 the majority of displaced persons from Abyan have returned to their areas of origin and are struggling to rebuild their lives. In the north fewer IDPs have returned but the population which stayed in Sa’ada throughout the six wars is in dire need of support. In both the north and south ethnically marginalized groups and female headed household have been hardest hit by conflict.

In post conflict areas and across Yemen populations quickly need to feel the dividends of peace, which address the root causes of conflict especially of poverty as a result of lack of livelihoods and social exclusion, if further rounds of violence are to be pre-empted.

Levels of insecurity, especially for foreigners, in Yemen remains high and ideally responses to the needs of post conflict populations would be met by the national government or by Yemeni non-governmental organisations (NGO). However years of suppression of civil society has resulted in an under-developed cadre local NGOs which alongside funding deficits curtails the national response capacity. 

How we address these challenges

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We work to support of the GoY to ensure ‘recovery’ of post-conflict of populations and communities, in the north and south, to a level where they can mainstream into the national development program, post transition. Elsewhere in Yemen the communities most vulnerable to entering into conflict will be supported to address the root drivers of conflict through Integrated Social Cohesion and Development programs.      

Holistic and Sustainable Recovery in Conflict Affected Areas for returning IDPs, IDPs opting for alternative durable solutions, population who stayed in their areas throughout armed conflict and hosting communities, within the geographically identified areas is a UNDP priority.

Recovery will be achieved by taking a holistic approach in partnership with a range of local and international partners, to restore or ‘build back better’ and increase individual and community resilience to further shocks.

In close cooperation with the local authorities UNDP uses its comparative advantage to focus on ensuring physical safety from explosive remnants of war; strengthening  local governance and institutions;  rehabilitation of public infrastructure; and livelihoods. Assistance is targeted to the most vulnerable, especially female headed households, ethnic minorities and victims of war.

Building Resilience and supporting Disaster Risk Reduction targeting high risk communities across Yemen is also a UNDP priority. The greatest risk of disaster in Yemen is a reversion to open conflict.

In partnership with Governorate and district level authorities and community representatives we are promoting a new ‘culture of conflict prevention’ at the local level.

Communities are being supported to undertake conflict analysis and acquire mitigations skills. Root causes of conflict are addressed through community led development programing including small public infrastructure, livelihoods diversification and legal support to finalise land disputes. 

Facts & Figures

Social Cohesion

  • 54 issues that are causing local conflict were identified and analyzed by community committees in  Ibb and Abyan Governorates;
  • 7 of  the conflict cases are resolved through implementation of community development  projects  including education, waste water and sanitation , solid waste management and drinking water supply;
  • 1208 families totaling 8.456 inhabitants  in  5 districts Hazm Al-Udain,  Jiblah , Al Udain, Hobish, Al Sabra  in Ibb Governorate have benefitted from the 7 projects above;
  • Implementation of another 14 conflict resolution projects  in the fields of education, drinking water supply and irrigation will begin in July  and benefit 2380 families in Ibb governorate;
  • 295 Community Leaders  equipped with skills in conflict analysis, conflict resolution and conflict sensitive development during 53 days of training;
  • 14 Community Development Committees are now applying those skills to implement conflict reduction and sustainable development in their communities;
  • 18 individuals   both male and female from 5 NGOs were identified as having exceptional potential and have since become trainers in conflict resolution and conflict sensitive development;
  • a customized training manual in conflict resolution and mediation has been developed by the ISCD team and shared with all NGOs.

Mines Action

  • 2, 585,414 m2 of land cleared for explosive remnants of war (ERWs) in the  first quarter of 2013;
  • 5,31,935 m2 of land surveyed to determine if it contained ERWs. Hazardous areas were then marked and safe areas Released back to local communities in the  first quarter of 2013;
  • 113 people benefited  from Victim  Assistance in the first quarter of 2013;
  • 127,758  people benefited from Mine Risk Education with support of UNICEF , in the first quarter of 2013.

Early Recovery in Abyan

  • Over 1,000 trained in 18 vocational subjects (original target 400);
  • 282 trainees became interns in local businesses (original target 100);
  • More than 180 (65%) of interns became permanently employed.

Early Recovery Sa’ada

  • 3  health care units  serving 118,000 people renovated and equipped;
  • 1750 Farmers in the 8 districts of Sahar, Magez, Al-Safra, Kitaf-Baqem, Qataber,Gamer, and Shida in Sa’ada Governorate were supported to re-establish their livelihoods;
  • 120 MT of corn seeds and 240 MT of fertilizers  distributed to 1500 of conflict-affected farmers;
  • 600 Hectares of land was reseeded with a yield of approximately 1,800 metric tons.


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