UNDP – World Bank Partnership is yielding results in war-torn YemenAug 17, 2017
Escalating armed conflict since 2015 has dramatically worsened Yemen’s chronic poverty and fragility, creating a crisis of unprecedented magnitude in what was already the poorest country in the Arab region.
In a country of 27 million people, tens of thousands have been killed or wounded and 3 million have been forced to flee their homes, and are now internally displaced. The protracted crisis in Yemen has rendered an alarming 21.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. The largest food security crisis in the world, 17 million people in Yemen are food insecure while a staggering 7 million are at risk of famine. With the steep deterioration of service delivery in key public sectors, disruption/cessation of salaries, and a near-collapse of the economy, around 8 million people lost their livelihoods because of the conflict.
Recognizing that emergency aid is not enough to address the current crisis, UNDP partners with the World Bank to implement a USD300 million Yemen Emergency Crisis Response Project (YECRP) in over 300 districts across the 22 governorates of Yemen. The project works on reviving the households’ income through large cash-for-work projects, support to small businesses, and labour-intensive repairs of small infrastructure benefiting vulnerable communities.
“It was difficult when I first got here. I was living with my family in an open house without doors and windows. I felt at ease and reassured to have a work opportunity and make enough money for the day. I’ve learned two craft skills of stonecutting and constructing. I can now work anywhere when this project ends,” said Mohammed Bilal, an IDP and a cash-for-work participant.
With 127 projects already completed, YECRP is currently supporting the implementation of 447 projects of water harvesting, road pavement, agricultural & environmental interventions, schools’ rehabilitation, and other diversified interventions across Yemen providing work opportunities and wages for over 39,504 people under the cash-for-work program.
“I finally received 20,400 Yemeni Riyals as my first batch of wage from my first work opportunity I have since the last 22 months. We were so happy with the first wage I received and we paid off some of our debts and bought some food commodities for our house such as wheat, sugar, and cooking oil.”
This is how Nasser Al-Dhanah summed up his story of improving the life conditions of his displaced family after he participated in the YECRP Cash-for-Work program in Aden.
YECRP is also enhancing the resilience and recovery of financial service providers and micro, small, and medium enterprises affected by the conflict through improving their access to finance to enable them to sustain and scale up their business operations. So far, the project is funding 6 Micro Finance Institutions to cover their operation losses and continue providing financial services to 89,355 active clients. Through these institutions, 888 small and medium enterprises are receiving grants to offset their debts and sustain their businesses.
Representing 45 per cent of the population, youth in the group of 15-29 is a key and vital target group of YECRP. As unemployment rate among youth reached as high as 40% per World Bank’s estimates back in 2013, the lack of economic opportunities for youth exposes them into risks of recruitment by armed groups.
That is why YECRP has engaged youth with skills building and employment opportunities for social mobilization through cash for social services initiatives creating income opportunities and work experience. They are engaged in the delivery of community services such as nutrition services, health service workers, planting trees, paving cobblestone, cleaning shore lines, and initiatives promoting peacebuilding and social cohesion.
YECRP has so far supported 320 youth with trainings on community empowerment and to develop 318 community resilience plans and implement 960 self-help youth community initiatives.
Benefiting from short-term employment, 801 young women were trained and employed as health and nutrition educators and helped identify 9,672 children and 4,905 pregnant and lactating women suffering from malnutrition and referred them for treatment. Another 9,055 women attended nutrition sessions and received monthly cash assistance.
While our humanitarian partners work hard to save lives and ensure basic needs are met in Yemen, joint programmes like this partnership between UNDP and the World Bank are part of a new way of working to complement the humanitarian response and build resilience of war-affected communities, help them to recover from the impact of the crisis, and to improve the longer-term prospects to move toward a lasting peace.
YECRP Project Communications Officer
Abdulkareem ALsabri, UNDP Yemen Communications Officer