Mohammed, 49 and a father of seven from Lahj, works in Cash-for-work projects. | Photo by: UNDP Yemen/2020

Mohammed, 49 and a father of seven from Lahj, used to work in construction, plumbing, and electrical maintenance. But once the war began, he lost his job and was forced to turn to relief and humanitarian aid to survive.

Musimir district in Abyan where Mohammed lives, has been badly affected by the on-going conflict. Poor road conditions in his village have left many people unable to access schools, healthcare, markets, and other basic services.

In some cases, bumps and deep potholes along the way have left women with no choice but to give birth on the road, unable to make it to the hospital on time. Food costs often skyrocket as merchants travel long distances to deliver supplies. “The cost of transporting goods from the market to this area is rather expensive, so we have to either carry them on our shoulders or by donkey,” explains Mohammed Abdou.

Seeing the critical need for better road access, UNDP and CARE International employed over 640 individuals (including 164 women) to rehabilitate them through cash-for-work. With community members ready to work to connect their village with essential basic services in Musimir, cash-for-work participants paved a 100-metre-long road between their homes and the center of their district – a hub with healthcare facilities and food stores.

“This is a vital artery,” says Mohammed. “The village was consulted by the community committee, and together we decided – both women and men – that this was what we needed most.”

Importantly, the road rehabilitation provided immediate income for the community who were now able to better support themselves and their families.

But not all the money was spent. Participants were required to save one-third of their daily wage and at the completion of their work, they were given the choice of either taking their savings or continuing with a business skills training course for small enterprise development.

Mohammed, together with his colleagues, were eager to learn – each one wanting to establish a sustainable income source and ensure better living conditions for their families. "I completed the three-day training and have learned a lot about budgeting and micro-business management," says Mohammed. “I have submitted my business plan and hope to open a small shop with the help of a financial grant.”

Over 2,400 Yemenis from across Abyan and Lahj have participated in cash-for-work projects, restoring community assets while earning an income that ensures they can purchase the daily essentials for themselves and their families. 

All have then gone on to learn about business management and some will receive financial grants to open their own dream business – depending upon the strength of their proposals.
“I am in the process of having my dream comes true,” explains Mohammed. “I’m so happy to learn these new skills and plan my future.”

Together, UNDP and its local partners support a transition away from dependence on emergency employment with the aim of helping to build more sustainable post-crisis livelihoods opportunities.

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These activities were implemented as a part of the Supporting Resilient Livelihoods and Food Security in Yemen Joint Programme (ERRYJP II) in partnership with CARE International and generous funding support from the European Union and the Swedish International Development Agency. The Programme aims to strengthen the resilience capacity of crisis-affected communities through the creation of sustainable livelihoods and access to basic services. The joint programme implements labor-intensive emergency employment activities – or cash-for-work – that enables the rehabilitation of community assets. With renewed access to livelihood opportunities for conflict-affected Yemenis, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and the marginalized, they have improved purchasing power and can now buy food and essentials while contributing to the local economy.

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