UNDP Support to Vital Hodeidah Ports Sets Pace for Sustainable Peace in Yemen

Three Red Sea ports in the Governorate of Hodeidah hold the key to sustainable peace in Yemen. The escalating conflict in the country has left physical infrastructure in shambles, leading to massive disruption in movement of humanitarian and essential supplies.

To support the implementation of the UN-mediated Hodeidah Peace Agreement, UNDP has launched the Peace Support Facility (PSF). As a first step, UNDP commissioned port assessment experts to evaluate the damage to the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa. With their extensive experience in port operations and assets management, their assessment lays the groundwork to restore the ports’ functionality as quickly as possible.

The ports are a source of food and oil derivative supplies for millions of Yemenis suffering under massive shortages. And now with a positive Coronavirus case in Yemen, the ports are more vital than ever.

With 70 per cent of all imports and 80 per cent of all humanitarian assistance passing through the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa, they are critical and irreplaceable infrastructure to commercial and humanitarian activities in Yemen. The three west coast ports account for 85 per cent of wheat grain, 42 per cent of rice imports and nearly half of the wheat flour that enter Yemen.

The Ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa are in use but not as much as they should be or even could be. It is clear that long years of conflict and chronic lack of maintenance have taken a toll.

Getting the ports up and running is seen as critical to moving food, fuel, medicines and other vital commodities as quickly and smoothly as possible to the millions of people across the country who depend on external life-saving assistance. Functional ports could represent a gateway to progress and enhancing resilience of the Yemeni citizens to recurrent shocks of political instability.

The two UNDP-commissioned port assessors came with extensive operational and engineering experience gained at the Port of Rotterdam, the largest port in Europe, and ports across the globe. While in the Port of Hodeidah, they explored areas where essential equipment such as the cranes and power generators could be improved, as well as the extent that quay walls, oil berths and other port apparatus needed to be enhanced.

At the conclusion of the mission, a comprehensive assessment of the ports was provided that included multiple recommendations for moving forward with the ports’ refurbishment.

Since then, UNDP had hired the services of a marine engineer, a civil engineer and a support staff for liaison with the port authorities, in addition to a procurement team to rapidly undertake the needed technical and complex procurement, rehabilitation and maintenance processes.

For UNDP, deploying the assessment mission in a country that is still in conflict marked the necessary first step to pave the way for enabling the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to millions of Yemeni citizens reeling under the impact of chronic food and fuel shortages.