This vulnerability and needs assessment was carried out in Lahj and Taiz Governorates in South Yemen during November-December 2016. The overall objective was to assess the vulnerability and needs of the populations in Lahj and Taiz Governorates to determine appropriate interventions for the most vulnerable households.
Humanitarian priorities: The survey found that several aid agencies had helped households in three months prior to the assessment. Despite that assistance, 92% of households reported needed additional support. In both Lahj and Taiz, household priorities were the same: food, health care and cash. Drinking water was also highly prioritized in Lahj. Likewise, households in both locations prioritized the same items for their children: food/milk, health care and education. Household priorities were the same for male- and female-headed households.
Health: Half (52.4%) the surveyed households reporting that they have members who require regular visits to health centre and/or regular medical treatment. The average cost of health care for those families was 14,410 YER (US$58) per month. This is a large proportion of household income especially now that livelihood opportunities have reduced. The most common illnesses reported among household members in the last two weeks were cough (42.5%), diarrhoea (42.5%), and fever/malaria (43.3%). In both Lahj and Taiz, most households with ill members sought help from a formal medical centre.
Overall, 89.3% of households in Taiz reported using safe, “improved water sources” compared to 51.3% in Lahj. This is consistent with households in Lahj requesting drinking water as a humanitarian need above. A quarter of households in Lahj reported using “improved sanitation” compared to 18.6% of households in Taiz.
Food security: On an average, the surveyed households had a Food Consumption Score of 42.1, which is at the lowest end of the “acceptable range” bordering on “borderline”. Households in Taiz had lower scores (FCS=38) with many more households classified as “borderline” or “poor”. The Coping Strategies Index shows that households in Taiz are worse off (less food secure) than households in Lahj. While most households in both Lahj and Taiz reported still consuming three meals per day, in Taiz, more households reported limiting portions at meal times, and restricting adult consumption so that children can eat. This means the meals are smaller, or at least smaller for adults. Overall, the findings indicate that households in Taiz are less food secure than households in Lahj although most households in both governorates are experiencing food access stress and would benefit from external support.
Livelihoods: Households showed quite different livelihood based on their location. Households in Lahj obtain income from government salary (25%), sale of livestock and livestock products (19%), non-agricultural labour (17.4%) and pensions (15%). More than half the surveyed households in Lahj have more than one source of income, with the main secondary income source being the sale of livestock and livestock products. The average monthly income reported by households in Lahj was 25,569 YER (US$102).
In Taiz, households are more dependent on non-agricultural labour (50%), and reported that 14% of their income comes from begging or from humanitarian aid. Less than half the surveyed households have a secondary source of income, and for those that do, it is begging or humanitarian aid. The average monthly income reported by households in Taiz was 15,203 YER (US$61). The reported household expenditure is much greater than household income (>280%). Households are therefore taking on debt to fill the gap and meet their basic needs. The average household debt was 42,987 YER (~US$172). This is equivalent to almost half the current average household annual income. Most households (84.6%) reported borrowing the money to buy food, in addition to other costs such as health care (30.6%). The money was mainly borrowed from shop owners (42.8%), and from family and friends (~44%).
The last two years of conflict has resulted in several changes to the household’s livelihood status. This includes having to sell assets (33.7% of households), lost work opportunities (30.2%), particularly in Taiz, and taking on additional debt (25.3%). Almost 10% of households (8.2%) reporting sending their children to look for work. Only 2.9% of household reporting leaving their home, which is consistent with the low numbers of IDP households surveyed.
Child nutrition: Approximately 10% of households in both governorates reported having children currently in nutrition programmes. The survey did not assess the reasons for admission into the programmes but it may be due to health problems, poor infant feeding practices, or food insecurity. Overall the data shows poor infant feeding practices. While a high proportion of children were ever breastfed (87.3%), and 76.5% of children were still receiving breastmilk at 2 years of age, only 18.8% of children under 6-months of age are exclusively breastfed. This is mainly due to the child receiving additional liquids – water (93% of breastfed children), milk (40.4%) or tea/coffee (39.7%).
Children should start receiving solid and semi-solid food from 4-6 months of age, and the survey found that 62.5% of children aged 6-8 months received these foods. However, only 20.2% of children aged 6-23 months received more 4 or more food groups on the day before the survey, and only 4 children (2%) received the minimum acceptable diet – 4+ food groups, consumed 4+ times per day.
Vulnerability: Vulnerability proved difficult to establish, as different traditionally vulnerable groups such as female-headed households, child-headed households, new IDPs had different low scores (CSI, FCS, average income). However, most of these households had borderline food consumption scores. In general, households in Taiz governorate were more food insecure, earned less income and employed more severe coping strategies than households in Lahj.
Markets: The cost of the FSAC minimum food basket is more expensive in Taiz Governorate than in Lahj. To purchase food commodities to the equivalent of 75% of their basic requirements, an average household (7 members) from Lahj would need 17,429 YER. In Taiz it costs an average of 20,243 YER. All the basket items were available in the surveyed markets.