Yemen Current Statement, November 2011

Situation Report
Originally published
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There is limited information about food security drivers coming from Yemen as civil insecurity continues.

Security has deteriorated considerably in Yemen with five provinces out of government control and the capital Sana’a divided between areas controlled by government forces and those held by the opposition. Food security conditions continue to worse as aid agencies have difficulty delivering food assistance, food prices remain high, and income earning opportunities are limited. Currently several hundreds of households in Abyan and Sa’ada are estimated to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) with the expectation that households are likely to deteriorate to Emergency (IPC phase 4) in the peak of the lean season (January 2012), in the absence of stability.

Poorest households, especially in Abyan, Taiz, Al Jawf, Amran, Sana’a and Sa’ada, are not meeting minimally adequate food needs. As a result, increasingly coping strategies such as reduced size and number of daily meals, fasting, and borrowing or buying food on credit are reported.

One million people are estimated to have been affected by the conflict. 320,000 people were displaced and forced to migrate to neighbouring governorates to find safety, shelter, and food since the beginning of the conflict, according to the UNHCR. Although an estimated 15 percent of IDPs have returned to their homes, the vast majority of families remained displaced due to fear of insecurity, damaged homes, and a lack of livelihood opportunities and basic services. Women and children are the most affected and they are in need of food assistance.

Skilled workers in urban areas are without labour opportunities due to the lack of electricity, and some civil servants are at risk of losing their salaries due to the ongoing political crisis. The economic pressure on households and the lack of income opportunities force poor households to apply negative coping mechanisms, including child labour and the sale of assets (including livestock) and relief items. There is a risk of increased crisis when poorer houseolds’ coping capacities and strategies continue to be weakened by various factors. The combination of high food prices and below average wages has eroded purchasing power in urban and cropping areas. Many households are no longer able to afford food because of soaring prices and reduced income. As of November 09, prices of imported wheat flour have increased by an average 90 percent, in Sana’a, since January 2011, and wheat four prices have increased by more than 100 percent compared to November 2010 and the five-year average.

Tens of thousands of children are losing their education due to school closures, and those who are not going to school - either due to the insecurity or because their schools are occupied by displaced people - are no longer receiving the nutritional supplements distributed in schools. IDPs living in caves have also been cut off from help by escalating insecurity.

Commercial and humanitarian aid distribution channels are disrupted, creating temporary food shortages in main markets and unusually high food prices. All roads to Sana'a have become extremely dangerous due to intensified gunfire and air bombardment, limiitingtrade and mobility.

A severe fuel shortage has stopped many farmers from irrigating their crops, as water needs to be pumped from wells. As a result, vegetable crops harvest are below average, and tomato prices that were 400 YER in July and 500 YER in August and September have reached 700 YER in early November. Farmers who were able to produce vegetables in the Western and Central Wadi (parts of Hajjah, Hodeidah, Taizz, Lahj and Abyan), do not have enough fuel to transport their produce to markets. Households in this Wadi zones depend on grains, fruits and vegetables for both cash and income. Vegetables are produced for household consumption and sale; these products are sold at local markets or transported to larger trading centers and then moved onto urban markets.

According to UNICEF, preliminary findings of a September nutrition assessment in Abyan Governorate estimates global acute malnutrition (GAM) prevalence at 18.6 percent, which is beyond the emergency threshold, of which 3.9 percent are severely malnourished and 14.7 percent are moderately malnourished. An official report has not been released. Organizations working in Sa’dah continue to warn about high malnutrition rates and steady referrals for treatment among children. Routine immunization of children has dropped by 40 percent in some areas of Yemen, leading to outbreaks of polio and measles and reflecting a growing collapse of public services.