Reductions to humanitarian assistance and rising food prices expected to worsen food insecurity
Despite the announcement of a unilateral ceasefire by Saudi Arabia, high levels of conflict continue to disrupt livelihoods and restrict access to income in Yemen, with prices of food and non-food commodities substantially higher than pre-conflict levels. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are widespread, with a growing number of people – increasing within the range of 17 to 19 million – expected to be in urgent need of humanitarian assistance through September. The severity of acute food insecurity within the population already facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes is expected to increase, with some households across Yemen expected to deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).
Persistent conflict and deteriorating macroeconomic conditions – as well as some COVID-19 related disruptions – are resulting in further food price increases and restricted income-earning opportunities. Given this and significant reductions to humanitarian assistance in northern areas, area-level Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected in Hajjah, Sa’dah, Amran, Al Mahwit, and Al Bayda between June and September, with localized deterioration likely in other areas. A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists in Yemen. Famine would be possible if the country’s capacity to import food is severely limited or if food supplies to particular areas are restricted for a prolonged period of time. Although it is not the most likely scenario, if deteriorating macroeconomic conditions and COVID-19 impacts result in prolonged and severe physical or economic constraints to food access, extreme levels of food insecurity would be likely.
The exchange rate remained stable between February and March but depreciated through mid-April according to FAO. The exchange rate remains higher in southern areas. In the coming months, currency shortages are expected to continue worsening, with reduced remittances from abroad expected to contribute to deteriorating macroeconomic conditions and reduced access to income. Given lower food import levels and rising food prices, both physical and economic access to food are of concern for an increasing number of people.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported in Yemen on April 10, with five more reported in Aden on April 29. Preventative and control measures, including increased screening and quarantine measures at ports and internal movement restrictions, are reportedly increasing transport costs for traders. This, in combination with continued depreciation and some increased demand attributed to both COVID-19 concerns and Ramadan, has led to sharper food price increases for some commodities in April.