Yemen Food Security Outlook Update, April 2021

Situation Report
Originally published
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Food access temporarily improves during Ramadan and lean season ends in highlands

Key Messages

  • Active conflict ongoing for more than six years continues to drive high levels of acute food insecurity in Yemen through both direct and indirect mechanisms. Macroeconomic conditions continue to deteriorate, with access to food and income significantly below pre-conflict levels. Even in the presence of large-scale humanitarian assistance, widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are expected to persist, with worst-affected households facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes. While not the most likely scenario, Famine (IPC Phase 5) is possible should food supply be cut off for a prolonged period of time.

  • Currently, many poor households are experiencing slight improvements in food access and reduced consumption gaps due to Ramadan, which lasts from mid-April to mid-May. During this time, many households receive increased Zakat (gifts) and remittances. Most common types of gifts include nutrient-dense foods, clothes, and money. While this is expected to temporarily improve food security for some poor households, those in areas worst affected by further rapid food price increases—especially in the south where the currency has continued to depreciate—are unlikely to see improvements during Ramadan.

  • In the north, fuel imports through the Red Sea ports in late March and early April are contributing to slight relief in fuel availability relative to the worst periods of shortages since June 2020. In southern areas, fuel shortages due to insufficient government revenue are still compromising the provision of public services including electricity and water, as support from the Saudi fuel grant has not been received as of late April.

  • Currently, the beginning of the main summer agricultural season in highland areas is expected to be ending the lean season as availability of labor opportunities increases. Despite expectations for below-average rainfall during the first rainy season from March to May, increased availability of labor opportunities and wages is expected to improve access to income, especially for agricultural laborers. The rainy season has started two to three weeks late across much of the country.

  • High levels of conflict in much of the west continue to directly impact civilians by displacing households, damaging homes and infrastructure, destroying crops and livestock, disrupting livelihoods and income-earning, and causing civilian casualties and trauma. In Marib, high levels of conflict have continued as the Houthis continue their efforts to progress eastward toward Marib City. Should conflict block humanitarian access or delay assistance deliveries, an increase in the number of households facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes—in line with wide consumption gaps and increased risk of malnutrition and mortality—would be likely in affected areas.