The high level pledging conference on Yemen has come to a close, with funding pledges for the UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan disappointingly low. As countries pledge an estimated 1.35 billion USD in funding – just over half (56 percent) of the 2.41 billion requested in order to reach 19 million people with aid – it is water, sanitation and hygiene that is most urgently needed right now, at a time when Yemen has never had such low levels of funding this late in the year.
Given the current COVID-19 pandemic the water and sanitation hygiene (WASH) sector in Yemen has never been so in need as the virus spreads across the country at an alarming rate. A total of 20.5 million people are in need of water, hygiene items and sanitation services compared with 17.8 million people in 2019 – a 15 percent increase of 2.7 million people.
“The funds pledged by international donors today fall short of the requirements, and are a blow to the millions of Yemenis who depend on humanitarian aid for their lives and livelihoods,” says Aaron Brent, CARE Yemen Country Director. “We urgently need these pledges to be honoured. This will make the difference between life and death, especially those who lack the simplest of things – clean water and soap, which so many of us take for granted.”
More than two-thirds of Yemenis currently need support to meet their basic hygiene needs, a situation that has been exacerbated not only by COVID-19 but also by recent devastating flooding and a subsequent rise in water- and mosquito-borne diseases like cholera and malaria. Water infrastructure is operating at less than 5 percent efficiency; less than half of internally displaced people have access to soap & handwashing; and up to 65% of Yemenis lack adequate hygiene items.
“Yemen is already experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” says Brent. “Every dollar that is not pledged towards providing the people of Yemen with fresh water, soap and hygiene materials puts their lives in danger. Hygiene, sanitation and water are the number one preventive measures for stopping the spread and contraction of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. Without sufficient funding, the novel coronavirus will leave a trail of avoidable deaths across the country.”
Brent adds: “It is also crucial to remember that no matter how much money is raised, no matter how many countries lament the crisis, and condemn the war that has led to this crisis – until we see an inclusive political solution to the conflict, Yemen has been failed by the rest of the world.”
Spokespeople available in Sana’a
Media contact: Alexandra Hilliard, Policy, Communications & Information Coordinator, +447951727473