Background and Context The Yemen crisis which started in 2015 has led to widespread displacement, poverty, and fragmentation of central power and authority. The 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) estimates 24 million people, or 80% of the population, had significant humanitarian needs. Affected populations include internally displaced people (IDPs), host communities, returnees, and other marginalized groups who were affected even before the conflict. Ongoing fighting continues to disrupt agricultural production while a blockade has steadily reduced people’s basic food security.
Abyan, one such affected governorate, borders Aden the interim capital of the internationally-recognized government of President Mansur Hadi. Composed of 11 districts, Abyan has an estimated population of 568,000, of which the majority (92%) are host communities, followed by IDPs (6%), and returnees (2%). A small population of refugee migrants (about 1,000 individuals) also reside in the governorate. Zingibar, which has played a historic role as a trading center is the largest city and capital of the governorate. The main livelihoods activities in Abyan are agriculture (producing around 4.7% of the country’s total agricultural products), fisheries, livestock breeding, and beekeeping*
Recently, violence in Abyan has reached a new height, mostly driven by the fight against Jihadist groups and the resurgence of activities by AlQaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In 2012, extremist militants took over two districts in Abyan, prompting the government to launch military campaigns to retake the area. Intense fighting which erupted between pro-Hadi and pro-Southern Transitional Council (STC) forces in Aden in 2019 also spilled over into Abyan.
On April 25, 2020, the STC declared ‘selfadministration’ in Southern Yemen and a state of emergency in the temporary capital of Aden and other provinces. The Yemeni government and several provinces including Hadhramaut, Shabwa, and Abyan have rejected STC’s move. As potential escalation of political unrest looms in the air, it is paramount to obtain a comprehensive overview of community needs to inform aid planning and delivery to vulnerable people who could be further impacted by ensuing conflict. According to the 2019 HNO, less than five assessments were completed in Abyan across key humanitarian sectors other than livelihoods and WASH. This limits understanding on the situation and restricts aid delivery.
In response to knowledge gaps and rising needs, ACTED collected basic primary information about Abyan (Lawdar, Khanfir, Zingibar, Mudiayh, and Ahwar districts) in July 2019 to get a preliminary overview. Due to insufficient capacity at the time to deploy field teams for extensive data collection, interviews were conducted over the phone. General information indicated a plethora of needs across multiple sectors and few humanitarian actors. To gather updated community-level information in a dynamic context, ACTED Yemen’s Appraisal, Monitoring, and Evaluation Unit (AMEU) deployed staff and trained enumerators in mid-March to Western Abyan following security assessments. The focus on the West was due to high needs and proximity to ACTED’s operational bases in Aden and Al Dhale’e to coordinate a potential response.