The Threat Of Famine In YemenYemen is currently facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, exacerbated by eight years of civil war since 2015. There is a struggle with economic instability, high unemployment, civil unrest and the threat of famine in Yemen. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), approximately 17 million Yemenis are experiencing food insecurity, with 3.5 million pregnant/breastfeeding women and children under 5 suffering from malnutrition. Oxfam reports a surge of nearly 11 million Yemenis facing food insecurity in the past four years, totaling around 20 million people.

During the civil war in 2017, Yemen’s ports were blocked due to military conflict, severely limiting the supply of food and medicine. This blockade worsened the humanitarian crisis, leaving millions of Yemenis facing food insecurity and limited access to health care. The outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 further compounded the hunger crisis and deteriorated health conditions. The war in Ukraine has also contributed to the spread of the epidemic in Yemen, with additional restrictions on grain supplies.

The threat of famine in Yemen puts breastfeeding mothers and children at significant risk of malnutrition and death. The recent devaluation of Yemen’s currency, the Riyal, coupled with rising prices of food and services, has made it even more challenging for families to afford adequate nourishment and health care. Access to medical care for treating malnutrition and other illnesses has become difficult due to escalating health care costs.

Ongoing Efforts

United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and Food for Peace, supports Yemen with humanitarian aid. The organization has also partnered with the Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG) to provide proper medical treatments and strengthen health care services. In addition to humanitarian assistance, USAID launched development assistance to Yemen in 2017. USAID emphasizes long-term development efforts such as education, infrastructure, economic growth and good governance to build resilience. Potentially, these efforts can help create a more stable and sustainable society where people can protect themselves from crises.

WFP has been working hard to alleviate the impact of famine in Yemen since 2015. The organization provided humanitarian aid to 15.3 million people in 2022 and raised $251.8 million in 2023. Fertilizers and farming equipment are provided to farmers to increase crop production. A total of 23,500 school students are fed every day in 2,173 schools.

As part of Yemen’s food assistance program, the WFP shipped 176,000 tons of food to the country through Oregon’s ships in 2018. Due to Yemen’s reliance on imported food, the WFP is setting up mobile cranes to speed up import unloading. Nearly 13 million people currently receive food assistance from WFP through vouchers and cash transfers. More than 254,000 tons of food were distributed by vouchers and nearly 934,794 tons of food were shipped in shipping containers by the organization in 2021.

Oxfam, another NGO, has assisted more than 3 million people with basic food needs and economic rehabilitation since July 2015, in addition to providing clean water, constructing sanitation facilities and providing hygiene kits.

Looking Ahead

David Gressly, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen highlights the urgent need to act swiftly and sustain an integrated humanitarian response that addresses food and nutrition, clean water, basic health care, protection and other essential needs for millions of people. Famine and economic instability remain significant challenges in Yemen, but initiatives led by organizations like USAID, WFP and Oxfam offer hope through their humanitarian and development assistance, benefiting millions of Yemenis with necessities such as food, clean water, primary health care and protection.

– Simran Raghav
Photo: Flickr

USAID SuccessesThe United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the nation’s premier agency for delivering foreign aid. Its website says its mission is to promote “efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance and help people progress beyond assistance.” Although it is based in the United States (U.S.), the agency operates all around the world, providing humanitarian aid. As an organization that has been around for more than 60 years, it has involved itself in various undertakings and acts of service. The following are some recent USAID successes.

COVID-19 Pandemic

Due to the impact of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, people all over the world, especially those who live in poverty require assistance. The organization recognizes this, with one of the prominent recent USAID successes on its website being its COVID-19 response. The organization provided more than $10.6 billion in efforts to make the U.S. a global leader in the fight against the Coronavirus. After vaccines were released, the country also aimed to make a difference there. To that end, the organization distributed more than 682 million vaccines to 116 countries. This success was built on previous work. For example, in the U.S., it was the domestic American Rescue Plan that was put in place to deal with the pandemic. In fact, USAID had been dealing with pandemics for years, from Ebola to malaria.

Crisis in Sudan

In more recent news, USAID has been closely monitoring the ongoing political crisis in Sudan. The organization highlighted issues such as the continuing food crisis, lack of medical care and gender-based violence. Already the biggest provider of foreign aid to Sudan, the U.S. worked with USAID alongside other international partners to coordinate its response. In April 2023, USAID administrator Samantha Power announced that a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) was set up in Kenya, as well as a Response Management Team in Washington D.C. Operatives on the ground are providing food, water and maternal health care.

Earthquakes in Haiti

In 2021, a massive 7.2 earthquake struck Haiti, killing 2,200 people and leaving 600,000 in need of assistance. Responding swiftly, USAID mobilized a response team on the day of the earthquake. Despite the unpredictability of earthquakes, Haiti’s 2010 earthquake prepared the team for the worst possible outcomes. Search and Rescue workers were able to do immediate work assessing the damage. USAID led the way in international efforts to provide aid. One year later, it provided nearly $60 million in humanitarian assistance for people in the worst affected areas.

The War in Ukraine

During wartime, there is a need for people to stay connected, not just with loved ones, but with fellow citizens. Apart from USAID offering humanitarian aid, it is also working with contemporary social media. In 2020, Ukraine launched the Diia app, which gives ordinary citizens more of a voice in their government and promotes their businesses. The organization provided additional funding to improve the app and expand its services during the war. This turned out to be even more necessary after the Russian invasion, where Diia helped with sharing information about airstrikes.

USAID also credited the app, noting that half of Ukraine’s adult population has downloaded it. Ukraine would like to expand the app to countries in the global south, and Moldova has shown an interest. This is still a new program, with only $650,000 set aside to promote its development thus far. But based on the trends in Ukraine, it could do great things in politically unstable countries in the future.

Fighting Hardship

These recent USAID successes show the scope of the agency’s work in fighting hardship across the world. It works with many global organizations to deliver help to countries that are less fortunate. From its robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccine distribution, to its swift assistance in crisis-stricken regions like Sudan and Haiti, USAID has demonstrated its commitment to saving lives and alleviating suffering. Additionally, its support for innovative initiatives like the Diia app in Ukraine showcases the agency’s dedication to fostering connectivity, empowerment and progress in politically unstable regions.

– Josh Sobchak
Photo: Flickr