Located at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia, Yemen is home to 20 million people that are food insecure.
The Famine Early Warning System Network has determined that the country is in a crisis phase and that the most vulnerable families could enter into a catastrophe phase.
Recent war and conflicts have exaggerated the food crisis in Yemen and if nothing is done, the U.N. warns that it could become a famine.
Factors Affecting Food Crisis in Yemen
One factor that prevents access to food in the country is the temporary hold on operations at main ports that supply a large percentage of Yemen with food due to the conflict. The country imports around 90 percent of its food and with main ports shut down due to conflict, these vital goods cannot reach the people who need them.
However, some humanitarian aid comes through these ports and that aid is vital to preventing starvation and death for at-risk regions who rely on ports like Al Huddayah and Salif.
Another factor is the decrease in Yemen’s currency value- Yemeni rial (YER). As its value decreases prices for basic needs like food rise, leaving those without financial means to go hungry.
The Yemeni rial value dropped by half between July and October and food prices have increased steadily. This leaves already impoverished households unable to provide food for their families.
This financial situation poses even more of a danger than the inability to access ports because even if imports were being let into Yemen, many would be unable to afford them.
As a result of these issues, more than 2 million people have been displaced and 14 million are in desperate need of food.
Relief In Yemen
There are high rates of malnutrition among children due to the food crisis in Yemen. Around 3 million children under the age of 5, as well as nursing or pregnant women, are at risk of malnutrition. UNICEF has recently revised their humanitarian response plan regarding Yemen and raised its required funding from $378 million to $424 million.
The organization has treated 195,000 children with severe acute malnutrition since September 2018 and plans to reach a total of 276,000 children at the end of the year.
FAO and Mercy Corps
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has stated that 190 regions in Yemen are experiencing pre-famine conditions. FAO plans to focus their efforts on improving agriculture production to relieve the pressure of food insecurity in the country.
Their 2018-2020 plan of action for the country includes focusing on famine-risk regions by providing emergency relief and then teaching sustainable farming and improving planning for future famine events.
Mercy Corps is another group focused on combating the food crisis in Yemen. They focus on regions that have been severely overwhelmed by violence.
They have provided food vouchers to impoverished household and treat severely malnourished children. The organization not only focuses on providing food but also clean water, sanitation, disease prevention and helps sesame farmers improve their farming techniques.
Last year, they reached 3.7 million people with their assistance. Even though conflict sometimes disrupts their efforts, they are more than ever determined to help the people.
Yemen is one of the Middle East’s poorest countries and the citizens of the country desperately need assistance if they are going to survive this awful food crisis.
Focusing on access, financial relief and ending the conflict are vital keys to ending the food crisis in Yemen. Most of all, these people are suffering and need urgent action due to the dire instability of the situation.
– Olivia Halliburton