Overview

  • Yemen has endured four years of escalating conflict.  The poorest country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region even prior to the conflict, Yemen is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world according to the UN. Ongoing fighting has devastated the country’s economy, destroyed critical infrastructure, and led to chronic food insecurity verging on famine. 

    The UN estimates that 80 percent of the Yemeni population – 24 million people - are “at risk”, of which roughly 14.3  million are in acute need.  Around 3.2 million require treatment from acute malnutrition, including 2 million children below the age of five. At the same time, Yemen is grappling with outbreaks of preventable epidemics like cholera, diphtheria, measles and Dengue Fever.  An estimated 17.8 million people have been left without access to safe water and sanitation, and 19.7 million lack access to adequate healthcare.  Repeated waves of currency depreciation in 2018 created inflationary pressures that have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis. The disruptions of public infrastructure and financial services as a result of the conflict are severely affecting private sector activity. It is estimated that more than 40 percent of households have lost their primary income source and find it increasingly difficult to purchase the minimum food requirements.  Welfare analysis suggests that poverty has increased to an estimated 71 to 78 percent (with women more severely affected than men). 

    Last Updated: Apr 01, 2019

  • Engaging at the humanitarian-development nexus, the World Bank—through its concessional arm IDA-- is providing large scale emergency grants to Yemen during the conflict. Through an innovative partnership with the UN, IDA has financed $1.36 billion in emergency interventions, investing in people and the institutions they rely on for critical basic services and livelihood. 

    The IDA portfolio comprises five active projects: (1) the Emergency Crisis Response Project, US$500 million; (2) the Emergency Health and Nutrition Project, US$483 million (3) the Emergency Integrated Urban Services Project, US$150 million; and (4) the Emergency Electricity Access Project, US$50 million. In addition, (5) the US$36 million Smallholder Agricultural Production Restoration and Enhancement Project, is financed by the Global Agriculture Food Security Program (GAFSP) Trust Fund, administered by the World Bank. 

    Last Updated: Apr 01, 2019

  • IDA grants have provided financing for critical service delivery and preservation of human capital and national institutional capacities. IDA has targeted the poor and most vulnerable Yemeni households and communities nationwide, helping them cope with the impacts of the crisis through income support, cash transfers, health and nutrition interventions, cholera response, and restoration of agriculture production.  

    To respond to the risk of famine, the World Bank partnered with UNICEF and private agents to implement a US$200 million Emergency Cash transfer program financed by IDA’s Crisis Response Window (CRW).  As part of this project, cash transfers have been provided in all of the country’s 333 districts. The program has so far reached 1.45 million poor and vulnerable households (9 million individuals). The coverage is based on three quarters of cash transfers nationwide, with the fourth payment cycle under implementation. Women comprise around 45% of the direct recipients.  Post-distribution monitoring found that 9 in 10 beneficiaries used cash transfers to purchase food.  

    To support livelihood opportunities, and in partnership with UNDP and local partners like the Social Fund for Development (SFD) and Public Works Program (PWP), the World Bank’s  US$300 million cash-for-work and community-based investment programs is currently under implementation. The project has reached over 300,000 direct beneficiaries of wage employment, 2.5 million people received access to community services (water, roads, irrigation, etc.), and 6.8 million work days have been created.  Over 290,000 mothers and children received nutrition services.  9 microfinance institutions were supported and over 3,000 micro enterprises revived.  

    The Emergency Health and Nutrition Project, has provided essential health and nutrition services to more than 14.6 million people in all districts of all governorates across the country. Nearly 60,000 pregnant and lactating women and their children are receiving cash transfers and nutrition services. In partnership with UNICEF and WHO, 72 Health facilities have been provided with equipment and supplies.  Nearly 15 million people (half of which are children under the age of five) have received health, nutrition and population services.  Over 130 non-functional health facilities have been supported and are now functional.  1.68 million and 1.97 million people have gained access to safe water and sanitation, respectively, and about a million people in high risk districts have been vaccinated with oral Cholera Vaccine.  The IDA intervention has supported 3,550 health facilities providing lifesaving health and nutrition services.  Nearly 12,000 health personnel have been trained.  3.6 million women and children received nutrition services and 6.9 million children have been immunized (of which about 5 million are under the age of five). 

    The World Bank has partnered with UNOPS and local institutions to restore critical services in conflict-affected cities through the Integrated Urban Services Delivery Project. As of this date, 52,000 beneficiaries have had access to restored services.  The project will eventually support 1.4 million Yemenis, create 1.5 million days of employment, 400 km of roads, and generate an estimated 60,000 MWh of energy.   

    In order to power vital basic services, the Emergency Electricity Access Project will finance off-grid solar systems in Yemen and improve access to electricity for public institutions and poor households in rural and outlying urban areas. While UNOPS is the implementing partner, it will rely significantly on the commercial solar market, which has grown despite the conflict, providing further support to the local economy and creating jobs. 

    Last Updated: Apr 01, 2019

  • Needs for recovery and reconstruction—essential to support the humanitarian effort—are huge and urgent. Therefore, the World Bank — in partnership with Yemen’s major development partners including Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Germany, and others— has been engaging in a dialogue on how to best support early recovery and reconstruction to create a positive cycle of investment in rebuilding essential infrastructure, improving key public services, and generating jobs and income. These efforts will need to be anchored in a program for community voice and participation, provide greater transparency, efficiency and accountability in the use of resources, and support the private sector to create jobs for Yemen’s youth. 

    Last Updated: Apr 01, 2019

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In Depth

Apr 01, 2019

Yemen's Economic Update - April 2019

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This paper captures lessons learned from Yemen Emergency Crisis Response Project, an innovative and pioneering project.

Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Sanaa, +967-1- 413-708/10 Fax: +967-1- 413-709
East Faj Attan Area - Off Beirut Street
ealharazi@worldbank.org