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BRIEF January 9, 2018

Yemen Policy Notes – Questions and Answers

What is the goal of the Yemen Policy Notes?

The Policy Notes should help the Government to design and plan for priority steps in a peace building scenario. The notes are written with a view to cover the first steps to be taken during the initial period of up to 6 months and then during the medium term of about 2 years. The focus is therefore on recovery of national capacity and service delivery, and what is required to do so. Restoration and functioning of public services like water, electricity, education, health etc., is where Yemenis will notice the difference between a conflict- and a post-conflict situation. Topics of importance are: (1) reestablishing the public financial management system, a key element to enable the state to deliver services to Yemenis throughout the country, (2) engaging the private sector as the vehicle to bring about economic recovery in Yemen, and (3) a proposal to rebuild basic services like education, water, electricity, health etc. from the bottom up. Given the importance of external assistance in the reconstruction of Yemen, one note is dedicated to the donor-government relation, including a proposal for efficient aid delivery.   

What are the key findings of the Yemen Policy Notes?

One of the key findings or recommendations is that the resurrection of the national institutions and systems will require significant external support. Yemen has been impoverished due to the conflict and its people have endured great suffering.  But in addition, the capacity of its institutions to fulfill their roles has suffered tremendously as well. The functioning of institutions, even if not perfect, is however, required to resurrect the civil state in Yemen, facilitate public order and the flow of goods, as well as orderly and efficient economic transactions. It is important that this national capacity is resurrected rather quickly to give peace building in Yemen a chance.

In that sense, the significant external financial assistance required would be well invested. Furthermore, learning from solutions found during the conflict period would be important to support recovery effectively. The Notes speak in this context of a “Local-First Approach”. While not all solutions can be found locally or regionally, learning and paying tribute to the diversity of Yemen would be highly important when designing a national approach for basic services like water, electricity, transport, education, and health.  Finally, using recovery not only for rebuilding the private sector but even to strengthen the private sector in due course would be important for the future growth potential of the country.  

Beyond assessing the damage caused by the conflict, will the findings of the Yemen Policy Notes have any future use?

The Notes do not assess physical damage that occurred due to the conflict. At best, the Notes take as given the fiscal and growth losses, as well as the economic losses and their consequences on the institutional side. In this sense, the notes recommend first steps on the road to resurrecting the national system and the economy. These first steps can have an important meaning for future decisions and policy trade-offs. Some of the ideas supported through the Notes will have more lasting meaning, for example the proposal to use more guarantee instruments to help the private sector will be eminently important for future public support to private sector activity and risk taking/sharing. The search for a multitude of basic service delivery modes at the local and regional levels – following the conflict period experience – will have a lasting effect on power sharing modalities between the national and regional/local levels. This, in turn, can be expected to promote a more meaningful diversity in policies and programs in a post-conflict Yemen.