Overview

  • Yemen has endured conflict since early 2015. Already the poorest country in the Middle East and North Africa region before the conflict broke out, the UN says Yemen is now suffering the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Fighting has devastated the country’s economy, destroyed critical infrastructure, and led to food insecurity verging on famine.

    In 2019, the UN estimated that 24.1 million people—80 percent of the population—were “at risk” of hunger and disease, of which roughly 14.3 million were in acute need of assistance. An estimated 17.8 million people were without safe water and sanitation, and 19.7 million without adequate healthcare.

    As a result, Yemen has been grappling with mass outbreaks of preventable diseases, such as cholera, diphtheria, measles, and Dengue Fever. Waves of currency depreciations in 2018 and 2019 created inflationary pressure that have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, and disruptions to public infrastructure and financial services have severely affected private sector activity.

    More than 40 percent of Yemeni households are estimated to have lost their primary source of income and consequently find it difficult to buy even the minimum amount of food. Poverty is worsening: before the crisis, it affected almost half the population, and it now affects an estimated 71 to 78 percent of Yemenis. Women are more severely affected than men.

    Last Updated: Oct 01, 2019

  • The World Bank Group’s new engagement strategy for Yemen 2020–2021 remains focused, as previously, on preserving basic services and the institutions that deliver them, supporting people’s livelihoods and the potential for economic recovery. Priorities are institutional capacity, improving the resilience of service delivery, and providing support to conflict-affected poor and vulnerable Yemenis. The strategy also aims to encourage immediate economic growth by creating temporary jobs and supporting the private sector.

    The World Bank—through its concessional arm, IDA—has been providing large scale emergency grants to Yemen for humanitarian/development work during the conflict. Using an innovative partnership with the UN, IDA has financed $1.7 billion in emergency interventions, investing in people and the institutions they rely on for critical services. 

    The IDA portfolio comprises five active projects: (1) the Emergency Crisis Response Project, US$848.58 million; (2) the Emergency Health and Nutrition Project, US$638 million (3) the Emergency Integrated Urban Services Project, US$150 million; and (4) the Emergency Electricity Access Project, US$50 million. The last project, (5), is the US$36 million Smallholder Agricultural Production Restoration and Enhancement Project, financed by the Global Agriculture Food Security Program (GAFSP) Trust Fund, administered by the World Bank.  

    Last Updated: Oct 01, 2019

  • IDA grants have provided financing for critical service delivery, as well as for preserving human capital and the capacity of national institutions. IDA assistance has been targeted at the poorest and most vulnerable Yemeni households and communities nationwide, helping them cope with the impact of the crisis through income support, cash transfers, health and nutrition interventions, cholera response, and restoring agricultural production. UN agencies have been able to use IDA funds to carry out the following interventions at times when humanitarian funding for Yemen has sometimes been uncertain and slow.

    To respond to the risk of famine, the World Bank has partnered with UNICEF to implement a US$448.58 million Emergency Cash Transfer program, partially through its Crisis Response Window (CRW), with co-financing from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through the Yemen Emergency Multi Donor Trust Fund. The project provides cash transfers to beneficiaries in all Yemen’s 333 districts. By early 2019, the program had reached 1.45 million poor and vulnerable households (9 million individuals), with five payment cycles of emergency cash transfers carried out nationwide and the sixth payment planned for October 2019. Post-distribution monitoring found that 91% of beneficiaries used cash transfers to purchase food. Women comprise around 45% of the direct recipients. 

    To support livelihood opportunities in partnership with UNDP and key local institutions, namely the Social Fund for Development (SFD) and the Public Works Project (PWP), the World Bank’s US$400 million IDA Grant supports a cash-for-work and community-based investment program. The project has reached over 367,000 direct beneficiaries of wage employment, 3.52 million people have received access to community services (such as water, irrigation, and better roads), and 9.15 million work days have been created. Over 296,000 mothers and children have received nutrition services. Nine microfinance institutions were supported and over 3,000 micro enterprises revived. 

    To provide essential health and nutrition services, the Emergency Health and Nutrition Project (EHNP), in partnership with UNICEF and WHO, has assisted 15 million people in all governorates across the country. About 2 million people have gained access to improved water sources and 1.97 million to improved sanitation, and about 2.3 million people in districts at high risk of cholera have received oral cholera vaccine. Nearly 6.9 million women and children have received nutrition services, and 7.4 million children have been immunized. Over 20,000 health personnel have been trained and 3,550 health facilities supported with equipment and medical/non-medical supplies. About 200 health facilities that were not functioning before 2017 are now functional with EHNP support.

    To restore services in urban areas, the World Bank has partnered with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and local institutions in conflict-affected cities, acting through the Integrated Urban Services Delivery Project to provide more than 700,000 beneficiaries access to critical services. The project will eventually support 1.4 million Yemenis, create 1.5 million days of employment, 400 km of urban roads, and generate an estimated 60,000 MWh of energy.  

    To increase people’s access to electricity, the Yemen Emergency Electricity Access Project is partnering with eligible MFIs to help them set up financing windows for high quality, small-scale, solar solutions for households, and providing partial grants to make the systems more affordable. Additionally, the project is contracting solar suppliers and installers to provide grant-financed solar systems to key facilities, including clinics, schools, and water wells in rural and peri-urban areas. In total, the project aims to reach 200,000 households and provide access to electricity to about 1,000 facilities.

    Last Updated: Oct 01, 2019

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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Amman, Jordan
The Atrium Building 1 Rafiq Al-Hariri Avenue 5th Floor, Abdali area
WBG P.O.Box 930375 Amman 11193 Jordan
ealharazi@worldbank.org