Washington, June 17, 2020 — The World Bank announced today US$25 million in new funding from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s arm for the poorest countries, to help Yemen control the ongoing locust outbreak affecting the country and strengthen its preparedness systems against threats of future outbreaks.
The proposed project is part of the Bank’s overall response to the desert locust crisis in Africa and MENA. The operation aims to improve surveillance and control, mitigating the impact of locust swarms on human health and the environment, and protect and restore the livelihoods of affected communities. The project will also build the country’s capacity to effectively respond to future outbreaks by strengthening Yemen’s institutional capacity, regional coordination, and the ability of communities to facilitate early warning systems and rapid response. This project is implemented through the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Yemen’s food security crisis is one of the world’s largest man-made crises, driven by constraints on food production, limited supply and distribution, and people’s diminishing purchasing power. Currently, over 20 million people are food insecure in Yemen, with a staggering 10 million at risk of famine. Hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition are the most pressing and overwhelming challenges currently facing the country. Agriculture, the backbone of Yemeni livelihoods, has suffered disproportionately from the ongoing civil war, yet it is increasingly the main source of income for Yemenis and the most important non-oil sector of the economy.
The Yemen Desert Locust Response Project, approved today, will provide immediate assistance to help poor and vulnerable farmers, herders, and rural households overcome the loss of crops and income in one of the worst upsurges of locust swarms in decades.
The project will immediately support affected households through targeted social safety nets like cash transfers, while investing in the medium-term recovery of agriculture and livestock production systems and other aspects of rural livelihoods in areas affected by this crisis. In addition, Yemen will contribute to the consistent management of regional risks (such as propagation of locust swarms between countries) for dealing with the emergency by providing reports on locust swarm data, movement, control efforts, and other pertinent information.
“Agriculture is the main source of employment for rural Yemenis, especially women, and the upsurge in desert locusts poses a significant additional threat to their food security and livelihoods” said Marina Wes, World Bank Country Director for Yemen, Egypt and Djibouti. The people of Yemen have shown extraordinary resilience in the face of many catastrophes over the past few years, our absolute priority is to prevent the locust swarms from damaging crops and pastures."
Key activities include controlling the current desert locust outbreak, supporting livelihoods in locust-affected areas, and strengthening Yemen’s preparedness for future locust infestations by establishing an early response system of Desert Locust Control Centers. The project will help connect Yemeni systems with regional networks to exchange information and data and improve the coordination of locust response.
The newly approved funds bring the total IDA grants in Yemen to US$1.752 billion since 2016. The World Bank continues to work closely with the World Health Organization, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Children’s Fund, and United Nations Office for Project Services, all of which have the capacity for project implementation on the ground in Yemen.
The World Bank Group is mobilizing emergency financing, complemented by policy advice and technical assistance, to support countries affected by the locust outbreak. The Bank’s Locust Response aims to help households and communities safeguard their livelihoods and cope with the economic impact of locust damage to crops, livestock, and related assets, as well as to help strengthen national response systems for locust preparedness.