Washington, December 17, 2020 - The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved US$303.9 million in grants for Yemen to help increase access to basic services and economic opportunities for populations affected by ongoing conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grants, from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, will support two projects – one focused on emergency social protection and COVID-19 response; the other focused on education and learning. Together, the projects will provide critical support to a population that has suffered from years of conflict and food insecurity even before the pandemic struck the country earlier this year.
“The people of Yemen have shown extraordinary resilience in the face of many catastrophes. The World Bank has supported Yemen for decades, and we will continue doing so, through thick and thin – even in the midst of conflict,” said Marina Wes, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen, and Djibouti. “The new projects are the latest example of how, working closely with long-standing partners, we can scale up support to local Yemeni institutions that use their strong, community-based networks to deliver key services to millions of Yemenis and give them hope for a brighter future.”
The IDA grants will fund two projects that will provide crucial support for the Yemeni people suffering from violent conflict—now in its sixth year—that has brought the economy to a near collapse. It is also aligned with the World Bank Group strategy for fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV), which focuses on remaining engaged in active conflict situations to support the most vulnerable communities and key institutions.
More than half a decade of conflict has eroded Yemen’s economic, social, and institutional fabric.
The ongoing conflict has made Yemen one of the poorest and most food-insecure countries in the world. Per UN estimates, an estimated two-thirds of Yemenis (more than 20 million people) are food insecure, 10 million are at risk of famine, and 2 million children require treatment for acute malnutrition. The COVID-19 pandemic has strained an already stretched healthcare system, where only 50 percent of health facilities are functioning, and those that are lack basic equipment and supplies.
Working with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Emergency Social Protection Enhancement and COVID-19 Response Project will support vulnerable Yemenis affected by food insecurity, conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate-related shocks. The project will mainly target food-insecure households through its cash transfers program. The project will also aim to significantly strengthen national institutions and will be directly implemented by the Social Fund for Development and the Public Works Project.
Even before COVID-19, protecting and building human capital was immensely challenging in Yemen. At least 2 million children are out of school, 4.7 million children need assistance to continue their education, and half a million children have been left out of schooling entirely due to the conflict. Additionally, a third of all education facilities have been damaged or destroyed, two-thirds of all districts across the country are in pre-famine conditions, and one-third face multiple acute vulnerabilities.
Working with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme, and Save the Children, the project will finance a package of evidence-based interventions delivered to 1000 schools in target districts. The proposed interventions, which will be implemented over three academic years, will support teacher payments and teacher training; school feeding; school infrastructure improvements, including WASH facilities; the distribution of learning materials and school supplies; and national capacity building. The project will periodically track progress in the acquisition of foundational skills among students, a key building block for future learning and skill development.
“Protecting and building human capital is arguably one of the most important sources of resilience. In Yemen, the cost of inaction in supporting education is immense,” said Tania Meyer, World Bank Country Manager for Yemen. “These IDA grants will allow us to work with our partners to provide much-needed support to Yemeni students, teachers, and schools. The project will support the delivery of basic education services, protect and invest in human capital, and hopefully have a lasting impact on learning across Yemen.”
The newly approved funds bring the total IDA grants in Yemen to US$ 2.114 billion since 2016. The World Bank provides technical expertise to design projects and guide their implementation by building stronger partnerships 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.