Honorable Ministers, Secretary General Guterres, Excellencies. Yemen is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis that requires our urgent collective attention and response. The World Bank is particularly concerned about the country’s deeply worrisome food crisis, that has famine as a tangible risk in the country. Yemen’s public institutions have increasingly struggled in the last months and humanitarian partners recognize that it is beyond both their capacity and proper role to provide budget support for these institutions or to replace them altogether.
I just arrived from Washington DC where the food crisis in a number of African countries and Yemen, was a focus of the Bank’s Spring Meetings that concluded on Sunday. World Bank Group (WBG) President Jim Kim, in a panel co-chaired with UN Secretary-General, highlighted that we must act with great urgency to prevent the situation from getting far worse. What we are seeing in Yemen is an implementation of the Commitment to Action under the Humanitarian-Development Nexus, and the Grand bargain, and operationalizes the new UN-WB Partnership Framework that was signed just two days ago (on 23 April). The new framework focuses on building resilience for the most vulnerable people by reducing poverty, promoting shared prosperity, enhancing food security, and sustaining peace in crisis-affected situations. This framework, signed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, is in response to global calls for our institutions to work more closely together on prevention and reducing needs, risks, and vulnerability as the world faces a spike in violent conflict.
We have developed new modalities of World Bank operations in Yemen which are considered the most advanced example of how humanitarian and development actors can work together in the much needed New Way of Working. For the first time has core country International Development Association (IDA) funds been committed - via the UN - for a country in conflict. The Bank’s Yemen emergency portfolio grew from USD50 million to USD500 million just over the last ten months, and is about to increase further. Our Emergency Operations build on our two decades of experience and partnerships with Yemeni local institutions that provide essential services. To preserve this Yemeni service delivery capacity, the Bank has forged a partnership with UNDP, UNICEF and WHO to continue supporting local capacity to provide income support, community-based service delivery, and critical service delivery in health and nutrition.
The WBG is considering a package of interventions to rapidly address the supply and demand side of Yemen’s food crisis. Our response package includes (1) a USD 200 million Emergency Cash Transfer program that would benefit approximately 1.5 million poor and vulnerable households in all 22 governorates of Yemen and be implemented in partnership with UNICEF. (2) We are also considering USD 80 million additional financing to our Emergency Health and Nutrition Project to address the worsening health and nutrition status of the vulnerable, particularly children and women. The proposed additional IDA grant will be made available to UNICEF and WHO to support their response to the deteriorating health status in Yemen. (3) A Global Agriculture Food Security Program Grant for USD 36 million is expected to target poor households/smallholders, particularly women, returnees, and farmers who lost their livelihood due to the ongoing conflict. The Project is proposed to be implemented by the FAO and the Yemen Social Fund for Development. (4) A Trade Finance Facility for Food Imports will address constraints on financing food imports. The proposed mechanism would establish a USD 500 million uncommitted and secured trade finance facility to finance imports of wheat and rice by local importers. The facility would need to be secured by a cash collateral balance, mobilized from the international donor community, through a WBG proposal led by the IFC and supported by the IMF.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen we are determined to continue our support to Yemen in this critical time of crisis. However, we emphasis that the hostilities and causes of destruction of Yemen need to end. There is very little sustainable development aid can do while hostilities and loss of human lives continue. We are committed to support Yemen in its reconstruction and development process as soon as hostilities and the war end. We hope that moment arrives rather sooner than later. The people of Yemen deserve this chance.