A quarter of the country’s 27 million population live on the brink of starvation, while over 60% are considered food insecure.
More than 3 million children and nursing mothers are acutely malnourished. USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) has projected a further deterioration of food security conditions in the medium term, with about two-thirds of the country falling under either the crisis or emergency phases of acute food insecurity during the October 2017-January 2018 period. Health authorities have struggled for years to control chronic malnutrition in Yemen, the Middle East’s poorest country, but the ongoing civil, now well into its third year, has caused food security conditions to worsen dramatically. Current concerns focus heavily on the ability of key ports such as Al Hudaydah to handle imported foodstuffs for a country that grows little of its own.
children and pregnant or nursing women are acutely malnourished
children under 5 in Yemen are malnourished
in less than one year between late 2015 and November 2016
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are hunger and malnutrition major issues in Yemen?
Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. Historically, it has endured long years of weak, often divided governments that have been unable to provide a secure, politically stable environment or basic social services such as health care for their people. In addition, Yemen grows little of its own food, relying chiefly on imports. But the cost of this food is simply out of reach for many Yemenis, especially in rural areas, where bread and rice are the mainstays, supplemented occasionally with vegetable and very rarely with meat. Poor roads, clogged ports, little government authority, weak purchasing power and only nascent distribution systems makes delivering imported food to rural areas a challenge.
United Nations officials have called Yemen’s food security situation among the world’s worst, with UN Under Sec-Gen for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien suggesting earlier this year that an estimated seven million Yemenis face possible famine in 2017. Why don’t we hear more about Yemen if conditions are so desperate?
Yemen lies at the outer fringes of the Middle East region. It is remote, sharing land borders with only two countries, Saudi Arabia to the north and the Sultanate of Oman to the east, and accessible by air via just one commercial carrier—Yemenia—or by sea from Djoubuti. Consequently, Yemen is both very hard for journalists to reach and extremely dangerous for them to tell the story of Yemen’s tragedy. And unlike Syria, where another Middle East civil war rages on, few of Yemen’s citizens can afford the journey to safety in Europe or elsewhere in the West. Although Yemen’s population of 27 million is larger than Syria’s pre-war figure of 22 million, fewer than 200,000 Yemenis are officially listed as refugees, compared to about 5 million Syrians.
Ongoing Civil War
War with no end in sight has divided the country, claimed more than 8,000 lives, left over 46,000 wounded and severely disrupted the flow of goods, including food imports
Fewer than half the country’s health facilities still function and nearly 15 million people lack access to basic health care
Civil war and the presence of well-armed militant groups limits access for humanitarian organizations
Nutrition and Food Security
In response to this emergency, we provide treatment for Severe and Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and Moderate and Acute Malnutrition (MAM) cases at more than 40 community-level health facilities and with mobile clinics in Sana’a, Taizz, Lahj and Aden governorates. We offer training, essential drugs and nutrition commodities needed to operate outpatient therapeutic programs. In a country that has long struggled with food shortages and chronic malnutrition, the effects of civil war and a blockade of major ports has exacerbated conditions to a point where nearly a quarter of Yemen’s 27 million people face the threat of famine.
On average, International Medical Corps reaches over 13,000 individuals per month with health and nutrition education, 80% of them female. In Taizz, we are implementing emergency livelihoods and livelihoods restoration programs to rebuild livestock herds lost by vulnerable households during the conflict.
International Medical Corps also treats nearly 3,800 children under 5 years-old in our outpatient and inpatient nutrition programs each month, as well as 1,400 pregnant or nursing women per month in our supplementary feeding programs. In addition, we provide an average of nearly 2,000 food-insecure households with acutely malnourished children monthly vouchers as part of our food assistance programs designed to improve household food consumption and dietary diversity.
In Taizz/Lahj: International Medical Corps is implementing food voucher programs in Taizz and Lahj—two governorates that are currently experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity. The programs assist vulnerable families, particularly those with malnourished children under five or with pregnant and lactating women, and provide households with access to basic food items, such as wheat flour, rice, sugar, beans, salt, and vegetable oil. Our mobile teams also operate in surrounding districts of Taizz Governorate, providing assistance, including reproductive health consultations, family planning services, pediatric care and nutrition services for children for severe acute malnutrition.
In Taizz Governorate, a program is underway in two districts to provide tens of thousands of goats and sheep to families forced to sell or slaughter their own animals in order to eat. Although the program is behind schedule because of training delays, vaccination and deworming of the animals began in June and current plans call for their distribution to families to follow. Security concerns blocked implementation of the program planned for a third district.