The Republic of Yemen, a least developed country (LDC), ranks 152 out of 156 in the SDG Index Dashboard Report 2018.
For decades, the country has faced structural development challenges and was characterised by a volatile political landscape, with civil unrest spilling over on multiple occasions between 1994 and 2011.
More recently, Yemen has experienced years of violent conflict, resulting in a strong economic downturn and a loss of livelihoods for large parts of the population.
The UN considers Yemen the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. About 80% of the population, 24 million people, requires some form of humanitarian or protection assistance, including 14.3 million who are in acute need. More than 20 million Yemenis are food insecure including 10 million who are close to famine. More than 3.4 million people have been internally displaced.
Institutional and economic structures of the State have been brought to the brink of collapse, resulting in a lack of basic services as well as a loss of livelihoods and income for large parts of the population. The conflict has caused severe damage to the economic infrastructure of the country, causing its GDP to contract by more than 47% since 2015. The Yemeni Rial colleapsed (ca. 300% depreciation over 3 years), public sector workers are not receiving their salaries and more than 600,000 people have lost their job in the private sector – a situation currently being gravely compounded also by the Covid-19 crisis.
The conflict in Yemen also has destabilising effects on the wider region, with militant groups gaining an easy foothold among a population exposed to years of violent conflict, lack of institutional stability, food insecurity, spread of preventable disease and economic crisis.
The EU believes that only a political solution to the current crisis will bring lasting and inclusive peace, paving the way for sustainable human development in Yemen. This is why the EU firmly supports the UN-led peace process and contributes to local and grass-root level peacebuilding and reconciliation initiatives.
Since the beginning of the conflict, the EU has mobilised all the available political, humanitarian and development tools to help maintain the social fabric within communities in Yemen, as well as to sustain the resilience of crisis affected populations. The EU’s overall contribution to Yemen has gone over more than €588 million since 2015, including €347,3 million in development support, making the EU one of the leading development donors in Yemen. EU action in the country is based on a synergy between its political, humanitarian, and development activities.
EU development cooperation has focused primarily on supporting the resilience capacity of crisis-affected communities, households and individuals in rural and urban areas and of key institutions, with a special attention to agriculture livelihoods to enhance food security, basic health and social protection services. These interventions respond to the most acute problems facing Yemenis today, such as severe food insecurity and malnourishment, exposure to preventable diseases without adequate access to health care and a general lack of basic services: clean drinking water, social protection for the most vulnerable or education. The ongoing development portfolio also includes successful initiatives in support to MSMEs, small-scale businesses and cash-for-work schemes (especially in the field of the preservation and restoration of cultural heritage); and community reconciliation and people-to-people diplomacy.
- More than 80,000 Yemenis are benefiting from self-help and self-reliance initiatives. More than 22,000 individuals benefited from community asset rehabilitation through ‘cash for work’ schemes, and 870 micro-businesses were created.
- 827 community health workers were trained in partnership with UNICEF, reaching 696,300 households for a total of 4.87 million indirect beneficiaries (including 877,343 children under 5 and 389,930 pregnant and lactating women).
- Support was provided to the agriculture value chain, with 8,088 households receiving multi-nutrient blocks to improve animal feeding, and 3,676 households from 174 villages receiving vaccinations for their animals against PPR and Sheep & Goat Pox.
- 3,200 solar lanterns were given to the most vulnerable households in 20 communities to strengthen rural energy resilience, capacity building and recovery. Solar energy was also used to support the re-opening of 102 schools and health centres, providing services to conflict-affected communities (including 48 vaccine solar refrigerators to ensure that beneficiaries in affected communicates can gain a regular access to vaccination).
- In a context of a global pandemic, the already direly depleted Yemeni health system has suffered intense pressure, in particular for the most vulnerable. New-born, pregnant and lactating women have been supported through dedicated Covid-response assistance to UNFPA and WHO.
The EU response is based on a humanitarian and development aid continuum and follows the principles of the EU’s integrated approach to conflicts and crises. The current focus is on health, resilience and food security, education, and working with local authorities and communities to respond to the crisis.
EU development assistance includes measures aimed at preventing state failure, including thorough the provision of basic services and the creation of livelihood opportunities. Since the beginning of the conflict, the EU's development assistance has given a special attention to resilience of communities and key institutions in rural and urban areas, with a special attention to rural development and agriculture. Agriculture livelihoods are a key target of our development programmes, as they offer the opportunity to both, enhance food security and provide stable sources of income for Yemenis.
In addition, the EU also gives priority to preserving basic health and social protection services, by collaborating with local and international partners to empower local health workers. This serves to provide an essential aspect of social resilience to the ongoing conflict and its externalities.
The EU has also provided assistance to enhance the resilience of internally displaced persons (IDP). EU programmes are mainly implemented by UN agencies as well as a number of international non-governmental organisations.
One of the EU's flagship programmes worth €70 million and running from 2016 to 2021, has been dedicated to Enhanced Rural Resilience in Yemen (ERRY). In a country on the verge of famine, the EU has dedicated special support to agri-businesses and livelihoods in rural communities to help families build up sustainable farming practices. 18,463 smallholder farmers received Farmer Field Schools (FFS) training on cereal crops, animal feeding, and animal health.
Through this programme, the EU has also supported social cohesion by recruiting and training local mediators, including female mediators in places like Beit Al Faqeeh where teachers, like Miss Nuha, or local women like Wafa Hamoudi, have been trained in methods to resolve local conflict though non-violent means. Such activities are conducted across the governorates of Abyan, Hajjah, Hudaydah, and Lahj.
Throughout the conflict, it is important to maintain the social fabric within communities in Yemen and to nurture trust between the citizens and their local institutions. The EU has helped with the re-establishment of 187 village cooperative councils and assisted communities in adopting 400 self-help initiatives, 224 small-scale community projects, and implementing 187 community resilience plans.
The EU is also supporting Yemen's fragile health services and infrastructure with projects worth €26 million that fight malnutrition and work to create a network of community health workers to help prevent the country's health system from collapsing.
More than 3 million Yemenis have had to flee their homes since the start of the conflict. 1 million have been able to return only to find their homes and communities destroyed. Almost two and a half million remain internally displaced. Most recently, the EU is responding to the continuous displacements caused by the conflict by contributing to the resilience of IDPs and their host/return communities through a new action worth €30 million.
Children cannot wait for conflicts to end. This is why, as part of this new initiative, the EU is also seeking to ensure adequate access to education to a generation of Yemeni children, some of whom have been out of school for more than 2 years.