Yemen: catastrophic cholera crisis

Publication date: 15 August 2017
Author: Larissa Alles

Since the end of April 2017, Yemen has been experiencing its worst recorded outbreak of suspected cholera in a single year. By mid-August, more than 500,000 cases were recorded. More than two years of war have devastated large parts of Yemen’s infrastructure and left the majority of the population lacking basic services such as clean water or enough to eat.

Levels of food insecurity and malnutrition are high, and make people even more vulnerable and susceptible to disease. Governorates with high levels of food insecurity are among those worst affected by cholera. Salaries in the public sector have not been paid for nearly a year, which means that people have less access to what is left of the health sector.

The current rainy season is likely to aggravate the spread of cholera and other diseases can easily break out, as a recent increase in meningitis cases shows. And all efforts to contain the multitude of crises have failed so far. Hence, all efforts need to focus on an integrated response, taking into account the links between food insecurity, disease and the need for livelihoods in order to build people’s resilience to further shocks.

Significant and urgent scale up in all areas of intervention is needed, and institutional infrastructure needs to be maintained to ensure at least basic service deliveries. But ultimately, Yemen’s crises can only be addressed effectively in an environment of peace, not war.