Yemen: Fragile lives in hungry times

Publication date: 19 September 2011
Author: Ashley Jonathan Clements

Widespread hunger and chronic malnutrition have taken hold in Yemen. A protracted political stalemate over much of the past six months has left the government in paralysis, prompting a fuel crisis that has brought the economy to the verge of collapse. A recent study by Oxfam found many communities to be on the brink of disaster. In other parts of the country the United Nations has found that some vulnerable communities are now facing critical levels of malnutrition.

Donors remain deeply divided over their approaches to the region’s poorest country, thus delaying responses and hindering funding. Hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance have been suspended. As the crisis builds, however, inaction is no longer an option. Interventions that address both immediate humanitarian needs and longer-term structural concerns must be urgently scaled up.


  • The Friends of Yemen should:
    • Urgently reconvene to co-ordinate support for Yemen and ensure that funding is flexible, predictable, impartial, and in accordance with humanitarian principles.
  • The international community should:
    • As an urgent priority, take steps to address the inequalities that prejudice the global food system against poor, small-scale producers and vulnerable families in Yemen and elsewhere.
  • United Nations agencies and NGOs should:
    • Ensure that programs are better informed, more aligned, and more integrated between agencies and sectors and adopt innovative approaches and trial methods that have worked elsewhere to complement or supplement food aid programs,
  • Yemeni authorities should:
    • Urgently commit to immediately putting into action the most critical aspects of the National Food Security Strategy