Responding to the crisis in Yemen

A US$300 million emergency project in partnership with the World Bank supports 2 million Yemenis through cash-for-work programmes. Photo: UNDP Yemen

Even before the current conflict escalated in mid-March 2015, Yemen faced enormous levels of humanitarian need stemming from years of poverty, under-development, environmental decline, intermittent conflict, and weak rule of law. Nearly two years of war have exacerbated these chronic vulnerabilities, leaving an estimated 18.8 million people in need of humanitarian or protection assistance – a nearly 20 per cent increase since late 2014.


  • 18.8 million of the Yemeni people are in need of humanitarian assistance, lacking access to basic needs like food and shelter.
  • At least 8 million people are severely food insecure, with over 460,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition.
  • Over half of health facilities are not functioning
  • A US$300 million emergency project in partnership with the World Bank supports 2 million Yemenis through cash-for-work programmes, as well as through improvements to public service delivery and repairing of critical infrastructure.
  • The Yemen Resilience Programme aims to restore livelihoods, social cohesion and security and pave the way toward sustainable recovery.

On average, the conflict kills or injures nearly 75 people every day. The rapid deterioration of the economy has likely affected many more. Violence since mid-March 2015 has forced more than 3 million people from their homes, including 2 million who remain internally displaced as of January 2017.

Yemen's public services have collapsed, and the price of basics such as food, fuel, and cooking gas have soared. Having lost their sources of income, many Yemeni families are unable to afford food or fuel. Half are facing severe food insecurity and malnutrition.

Before the war, Yemen ranked 154 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index and had the highest levels of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy in the Arab States region. The protracted conflict is rolling back progress on human development, widening gender disparities and undermining the rule of law and access to justice.

UNDP's Response

UNDP is working with local and international partners to build resilience in Yemen by supporting communities and key institutions to lay the foundation for recovery and state-building.

The objective of the Yemen Resilience Programme (2016-2018) is to build resilience of the vulnerable population by restoring service delivery and reviving livelihoods. It will also support the peace process and the implementation of an eventual peace agreement. By promoting a “building back better” approach, as well as positive change in the conflict, power, and gender dynamics and relationships, the programme lays the foundations for future recovery and state-building efforts. 

In addition, UNDP has been present in Yemen since the onset of the conflict, providing early recovery interventions that complement the humanitarian response of other UN agencies and partners.

In 2016, close to eight million people benefited, directly and indirectly, from UNDP’s resilience work. It included renovation of light community infrastructure, such as traditional water distribution systems; collection of solid waste and debris; and the provision of critical assets like solar water pumps and greenhouses to boost agricultural productivity.

The 2016 World Humanitarian Summit committed to a new way of working to enhance collaboration of humanitarian and development actors in crisis settings. To this extend, UNDP’s programmes and a strong partnership with the World Bank support the capacity of local institutions that provide essential services and to strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable in the midst of conflict, paving the way for recovery and sustainable development. A focus of the new partnership will be large-scale cash-for-work programmes, improvements to public services and the repair of critical infrastructure.

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