Japanese Funding to Help Stave off Looming Famine in Yemen

December 3, 2020

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Yemen  – Today the Government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a US$ 3.5 million agreement for a capacity and livelihoods development project in Yemen’s southern governorates of Aden and Hadramout.

The fishing-focused project comes at an optimal time with severe food insecurity plaguing 16.2 million Yemenis due to high costs, not lack of availability. Without intervention, famine will continue to loom over Yemen. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) numbers released today show that in only one year, 154 of 333 of Yemen’s districts are in an emergency-level need of food to survive – up from 84 districts in 2020. And 11 districts are experiencing famine, up from 5 districts.

The Government of Japan and UNDP hope to address the potential widespread famine by helping bolster the livelihoods of thousands of coastal residents who rely upon fishing for income and protein.

In 2019, the Ministry of Fisheries and Wealth indicated that losses to the fishery sector since the beginning of the conflict in 2015 is estimated at approximately US$ 3.1 billion. This is due in part to the sustained loss or damage to fishing vessels or equipment due to the conflict. Small-scale fishers are the most vulnerable as there is commonly a lack of capacity, capital, and modern equipment.

The new Japanese-funded fishery project aims to help rebuild livelihood opportunities for fishers affected by the conflict. This will be done by strengthening their fishing abilities and increasing their ability to bounce back from future conflict-related shocks.

"Yemen has always had very strong fishing communities. Prior to the crisis, the country’s fishers accounted for nearly 50 per cent of the fishing produce and exports across the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden," says UNDP Resident Representative, Auke Lootsma. "Now production capacity has been reduced to a meager 20 per cent of what it was prior to the conflict. This affects the livelihoods and food purchasing power of more than 500,000 people in the sector."

The project will offer affected small-scale fishers with learning opportunities to repair and maintain their fishing equipment, as well as new equipment that will allow for increased access to fish and opportunities to build their entrepreneurship skills.

By building upon the existing strengths of the 1,000 participating households and Yemeni fishers – 10 per cent of whom are women – the project will boost their purchasing power for food and other basic and lifesaving necessities. New and improved skills will also better equip them to successfully combat future economic stressors in the fishing industry.

“We welcome the continued partnership with Japan to help combat severe food insecurity in Yemen. This project will be vital in helping thousands on the coast afford lifesaving food as well as helping to fortify the health of Yemenis – allowing them to stay healthy to fight diseases such as COVID-19,” indicates Lootsma.

Japan has been a strong partner for UNDP Yemen since 2016 and has actively engaged in Yemen through livelihoods and economic recovery programming. The people of Japan have provided nearly USD 16.1 million in funding to various UNDP projects focusing on infrastructure development, water, sanitation and hygiene, and livelihoods.

Japan’s new contribution to revive the fisheries sector will not only support families with a sustainable income but will also help to reinstate production capacities in the region.


Press Contact

Leanne Rios, Team Lead Communications and Advocacy (Leanne.Rios@undp.org