New UNDP report on Impact of War in Yemen shows that if conflict persists beyond 2019, the country will not meet any of SDGs until 2061 – 31 years after deadline. Photo: UNDP

 

Yemen will become the poorest country in the world if its conflict goes on through 2022, a new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) projects.

The study was presented in the framework of a series of events showcasing the partnership between the European Union and UNDP in Brussels which is helping vulnerable people meet their most urgent needs such as access to basic services, delivery of services and revitalize local governance and economic development to help Yemen build back better and stronger than before.

Since 2014, war has driven poverty in Yemen from 47 percent of the population to a projected 75 percent by the end of 2019. If fighting continues through 2022, Yemen will rank as the poorest country in the world, with 79 percent of the population living under the poverty line and 65 percent classified as extremely poor, the report, Assessing the Impact of War in Yemen on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), says.

The report, produced for UNDP by the Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver, says that in the absence of conflict Yemen could have made progress toward achieving the SDGs, the global anti-poverty framework agreed in 2015 with a target date of 2030. But more than four years of fighting has set back human development by 21 years—and Yemen would be unlikely to achieve any of the SDGs even if the war were to stop today.

“Not only has the war made Yemen the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, it has plunged it into a harrowing development crisis too. The ongoing crisis is threatening to make Yemen’s population the poorest in the world – a title the already suffering country cannot afford,” said UNDP Yemen’s Resident Representative, Auke Lootsma. “Through the support of the European Union and other international and national partners, UNDP is helping empower Yemenis now to keep basic services functioning and to build personal, community and national capacity to ensure the people and country can recover when peace returns,” he noted.

Using cutting-edge data modeling and open-source information, the report finds that Yemen’s war will have more than tripled the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty if fighting persists. It will skyrocket from 19 percent of the population in 2014 to a projected 65 percent in 2022.

The intensity of poverty has also surged, with Yemen projected by 2022 to have the largest poverty gap—the distance between average income and the poverty line—in the world.

The surge in poverty across Yemen is driven by factors attributed to war, including a breakdown of the economy that has seen US $89 billion in lost economic activity since 2015.

The conflict has disrupted markets and institutions and destroyed social and economic infrastructure, while inequalities have sharply increased. Gross domestic product per capita has plummeted from US $3,577 to US $1,950, a level not seen in Yemen since before 1960. Yemen is now ranked as the world’s second most unequal in the world in terms of income, surging past 100 other countries in inequality levels in the last five years.

The report also identifies spikes in malnutrition across Yemen. Twenty-five percent of the population was malnourished in 2014, but the report estimates that this figure is now closer to 36 percent and could reach nearly 50 per cent if fighting continues through 2022. By the end of 2019, caloric intake per person will have fallen by 20 per cent from 2014 levels.  

The report contains especially dire projections if the war continues for the next decade. If fighting continues through 2030, 78 percent of Yemenis will live in extreme poverty, 95 percent will be malnourished, and 84 percent of children will be stunted.

More than 80 percent of Yemen’s roughly 30 million people now require humanitarian assistance and protection. The report launched argues that if Yemen remains at war through 2030, the costs will be borne by generations to come, with poverty seeding ever more deeply, institutions decimated, and Yemen more vulnerable to an ongoing and vicious cycle of conflict and suffering.

UNDP works across Yemen to help people meet their most basic needs, restore livelihoods, support communities, and advance peacebuilding.

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