Conflict threatens development gains in Yemen

April 23, 2019

Health center in Lahj destructed during the ongoing war

Amman, Jordan - Ongoing since 2015, conflict has only interrupted Yemen’s hard-won development gains.  According to a study released today, conflict has effectively reversed human development in Yemen by 21 years; and the human impact of conflict will continue to grow, exponentially. 

Projections indicate that, if the war ends in 2022, development will have been set back by 26 years — the equivalent of over one generation. If it continues through 2030, that setback will increase to 40 years.

  • Commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Yemen, the study (Assessing the Impact of War on Development in Yemen) considers the impact of conflict on the Sustainable Development Goals, depending on hypothetical scenarios in which conflict is resolved in 2019, 2022 and 2030.  In particular, the study helps to answer the question: What kind of country will be inherited once a peace agreement is reached?

The study projects that, if this conflict ends this year (in 2019), it will have left 40 percent of the population living in extreme poverty; a loss of US$88.8 billion in economic output; and a $2,000 reduction in GDP per capita (PPP).

In a hypothetical scenario in which conflict intensity is comparable to 2018, but continues through 2030, the study projects that fighting will account for:

  • 71 per cent of the population living in extreme poverty;
  • 66 per cent without access to proper sanitation;
  • 84 per cent without proper access to safe water;
  • 84 per cent malnourished;
  • 48 per cent of school-aged children unable to go to school; and
  • $657 billion loss in economic output and $4,600 of GDP per capita (PPP).

Notably, the study estimates that by 2030, indirect deaths (caused by lack of access to food, health care, and infrastructure services) will be five times greater than direct deaths.

Explains UNDP Yemen Resident Representative, Auke Lootsma:

Human development has not just been interrupted.  It has been reversed.  Even if there is peace tomorrow, it could take decades for Yemen to return to pre-conflict levels of development.

The scenarios elaborated in the study reflect three potential pathways of conflict development, ending in 2019, 2022, 2030, and a counter-factual scenario in which conflict did not escalate after 2014. The scenarios were then used to estimate the impact of conflict on development in demographic, economic, education, infrastructural, health and other relevant areas.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Frederick S. Pardee Centre for International Futures, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver (Authors: Jonathan D. Moyer, David Bohl, Taylor Hanna, Brendan Mapes and Mickey Rafa).

To access the full report, please click the link Assessing the Impact of War on Development in Yemen.