Fostering peace, building resilience in Yemen: UNDP and the European Union

May 8, 2024

This year marks two decades of partnership between UNDP and the European Union (EU). From addressing challenges related to crisis management and governance, to peacebuilding and environmental sustainability, for over 20 years, the UNDP-EU partnership has been supporting nations in their pursuit of strengthening community resilience and fostering peace. 

A prime example of this partnership is the Strengthening Institutional and Economic Resilience in Yemen (SIERY) Project. In 2020, UNDP and the EU joined forces to initiate SIERY to support local governance systems and boost economic stability in Yemen by reinforcing the resilience of local authorities to respond to both existing and emerging needs of their communities. 

Massive population displacements, loss of livelihoods and destruction of institutions and services have overwhelmed local governance systems in Yemen and devastated all aspects of life. For this reason, the SIERY Project works collaboratively with local authorities, community structures, private sector and civil society and non-governmental organizations across 45 districts in Yemen. 

Drone shot of the reconstruction and rehabilitation work at Al Mhabisheh Hospital in Hajja - initiated by the local authorities and supported by the SIERY Project.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

For instance, the SIERY Project worked with the local authorities in 45 districts across Yemen to develop the capacities of its personnel to chart three-year gender-sensitive resilience and recovery plans. Accordingly, the SIERY Project supports the implementation of the public priorities outlined within their plans. To date, over 120 public priorities have been supported, ranging from construction of health and waste facilities to water infrastructure, and installation of solar energy systems and road opening yielding impacts for more than three million people.

Supporting education

Iben Zaidoun School in Aden following extensive rehabilitation work initiated by the local authorities and supported by the SIERY Project.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

An integral part of the SIERY Project focuses on restoring the provision of education in Yemen, which has been severely impacted throughout the past nine years. This has included rehabilitation and renovation of around 70 educational institutions across Yemen, with a focus on schools for girls, thereby facilitating access to education and enhancing the learning experience for more than 100,000 students. 

In addition, hundreds of education personnel were trained at the central, governorate and district levels in school safety, educational planning, and vocational guidance to bridge learning gaps due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the protracted crisis. 

Bolstering economic resilience 

Young Yemeni women and men at a coffee cupping training supported by the SIERY Project. The coffee value chain is one of the seven value chains the SIERY Project is supporting.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

Aligned with the development priorities of local authorities, the SIERY Project extends its support to bolster local economic resilience. Through collaborative efforts with local authorities, Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and private sector, SIERY identified promising growth value chains and worked closely with stakeholders to revive and develop them. 

The SIERY Project provides targeted entrepreneurship training to around 2,800 smallholders and small and medium size enterprises, supporting them with grants or loans to kickstart or expand their businesses. Additionally, the SIERY Project focuses on the construction and refurbishment of critical market infrastructure to enhance the functionality of selected value chains, while also promoting networks of entrepreneurs to ensure sustainability. 

Throughout the lifetime of the project, over 24,000 job opportunities were created or sustained. Furthermore, 81 women were empowered to start their own businesses and over 2,000 farmers benefited from improved irrigation channels. 

UN Peace Support Facility

A woman in Dhamar fetching water from a well prior to the UN PSF's support to the installation of a water network.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

Another example of the UNDP-EU member state partnership, is the UN Peace Support Facility (UN PSF), co-led with the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGY) and the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office (RCO) to Yemen.  The UN PSF was set up to support the agreements reached during the 2018 Stockholm negotiations led by OSESGY, and implements initiatives that can deliver tangible, rapid, and lasting impact on Yemenis’ daily lives while simultaneously garnering local support for the peace process. 

Fostering inclusivity and promoting women's participation in decision-making processes is at the heart of the UN PSF In 2022, the UN PSF supported the establishment of a peacebuilding network within Aden University's Women Research & Training Center to advance gender equality and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. Also to ensure inclusion, approximately 1,600 young women and men are involved in peacebuilding projects implemented by the civil society organizations under the facility's Small Grant Mechanism, contributing to broader societal engagement in peace initiatives and conflict resolution efforts.

Towards sustainable livelihoods

UNDP and the EU are also working to support livelihoods, food security, and climate adaptation in Yemen. In an effort to enhance resilience, recovery and mitigate the impacts of ongoing crises in Yemen, the EU and the Government of Sweden have committed substantial resources through the Supporting Resilient Livelihoods, Food Security and Climate Adaptation in Yemen - Joint Programme (ERRY III). Initiated in March 2022, this three-year programme has been allocated $49.37 million to enhance local capacities to manage local risks and shocks, thereby increasing resilience and self-reliance.

An EU delegation visits Aden, Yemen, meeting with beneficiaries of livelihoods support through the ERRY III Joint Programme.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

This effort aims to foster greater resilience and self-reliance among the most vulnerable communities in Yemen, including women, youth, marginalized minorities, and internally displaced people.

The ERRY III Joint Programme examplifies the EU's dedication to supporting Yemen during its complex economic crises. To date, almost 847,000 individuals have directly benefited from activities under the programme, which is a collaborative effort among key UN agencies including UNDP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the World Food Programme (WFP). Together, these organizations are implementing comprehensive interventions that address immediate household and community needs and contribute to long-term sustainable development. The programme promotes sustainable livelihoods, food security, job creation through climate-sensitive programming, with a focus on’ gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

A woman engaged in mobile repair/maintenance, supported through the ERRY III Joint Programme.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

Building on the success of previous phases, which significantly enhanced resilience, food security, and livelihood for over 740,000 vulnerable Yemenis across five governorates, this new phase continues to provide crucial support to improve livelihood and food security while strengthening community institutional capacities in gender-sensitive resilience planning, conflict resolution, and social cohesion. Additionally, ERRY III is committed to laying the groundwork for sustainable development by enhancing access to clean energy, basic services, environmental protection, and climate adaptation capacities.

“At UNDP Yemen, we are grateful for our longstanding partnership with the European Union, and we remain steadfast in our joint commitment to advancing towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Yemen,” -Zena Ali Ahmad, UNDP Yemen Resident Representative.