17.1
million people were food insecure and required urgent humanitarian assistance
at the end of 2016, which is equivalent to over 60% of the Yemeni population.
Among those, approximately 10.2 million people are in Crisis and 6.8 million
are in Emergency as of March 2017. The population in Crisis and Emergency has
increased by 20% since June 2016 (FEWSNET 01/03/2017). The worst food security
indicators are found in Hajjah, Taiz, Ibb, Al Dhale and Raymah governorates,
where, 50% or more of the population have inadequate (poor or borderline) food
consumption, and an exceptionally reduced coping strategy index (WFP 11/2016).

Causes

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A de
facto blockade on Yemen’s air and sea ports, lack of credit and high taxation
limits food imports. Imports that reach Yemen are difficult to transport due to
insecurity, administrative blockages, and damage to transport infrastructure (Food
Security Information Network 03/2017).

Conflict
has caused high levels of displacement, preventing millions of people who
relied on agriculture for livelihood from planting. Production has also been
impacted by limited access to water, shortages of seeds and fertilisers, and
high prices of fuel needed for irrigation and transportation.

Prices
have increased and purchasing power has fallen. Shrinking state finances and an
acute liquidity crisis means that salaries have gone unpaid. Traders are facing
difficulties accessing credit.

Physical
damage, loss of capital and increased debt have resulted in a loss of
livelihood for more than 50% of the population (IPC 03/2017).

Food
availability

Production:
Annually, agricultural production makes up 25–30% of Yemen’s food requirements
(FEWSNET 01/03/2017). The Yemen Emergency Food Security and Nutrition
Assessment estimated that 40% of all agricultural households experienced a
decline in cereal production in 2016 compared to pre-crisis levels (FAO
12/04/2017). In 2016, agricultural inputs were in short supply and expensive,
including seeds, fertiliser, pesticides, and fuel for irrigation. The
cultivated area fell by 38% (IPC 03/2017). Agricultural production and
livelihoods were also directly impacted by conflict as well as flash floods and
landslides in July 2016 (FAO 12/04/2017). About 49,000 people were affected by
the floods and 30 hectares of crops were destroyed (FAO 09/05/2016; OCHA
19/04/2016).

Total
cereal production in 2016 is estimated about 37% below the five-year average.
2016 sorghum production reaches only 59% of 2011-2015 average production, and
wheat and millet production is at 67-68% of 2011-2015 average volume.

Imports:
Yemen ordinarily imports 55% of its food for consumption, including 90% of its
staple foods (WFP 2010). The de facto blockade on the movement of goods in and
out of Yemen, as well as fighting in port areas, such as Taiz and al Hudaydah,
has heavily constrained imports since August 2016 (WFP 23/02/2017). Imports in
Yemen decreased to USD 11 million in 2015, from USD 16 Million in 2014 (Trade
Economics 05/2017). Lack of credit and continued depreciation of the currency
have also seriously affected the country’s ability to import food.

Trade
and supply routes: Damaged storage facilities, high transport costs and limited
access to markets are the main challenges for traders. The closure of export
routes means fish and livestock exports have dramatically decreased, impacting
the income of many households (IPC 03/2017). 8% of households in rural areas
and 4% in urban areas rely on livestock sales (FAO 28/04/2017). The fall in
credit has also limited traders’ ability to operate inside the country (WFP
2010).

Higher
insurance costs, increased time at the ports to offload goods, and high
currency exchange rate on parallel market brings additional expense to the
traders and ultimately increases the cost of goods (Yemen Food Security
Information System Development Programme 10/2016).

Humanitarian
aid: Food distributions are delayed, particularly at ports. In Hodeidah,
damaged infrastructure means offloading goods takes around 20 times longer.
Security clearance is also taking time, and insecurity impacts access (WFP
09/2016, Yemen Food Security Information System Development Programme 10/2016).

Food
access

Physical:
The majority of fishermen have lost their fishing equipment in the conflict.
Key infrastructure has also been destroyed.

Safety:
About 3.1 million people have been internally displaced by the conflict,
preventing them from farming their lands (Task Force on Population Movement
03/2017). Except for informal black-market trade, insecurity means that
traditional cross-border trade with neighbouring countries is no longer
possible, seriously disrupting the production and marketing chain (IPC
03/2017).

Transporters
are reluctant to access volatile areas due to widespread checkpoints and fear
of being targeted by coalition airstrikes, driving up the price of insurance
and transportation (Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies 10/2015; Government
05/2016). Fishing areas are limited by the conflict (IPC 03/2017).

Economic
factors: Oil and gas exports declined by 86% in 2015, ultimately leading to
currency devaluation (IRC 20/04/2017). The foreign currency reserve is almost
exhausted. It was at USD 0.99 billion in September 2016, compared to USD 4.7
billion in December 2014 (WFP 11/2016).

The
cost of living is now 40% higher than before the escalation in violence (FAO
12/04/2017). The food basket is 20% more expensive than in February 2015 (WFP
11/2016). On average, food takes up more than 45% of households’ monthly
expenditure. In addition, the fuel subsidy that used to account for one-fifth
of the total fiscal budget spent on salaries and wages has in practice been
abolished, falling from USD 3.2 million in 2013 to USD 0.1 million in 2015,
increasing fuel prices (WFP 11/2016).

Incomes
are significantly lower. In July 2016, the Central Bank of Yemen suspended
public budget expenditures and domestic debt servicing. The entire social
protection system has collapsed: 1.5 million people have not received benefits
since 2015. Civil servants, who represent 31% of the workforce, are receiving
only basic salaries, about 50% of the pre-conflict salary level (WFP 11/2016).

In
urban areas, income is less likely to come from trade than it used to – falling
from 28% to 20%– and more from casual labour and remittances from abroad. In
rural areas, dependence on casual labour and remittances has also increased,
and sale of crops and trade contribute far less to income.

While
agro-pastoral activities do not represent the main source of income for most
households, they complement the income of more than half the population (WFP
2010). Since the escalation of conflict, 45% of agricultural households have
reduced their herd’s size, either intentionally to cover other needs or due to
animal diseases (FAO 12/04/2017).

Informal
social protection mechanisms have impacted on purchasing power (IPC 03/2017).
Household debt was already widespread before the crisis escalated, and has now
worsened. Before this crisis, 73% of households indicated relying predominantly
on informal credit systems; more than 80% of households were reported to be in
debt in February 2017 (WFP 2010; Reuters 16/02/2017).

 

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