|Home > Reports|
|WFP Warns of Price Increase; Yemenis Difficulties Deepen|
Article Date: April 28, 2008
Earlier this year, Yemen seen large and occasionally violent crowds standing in line for hours in an effort to buy cheap wheat form the Yemeni Economic Corporation, especially poor and limited-income employees.
This has become an indicator of the financial woes facing common people in Yemen. It also provides a sense of knowledge on how the poor in Yemen live.
The United Nation World Food Program (WFP) Representative and Country Director Mohamed El-Kohen revealed that the food crisis has prompted WFP to provide more aid to Yemen.
"Clearly, people who are hungry will have no chance in stability," he adds. "And if we cannot respond to some of their necessary needs, I believe all of the progress we have made so far will be at danger."
For the time being, WFP warns of new horror times across the globe for poor people, mainly because of the price hikes, hinting that hunger and food shortage are the way to political instability.
WFP reported that Yemen is the poorest of the Arab states, just next Somalia. Yemen's current population is estimated over 22 million and it has the highest birth rates in the world with an average of 7 children per woman.
Poor people will be facing great challenges in the upcoming years. There is a growing demand for food at a time when the price of commodities continues to rise. Meanwhile, the volume of food aid is declining, agricultural lands are turning to producing bio- fuel cereals and climate change is further exacerbating the situation, leaving more people feeling insecure about food.
Yemen is one of the least-developed counties in the world, ranking 135 (out of 177countries) on the UN 2007 Human Developing Index. Over 40 percent of the population lives on less than 1 USD per a day. Food insecurity is a major problem and more than 50 percent of the population suffers from moderate hunger. Similarly, over 40 percent of children under five are malnourished.
WFP girl school enrollment strategy plays a role by providing food incentive to encourage families to enroll and keep their daughters in basic and secondary –level education, thus, promoting gender equality and addressing food insecurity. The program benefits 96,000 female students annually, and the food rations indirectly benefits 672,000 souls.
WFP provides food aid as an incentive for regular attendance at Mother Health Centers in rural areas. Nutrition supplements are targeted to children under 5, pregnant and lactating women and TP and leprosy patients under treatment. Food aid is distributed to a total 24,000 beneficiaries annually and benefits 168,000 people each year.
As Yemen hosts over 102,000 Somali refugees, WFP aims to meet basic food needs, reduce malnutrition, and increase school attendance in refugees' camps. It provides assistants to 44,000 of the most vulnerable refugees.
The conflict between the government and Houthi rebels in Sa'ada has led to the displacement of people from rural areas. This led WFP to provide assistance to 77,000 war-affected locals with special attention given to children under 5.
Nura Ali, a resident of Khulan Street in the capital and mother of seven, says her husband abandoned her years ago; therefore, she resorted to selling cloths door to door and she earns only $1.50 a day; however, the money she makes cannot cover her children's food needs.
She adds that having her children eating little food means not feeding them at all," We get a small amount of rice and we cook it for the children, but it is so little and it does not help. Instead this multiplies their hunger."
Lulah Mohsen, 62, who was on her way to buy bread, stated that she doesn't know the reason why there have been bread shortages over the recent period.
Mohsen went on to say that everyone she knows is upset with the higher prices, maintaining that had it been for the help she gets from people, she could have died of hunger.
The World Bank (WB) has recently announced that prices will remain comparatively high until 2015, warning this could be a key factor for unrest and violence in least developing and poor countries.
Likewise, Yemeni economists agree on what has been reported by the WB and hint that prices, especially of wheat flour and rice, are likely to remain high in the near term, trigging social unrest across the republic. The same applies to a great extent in most Arab countries including Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, etc.
Whatever the causes are, the effects are painful. Every month, prices continue to go through the roof, and citizens have nothing to speak about only the food crisis. This has also turned into a source of concern and worry for poor and middle class people. “I don’t aim at giving my kids a bright future looking at my weak economic situation. To insure that they don’t get hungry is my biggest worry”, says Hameed Al-Aiyash, unemployed and father of two.