WFP signs agreement to feed poor Yemenis
Sana’a, January 27, 2009
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Yemen signed an agreement to feed more than half a million of the poorest Yemenis.
The implementation of the emergency operation in response to high food prices, will assist with 30,000 metric tonnes of assorted food commodities at a cost of nearly $24 million.
John M Powell, UN assistant secretary general and deputy executive director, signed the agreement on behalf of WFP. He will also travel to Aden, where WFP is providing food to 43,500 Somali refugees.
Yemen is one of the countries hardest hit by increased food prices and, according to the 2008 Food and Agriculture Organisation’s State of Food Insecurity Report, one in three Yemenis now suffers from chronic hunger, this means some 7.7 million people.
In mid-2008 WFP conducted an assessment on the impact of high food prices on poor households in Yemen and found that as a result of the crisis, poor Yemeni families are forced to spend over 65 per cent of their household budget on meeting daily food needs, usually at the expense of education and health expenditures.
They are also eating less and lower quality food. Although in recent months food prices have decreased internationally, the local market has been slow to reflect this decline and food is still out of reach for the poorest Yemenis.
“Even though global food prices have moderated since 2008, Yemen has seen little relief; the impact of high food prices – now compounded by the financial crisis – is still unfolding. Our first priority is to continue meeting the most urgent humanitarian needs,” said Powell.
WFP’s planned response operation will include a general food distribution component providing 54,000 households (378,000 individuals) with 50 kg of wheat flour per month to assist families in meeting their food gap over six months.
In an effort to prevent malnutrition, WFP will provide food to all pregnant and lactating women and children under two years of age in the targeted districts, an estimated 190,000 beneficiaries.
The one year nutrition intervention will also include support for 22,000 moderate acute malnourished children under five years of age in districts where over two-thirds of the population is living below the poverty line.
The High Food Price Operation will aim to reduce acute malnutrition, improve food consumption of families, and improve the nutrition status of targeted women, girls and boys. The operation will contribute to Millennium Development Goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, reducing child mortality, and improving maternal health.
WFP has provided over $440 million to Yemen since 1967. In addition to the High Food Price Emergency Operation, WFP is implementing a $77 million five-year Country Programme to assist approximately 1.65 million Yemenis by promoting girls’ access to education and improving the health of malnourished children under five, pregnant and lactating women and tuberculosis and leprosy patients.
The agency also provides humanitarian assistance to 100,000 persons affected by the Sa’ada conflict as well as food to 43,500 vulnerable Somali refugees fleeing conflict in their country.
WFP is also providing assistance to 25,000 persons affected by floods in Hadramout and Al-Mahra governorates. In 2009, WFP’s portfolio will expand over $55 million, compared to $30 million last year.-TradeArabia News Service