Food Security Outlook

Continued conflict expected to prolong Famine risk in Yemen in 2019

February 2019 to September 2019

February - May 2019

June - September 2019

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Not mapped
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Not mapped
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
Not mapped
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • FEWS NET estimates that approximately 17 million people in Yemen would be in need of urgent action (IPC Phase 3 or higher) in the absence of ongoing humanitarian food assistance. Sa’ada and Hajjah governorates are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), which is associated with large food consumption gaps and/or extreme depletion of livelihood assets. Of the remaining governorates in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), six would be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in the absence of ongoing assistance.

  • Conflict continues in Al Hudaydah governorate, although at lower levels than prior to the Stockholm Agreement reached in mid-December 2018. Meanwhile, hostilities have escalated in Hajjah and Sa’ada governorates. The potential for conflict to significantly disrupt imports and trade through Al Hudaydah City remains a high concern, and in a worst-case scenario could lead to Famine (IPC Phase 5).

  • Large-scale humanitarian assistance continues to play an important role in reducing the severity of acute food insecurity outcomes in Yemen. In January 2019, WFP distributed in-kind and voucher assistance to approximately 9.1 million people. At current funding and assistance levels, WFP expects to continue providing assistance through April 2019, and to scale up its assistance to reach 12 million people each month. 

National Overview

Conflict continues in Al Hudaydah governorate, although at lower levels than prior to the Stockholm Agreement reached in mid-December 2018. Meanwhile, hostilities have escalated in Hajjah and Sa’ada governorates. Reports from OCHA and the International Crisis Group indicate that hostilities have escalated in Hayran and Mustaba districts and near Haradh town in Hajjah governorate, and in Baqim and Al Buqaa towns in Sa’ada governorate. Moreover, in January 2019, tensions have grown between the Houthis and Haugor tribe in Kusher district of Hajjah governorate, resulting in skirmishes and detentions of fighters. Media reports also indicated that additional tribes have been involved in fighting against Houthis from Amran and Hajjah governorates.

According to the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP), active conflict along the frontlines in southern Yemen (northern Ad-Dali and Lahij governorates has been limited in January and February, with sporadic skirmishes reported in Damt and Al-Qabbaytah districts. Fighting has intensified in Al-Husha district of Ad-Dali governorate, on the border with Taiz, during February 2019. As a result of the slowdown on the main fronts as of February 24, there was a reduction in the number of incidents of armed violence directly impacting civilians across the south since January 2019. Between February 21–27, only one incident was reported, the fewest incidents in five weeks.

As of late February 2019, the Red Sea ports remain open and commercial and humanitarian imports continue, according to UNVIM reports. The main road connecting Al Hudaydah with Sana’a City and Taiz remains closed and the only road connecting Al Hudaydah City to Sana’a City is from the north on the Al Hudaydah-Hajjah road. On January 25, 2019, mortar fire reportedly started a fire that damaged two silos at the Red Sea Mills on the eastern outskirts of Al Hudaydah City. WFP holds approximately 51,000 metric tons (MT) of wheat at the Red Sea Mills, a quarter of WFP’s in-country wheat stock and enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month. Nearly six months after losing access to the Red Sea Mills, WFP regained access in late February and is assessing damage to its stocks.

Approximately 3.6 million people were displaced in Yemen as of November 2018, according to the International Organization for Migration. This is significantly higher than the 2.3 million people reported displaced as of June 2018 by the Task Force on Population Movement. This increase is likely due to both an increase in the IDP population, as well as organizations’ expanded access to areas where IDPs are present, particularly in Marib governorate. Additional updates from OCHA estimate approximately 1 million people were displaced in Yemen between June 2018 and January 2019, most of whom (659,000) were registered in four governorates: Hajjah, Mahwit, Al Hudaydah, and Raymah. Moreover, more than 10,000 persons have been displaced to Abs, Aslem, and surrounding district in 2019 alone, for a total of 420,000 IDPs in Hajjah governorate alone.

Macroeconomic conditions

The Yemeni Rial has started to depreciate slightly, following improvements in the USD/YER exchange rate in late 2018. Over the past five months, the value of the Yemeni Rial has been very volatile. In October 2018, the Yemeni Rial continued to depreciate sharply, reaching approximately 745 YER/USD, an 18 percent decline in value from September. However, the value of the Yemeni Rial rebounded to 519 YER/USD in December, following commitments by the government of Saudi Arabia to provide significant transfers of foreign exchange in order to help stabilize the macroeconomy. In January, the YER started to depreciate again, reaching 588 YER/USD by mid-March 2018. Presently, the Central Bank of Yemen in Aden (CBY) is providing lines of credit for importation of the main food and fuel at 440 YER/USD.

Food imports and staple food availability

Yemen’s major seaports remain open in Al Hudaydah, but monthly import levels have remained volatile over the past several months. According to UNVIM reporting in mid-February 2019, Al Hudaydah and Salif seaports remain open and operational, while the Ras Isa Fuel Terminal remains closed. Overall, ship tracking data suggest the number of bulk carriers, which typically transport most cereals in Yemen, has generally reduced in January 2019 by approximately 20–25 percent compared to the average monthly arrivals between July and December 2018.

Imports of food commodities through the Red Sea ports have been volatile in early 2019. Approximately 272,494 MT of food commodities were imported in January 2019, a 67 percent increase compared to December 2018, according to UNVIM. In February, food imports decreased by approximately 33 percent compared to January 2019, and a 29 percent decrease compared to the average quantity imported in 2018. According to UNVIM data, average monthly food imports through Al Hudaydah and Salif ports were approximately 19 percent lower in 2018 than in 2017. UNVIM estimates the average quantity of food imported per month between January and December 2018 was approximately 258,410 MT, compared to a January to December 2017 monthly average of 317,866 MT. Due to the nature of the data available, it is difficult to compare these totals with import requirements for any particular commodity or staple cereal, such as wheat.

As of January 28, 2019, WFP estimates the quantity of in-country available stock of food commodities was approximately 569,470 MT. According to WFP, the availability of staple foods has shown improvements in January compared to the previous month, and WFP expected cereal stocks to be enough to cover the national requirement until the third week of March 2019.

Fuel imports

According to UNVIM and available data from the Yemen Gulf of Aden Ports Corporation, fuel imports into Yemen between January and October 2018 totaled approximately 3 million MT, or approximately 302,000 MT per month. In February 2019, fuel imports through the Red Sea ports increased by approximately 30 percent compared to the average levels observed between January and December 2018 and covered only approximately 34 percent of monthly needs. In addition, according to available information from Yemen Gulf of Aden Ports Corporation in Aden, the average imported fuel during January to October 2018 covered about 30 percent of monthly needs.

Internal trade

Road access remains difficult in much of Yemen, with the Yemen Logistic Cluster reporting in January 2019 showed no change in the road openings and closures compared to December 12018. Overall, more roads remain closed than in May 2018, prior to the onset of the June 2018 military offensive in Al Hudaydah. According to the Logistics Cluster, many roads are closed in western, southwestern, and northwestern Yemen, with all routes in Sa’ada governorate reportedly closed. In May, road access in many of these areas was reportedly difficult, but still passable, according to the Logistics Cluster. In particular, the main road between Al Hudaydah and Sana’s via Al Marawaha is closed, while access was easy in May. In response, people are now using the road from Al Dahi to Bajil to reach Sana’a City, which is longer and more costly.

Commodity availability on markets

Staple food commodities remained available on most markets in January 2019, in line with findings over the past three months. According to the WFP Market Watch Report for January 2019, wheat flour was “available” (the highest of five rankings) in 21 out of 22 governorates in Yemen and “sparsely available” in Socotra (the third highest of five rankings, meaning it was found in at least half of the visits to all markets). WFP indicated that most of the food commodities in Al Hudaydah markets are available except for vegetable oil, which was widely available (the second highest of five rankings).

Diesel, petrol, and cooking gas were “sparsely available” and “widely available” in January 2019 across most markets in Yemen, in line with findings over the three months prior. Diesel and petrol were “sparsely available” in 11 of 22 governorates, “widely available” in 10 governorates, and “available” in Al Mahrah governorate only. Cooking gas was “sparsely available” in 13 of 22 governorates and “available” in Abyan, Aden, Al Dali, Aden, Al Jawf, Al Mahrah, Hadramout, Lahj, Marib, and Shabwa.

Fuel prices

Fuel prices declined sharply in late 2018 and January 2019, after increasing sharply in September 2018 (Figure 1). In January 2019, diesel prices were approximately 325–360 YER/liter in the main markets of Al Huydaydah, Aden, and Sana’a City, which is approximately 40 percent lower than in October 2018, according to WFP data. These recent improvements are attributed, at least in part, to improvements in the YER exchange rate. January 2019 diesel prices on these markets were at or slightly above January 2018 levels, 45 to 55 percent higher than the recent four-year average, and 110 to 140 percent higher than in January 2015, prior to the ongoing conflict. Well above-average fuel prices continue to negatively affect typical livelihood activities, such as agriculture, and contribute to increased prices of food and non-food commodities through higher transaction costs. High prices and limited availability have also constrained water access as many areas rely on pumping water for human use.

Wheat flour prices

Wheat flour prices also declined sharply in late 2018, although slight increases occurred in January 2019 (Figure 2). In January 2019, wheat flour prices were approximately 260–280 YER/kg in the main markets of Al Hudaydah, Aden, and Sana’a City, which is approximately 25–35 percent lower than in October 2018 in Al Hudaydah and Sana’a City, and about seven percent lower in Aden. As with diesel prices, these recent improvements are attributed, at least in part, to improvements in the YER exchange rate. January 2019 wheat flour prices on these markets are 17 to 40 percent higher than in January 2018, 55 to 66 percent higher than the recent four-year average, and 80 to 100 percent higher than in January 2015, prior to the ongoing conflict.

The potential for staple food prices to increase sharply well beyond current levels remains a significant concern. Despite decreases in wheat flour prices in recent weeks, prices of imported staple foods remain subject to changes in the YER/USD exchange rate. Given the inability to generate foreign exchange sufficient to support a stable exchange rate, Yemen faces the prospect of future depreciation of the YER and sharp increases in staple food prices. Should this occur, food access for millions of Yemenis, who are highly reliant on purchases of staple foods to meet their basic needs, would be significantly impacted.

Income sources

Many households in Yemen continue to face difficulty accessing typical levels of income, which remains a major constraint on household purchasing power. The World Bank estimates that around eight million people in Yemen have lost their jobs since the war began in 2015. Payment of salaries to public employees continues to be a major challenge in Yemen, although anecdotal reports suggest the regularity of these payments may have improved during the past two to three months in certain areas. According to International Crisis Group, salary payments to military and security services are being prioritized and have increased to both Houthi and recognized-government fighters. Separately, UNICEF has started making payments (50 USD/month) in March 2018 to over 136,000 teachers and school-based staff in Yemen who have not received a salary in over two years. Additionally, field assessments conducted during the second half of 2018 provide broad indications of how households continue to access income:

  • In July 2018, a multi-sectoral rapid needs assessment by CARE in Al-MMuallah, Khor-Maksar, Alshaiq Othman, and Dar Sa’ad districts in Aden governorate indicated that casual labor, salaried employment, self-employment, and humanitarian assistance are the main sources of income among households.
  • In August 2018, respondents to an assessment by CARE in Hufash and Mehan districts of Al Mahwit governorate indicated that households’ main source of income during the 30 days preceding the survey were sale of firewood, sales of livestock, sales of cash crops, and casual labor. However, some interviewees also reported that they did not have any income during the previous 30 days prior to the survey.
  • In September 2018, during a vulnerability and needs assessment conducted by Save The Children in Ta’izz and Hajjah governorates (Al-Shaghadera and Bani Qais districts in Hajjah and Maafer and Misrakh districts in Ta’izz), respondents reported that their main incomes before the crisis were salaries, daily labor, agriculture (including qat), remittances, and limited sales of firewood. Now, households are relying on humanitarian assistance, daily labor, and sales of qat and firewood.
  • In October 2018, during a multi-sectoral rapid needs assessment conducted by CARE in Al-Sawd, Al-Sawdah, and Jabal Eyal Yazeed districts in Amran governorate, respondents reported that their primary sources of incomes during the 30 days prior to the survey were sale of cash crops, followed by casual labor, humanitarian assistance, and sale of livestock.

Social Welfare Fund-like payments are helping to supplement household income for many poor households. According to UNICEF, the fourth round of payments to Social Welfare Fund (SWF) beneficiaries were conducted between January and February 2019 through a UNICEF/World Bank project that covered approximately 1.5 million former SWF households (approximately 9 million people). These transfers average approximately 15,000 YER per household, which is equivalent to approximately 40 percent of the cost of the monthly minimum food basket (37,483 YER), as estimated by the FAO-Food Security Technical Secretariat (FSTS) in January 2019. These additional cash resources have likely helped to support household purchasing power and food access among some of Yemen’s poorest households. According to UNICEF, during previous rounds of cash transfers, approximately nine in ten beneficiaries used transfers to purchase food, while nearly half used the transfers to purchase medicine, and one quarter of beneficiaries used the transfers for debt repayment.

Remittances are a major source of income in Yemen, and new taxes in Saudi Arabia and restrictions on some occupations for foreign workers may negatively impact some households’ ability to earn income through remittances. Anecdotal information from currency traders suggests that remittance levels are much higher in late 2018 compared to pre-crisis levels. As such, these remittances likely remain a major source of income for many households in Yemen. However, after imposing additional taxes on all foreign workers and their dependents in 2017, the government of Saudi Arabia began to implement a job Saudization plan in September 2018. This plan seeks to reserve approximately 60,000 jobs for Saudi citizens who would replace expatriate workers. Once fully implemented in 2019, this policy could limit some Yemeni workers’ ability to send remittances back to Yemen. According to media, the Ministry of Labor in Saudi Arabia has issued a decision on Saudization of posts in the commercial center markets and civil society employees starting from April 2019. Moreover, the Saudization of the tourist hotel jobs has been announced for July 2019.

Food sources

Market purchases using cash and credit, humanitarian assistance, and reliance on community support remain major sources of food for many households in Yemen. Over the past several months, rapid field assessments have indicated that households in Yemen continue to purchase food on markets using cash and credit, while continuing to rely on humanitarian assistance and community support in order to try to meet their food needs. Recent field assessments include:

  • Aden, CARE, July 2018: This multi-sectoral rapid needs assessment in Al-Muallah, Khor-Maksar, Alshaiq Othman, and Dar Sa’ad districts indicated that purchases of food from markets, humanitarian assistance, own production, and borrowing were the main source of food for most households surveyed.
  • Amran, CARE, October 2018: This multi-sectoral rapid needs assessment in Al-Sawd and Jabal Eyal Yazeed districts indicated that the primary sources of food for most respondents are market purchase, whereas the main source of food in Al-Sawdha district is own production. Overall, a higher proportion of respondents in Al-Sawdha and Jabal Eyal Yazeed reported relying on humanitarian assistance and borrowing, compared to those in Al-Sawd district.
  • Al Mahwit, CARE, August 2018: Respondents in Hufash and Mehan districts indicated during this assessment that households’ main sources of food are borrowing from neighbors and relatives, followed by own production and purchases of food from markets.

Humanitarian assistance

Large-scale humanitarian assistance continues to play an important role in reducing higher levels of food insecurity outcomes. Between October 2018 and January 2019, WFP reached between 7.3 and 9.1 million people per month with emergency food assistance. In 2019, WFP is planning to scale up its assistance to reach 12 million people per month, with plans to reach 10 million people with in-kind food rations and 2 million commodity vouchers.

Humanitarian access constraints are “high” in approximately nine percent of districts in Yemen, while slightly more than one quarter of districts face “medium” access constraints, according to OCHA. Most of these constraints are reportedly related to administrative difficulties such as signing of sub-agreements and approval of humanitarian activities and movements. Armed conflict and insecurity are also affecting humanitarian actors’ ability to reach people in need, as are checkpoints that are reportedly a major constraint. Access constraints are worst in Al Hudaydah, Sa’ada, and Hajjah.

Disease outbreaks

The weekly number of suspected cholera cases declined in January and February 2019, following a surge in reported cases starting in July 2018. Starting in July, the caseload began to increase, reaching more than 15,000 cases per week in mid-September. Subsequently, the weekly number of cases continued to approach 15,000 per week through late October 2018. According to the most recent information available from the Electronic Disease Early Warning System’s report for February 25 to March 3, 2019, a decline in the number of suspected cases has been observed since late November 2018, with approximately 9,721, cases reported between February 25 and March 3. Although overall the number of suspected cases is concerning, the caseload remains substantially lower than when the cholera outbreak peaked in mid-2017 at more than 50,000 suspected cases in a single week. However, Al Hudaydah, Amran, and Sana’a city are the most effected governorates by cholera outbreak.

Measles cases continue to be reported in Yemen, with the highest numbers of cases reported in 2019 in Dhamar, Sa’ada, Hajjah, and Amanat Al Asimah governorates. Between January 1 and February 24, 2019, the caseload reached approximately 4,807 cases, which is 77 percent and 305 percent higher than the same time in 2018 and 2017, respectively. According to UNICEF, the number of suspected measles cases ranged between 2,000 and 4,000 cases per year between 2013 and 2017. As of February 21, 2019, WHO and UNICEF in collaboration with local health authorities have vaccinated more than 11.6 million children aged 6 months and 16 years across the country against measles and rubella, covering about 90 percent of the target children.

Between January 1 and February 24, 2019, approximately 4,183 cases of dengue fever were reported nationwide, more than one-third of which were in Al Hudaydah governorate, with another 1,064 suspected cases reported in Aden governorate. The weekly number of suspected cases peaked in early to mid-September, when nearly 1,200 cases were reported in a single week.

Approximately 900 suspected cases of H1N1 were reported in Yemen between early January and March 3, 2019, in 18 governorates across the country. According to the Electronic Disease Early Warning System, the worst-affected governorates include Amanat Al Asimah, Amran, Sa’ada, and Ibb.

Current food security and nutrition outcomes

FEWS NET estimates that approximately 17 million people in Yemen would be in need of urgent action (IPC Phase 3 or higher) in the absence of ongoing humanitarian assistance. In mid-to-late 2018, partners and government organizations collected food security data in most districts in Yemen. Among the indicators collected were Food Consumption Score, the reduced Coping Strategies Index, Household Hunger Scale, and a Livelihoods Coping module. Separately, multiple SMART surveys in 2018 collected anthropometric data on children aged 6 to 59 months, and in some cases mortality data was collected. In general, the data suggest large numbers of people in Yemen were facing moderate to large food consumption gaps or were engaging in negative and irreversible livelihoods-based coping strategies in order to try to meet their food needs. In the absence of assistance, approximately 17 million people would be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes or worse.

Overall, staple food prices have declined from levels observed in late 2018, although household access to adequate and stable levels of income remain very limited. In addition, emergency food assistance continues to reach more than 7 million people each month, although due to community sharing and other issues, it is likely that assistance is impacting food security outcomes differently among households who receive assistance. Likewise, assistance is not necessarily in all cases reaching those in greatest need. Moreover, given that needs are significantly greater than current assistance programming, sustained improvements in security and significant additional assistance is needed to help protect food consumption and improve food security outcomes for millions of people in Yemen. Acute food insecurity is classified as Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in Sa’ada and Hajjah governorates, while the remaining 20 governorates are facing Crisis-level outcomes. Of those classified in Crisis, six would likely be in Emergency in the absence of ongoing emergency food assistance and are thus classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!).

Assumptions

The most likely scenario for the February 2019 to September 2019 period is based on the following national-level assumptions:

  • Conflict: For the purposes of this scenario, FEWS NET assumes that conflict will continue similar to levels observed during early 2019 and will drive increases in displacement through at least September 2019. Should major parties to the conflict achieve a lasting ceasefire that improves security, livelihood and economic activities could begin to return to normal in the medium term.
  • Economy: For the most likely scenario, FEWS NET assumes that the current macroeconomic crisis will continue. More specifically:
    • Central Bank: The Central Bank's current split in management will continue. The Central Bank will not
      receive any additional major funding from external donors and will not provide credit to the private sector for food importation during the scenario period. However, the Central Bank in Aden will continue to provide a preferential exchange rate of 440 YER/USD to traders to support imports of key staple food commodities.
    • Oil exports: Oil exports will not return to pre-conflict levels during the scenario period.
    • Foreign reserves: Despite large deposits of U.S. currency by Saudi Arabia in the Central Bank of Aden in October 2018, Yemen’s foreign reserves within the country will continue to decline compared to current levels, given the assumptions of significantly reduced oil exports and no additional funding from external donors.
    • Exchange rate: Given the decline in foreign reserves and limited government revenues, the Yemeni Rial will
      continue to depreciate against foreign currencies due to the inability of the two central banks to intervene due to operational constraints and the shortage of hard currency.
    • Liquidity constraints: Liquidity constraints at banks within Yemen will continue to worsen and will limit general economic activities and complicate import activities.
  • Imports: Cargo will continue arriving into Al Hudaydah, Salif, Aden, and Al Mukalla ports. Cargo arriving into Al Mokha will remain limited. While large traders will continue to find alternative methods of accessing foreign currency to continue operations, import levels will likely remain volatile and transaction costs associated with these imports will increase. Informal food flows across land borders will also continue at status quo levels, but their transport into the western areas of Yemen will remain difficult due to civil insecurity and difficult market access. However, the financial crisis within the Central Banks of Yemen, and the shortage of foreign currency and accessing lines of credit through private sources, will likely increase the difficulties and make it costly for the private sector to continue food imports into the country. FEWS NET is assuming, however, that the average quantity of food imported from the Red Sea and Aden ports will continue at slightly to moderately below-average levels, whereas the quantity of imported fuel will meet less than two-thirds of monthly requirements.
  • Government salaries and the Social Welfare Fund: Many government employees will continue not to receive regular salaries or pensions due to the Central Banks’ lack of adequate financial resources. In addition, at least one round of Social Welfare Fund-like payments is expected during the scenario period.
  • Internal trade flows: Active fighting, damaged transportation infrastructure, high fuel prices, and additional security and transaction costs (e.g., commissions at checkpoints), will continue to complicate trade flows within the country. Moreover, the transport of commodities to Sana'a City and other neighboring governorates from Al Hudaydah ports will also be difficult due to the road access constraints along the main highway between Al Hudaydah and Sana'a governorate. However, in the absence of additional information about the evolution of conflict, FEWS NET assumes that areas where trade flows will be particularly constrained will be the same areas where roads are currently closed, as shown by the Logistics Cluster's most recent access constraints map.
  • Market demand: Demand from consumers will remain atypically low during the scenario period due to weak household purchasing power caused by below-average incomes, high levels of debt, and well above-average prices for essential commodities. However, purchasing power may improve temporarily at times during the scenario period as households receive erratic salary payments and/or cash transfers.
  • Fuel prices: Given a tightening of supply due to fuel imports well below national requirements, continued conflict, persistent currency depreciation, and increased transaction costs for imports and transportation, between February 2019 and September 2019, diesel prices in Al Hudaydah are likely to be near 2018 levels, and between 20 and 50 percent higher than the recent five-year average.
  • Wheat flour prices: Retail wheat flour prices in Al Hudaydah will likely be above average and slightly higher than in 2018, due largely to the direct impacts of currency depreciation on imports and indirect impacts on staple food prices via increasing fuel prices (Figure 3). For the purposes of this scenario, FEWS NET assumes retail wheat flour prices will increase to between 260 and 320 YER/kg by September 2019 and will be 50 to 80 percent above average. Retail wheat flour prices in Aden are expected to range between 250 and 300 YER/kg and will be approximately 40 to 65 percent above average. As most consumption markets rely on supply from these two markets, prices in other areas of the country will likely follow trends like those in Aden and Al Hudaydah. However, in markets where prices have been particularly volatile due to conflict-related disruptions to trade, such as in Ta'izz, prices will likely be more volatile and sharper increases are possible.
  • Agricultural production: The seasonality of agricultural production varies depending on the zone in Yemen. In the western and central wadi zone, vegetable harvesting will take place between January and August 2019, while fruit harvesting will start in May, and banana and papaya harvesting will continue until December in the YE-07: Greater Yemen Coastal Livelihood Zone. Cereals will be harvested between February and July 2019. The first rainy season (March to May) is expected to be average in terms of total cumulative rainfall. However, production will likely be below average due to a lack of availability and/or access to inputs and limited access to fields in conflict zones. Related agricultural labor opportunities will also be atypically low. Qat production, however, will continue to be generally average. The locust situation is expected to remain calm throughout the scenario period.
  • Remittances: Although the remittances have increased during the crisis and remittance service offices will remain open in most urban areas, significant difficulties (e.g., delays, closed offices, lack of liquidity, new taxes, and Saudization policies) will limit the ability of some households to receive remittances from abroad. Overall, remittances are likely to be higher than prior to the ongoing crisis, but for households worst affected by labor policies in Saudi Arabia, income from remittances will be well below normal.
  • Fishing: Fishing activities along the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden coasts will increase seasonally starting in March/April, but will remain well below average due to reduced fishing assets, high fuel prices, and civil insecurity, especially in the western coastal areas.
  • Livestock sales: Reduced livestock assets caused by several years of food insecurity, livestock parasites, and disease will limit household income from this source. Therefore, the income from livestock sales will likely be below average during the scenario period. In addition, given high staple food prices with low purchasing power that expected during the scenario period, livestock-to-cereal terms of trade will also likely be below average. On the other hand, livestock prices most likely will increase during June and August due to the Eid holidays.
  • Incomes from other sources: The deteriorating macroeconomic situation and conflict will disrupt household livelihoods across much of the country, resulting in below-average household incomes. The largest declines in incomes will be among IDP populations and households residing in intense conflict zones, such as Ta’izz, Al Hudaydah, Sa'ada, Al Bayda, coastal Hajjah, and eastern Sana’a (Nehim district) and Ad’Dali (Demt district).
  • Cholera and diphtheria: Ongoing fuel shortages will continue to limit the availability of clean water, as well as the functioning and delivery of vaccines and medical supplies to health centers and hospitals around the country. As a result, the spread of cholera, diphtheria, and other diseases is expected to continue through the scenario period.
  • Humanitarian assistance: FEWS NET assumes that humanitarian partners will continue providing in-kind assistance through September 2019. For the purposes of this scenario, FEWS NET assumes humanitarian partners will continue to provide assistance at levels similar to those over the past six months. Given plans to begin scaling up assistance in 2019, it is possible humanitarian assistance will increase throughout the scenario period. However, inter-household sharing, poor road access, and increased transportation costs are likely to limit the impact of assistance on food security outcomes in some cases.

Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

  • The ongoing food security emergency in western Yemen is likely to continue to drive very high assistance needs through at least September 2019. The poor macroeconomic situation and the persistence of conflict will continue to disrupt household livelihoods, limiting purchasing power, and access to food. While harvests during the scenario period will provide some rural households with small food stocks, these stocks are not expected to have major impacts on food security outcomes given the small-scale nature of agricultural production in Yemen and the fact that these harvests will be below average. Household food access will likely further be constrained by higher than usual food prices.

    Under the most likely scenario for February 2019 to June 2019, most areas of western Yemen will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or would be at least one IPC Phase worse in the absence of humanitarian food assistance and will therefore be classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!). FEWS NET estimates 17 million people are likely to require emergency food assistance each month, many of whom would face food consumption gaps large enough to lead to increases in human mortality in the absence of assistance and are likely to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Although humanitarian assistance is expected to continue through June and beyond, the number of people in need will significantly exceed the number receiving assistance. IDP populations and poor households in conflict zones will likely continue to face the most severe food security outcomes. Conditions for the displaced will vary based on location, depending on access to labor markets, support from the host community, access to humanitarian aid, and the functioning of local markets. Moreover, the conflict situation is fluid and could result in changes to expected outcomes. However, in the areas most isolated and cut-off from trade by the conflict, many of the displaced are likely to enter or to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through at least May 2019. Even in the absence of additional disruptions, additional populations may begin to move into Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) as worst-affected households begin to exhaust their coping capacity.

    Under the most likely scenario for June to September 2019, humanitarian food assistance will continue and large areas will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September 2019, while Hajjah and Sa’ada remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). As humanitarian food assistance is expected to continue protecting food consumption for many food assistance beneficiaries through late 2019, many areas of western Yemen areas are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!). Despite ongoing assistance, Hajjah and Sa’ada are expected to remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), while food security in Al Mahrah will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    In a worst-case scenario, significant declines in commercial imports far below requirement levels and conflict that cuts populations off from trade would likely drive food security outcomes in line with Famine (IPC Phase 5). Military operations, to the extent they occur, increase the risk that key port facilities will be damaged, or that trade from the ports to urban areas of the country will be cut off for a prolonged period. In FEWS NET’s analysis, these events would likely lead to Famine (IPC Phase 5) in Yemen. The areas where Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely to develop most quickly include areas more highly dependent on imports through Al Hudaydah and Salif, particularly those with intensive conflict and high numbers of IDPs, such as Hajjah, Sa’ada, and Ta’izz. In addition, many of the millions who receive humanitarian food assistance imported through the Red Sea ports would begin to face more immediate and substantial food consumption gaps as stock shortages begin to limit assistance delivery. Even for areas that can access imports from Aden, a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) would persist given the already severe levels of acute food insecurity that would be exacerbated by the increased competition for available goods. Second, given very low levels of foreign exchange in country, well below-normal oil revenues, and continued conflict, FEWS NET expects the depreciation of the Yemeni Rial to continue. This could result in further price shocks for essential commodities, increasing the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) even in the absence of the physical limitations on imports described above. Additionally, should assistance in 2019 fail to materialize, it is likely that a large number of the more than 7 million people who receive emergency food assistance each month would begin to face larger food consumption deficits and/or be required to engage in more extreme coping strategies in order to try to meet their food needs. Moreover, as assistance currently contributes to overall supply of food in Yemen, the absence of this assistance could lead to wider price impacts as supply tightens. Together, these factors would increase the number of households whose food security would be at risk of deteriorating to Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) levels. Areas of northwestern Yemen, particularly Sa’ada and Hajjah, would face an increased risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) as the number of households in Catastrophe increases.

For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

About Scenario Development

To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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