Food Security Outlook

Expired truce and high food prices undermine recent improvements, especially in Marib and Hajjah

October 2022

October 2022 - January 2023

February - May 2023

IPC v3.1 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
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 v3.1 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
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 v3.1 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 v3.1 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
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Reduced levels of conflict during the recently expired truce, which began in April 2022 and ended in October, have supported some improvements in business activity, trade, and humanitarian access. However, given that the renewal of the truce is conditioned upon demands that are unlikely to be realized during the projection period, conflict is expected to re-escalate gradually. Additionally, food and essential non-food prices remain significantly above average. Rising levels of conflict will likely once again reduce household income-earning opportunities and impede fuel imports through the Red Sea ports, leading to declining fuel availability and upward pressure on prices in areas controlled by the Sana’a-based authorities (SBA).

  • In highland areas, the main season harvest is ongoing and will conclude in December/January. In lowland areas, the vegetable cultivation season is expected from November/December to January. However, associated seasonal improvements in household access to food and income will be temporary, with household food stocks expected to last no more than two months. Given that the availability of other sources of food and income remain very low after years of protracted conflict, many households will have low to minimal income and will be unable to purchase sufficient food from the market after their food stocks are depleted.

  • Around 13 million beneficiaries of humanitarian assistance have experienced reductions in the frequency and size of deliveries throughout 2022. Due to funding shortfalls, WFP has reduced the frequency of distributions from monthly to around once every six weeks and reduced the ration size per distribution from around 80 percent of one month’s minimum kilocalorie needs (last delivered in 2021) to around 65 percent in the ongoing distribution cycle. While a 65 percent ration represents a relative improvement from earlier this year, households still have food consumption gaps.

  • Given limited income, reduced humanitarian assistance, and significantly above-average food prices, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are expected to remain widespread. In Marib, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will likely persist given the large population of displaced and flood-affected people. In Hajjah, which is anticipated to be among the frontlines of an escalation in conflict, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected from February to May.

National Overview

Current Situation

The UN-mediated truce that began in early April 2022 expired on October 2, 2022. Though there have been ongoing negotiations focused on renewing the truce and working toward a political settlement of the conflict, the updated truce proposal submitted by the United Nations (UN) special envoy on October 2, 2022, was rejected by the Sana’a-based authorities (SBA) alongside increased demands that were later refused by the internationally-recognized government (IRG). Key among these demands were the payment of civil servant salaries in SBA areas (including for the SBA military after 2014) from IRG revenue and the re-opening of roads to Taizz city (which both parties accuse each other of hindering).

Despite the official expiration of the truce, conflict did not re-escalate in October. Rather, both parties continued to operate in a period of un-official truce as negotiations continued. According to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), the number of incidents of ground conflict in October remained similar to the number in September. Though there was an increase in shelling and drone strikes in the last two weeks of September prior to the end of the truce, the number of incidents declined significantly in October. Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition (SLC) and cross-border attacks by SBA forces have also remained on hold, despite daily threats from SBA officials. However, in an apparent strategic shift, SBA forces began targeting oil production and export infrastructure in IRG areas with drone strikes in mid-October. This included an attack on An Nushaymah port in Shabwah and Ad Dhabba port in Hadramout. Though no damage or fatalities were reported, oil production and exports in Hadramaut were disrupted and remain on hold as of the end of October due to the high risk to ships when docking.

During the truce period from April 2 to October 2, 2022, conflict-driven fatality levels have been the lowest recorded in several years (Figure 1), according to data from ACLED. This was largely due to the sharp reduction in airstrikes by the Saudi coalition. Civilian casualties (injuries and fatalities) also decreased during the truce period, according to data from the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP). However, incidents involving landmines and unexploded ordnances have increased, largely due to improved access to previously inaccessible conflict-affected areas that have not yet been cleared of explosives. In the third quarter of 2022, CIMP reports that landmines and unexploded ordnances caused 164 civilian casualties across Yemen, the highest total on record related to explosive devices.

Ongoing conflict also continues to cause population displacement, though at significantly lower levels compared to the pre-truce period. According to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), around 4,276 households were displaced in monitored areas during the truce period from April 2 to October 2, 2022. This is approximately half of the number of people displaced during the same period of last year. Of those displaced during the truce period, the largest number were displaced to locations in Marib (1,350 households), Shabwah (634 households), Al Hudaydah (526 households), Al Dhale’e (447 households), and Taizz (442 households), with most having been displaced more than once. More recently, following the expiration of the truce from October 3rd to 30th, a total 238 households were displaced, mainly in Marib (134 households). However, this total is 36 percent lower than the monthly average during the truce period.

Reduced levels of conflict have given the Yemeni economy some breathing room, with some improvements in the business environment and trade. However, the economy remains fragile and has yet to recover from years of protracted conflict and multiple additional shocks. Despite a significant increase in oil revenue in the first half of 2022, unplanned public expenditures resulted in a budget deficit and rising domestic debt ratio, challenging the partial recovery of the economy.

In addition to positive economic impacts of reduced conflict and increased oil revenues, weekly foreign currency auctions held by the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) in Aden since November 10, 2021, have contributed to relatively greater stability of the local currency (YER) in IRG-controlled areas (Figure 2). In the latest of many additional effort to control the exchange market, the CBY-Aden published new regulations for payment systems and services on September 14, including new licensing requirements for businesses who wish to offer “non-traditional” payment methods (including electronic and card payments) which exchange shops are precluded from obtaining. In October 2022, the dollar value of the currency in IRG-controlled areas was similar to the previous month (2 percent lower), on average, and 8 percent higher than the same time last year. However, despite positive developments, the exchange rate still displays significant volatility in response to political and economic events and has depreciated (lost value) by 5 percent overall since January 2022, following a period of notable appreciation at the end of 2021. Meanwhile, in SBA-controlled areas, the value of the local currency remains generally stable at levels 6 percent higher than last year.

Since the start of the truce on April 2, fuel has become increasingly available across SBA-controlled areas due to the relatively unrestricted entry of oil ships into Al Hudaydah and As Salif seaports. Previously, ships were subject to detention by the SLC and systematic delays in customs clearance. This has ended the fuel shortages that were negatively impacting livelihoods and reducing purchasing power for millions in SBA-controlled areas since early 2020. According to data from the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM), nearly 1.6 million tons of fuel was imported through SBA-controlled seaports (Al Hudaydah and As Salif), representing a 330 percent increase compared to the same time period of 2021 when only 371,000 tons of fuel were imported. However, since the expiration of the truce, the SLC has reportedly delayed granting entry clearance for four fuel vessels, prompting concerns for future shortages. Meanwhile, in IRG-controlled areas, fuel remains generally available. However, sporadic fuel shortages have been reported in some IRG-controlled areas, likely due to negotiations with fuel traders on selling prices given changes in the exchange rate.

In SBA areas, given the improved fuel supply and declining import costs due to the relatively unrestricted entry of oil ships into the Red Sea ports, the Sana'a-based Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC) reduced official fuel prices on October 16, 2022, for the third time in two months. Prices of petrol in SBA areas were lowered by 8.6 percent, from 11,500 YER/20L to 10,500 YER/20L while prices of diesel were lowered by 7.4 percent, from 13,500 YER/20L to 12,500 YER/20L. Declining global oil prices have also supported declining domestic fuel prices across Yemen in recent months. In IRG-controlled areas – where fuel prices are determined primarily by global fuel prices and currency exchange rates – the Aden-based Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC) has reduced fuel prices three times in the past year. Most recently, on October 5, official petrol prices were reduced by 10 percent due to declining global fuel prices. 

Yemen is highly dependent on imports for its staple food supply, and available data shows that imported volumes of basic food commodities are significantly lower this year compared to last year. From January 1 to September 30, 2022, traders imported nearly 3,700,000 MT of basic food commodities through all the country’s main sea and land ports. Of that amount, 70 percent was imported through the western Red Sea ports of Al Hudaydah and As Salif (in SBA-controlled territory), while 30 percent was imported through Aden and other sea and land ports in IRG-controlled territory. The total amount imported nationally was 14 percent lower than in the same time period of 2021, due largely to a 48 percent decline in wheat (grain and flour) imports through IRG-controlled ports following the start of the war in Ukraine (though cooking oil imports also declined nationwide).

Similar trends are observed in the third quarter of 2022 (July to September), when the amount of food imported nationwide was 21 percent lower than the same period of 2021 and the amount imported through IRG-controlled ports was a full 53 percent lower than in same period of 2021. However, previous concerns about potential shortages of staple wheat flour given declining import levels and stocks earlier in the year have been alleviated by additional procurement. According to key informants, Hayel Saeed Anam Group (HSAG), Yemen’s largest food conglomerate, imported a total 436,140 MT of wheat grain – mostly from France, Romania, and Australia (Figure 3) – from July 29 to October 10, of which 379,340 MT berthed in Al Hudaydah and Aden seaports. More recently, HSAG secured a shipment of 56,800 MT of Russian wheat that arrived at Aden seaport on October 18, 2022. Other shipments with around 56,800 MT of wheat grain are on route, according to key informants.

Despite lower import levels through IRG-controlled seaports, basic food commodities generally remain widely available. However, even with declining fuel prices nationwide and the relative stability of the local currency in IRG areas, food prices remain higher than the same time last year and significantly above average. As of September 2022, the average cost of the minimum survival food basket (MFB) in Aden markets was 127,788 YER, 53 percent higher than at the same time in 2021, according to data from FAO. Prices of staple wheat flour, cooking oil, and basmati rice in September 2022 were 56 percent, 48 percent, and 35 percent higher, respectively, than in September 2021. This is mainly because traders are reluctant to decrease prices in order to preserve profit margins. Meanwhile, in Sana’a city, the cost of the MFB decreased by 5 percent from August to September 2022 but remained 13 percent higher than in the previous year.

Livelihoods continue to be disrupted by years of conflict and economic decline, with income-earning opportunities remaining below average. The recent improvement in fuel availability in SBA areas has led to the revival of small businesses, which offer some income-earning opportunities. However, they have remained very limited due to the overall weak business environment. Despite contributing only modestly to the domestic food supply, the agricultural sector engages a large proportion of the workforce. However, on top of the long-term negative impacts of conflict – including through restricted access to land, high cost of production inputs and fuel, and bureaucratic obstacles to marketing – both rainy seasons in 2022 were destructive to crops in many areas, given dry conditions in the first season and heavy rainfall and flooding in the second season. Additionally, despite reduced conflict, livelihoods in frontline areas (such as in Hajjah, Al Jawf, and Marib) have not recovered given restricted access to markets, and farmers in many other previously conflict-affected areas remain unable to access their land due to landmines

Cumulative rainfall during Yemen’s first rainy season from March to May 2022 was significantly below average (Figure 4). According to FAO information reported by UNOCHA, the January to June 2022 period was the third driest on record in 40 years. Due to the poor rainfall, planting was delayed in many highland areas. Some farmers in the southern uplands – with only one cereal (sorghum, maize, wheat, and barley) planting season from April to July – either missed the planting window or experienced their seeds withering.

Following these severe dry conditions, Yemen’s second rainy season (July to October 2022) was characterized by significantly above-average rainfall. Although this generally benefited agricultural production (especially in rainfed farming areas and lowland areas where farmers were able to utilize runoff for irrigation), the extent of the destruction caused by flooding was severe. In addition to damage to homes and infrastructure in affected locations across the country, heavy rains and flooding damaged crops and killed livestock. For example, heavy rainfall in August damaged hundreds of grapevines in Sana’a and killed hundreds of livestock in Al Jawf, according to FAO. In other areas affected by floods from July to August, widespread damage to cash crops, coffee, vegetables, and fruit trees was reported. This damage has limited incomes for many households who rely on the sale of crops as a main source of household income. Meanwhile, in the northern and central highlands, where there are two cereal-planting seasons (March to May and July to August), many farmers were unable to plant on time due to the heavy rainfall. Overall, OCHA estimates that, as of September 30, nearly 74,000 households across Yemen had been affected by heavy rain and flooding, with the greatest numbers affected in Marib (28,000 households), Hajjah (15,800), Al Hudaydah (6,100), Amran (3,400), Al Jawf (3,300), and Dhamar (3,300). Many of the flood-affected families in Marib had already been residing in displacement sites, likely with limited assets. Although flooding subsided in September, many continue to face post-flood impacts, particularly in western governorates.

Currently in October, farmers in the highlands are starting to harvest cereals (wheat, maize, barley), fruits (citrus), pulses and prepare the land for winter wheat and barley. Cereal production in the highlands is expected to be below pre-conflict-levels and slightly less than last year given the late planting alongside below-average first season rainfall (as farmers may need to harvest cereals prematurely to avoid losing them due to cooling temperatures) and the impacts of floods in the second season, including crop damage, increased spread of plant diseases, and access constraints that reduced agricultural operations. despite of that, cereal and citrus harvests are expected to provide income-earning opportunities. Meanwhile, in lowland areas including the Tihama Plains and the Red Sea coast, farmers have started preparing the land for vegetables and planting palms, bananas, and mango seedlings. These crops are likely providing households with seasonal income-earning opportunities from agricultural labor and other activities throughout the production and marketing chains.

Above-average second-season rainfall also led to notable improvements in pasture conditions, with peak conditions captured by satellite data around mid-October in many western areas. Improved availability of pasture, as well as fodder and water resources, has likely led to some improvement in livestock body conditions, which is in turn benefiting many households in agropastoral areas through an increase in income from the sale of livestock and livestock products. Nonetheless, lack of access to veterinary medicine continues to contribute to the spread of animal diseases and pests, a contributing factor to poor body conditions and one of the main causes of livestock fatalities across Yemen, according to key informants. Additionally, high prices of inputs – including fodder – continue to constrain profit margins. On average at the national level, prices of commercial dry fodder in September 2022 increased by a full 20 percent compared to August, reaching levels 61 percent higher than September 2021, according to data from FAO. However, livestock prices have generally been increasing throughout 2022 alongside rising input costs. After increasing from April/May to July alongside high seasonal demand associated with the Ramadan (April), Eid al Fitr (May), and Eid al-Adha (July) holidays, prices of sheep and goats have remained fairly stable through October at the highest levels recorded this year, though slightly less than the record-high prices recorded in November /December 2021, according to FAO data

Given the limited availability of income-earning opportunities overall and the rising trend of food and essential non-food commodity prices, remittances are an important source of income for many families and an important source of foreign currency for the country. However, after notable disruption during COVID-19 lockdowns, remittance inflows have likely not returned to pre-COVID levels, primarily due to increasing challenges around living and working in Saudi Arabia – which is the most important source of remittances for Yemenis – including the rising cost of living, increasingly strict work permit requirements, higher residency fees, and additional labor nationalization policies. Since 2019, 141,620 Yemeni migrant workers returned from Saudi Arabia according to IOM data, including 49,815 who returned from January 1 to September 30, 2022 (Figure 5). The majority have returned without travel documents.

For millions of households in Yemen, humanitarian assistance has become a primary source of food and income and is commonly the most important source of food for many poor and displaced households. However, funding shortages continue to threaten assistance programming. As of October 26, 2022, the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC) had received only 49 percent of a total of 2.1 billion USD requested for programming and operations throughout all of 2022. Given this funding shortfall, WFP has scaled down its provision of emergency humanitarian food assistance in 2022 (Figure 6) by reducing both the frequency of distributions and the ration size per distribution. In 2022, WFP transitioned from monthly distributions to cyclical distributions that occur approximately once every six weeks. Additionally, many beneficiaries have experienced reduced rations in 2022, according to data from FSAC. In previous years, beneficiaries generally received rations equivalent to around 80 percent of a household’s minimum monthly kilocalorie (kcal) requirements, based on calculations using the MFB. By WFP’s fourth distribution cycle in 2022 (completed in September), however, most beneficiaries received rations covering 50 percent or less of their minimum monthly kcal requirements. While a moderate increase is planned for the fifth distribution cycle, in which WFP plans to target 13.2 million people with a ration covering 65 percent (1,100 kcal) of the minimum food basket, this still leaves a 35 percent deficit that many households struggle to fill through other sources. The fifth cycle started in late September and is ongoing as of the end of October.

Current Food Security Outcomes

The scale and severity of acute food insecurity remains high overall in October, despite some limited seasonal improvements due to the ongoing cereal harvest in the highlands. Though business activity has improved slightly due to reductions in conflict, opportunities for income-earning remain severely limited and purchasing power continues to decline due to rising prices of food and essential non-food commodities. Overall, millions of households likely continue to face inadequate food consumption. Households worst-affected by floods in the second rainy season – including many displaced households – are likely still facing the impacts of reduced income-earning and/or above-average expenditures to recover from damage. Additionally, across the country, millions of households in both urban and rural areas have faced a notable reduction in total food and income from humanitarian assistance in 2022. Given limited ability to expand income-earning to compensate and already highly eroded coping capacity, many poor households are likely increasingly resorting to reducing the quantity and frequency of meals. Overall, millions are likely facing food consumption gaps. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are expected to be widespread at the area level, with worst-affected households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse. In Marib, where flood impacts were severe and there a high share of the population is dependent on reduced levels of humanitarian assistance, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected at the area level.

High levels of acute malnutrition persist in Yemen, driven by both food and non-food factors. Poor sanitation and health infrastructure, limited access to basic health services, and the spread of water-borne, diarrheal, and other diseases continue to compound the impacts of poor diets on malnutrition outcomes. According to the most recent available survey data collected in 2021 and reported by the IPC in 2022, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) as measured by mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) across surveyed districts of Sana’a city was in the “Serious to Critical” ranges according to IPC thresholds. Meanwhile, in Aden, the GAM by MUAC prevalence was on the border of “Serious to Critical” and “Critical to Extremely Critical,” according to the IPC thresholds. Even more concerning levels of GAM by MUAC were recorded in Al Hudaydah, Al Mahwit, Hajjah, Lahj, Raymah, and Taizz, with prevalence considered in the “Critical to Extremely Critical range. According to the nutrition cluster, admissions of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) among children under five totaled nearly 215,000 from January to August 2022, similar to the nearly 218,000 cases recorded in the same period of the previous year.

Assumptions

The most likely scenario from October 2022 to May 2023 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

  • Though negotiations are expected to continue, a renewal of the truce is not expected during the projection period, given that this is conditioned on demands (including the payment of civil servant salaries in SBA areas and the reopening of roads in Taizz) that are unlikely to be met during the projection period. However, notable uncertainty exists, and a renewal of the truce remains possible in case of increased pressure by international actors, particularly on IRG authorities to accept SBA demands.
  • Given the expiration of the truce, ground fighting is expected to increase gradually in the main frontline areas (including Taizz, Al Dhale’e, Hajjah, Lahj, and Marib) in the first half of the projection period. With parties believing that the negotiations will fail, re-escalation of ground fighting to pre-truce levels is likely, with a resumption of SLC airstrikes and SBA cross-border missile attacks expected during the second half of the projection period. However, airstrikes are unlikely to reach January to March 2022 levels, ostensibly due to a lack of appetite on the part of the Saudi government. Additionally, given ongoing threats and recent patterns, SBA drone attacks targeting crude oil infrastructure will likely increase during the projection period.
  • Although a 3 billion USD Gulf financial aid package was announced concurrently with the formation of the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), it is conditioned on reforms that will take time to implement. Given this and the lack of progress to date, the CBY-Aden is not expected to receive the funds during the projection period.
  • In IRG areas, fuel prices are expected to remain generally stable, though significant uncertainty exists given that prices will continue to be influenced by unpredictable global trends and by the local exchange rate. Meanwhile, the decision to lift the requirement that shipments into Aden seaport be inspected in Saudi Arabia could continue to exert some downward pressure on fuel prices in IRG areas.
  • In SBA-controlled areas, reduced fuel import levels are expected in the coming months given the expiration of the truce. As such, the availability of fuel at relatively lower official prices is expected to decline in SBA areas, forcing people and businesses to increasingly purchase fuel at higher unofficial prices. Though officail and unofficial fuel prices are generally expected to increase due to reduced availability, fuel prices in SBA areas will also continue to be influenced by unpredictable global trends.
  • Based on known procurement and general stabilization of supply chains since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, wheat imports in the fourth quarter of 2022 are expected to increase relative to the first three quarters of 2022, though total wheat imports in 2022 are forecast to remain below the five-year average. Domestic supply shortages are not expected during the projection period.
  • Staple wheat flour prices are expected to remain significantly above average across the country, despite varying nuances in price dynamics between SBA areas and IRG areas. Supported by strong price controls by SBA authorities, staple wheat flour prices in the key SBA reference market of Sana’a city are expected to remain stable through late 2022/early 2023 before declining in response to improved import volumes. In the IRG reference market of Aden, wheat flour prices are expected to increase slightly throughout most of the projection period, based on expectations for a slight depreciation of the currency and traders’ reluctance to decrease prices, the latter of which is due to continued uncertainty surrounding global supply and prices. However, prices will likely eventually stabilize in mid-2023 as import levels improve.
  • Prices of fertilizer are expected to remain high alongside supply shortages due to the country’s heavy reliance on imports from Ukraine and Russia and difficulties in securing fertilizer from alternative sources given export restrictions, including export bans on fertilizers from Russia, Ukraine, China, and Kyrgyzstan. 
  • The risk of cyclone strikes and associated flooding for Socotra and the southern Aden Gulf coast during the peak period from November to December 2022 is expected to be below average due to forecasted below-average sea surface temperatures in the Arabian Sea, while the normal seasonal risk of cyclone strikes is anticipated for January to May 2023.
  • Based on past seasons with Indo-Pacific Sea surface temperatures similar to those forecast for 2023, cumulative rainfall in Yemen’s March to May 2023 first rainy season is most likely to be below average, although notable uncertainty exists given the long lead time of the forecast.
  • Overall, above-average temperatures are most likely across most of the country throughout the projection period, although localized variability is expected.
  • Overall, crop production in the main harvest from November 2022 to January 2023 is expected to be slightly below last year and significantly below pre-crisis (February 2015) levels due to the impacts of flooding during the second rainy season and insufficient pest control on top of the impacts of protracted conflict and increasing input prices. While nominal income from crop sales is likely to be higher than last year due to persistent inflation, real income is expected to be less than last year and significantly below pre-crisis levels.
  • Harvesting of qat is expected year-round in higher-elevation areas. Qat production is expected to be near average, given prioritization of this cash crop. Real income from qat sales is expected to be near average.
  • In highland areas, agricultural and non-agricultural labor demand is expected to seasonally increase from October to December with the main harvest season and then decrease from January/February to March before increasing again in April and May with the start of cereal land preparation and the planting season. In lowland areas (coastal and inland), labor demand is expected to seasonally increase around November following the start of the agricultural season in late October and remain at seasonally high levels throughout the projection period. Despite normal seasonal trends, the total availability of labor opportunities is expected to remain below normal throughout the projection period, due to the impacts of protracted conflict and the forecast of below-average rainfall in the first rainy season. Additionally, although wages are expected to increase due to inflation, the real value of income from labor is expected to remain stable or decrease and remain below average.
  • Pasture conditions are expected to deteriorate during the dry period, as is typical, reaching near normal levels by March 2023. Following the start of the first rainy season in March, pasture conditions are expected to seasonally improve again in April and May, though improvements will likely be less than normal due to below-average rainfall forecast for the first rainy season.
  • Milk from livestock is generally expected to remain seasonally available throughout the October to December period and then become available again around March. Overall, nominal income from livestock and livestock product sales is expected to be above average due to inflation, while real income is expected to be similar to last year, though below last year for households who lost livestock in recent floods. Income from livestock sales will increase seasonally in March/April with the Ramadan and Eid holidays.
  • Food and income from fishing will be at seasonally high levels throughout the projection period but will likely remain below pre-crisis levels due to significantly above-average fuel prices and conflict-related access constraints.
  • Significant shifts in oil and natural gas production are not expected within the projection period. Oil production and export levels are likely to be similar to those of previous recent years. Given high global prices, foreign exchange earnings from oil exports are expected to be slightly higher than last year’s levels and above the five-year average, but significantly below pre-conflict levels.
  • Income from foreign remittances is expected to remain similar to current levels and below pre-COVID levels due to the continuous return of Yemeni workers from Saudi Arabia and the impacts of global inflation, including in the US and UK.
  • Given the failure to reach an agreement on civil servant salary payments in SBA areas during truce negotations, employees in SBA-controlled areas will likely remain unpaid. Meanwhile, most employees in IRG-controlled areas are expected to receive their salaries on a regular basis, though employees in the military sector will likely continue to receive payments on an intermittent basis. Real income from civil servant salary payments will remain significantly below pre-conflict levels given that salaries have not been adjusted for inflation.
  • Given ongoing funding shortages and uncertainty regarding funding levels in 2023, emergency humanitarian food assistance is likely to continue near current scaled-down levels. In many communities, beneficiaries are expected to share assistance with non-beneficiaries. Given expectations for re-escalation of conflict, humanitarian access constraints are likely to re-emerge in many areas.

Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

In the first half of the projection period from October 2022 to January 2023, seasonal availability of food and income is expected to increase due to the main cereal and fruit (citrus) harvests in the highlands (October to November) and the main cereal harvest and vegetable cultivation season in the lowlands (December 2022 to January 2023). Additionally, improved fuel availability, lower fuel prices, and relatively low levels of conflict (despite some anticipated re-escalation) are likely to continue supporting improved business activity and associated income-earning during this time. Despite these positive factors, significantly above-average prices of food and essential non-food commodities are expected to continue to strain poor households’ limited available resources. An increase in respiratory illnesses and fever during winter is likely to further increase essential expenditure requirements. Given this, reduced levels of humanitarian assistance, and already eroded coping capacity, millions of poor households are likely to continue to face food consumption gaps during this period. At the governorate level, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are expected to persist across most of the country. However, many worst-affected households are likely to face wide consumption gaps or engage in severe coping indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes, including those with very limited access to income sources or those who were worst-affected by recent floods and also have insufficient access to humanitarian assistance. In Marib, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected at the area level given the large population of displaced households who are highly dependent on humanitarian assistance, many of whom also lost shelter or other assets due to recent flooding.

The February to May 2023 period is largely the agricultural off-season in highland areas, when access to seasonal sources of food and income will decline. Given expectations for below-average cereal production in the highlands, most households’ own-produced stocks will likely be exhausted after less than two months following the harvest. Although agricultural activities will resume in April and May, expectations for below-average rainfall during the first rainy season (March to May) will likely limit labor opportunities. Meanwhile, in the lowlands, the cereal, vegetable, and fruit harvests (particularly the mango harvest) are likely to provide some sources of income from crop sales and daily wage labor throughout the projection period. However, in the absence of the renewal of the truce, a re-escalation of conflict is expected to exert constraints on business and income-earning activity. Additionally, millions of beneficiaries will continue to receive reduced levels of humanitarian assistance. Given conflict-related impacts on income, reduced food assistance, and high food prices, an increase in the number of households facing food consumption gaps consistent with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes is expected. Additionally, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist in Marib and emerge in Hajjah due to the large proportion of displaced households and the anticipated re-escalation of conflict along front lines in both governorates.

Events that Might Change the Outlook

Table 1. Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.

Area

Event

Impact on food security outcomes

National

Renewal of truce

Given that the renewal of the truce is conditioned upon payment of civil servant salary payments in SBA areas, this would significantly boost income-earning for more than one million people. Reduced levels of conflict would also continue to support improvements in business activity and income-earning nationwide. Many poor households would likely experience improved food consumption. The number of households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes would likely decline. Over time, many areas would likely see improvement to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!).

IRG-controlled areas

Sharp decline in oil revenue given SBA targeting of oil infrastructure  

The CBY-Aden would likely struggle to provide the hard currency required to support the public currency auction. This would likely increase traders’ reliance on the parallel currency market. The local currency would be expected to depreciate rapidly, driving increasing prices of food and non-food commodities. Declining food import levels would be possible. Given rising prices, millions of households in IRG-controlled areas would likely face declining food access. An increased number of households would likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes.  

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 approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

Link to United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Link to the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) FEWS NET Data PortalLink to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Link to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth ObservatoryLink to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service, Climage Prediction CenterLink to the Climate Hazards Center - UC Santa BarbaraLink to KimetricaLink to Chemonics