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Large-scale assistance needs and risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) likely to persist as war nears five years

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Yemen
  • October 2019 - May 2020
Large-scale assistance needs and risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) likely to persist as war nears five years

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Ongoing conflict continues to disrupt livelihoods, reduce incomes, and drive very poor macroeconomic conditions including significantly high prices of food and non-food commodities. It is estimated that approximately 17 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, representing the largest food insecure population in the world. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are widespread. A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists under a worst-case scenario in which conflict significantly disrupts port operations or cuts off food supply for a prolonged period of time.

    • Fuel shortages since September have impacted humanitarian operations in Sana’a and other Houthi-controlled areas in northern and central Yemen. This has negatively impacted livelihoods and exacerbated logistical challenges already faced in delivering assistance. Despite these and conflict-related constraints, humanitarian assistance has scaled-up in 2019, driving some food security improvements. Assistance deliveries are expected to continue during the projection period, though delays and pipeline breaks remain possible.

    • Conflict and flooding in western areas of Yemen have increased displacements and led to access constraints. In September, increased conflict was observed in Al Hudaydah and Hajjah. In Aden, conflict subsided in September after high levels in August. However, escalated conflict in surrounding Abyan and Shabwah provinces is ongoing. Meanwhile, heavy rainfall since late September is causing flooding in southern areas of Yemen.


    Current Situation

    Despite the ceasefire negotiated in the December 2018 Stockholm Agreement, high levels of conflict have persisted in Yemen throughout 2019. According to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), the frequency of battles has remained steady throughout 2019, after a spike in December 2018 (Figure 1). In 2019, roughly 200 battles occured per month, with 285 battles recorded in September. The number of incidents of explosions or remote violence has steadily decreased in recent months, dropping from a monthly total of 600 in June to 400 in September 2019. Similarly, the number of civilian casualtities and fatalities has declined between March and August according to the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP), though these events spiked in September to the highest levels observed in 2019.

    In September, increased levels of conflict at the governorate level were observed in Al Hudaydah and Hajjah. According to ACLED, there was an increase in the frequency of battles, although CIMP reported a decreasing number of incidents and fatalities in Al Hudaydah, Hajjah, Al Mawhit, and Raymah. In September, the highest levels of conflict on the front lines and explosions/remote violence occured in Al Hudaydah and Hajjah. In Aden, conflict subsided somewhat in September (12 battles) after Saudi-backed pro-government forces and UAE-backed Southern Separatist forces fought for control of the city in August (50 battles). In late September, the UAE began withdrawing troops from the city, with the two sides striking a deal in late October. In surrounding Abyan and Shabwah, escalated levels of conflict continued throughout October according to CIMP, despite an unofficial ceasefire.

    In late September, initial steps to engage in peace talks and de-escalation were taken by both main parties to the conflict. While there have been some hopeful reports of reductions in violence in recent weeks, data from ACLED and CIMP for early October do not indicate reductions distinct from normal patterns of volatility.

    Widespread and persistant conflict across Yemen continues to disrupt typical livelihood activities and drive large-scale displacement. An estimated 61,378 households (368,268 individuals) were displaced in Yemen between January 1 and October 12, 2019. In early October, most new displacements were due to increased localized fighting in Aden (127 households), Al Dhale’e (350 households), Al Hudaydah (193 households), and Ta’izz (150 households). Over the same time period, the areas that received the most IDPs were Hajjah (17,907 households), Al Hudaydah (9,809 households), Al Dhale’e (9,402 households), and Ta’izz (6,053 households).

    Between June and October, heavy rains (Figure 2) caused flash floods in most western areas of Yemen. In affected areas, rains and floods destroyed the houses of many IDPs and contaminated water supplies. As of September, Al Hudaydah, and Al Mahwit were among the worst-affected governorates, with 4,172 and 1,820 IDP households impacted, respectively. On September 27, further rain caused flooding in southern and central areas of Yemen, impacting 1,329 IDP households in Lahj and 1,057 households in Aden. In Ta’izz, over 800 households were affected. On October 1, heavy rains impacted Hajjah and Al Hudaydah in the west.

    Very poor macroeconomic conditions continue, characterized by volatility, depreciation of the Yemeni Rial (YER), and shortage of foreign currency. On September 19, Yemeni President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi replaced both the Minister of Finance and the governor of the Central Bank of Yemen in Aden. Meanwhile, on September 22, the central bank in Sana’a supsended the licenses of six money transfer companies, only to reinstate them three days later. Ongoing efforts by the Yemeni government to stabilize the economy and pay government salaries have yet to achieve success and continue to be largely dependent on foreign transfers. According to WFP price data, and corrobrated by further key informant information, the national average unofficial exchange rate was over 600 YER/USD in September, a three percent increase from 586 YER/USD in August; the YER has continued to depreciate since April, and remains substantially weaker than pre-crisis levels.

    These macroeconomic conditions have severely reduced income earning opportunities. In September 2016, the Yemeni government stopped paying around 1.2 million civil servant salaries and although they resumed payment of salaries in early 2017, payments have been erratic. In late 2018 and early 2019, the government paid public sector pensions in all areas of Yemen as well as salaries in both government- and Houthi-controlled areas of Al Hudaydah, issuing two months’ salarie to more than 30,000 people in February 2019. The status of future payments remains uncertain. During the 2018-2019 school year, UNICEF paid financial incentives to over 127,000 teachers and school staff. In May 2019, the UAE and Saudi Arabia donated 70 million USD to UNICEF in order to boost the salaries of 137,000 teaching staff in the current school year.

    In rural areas, some typical livelihood activities continue, although households face difficulty accessing pre-crisis levels of income. According to a multi-sectoral needs assessment conducted by WarChild in December 2018, interviewees in select districts in Sana’a, Tai’zz, and Ibb governorates indicated that households were earning income through agricultural labor, livestock raising, daily labor, and petty trade, although unemployment was very common. According to a multi-sectoral assessment conducted in two districts in Al Bayda’ governorate in February 2019, IDPs are reportedly engaging in some daily labor, but are largely relying on host community support. Difficulties accessing income have resulted, in part, from reduced agricultural activity due to the high cost of diesel for water pumps and the presence of land mines on agricultural land.

    Given limited income-earning opportunities, remittances from abroad remain a significant source of income – estimated at  billions of dollars annually by the Rethinking Yemen’s Economy (RYE) initiative – for millions of Yemenis. Saudi Arabia is a particularly important source of such remittances; however, Saudi Arabia has commenced implementation of a plan to nationalize its labor force in response to high unemployment levels. In early 2018, hundreds of thousands or Yemenis were forced to return to Yemen. It is expected this negatively impacted the income-earning capacity of many Yemenis as well as the overall economy of the country, as remittances from Saudi Arabia are widely considered to be key to the macroeconomic stability of Yemen. Decreases in remittances were particularly significant for Al Mahwit, Hajjah, Ibb, and Lahij.

    In August, localized fuel shortages began manifesting in Sana’a and surrounding areas, attributed to consequences of new Yemeni government regulations on commercial fuel imports. As a result of these regulations, oil imported into Hudaydah port would be effectively taxed twice – both by the Houthi authorities in the area and by the Yemeni government prior payment of customs duties in Aden. Reports indicated that many importers were unable or unwilling to comply, though.

    According to UNVIM, 127,632 tons of fuel, representing 69 percent of the 2019 montly average, were imported through the Red Sea ports of Hudaydah and Salif in the month of September (Figure 3). This was a 40 percent decrease from August and the lowest monthly total since April. Although the information is unverified, WFP estimates monthly imports are far below the national fuel requirement. In late October, according to UNVIM, the Yemeni government cleared eight ships carrying fuel, despite the fact that they were not fully compliant with the new decrees. As such, total fuel imports in October are expected to be above September levels but slightly below recent average levels.

    After remaining relatively stable since May, fuel prices increased between August and September according to WFP, and reports indicate that further increases were observed in October. Prices of petrol rose 11 percent nationally from 359 to 398 YER/kg between August and September, while prices of diesel rose 15 percent from 381 to 440 YER/kg. Prices of cooking gas also increased by 13 percent during this time, reaching the highest levels since November 2018. The highest increases in diesel and petrol prices were observed in northern and central Yemen, reaching 89 and 66 percent over August prices, respectively. These increases come on top of prices already over 140 percent above pre-crisis levels for petrol and diesel, and over 60 percent above pre-crisis levels for cooking gas in most governorates according to FAO. Due to shortages, significant quantities of fuel were being traded on the black market, with prices even higher than those reported.

    According to FleetMon data, traffic of both cargo vessels and bulk carriers through the port of Aden was down in the months of August and September, attributed to conflict and lingering tensions in the city. Aden typically receieves more bulk carrier arrivals than other ports (Figure 4), but only recieved four per month in August and September, similar to traffic through other ports during that time. Between October 1-15, however, Aden had already received six bulk carrier arrivals. While wheat (grain and flour) comprised a combined total 61 percent of total food import tonnage between January and July 2019 and is typically imported as bulk carrier shipments, other food and non-food commodities may be transported by bulk carrier. Similarly, agricultural commodities including food are also known to be transported via cargo vessels and container ships. As such, caution should be used in attempting to understand how this relates to total food and fuel imports through Aden.

    According to FAO, an estimated 3,798,549 MT of food were imported into Yemen between January and August 2019, of which 54 percent entered through the Red Sea Ports of Hudaydah and Salif, followed by 41 percent through Aden Port. According to UNVIM, food imports through the Red Sea Ports totalled 270,820 tons in September, down 20.5 percent from August levels and representing 90 percent of the 2019 monthly average. After averaging only 206,325 tons per month between October 2018 and March 2019 in the time around the Stockholm agreement, food imports through Hudaydah port have increased and have generally remained at levels above the longer term average.

    According to both FAO and WFP, wheat flour prices nationally were broadly stable between July and September, fluctuating between 1 and 3 percent. However, more significant price increases of 13-24 percent from August to September were observed in Dhamar City, Ibb City, Al Hawta Town (Lahj), and Sa’ada City. Conversely, wheat flour prices declined between 4 to 8 percent in Mahwit City, Sana’a City, Al Jabeen (Raymah), and Ta’izz City. Overall, wheat flour prices remain highest in Al Hazum (Al Jawf) at 350 YER/kg, with prices of at least 300 YER/kg being observed in Addaleh Town (Al Dali’), Socotra (Hadhramaut), Marib City, and Ta’izz City. At the national level, wheat flour prices are over 90 percent higher than pre-crisis levels, with governorate-level prices ranging between 50-150 percent higher.

    Although the contribution of crop production to overall household food sources is low in many areas, harvests continuing through November in the Central Highlands, Eastern Plateau, As’ada Irrigated Wheat Zone, and the highlands and coastal areas will likely improve food security relative to September. Reports of locusts have caused concern for crops in Arahb, Bani Mata, and Hamdan districts in Sana’a. Crop losses were also likely in growing areas in Amran, Al Hudaydah, Lahij, Ma’rib, Shabwah, and Tai’zz. However, locusts are commonly eaten Yemen; in Sana’a, many were catching locusts for consumption and sale, with locust prices decreasing from from 70 to 12 USD per bag in September as a result of the infestation.

    Overall, agricultural production of food crops has been declining in recent years and as such, high market dependence for most households combined with high food prices and significantly reduced income earning has resulted in low food access. According to WarChild’s multisectoral assessment conducted in December 2018, interviewees in parts of Sana’a, Tai’zz, and Ibb indicated that households were primarily accessing food via market purchase and humanitarian assistance. Additionally, more recent key informants report that many Yemeni are citing humanitarian food assistance as a key source of food and income, a notable change from their key sources of food and income prior to the outbreak of conflict. 

    Since the end of 2018, WFP has been scaling up its provision of humanitarian food assistance in Yemen. In August, WFP reached a record 12.4 million beneficiaries (Figure 5) with general food assistance including 116,000 MT of in-kind food and a combined 234 million USD in commodity vouchers and cash assitance (not graphed). Two areas of notable increase include Hadhramut, where assistance increased from reaching around 13 percent of the population in late 2018 to over 25 percent in recent months, and Ma’rib from 42 percent of the population to roughly 73 percent over the same time period. In the latter governorate, the scale-up is expected to be reaching many of the IDPs. Across all forms of assistance, rations provided an average 70-80 percent of daily kilocalorie needs, although variations exist. In July, however, only 78,000 MT of food commodities and an estimated 14.3 million USD in cash/vouchers were distributed, indicating a decline in the ration size by over 20 percentage points from June when rations provided an average of 80 percent of kilocalorie needs across all forms of assistance. Meanwhile, in July, UNICEF completed the fifth round of payments to Social Welfare Fund beneficiaries. Since the first payment was completed in November 2017, 1.5 million of Yemen’s most vulnerable families (an estimated 9 million people) have received an average of 30 USD each payment cycle. The exchange rate in June when payments for the fifth round began was 556 YER/USD. This translates into an average of 16,680 YER per household, equivalent to 37 percent of the minimum monthly food basket according to the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster’s May 2019 update.

    It is expected that continued Social Welfare Fund transfers and the scale-up of assistance has led to somewhat better food security outcomes in several areas; however, humanitarian actors continue to face access constraints to delivery of assistance, especially in areas of northern and central Yemen. As of late August, WFP had been reporting delays in deliveries due to trucks being held at Houthi-controlled checkpoints since February 2019. According to key informants, access as of September 5 was classified as “very poor” in Abyan, Aden, Al Hudaydah, Hajjah, Sa’dah, and Shabwah, and “poor” in Al Dali’, Al Bayda’, Sana’a, and Ta’izz. It is expected localized access constraints in these areas are affecting the provision of humanitarian food assistance to some worst-affected populations.

    Cholera incidence remains concerningly high in Yemen (Figure 6), with 85,694 suspected cases reported in September. This is 10 percent higher than the monthly average out of a total 703,815 cases reported between January 1 and September 29, 2019. Al Hudaydah, Sana’a, Ta’izz, Amanat Al Asmah, Ibb, and Hajjah were the worst affected governorates in September.

    Overall, access to food and income remains below basic requirements for millions of Yemenis. Household access to adequate and stable levels of income remains limited, particularly among IDPs and poor households. While some households are currently accessing agricultural labor, below-average production has likely further limited this source of income. Staple food prices remain high and many lack sufficient income to meet their basic food needs from market purchases. Consumption of locusts in areas where this food source was available is expected to have contributed only minimally and temporarily to energy and protein requirements. Since December 2018, the number of people receiving food assistance has increased by nearly 50 percent, with WFP reaching 12.4 million people in August 2019. This has likely prevented more extreme outcomes and further use of irreversible coping; however, access and other constraints continue to limit delivery to all populations in need.

    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 (FCS), the reduced Coping Strategies Index (rCSI), Household Hunger Scale (HHS), and a Livelihoods Coping module. Broadly speaking, these data pointed to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes. More recent mobile phone surveys from WFP mVAM indicate that around 35 percent of the surveyed population reported Poor or Borderline FCS in August, similar to the results of monthly data collection throughout 2019. These results should be interpreted understanding that phone surveys only sample those who have access to cell phones and therefore may be subject to response bias. Overall, information available suggests large numbers Yemenis face at least moderate food consumption gaps or are engaging in negative livelihoods-based coping strategies in order to try to meet their food needs. Widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes persist even in the presence of ongoing humanitarian food assistance. FEWS NET estimates that approximately 17 million people are in need of emergency humanitarian food assistance.

    In 2019, SMART surveys were conducted in districts of Ibb, Ta’izz, Hajjah, Hadhramaut, Shabwah, Sa’ada, and Socotra. Across assessed districts, the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM), as measured by weight-for-height z-score (WHZ), ranged between 6 to 22 percent. The highest GAM prevalence of over 15 percent were observed in Hajjah (Northern Interior, Southern Interior, and Western Lowlands) and Ta’izz (Lowlands), surpassing the WHO threshold of “very high.”

    According to UNICEF, 193,693 children in need of nutrition interventions were treated between January and August 2019. In early 2019, the SAM caseload averaged between 27,000 and 29,000 cases per month. This compares to an average of approximately 25,000 in early 2018 and less than 20,000 in early 2017. Generally, the number of children admitted for treatment of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) fluctuates on a month-to-month basis, with changes in admissions often reflecting changes in access to clinics/treatment rather than shifts in malnutrition prevalence. Poor nutrition outcomes can be driven by inadequate food and/or nutrient consumption, poor child feeding practices, inadequate sanitation and hygiene, and disease, including high levels of cholera and diarrhea.


    The most likely scenario for the October 2019 to May 2020 period is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Seasonally dry conditions are expected through February, though above-average land surface temperatures are forecast. The 2020 rainy season starts in March and based on early forecasts, average rainfall is expected.
    • Conflict is expected to continue in most western parts the country throughout the scenario period. Given historical trends, fluctuations in conflict will likely occur with the highest levels in Al Hudaydah, Hajjah, and Sa’dah.
    • Conflict-related population displacements are expected to continue, and the number of IDPs within Yemen is anticipated to continue to increase at levels near current rates.
    • Severe road access constraints are likely to persist in conflict-affected areas, though volatility is anticipated. Access to humanitarian assistance will remain constrained in areas where primary trade/access routes have been affected by conflict throughout the outlook period.
    • Very poor macroeconomic conditions are expected to persist throughout the projection period. Specifically, liquidity constraints are expected to continue, limiting import capacity. Oil exports are unlikely return to pre-conflict levels during the scenario period, but will likely remain close to current levels of about 40-50 barrels per day through May 2020. The YER will likely continue to depreciate against foreign currencies, and it is anticipated the Central Bank of Yemen will have limited ability to intervene due to the shortage of foreign reserves. While typical volatility is anticipated, the exchange rate is expected to generally continue increasing through May 2020 and will likely remain between 590-700 YER/USD.
    • The Central Bank’s current split in management between Sana’a and Aden will likely continue. The Central Bank in Aden will continue to provide a preferential exchange rate to traders to support imports of key staple food commodities, although access to these exchange rates may be more difficult for traders in northern areas.
    • Payment of civil servant salaries will likely continue to be erratic or absent in many areas due to the Central Bank’s lack of adequate financial resources.
    • Total contribution of remittances will likely remain below average through May 2020. Continued disruption of livelihoods coupled with rising inflation will continue to reduce the capacities of better-off households within Yemen to provide normal amounts of remittances. In addition, the nationalization of labor policies in Saudi Arabia combined with delays in processing remittances within Yemen will continue to limit the ability of some households to receive remittances from abroad. Access to remittances from Saudi Arabia is expected to continue declining throughout the scenario period, although at reduced levels given the waiving of the tax on foreign workers within the industrial sector.
    • It is expected that cargo will continue arriving into Al Hudaydah, Salif, Aden, and Al Mukalla ports. While large traders will continue to find alternative methods of accessing foreign currency to continue operations, import levels for both food and fuel will likely remain volatile given changing import requirements and high transaction costs.  
    • Informal food flows across land borders from Saudi Arabia into the western areas of Yemen will continue at reduced levels compared to pre-conflict. Access will remain difficult due to rising civil insecurity.
    • It is expected that the Yemeni government will continue to ease restrictions on fuel imports such that, while imports will remain below average, the severity of shortages observed in September will not likely be repeated. FEWS NET anticipates the average quantity of food imported through the Red Sea and Aden ports will continue at recent average levels. Fuel prices are therefore expected to decrease somewhat as supplies are boosted by recent inflows, though remain substantially above pre-crisis levels.
    • Active fighting, damaged transportation infrastructure, high fuel prices, and additional security and transaction costs are expected to continue to impede trade flows within the country. Based on past trends, it is likely trade flows will be particularly constrained in western and southwestern Yemen where roads are currently closed.
    • Effective demand from consumers is likely to remain atypically low due to weak household purchasing power caused by below-average incomes, high levels of debt, and well above-average prices for essential commodities. Purchasing power may improve sporadically at times during the scenario period as households harvest some agricultural produce, receive salary or remittance payments, and/or receive cash transfers.
    • Staple wheat flour prices will likely remain above average across most markets, within the range of 250-340 YER/kg in the markets of Aden, Al Hudaydah, and Sana’a. Wheat prices in these markets are expected to trend between 45-65 percent above pre-crisis levels.
    • Agricultural production is likely to remain below long-term averages due to the impacts of protracted conflict, which have resulted in displacements, loss of livelihood productive assets, and restricted access to agricultural inputs.
    • It is anticipated that fishing along Red Sea coastal areas and on the Gulf of Aden coast will remain below pre-conflict levels through May 2020, attributed to continuing conflict. Insecurity compounded by high fuel prices has limited access to fishing grounds and reduced capacities to purchase fishing assets, especially in the western coastal areas.
    • WFP plans to reach an estimated 12 million people per month through December 2020, an estimated 40 percent of the population and in line with the current scale-up. As of October 27, the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster was only 49.6 percent funded for 2019, though WFP was 74 percent funded for 2019 as of August. In the absence of additional funds, WFP anticipates pipeline breaks are possible for all programs between late 2018 and early 2020. Given historical trends in funding and distributions it is expected that assistance deliveries will continue throughout the projection period; however, pipeline breaks that lead to a decline in the ration are possible, increasingly from March 2020 onward. Additionally, delays in deliveries are expected to continue as humanitarian partners will continue to face increased restrictions on movement, particularly for assistance targeted to households along the western border areas including Al Asimah, Al Hudaydah, Dhamar, Hajjah, Sa’ada, Sana’a, and Ta’izz.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    The ongoing food security emergency in Yemen is likely to continue through at least May 2020, with approximately 17 million people requiring emergency food assistance each month. Continued conflict and persistent poor macroeconomic conditions will likely continue to disrupt livelihoods, limiting access to income and food sources. While below-average harvests through December will provide some rural households with food stocks, contribution to total food needs will be limited and stocks are not expected to have major impacts on food security outcomes beyond the near term. Household food access will likely continue to be constrained by above-average food prices, expected to continue to increase during the scenario period.

    Under the most likely scenario for October 2019 to May 2020, most areas of western Yemen will be in Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) and would likely be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse in the absence of 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 and will depend on access to labor, support from the host community, access to humanitarian aid, and the functioning of local markets. In two governorates it is expected outcomes have changed relative to earlier are Hadhramut and Ma’rib. In Hadhramut, there has been a notable scale-up in assistance with relatively few access constraints to delivery, alongside slide improvement food security based on available outcomes, and these data support that Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) is likely. In Ma’rib, where assistance deliveries have also scaled up, increased numbers of IDPs are also present, it is now anticipated that assistance is preventing more severe outcomes and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) will continue. In the areas most isolated and cut-off from trade by the conflict, some households are likely to enter or remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), and some worst-affected populations may be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) as they begin to exhaust their coping capacities. Areas of greatest concern include Hajjah, Sa’dah, and Al Hudaydah.

    In a worst-case scenario, significant declines in commercial imports and/or conflict that cuts off trade and humanitarian assistance to some areas would likely lead to food security outcomes in line with Famine (IPC Phase 5). Military operations increase the risk that key port facilities will be damaged or that key trade routes would be unpassable for a prolonged period of time. Areas of greatest concern include those experiencing intensive conflict and high numbers of IDPs, such as Hajjah, Sa’ada, and Ta’izz, and highly dependent on imports through Al Hudaydah and Salif ports where conflict and blockades are more likely. However, areas that can access imports from Aden are also at risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in the event that already severe levels of acute food insecurity are exacerbated by increased competition for available goods. Even in the absence of restricted food supply, further price shocks for essential commodities would also increase the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5). Finally, should humanitarian food assistance in late 2019 and 2020 fail to materialize, it is likely that many of the more than 12 million people receiving 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 significantly to the overall food supply in Yemen, the absence of this assistance would lead to further price increases 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.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

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



    Impact on food security outcomes


    Major parties to conflict achieve a lasting ceasefire that improves security and facilitates normalization of livelihood and economic activities.

    Food access for many households would begin to improve as prices of staple food commodities decline, household access to food and income begins to return to normal, and IDPs begin to return to their areas of origin. Notably, likely inflows of assistance to Hajjah and Sa’dah would improve food security outcomes among worst-affected households who have been inaccessible. However, additional time would be required before the economy fully stabilizes and major government functions and livelihood activities are able to resume in full.             


    Food imports stop due to destruction or closure of main ports, or major macroeconomic or diplomatic changes

    Food prices would quickly rise and, if prolonged, food availability on local markets would decline. Food security outcomes would worsen with areas likely to deteriorate to Famine (IPC Phase 5) in a worst-case scenario.


    Delivery of humanitarian assistance comes to a halt in localized areas of northern Yemen.

    The absence of humanitarian assistance in areas of northern Yemen would likely result in a sizeable increase in the number of households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4), particularly as households previously receiving assistance begin to engage in more severe coping strategies in order to try to meet their food needs. The size and severity of a deterioration in food security would depend on the scale and duration for which assistance is absent. 


    Yemeni workers in Saudi Arabia become exempt from Saudi labor nationalization policies.

    Household access to remittances from Saudi Arabia would stabilize and likely begin to improve again in the medium-term, helping to prevent further deterioration of household purchasing power in Yemen. Food security outcomes would likely improve among households who have a family member earning income in Saudi Arabia.



    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.

    Figures Title: Yemen seasonal calendar Description: Land preparation is from mid-February to May and mid-June to September. First har

    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    Histogram of battle frequency nationally between September 1 2018 through September 30 2019. Battles have been occurring at s

    Figure 2

    Figure 1

    Source: ACLED

    Map of rainfall over Yemen between July 1 and October 10, expressed as % of normal rainfall. Areas of western Yemen received

    Figure 3

    Figure 2

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Time series graph of monthly food and fuel imports in tons between January 2018 and September 2019. Though volatile, both foo

    Figure 4

    Figure 3

    Source: UNVIM

    Clustered column chart showing number of bulk carrier ships arriving into Aden, Al Hudaydah, Salif, and Al Mukalla ports betw

    Figure 5

    Figure 4

    Source: FleetMon

    Time series graph of humanitarian assistance (MT) and number assisted per month between December 2018 and August 2019. While

    Figure 6

    Figure 5

    Source: WFP

    High levels of cholera have persisted since around March 2019, despite some fluctuations.

    Figure 7

    Figure 6

    Source: WHO EOC

    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.

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