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COVID-19 caseload increases while food import levels remain low in April

  • Key Message Update
  • Yemen
  • May 2020
COVID-19 caseload increases while food import levels remain low in April

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In Yemen, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes prevail in many areas in the presence of large-scale humanitarian food assistance. In the coming months, deteriorating macroeconomic conditions and impacts of COVID-19 are expected to further increase food prices, disrupt livelihoods, and restrict access to income. Due to these factors and the impact of cuts to humanitarian assistance in northern Houthi-controlled areas, an increasing number of people are expected to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3), Emergency (IPC Phase 4), and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists and would be possible if the country’s capacity to import food is severely limited or if food supplies to particular areas are restricted for a prolonged period of time.

    • As of May 27, 249 cases of COVID-19 and 49 deaths have been reported in Yemen, though experts estimate that the true number of cases is much higher. Amidst reports of rapid and undetected spread of the virus in Yemen, direct impacts of COVID-19 on food security for some households – including illness and death of family members who typically earn income as well as increasing health costs –  are of concern. Meanwhile, indirect impacts on food security including through trade and supply chain disruptions, increased food prices, and reduced access to income, remain of concern for a greater number of households.

    • According to FAO, demand for casual labor and agricultural labor has decreased in recent weeks due to both Ramadan and impacts of COVID-19. Furthermore, according to FAO, livestock producers in Al Hudaydah, Al Jawf, and Hajjah are reportedly selling atypically high numbers of animals as a precaution against potential COVID-19 impacts, despite reduced demand and below-average prices. In the coming months, localized and temporary increases in control measures are expected in areas where higher numbers of cases are suspected, with disruptions to trade and access to food and income possible. As a result of these disruptions, declining access to income and upward pressure on food prices due largely to increased transport costs are expected to further constrain access to food for many households.

    • According to FAO market monitoring, imported food commodities remained broadly available in the first week of May. However, some disruptions to supply chains of locally produced foods are reportedly resulting in postharvest losses. According to FAO and UNVIM, food import levels through Yemen’s main seaports in April were similar to the low monthly totals observed throughout 2020. Meanwhile, the price of imported wheat flour has remained broadly stable in recent weeks, though the price of cooking oil and sugar have continued to increase. In early May, the cost of the minimum food basket increased by 36 percent in Sana’a City, 12 percent in Lahij, 10 percent in Ta’izz, and 10 percent in Socotra.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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