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Pause in food assistance in SBA areas to drive widening consumption gaps

  • Key Message Update
  • Yemen
  • November 2023
Pause in food assistance in SBA areas to drive widening consumption gaps

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The World Food Program (WFP) will pause all emergency humanitarian food assistance under the General Food Distribution program in areas under the control of the Sana’a-based authorities (SBA) beginning in late November/early December in the absence of reaching an agreement with SBA officials regarding operational reforms. As such, around 9 million beneficiaries are losing a significant share of their total food (equivalent to around a quarter of their minimum basic energy requirements). Through around January, deterioration of food security is likely to be somewhat mitigated by seasonal increases in access to food and income during the main harvest season. However, poor households will quickly exhaust these resources and will overall be unable to fully compensate for the loss of assistance via market purchases due to highly limited opportunities to earn income. A growing number are likely to implement severe food coping strategies such as eating others’ leftover food scraps at restaurants (before it is thrown away) or spending the whole day without food. WFP nutrition assistance and school feeding programming will continue country wide, albeit at reduced levels (reaching around 2-3 million beneficiaries per month across programs), attributed to funding shortfalls.
    • Despite a sustained reduction in fighting since mid-2022, the impacts of more than eight years of protracted conflict continue to drive high levels of acute food insecurity in Yemen. Notably, poor economic conditions continue to limit income-earning opportunities and drive above-average staple food prices. As of FEWS NET’s October analysis—which assumed the continuation of humanitarian food assistance at current levels—Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes were projected to be sustained at the governorate level throughout the projection period. However, given the pause in assistance in SBA areas, an increase in the population facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes is now expected in the February to May 2024 period. Concern is highest for poor households with no income sources (including internally displaced people) and those who previously considered assistance to be their main source of food. More detailed analysis and updated mapping are forthcoming in the December Food Security Outlook Update report. 
    • The Central Bank of Yemen in Aden (CBY-Aden) has not held a foreign currency auction since October 31. This is the first time that a break in the weekly auctions has occurred since the mechanism was launched in November 2021 and is a serious indication that the CBY-Aden may be depleting its foreign currency reserves, including from the deposit of 266 million USD from Saudi Arabia in August 2023. Consequently, many traders have been forced to resort to alternative sources for foreign currency, often through unofficial channels. This has caused the value of the Aden-based rial to further depreciate throughout most of November, reaching 1,542 YER/USD on November 7 for the first time since the record levels of December 2021. Meanwhile, in SBA areas, the value of the local currency remained generally stable in November at a rate not exceeding 550 YER/USD. 
    • The recent increase in global fuel prices (with peak levels recorded in September 2023) has contributed to further domestic fuel price increases in Yemen in November given lag time in price transmission. In the Aden reference market, authorities raised official petrol prices slightly by 3 percent (from 25,000 YER/20L to 25,700 YER/20L) on November 6, following a 14 percent increase during October. However, official diesel prices remained stable in November. Meanwhile, the Sana’a-based Petroleum Company raised both official petrol and diesel prices by 6 percent (from 9,000 YER/L to 9,500 YER/L) in November, following a period of relative stability since early 2023. In IRG areas, depreciation of the local currency is also contributing to rising fuel prices. Meanwhile, fuel prices in SBA areas reflect the impact of a large quantity of fuel that was imported prior to September when global prices were high.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Yemen Key Message Update November 2023: Pause in food assistance in SBA areas to drive widening consumption gaps, 2023.

    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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