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Start of cereal harvesting in the highlands slightly improves food availability

  • Key Message Update
  • Yemen
  • September 2023
Start of cereal harvesting in the highlands slightly improves food availability

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Across many highland areas, the start of the main cereal harvest in September is expected to be temporarily improving the availability of food and labor opportunities for poor households. Meanwhile, in lowland areas, poor households will continue to face seasonally low access to food and income until the start of harvesting around November. However, own crop production contributes little to households’ total food needs overall, and poor households face high competition for available labor opportunities amid limited other livelihood options. Given this, above-average food prices, and reduced humanitarian food assistance levels, millions of households will likely continue to face food consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes throughout the projection period. Of particular concern are internally displaced households, households dependent on only one main income source, and the poorest households in areas controlled by the internationally-recognized government (IRG) given expectations for further economic deterioration and reductions in income-earning opportunities. 
    • For years, significant humanitarian assistance was regularly provided to more than a third of the Yemeni population. However, since the beginning of 2022, the more than 13 million beneficiaries across the country have experienced substantial ration reductions due to funding shortages. More recently, the World Food Program (WFP) announced on August 18 that funding shortages would force further substantial cuts to food and nutrition assistance programming beginning in late September. According to WFP reporting, up to 3 million of 9.6 million total beneficiaries in areas controlled by the Sana’a-based authorities (SBA) and up to 1.4 million of 3.6 million total beneficiaries in areas controlled by the internationally recognized government (IRG) may lose humanitarian food assistance or face further reductions in the coming months. Also of concern, WFP has already made substantial reductions in the number of beneficiaries of critical nutrition prevention, nutrition treatment, school feeding, and resilience interventions, with only around one third of the total planned target for the year likely to be reached.
    • Poor households in Yemen are typically highly dependent on markets for food throughout most of the year. As such, above-average food prices continue to pose a major barrier to poor households’ ability to meet their basic needs, particularly in IRG-controlled areas. In the Aden reference market, the cost of the minimum food basket (MFB) remained stable from July to August at levels similar to the same time last year, but 75 percent higher than the three-year average, according to data from FAO. Meanwhile, in the Amanat al Asimah (Sana’a city) reference market, the cost of the MFB remained stable from July to August 2023 at levels around 10 percent lower than the high levels recorded at the same time last year, but 19 percent higher than the three-year average.
    • According to monitoring by WHO and government partners, reported cases of measles began to increase concerningly in 2023. The WHO reports continued high concern over the widespread outbreak. In the first six months of 2023, nearly 4,000 measles cases have been reported in MSF facilities, which is almost three times the total number recorded throughout 2022. Despite the sustained lower levels of conflict over the past year, Yemen’s healthcare system continues to operate at significantly reduced capacity, having been decimated by more than eight years of conflict and economic slowdown. Currently, only around 51 percent of the country’s total health facilities are fully functioning. With many households unable to access or afford health care – in addition to other factors such as lack of sanitation infrastructure, insufficient provision of vaccines, and poor underlying nutritional status – many poor Yemenis are highly vulnerable to infectious diseases. According to WHO, the severity of the current outbreak is at least partially attributed to insufficient funding for vaccination campaigns.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Yemen Key Message Update September 2023: Start of cereal harvesting in the highlands slightly improves food availability, 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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