The Sustainable Development Goals in Yemen
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Yemen:
04 August 2021
Yemen’s Waiting Rooms: The Dire Healthcare Shortage
Children are particularly affected by increasing rates of malnutrition, and women, particularly pregnant and new mothers, have limited or no access to reproductive health services. According to the World Health Organization, only 51 per cent of health facilities in Yemen are fully functional, but often they cannot provide adequate care. In Al Batarya, in Hajjah governorate, the community is living alongside Yemenis displaced from neighbouring districts. Fleeing from violent conflict, their property destroyed, many families have been left with no shelter, food, or even regular access to sanitation and water. Malnutrition looms over younger generations, with families barely able to afford food due to skyrocketing prices. According to the Social Fund for Development, in 2019 the number of residents in Al Batarya exceeded 7,000. This a community with only one healthcare facility. “In mid-2020, I could barely find time to drink water. Everyone was in pain and dozens of patients were lined up - either in the waiting room or outside the unit. It was unbelievable...I have not seen such a need in any rural health facility during the past years,” says Ibrahim, an assistant doctor working in Al-Radha health facility. The only health facility in Al Batarya, this small building plays a key role in treating illnesses associated with severe food insecurity. But the influx of displaced people has led to overcrowding, as well as shortages in medicine and vaccines. As the conflict continued and displacement only increased, residents were in dire need of better access to health services. Except the next closest health facility is 20km from Al Batarya, or a 20,000 YR taxi ride, and for patients who can hardly afford food, this is an impossible fee. This leaves most residents with no other choice but to wait long hours for treatment, hoping to see a doctor and a prescription to relieve the pain. Thankfully, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Social Fund for Development (SFD) has helped established a sub-district committee (SDC) in Al Batarya. The SDC was responsible for identifying the needs of their community and developing an action plan accordingly. Undoubtedly, women SDC members have played a leading role in amplifying the voice of rural women and highlighting the urgent need for reproductive health services, including family planning, antenatal and postnatal care, safe delivery, and care for infants and newborns who suffer most commonly from malnutrition. In early 2020, SFD announced the delivery of a financial grant of US$ 20,000 and the contribution of 2,000 bricks (equivalent to US$ 4,000) to build three additional rooms over a four-month period. “After the expansion of the health facility, we are receiving at least 70-80 cases per day,” exclaims Dr. Ibrahim. This is a daily increase of almost 30 patients, who now receive care thanks to the support of three new volunteers trained in midwifery. The health facility now provides reproductive health services, child vaccinations, malnutrition treatment and basic first aid to 3,015 families, including 1,191 displaced families. "The construction of the new extension has greatly contributed to the decreased suffering of displaced and host community members. It saves us the trouble of going to Abs General Hospital and other faraway health centres," Adnan Makin, a resident of Al-Radha village says. The situation in Al Batarya is just a snapshot the struggle experienced in Abs district, which has witnessed a high rate of displacement due to the conflict, becoming classified as a district with notably high rates of food insecurity – including 78,811 malnourishment cases. Thanks to UNDP’s successful partnership with the European Union (EU) & the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), our local partner, SFD, has been able to enhance the delivery of critical health services by establishing community compact initiatives and implementing small-scale projects that improve health infrastructure in rural Yemen. A total of US$ 160,000 was invested to build extensions for four health facilities in four vulnerable sub-districts of Abs, in addition to construction of a healthcare unit for fever treatment In Abs General Hospital. Approximately, 35,000 thousand people will benefit from these interventions. -- These activities were implemented as a part of the Supporting Resilient Livelihoods and Food Security in Yemen Joint Programme (ERRYJP II). The Programme aims to strengthen the resilience capacity of crisis-affected communities through the creation of sustainable livelihoods and access to basic services.  https://www.who.int/initiatives/herams  According to Multi-cluster famine risk reduction data from 2019
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12 July 2021
Aden and Mukalla: Yemen’s Seaside Havens
In Yemen, the on-going violent conflict has threatened lives and livelihoods in more ways than one. But even in the quiet days, a lack of resources for water and sanitation institutions threatens to create widespread dengue, malaria, typhoid disease epidemics. UNDP’s Crisis Support for Solid Waste, Water Supply and Sewage Institutions in Aden and Mukalla Cities Project aims to help the water and cleaning management institutions to improve the delivery of essential services, scale up their efficiency and fight off avoidable diseases. The relative stability experienced in Aden Governorate and the city of Mukalla in Hadramout has attracted tens of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs). But the influx of people has increased pressure on already struggling and stretched institutions, particularly the Cleaning and Improvement Funds and the Water Corporations. Unable to fully fulfill their intended roles, the institutions make do with aged equipment, limited supplies, and a lack of technical capacity. However, with increased trash in the streets and decreased access to clean water, the city streets in Aden and Mukalla had become less safe, and the risk of disease and injury more probable. In 2019, the UNDP’s Assessing the Impact of War in Yemen on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals highlighted the grave developmental loses amassed by Yemen’s conflict, with more than two decades of development reversed in infrastructure, institutional and technical capacities. This included the destruction or degradation of formal institutions like the Cleaning Funds and Water Corporations in Aden and Mukalla. So the Government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have stepped in to preserve, restore, and build critical infrastructure and support vital government and public institutions in these areas. Through the Crisis Support for Solid Waste, Water Supply and Sewage Institutions project, the populations of the major port cities will benefit from better access to drinking water and solid waste management with the delivery of drinking water pumps, sewer water pumps, garbage trucks and better staff knowledge and skills. Through this project, UNDP provided the two cities with 25 new garbage trucks and are working to fix and re-operationalize 25 existing trucks to enable both cities to have a 25 truck fully functioning fleet. In addition, 50 garbage containers, office furniture, ICT equipment, 11 submersible electric pumps and accessories, 12 engines and cables to run bore holes, and many other critically required items were provided. Local experts have also provided tailored capacity building programmes to enhance the efficiency of local service providers and save them the costs required for third-party maintenance. This will ensure the longevity of new waste collection fleets by encouraging in-house preventive maintenance using new workshop equipment. Management and administration training will also help these local institutions to develop clear plans for reform and revision of services. This includes tariff collection to ensure sustainable revenue, and the development of clear job descriptions and new Human Resources rules and systems that will encourage staff to remain motivated and succeed together. When coupled with better fleet management – including Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and devices to keep records, locate and better manage assets – the local cleaning funds stand in a much stronger position to keep their community’s streets safe and clean. The project also critically engages the community, educating them on the collaborative nature of waste management – starting from the bottom-up. To achieve this, the project worked with local authorities to establish committees made up of community leaders and social figures, and trained them on how to communicate the community’s responsibility to keep streets clean. Japan has long been dedicated to supporting Yemen’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector with support dating back several decades. The Cleaning Fund in Aden is still using machinery and vehicles provided by Japan in the 1990s and the Al Mansoura pumping station is using the 1980’s era sewer pumps provided by Japan, which will be fixed in this project. UNDP’s Crisis Support for Solid Waste, Water Supply and Sewage Institutions in Aden and Mukalla Cities Project focuses on local capacity building and the rehabilitation of infrastructure to reduce water-related diseases; contribute to a stronger economy by increasing productivity; and, contribute to stability by allowing communities to enjoy the benefits of peace. Support includes the rehabilitation of facilities, maintenance of vehicles, replacement of malfunctioning sewerage pumps, provision of essential office furniture, training of staff and development of financial plans.
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08 July 2021
Pandemic, conflict continue to upend life for women in Yemen
AL HUDAYAH, Yemen – Fatima Mujawash once had a very different life. She was well educated, with a diploma in clinical laboratory science, and happily married with three children. Everything changed when Yemen’s conflict erupted. Her husband was struck and killed by an explosive projectile when violence engulfed their home district, Al Khokah, in Al Hudaydah Governorate. Her father’s family decided to flee. One year after her husband’s death, Ms. Mujawash made the painful decision to leave, as well. “I had no one to back me up or support me to alleviate my pain and grief,” she explained. Without any means of transport, she and her kids – aged 7, 12 and 15 – set out on foot, leaving nearly everything behind. Fleeing both war and disease By that point, the COVID-19 pandemic had erupted, and Ms. Mujawash feared her family could be exposed if they sought refuge in a crowded city. She decided to go instead to Tuhama, a countryside area on the outskirts of Zabid, where there was a displacement camp not far from the village where her sister lived. They trudged for three hours in the desert heat, “under the hot blazing sun and over the burning sand,” she recalled. Finally, they arrived at a road where they were able to flag down a car for a ride. Struck down by COVID-19 Ms. Mujawash’s hope that a rural destination would protect her family from the pandemic was soon dashed. Not long after arriving at the displacement camp, she fell ill with COVID-19. She was admitted to Zabid’s quarantine hospital. There, she was in isolation, struggling for air. “I felt so lonely and dark,” she said. “I was finding it difficult with every breath I took.” “You have to find the strength to get better,” one of the medical staff told her. “Think of people who give you strength.” Ms. Mujawash thought of her kids. They were her motivation to recover. “I was struggling to save my life to go back to my children,” she said. A new strength Finally, at the end of March, she recovered enough to be discharged. She returned to the displacement camp and was reunited with her children. She has sought out medical counselling at the Zabid Hospital, which is supported by UNFPA. In addition to receiving treatment for COVID-19, she was also able to receive reproductive health services, and her son has been able to access treatment for his sickle cell anemia. This year, UNFPA is supporting 105 health facilities across Yemen. More than half a million women and girls have been reached with life-saving reproductive health services within the last six months, care that has been supported by the European Union, KSRelief, Qatar, the Republic of Korea, and the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund. But the operating environment remains severely challenging. UNFPA, through its partners, is the sole provider of essential life-saving reproductive health medicines in Yemen. To keep reaching the most vulnerable women and girls, UNFPA requires $100 million in 2021. To date, only 30 per cent of this funding appeal has been received. As for Ms. Mujawash, she has not yet been able to find work, but her family has been getting by on emergency relief distributed in the camp. She is determined to hold onto the strength she summoned in the hospital, and is even allowing herself to imagine a better future. “The displacement and the pandemic have changed my life,” she said. “They made me strong. I did things no one could imagine or endure. But I still dream of going back home with my kids. I hope, one day, the pandemic and war will perish from my country.”
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14 July 2021
The Five Pillars of Success: Salwa’s Story
Salwa wants to share her story and encourage others to dream big, just like she did. These are her five pillars of success. Pillar One: Find Your Calling “At the time my soul was aching from my inability to complete my education. The need to work and help others grew bigger and bigger inside me,” says Salwa. Living with her parents, four brothers and two sisters, Salwa was unable to go to university because of the family's difficult financial situation. Her father was earning less than US$ 100 a month - income the family was dependent on. Salwa would spend her days caring for her mother, who lives with a disability, and teaching neighbourhood children how to read and write. It was doing this work, that Salwa was able to discover her true potential. “Undeniably, the desire to help these children improve their education was what sparked my drive, and the opportunity to do it while generating income,” Salwa explains. “Women should know how much intellectual and practical wealth they have within themselves.” Pillar Two: Find A Mentor and Plan Your Business In 2021, Salwa learned about a joint initiative by CARE International and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) aiming to help Yemenis create sustainable livelihood opportunities. Salwa had always been both passionate about education and motivated to improve the living conditions for her and her family. She was selected as a participant. “I was enrolled in a six-day training,” says Salwa. “The training was held via WhatsApp to keep us safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was very useful. We learned how to run an enterprise, including managing finances - profits and sales.” “The most important thing I learned was the potential social impact of an enterprise for the community,” she says. “I was thinking of starting a more profitable business such as engraving, but after the training I decided to follow my passion and open a kindergarten to teach young children. The trainer’s valuable feedback helped me to shape my business idea and plan.” Pillar Three: Convince Others of Your Vision A lack of available financial support is one of the biggest challenges hindering women entrepreneurs in Yemen. To maximise fundraising opportunities, Salwa and other trainees were trained in drafting a business plan and encouraged to submit it for funding. Convinced of her vision, Salwa was selected to receive a financial grant through UNDP and CARE’s joint project. “I was extremely happy the moment I found out I was one of the grant winners,” describes Salwa. “I received a cash grant of 336,000 YER (approximately US$ 600) and went home quickly to tell my family. We were so excited we directly went to the city and bought whiteboards, tables, chairs and other teaching tools for the kindergarten.” “42 students have registered. I charge 4,000 YER for each student, earning a monthly income of 168,000 YER (approximately US$ 280),” she explains. Pillar Four: Surround Yourself with Supportive People Small business owners need a lot of support to succeed, whether it's financial, operational, or emotional. “Thankfully, my family’s support is unlimited,” exclaims Salwa. “My sister helps me look after the students, and I’m always grateful for my mother’s constant well wishes – not to mention my father’s strength as he stands by my side.” “My daughter wanted to open a kindergarten at the house. I didn't object, rather I felt proud and supported her,” explains Mohammed, Salwa’s father. Pillar Five: Constantly Evolve “It has been nearly seventeen years since I started teaching children in a small living room at my parents’ house, I never lost my passion for teaching though.” she reflects. "This project has served the people in my area as well as my family - we finally have an income that helps us to live better.” Passion, dedication, and hard work, in addition to the support of UNDP and CARE International – through the Supporting Resilient Livelihoods and Food Security in Yemen joint Programme (ERRY II) – helped Salwa to demonstrate the benefit of local education to her neighbours. Now children from her community are able to gain critical skills in a peaceful learning environment through fun modern teaching methods. “Sometimes my daughter refuses to go back home and prefers to stay in the kindergarten,” says one mother. “I feel safe sending my children here and go to work with no worries. Salwa taught my son and daughter a long time ago; they are now at college,” says one of Salwa’s women neighbours. “I feel proud that I transformed my personal passion into a successful business. I hope to expand the kindergarten in a bigger building and teach more students,” she concludes. *** These activities were implemented as a part of the Supporting Resilient Livelihoods and Food Security in Yemen Joint Programme (ERRYJP II) in partnership with CARE International, Oxfam, Sustainable Development Foundation, Youth Leadership Development Foundation, Millenium
Development Foundation and For All Foundation. The Programme aims to strengthen the resilience capacity of crisis-affected communities through the creation of sustainable livelihoods and access to basic services.
Development Foundation and For All Foundation. The Programme aims to strengthen the resilience capacity of crisis-affected communities through the creation of sustainable livelihoods and access to basic services.
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24 June 2021
To Stay or to Go: One of the Toughest Decisions a Yemeni Can Make
Ta’iz, Yemen – Deciding to leave their home was a difficult call for Aisha and Tawfiq, but two years ago, out of fear for their lives, the couple fled their farm in Ta’iz, Yemen. “Shells and bullets had started falling near us. We knew we were in severe danger and needed to get to a safer location,” said Aisha, describing what had pushed their family over the edge after enduring years of conflict. “We finally left our home when we saw most of our neighbours leaving. At that time, the clashes had gotten so scary that we fled with nothing. We even left our animals behind – we just couldn’t take them," she added. Not too long before the scariest moment of their lives, Aisha and Tawfiq’s world had been quiet but comfortable. They had a small garden where they kept sheep and chickens. Tawfiq could be found with the herd most days tending to their needs and helping the mothers raise their lambs. In 2015, the conflict broke out in Yemen, and more than six years later it has affected all people across the country, with over 20 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Deadly fighting, economic collapse, disease outbreaks and extremely limited public services remain a constant of daily life in Yemen. Aisha and Tawfiq were lucky for a while before they became two of the 4 million displaced people in Yemen, but then about four years into the conflict, their home became unsafe. Their sheep began to die, and their farm was getting destroyed. Access to food and clean water, as well as income, became completely cut off. Almost worst of all, while comfort and even necessities for survival were gone, they were replaced with anxiety, day and night. When the armed clashes encroached on their neighbourhood, Aisha and Tawfiq were not sure where they and their parents could go, but they knew that they needed security. They left their home by car and eventually made it to Heartha district also in their home governorate of Ta’iz. They built a small shelter with whatever materials they could find near some trees for shade and protection. “Our life here is bad – much worse than our old one. We have needs and the money my husband makes with his motorcycle taxi is not enough. He wakes up every day to pick up people from one place to another and he earns only 2,000 YR (USD 3) per day. This shelter is not good enough to protect us from insects or the weather,” added Aisha, describing the hardship of their life in displacement. Urgent humanitarian needs are rife among displaced people in Yemen and many have no option but to live in inappropriate shelters as Aisha describes, having left behind better-built homes and all of their belongings. Beyond emergency needs, access to income is also a major issue for most displaced families. Many displaced people have no livelihood opportunities and families often can no longer afford basic meals, further deepening food insecurity among this vulnerable community. Like Aisha, Ali had to flee his home in another area in Ta’iz to come to Heartha district when it grew more and more unsafe and risky due to the conflict. “I left my home with my children and wife because my house and everything in my village was destroyed – we lost our home and our farm,” said Ali. Ali is a father of three daughters and a son. Their lives were turned upside down when fighting occurred near their village, forcing them to flee. Although he knew he would lose everything if they left, in the end, the conflict made the decision for Ali and his family. If they stayed, he knew it would not be only the house and their belongings that they would lose. Ali had made a good living as a farmer and selling trees, firewood and charcoal. “Before the war came to us, I worked as a farmer. I used to sell wood and charcoal in the market. But everything changed when we left our village; we left everything behind. Now, it is very hard to find food for my family. Every day, I try my best to find work and secure food for my family,” he added. This is not a unique story. At least 5 million people in Yemen are estimated to be on the verge of famine. Displaced people have it particularly hard when trying to secure enough food and nutrition on a daily basis. The decision to leave their homes to find safety does not, unfortunately, mean that a family will always get all the support they need. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) works with support from European Union (EU) Humanitarian Aid to meet the emergency needs of displaced people across Yemen. Shelter is among the most common immediate needs of a displaced family. Aisha and Ali were among the recipients of shelter materials and emergency aid in Heartha. On that day, IOM distributed over 400 emergency shelter kits, 60 relief item kits and 2,000 plastic sheets. Each family who was supported now has emergency shelter materials, mattresses, blankets and kitchen tools. “These people are displaced because of the conflict. They usually cannot take anything with them, and they need urgent support to build or improve their shelter to ensure their family’s safety. With the help of the aid items that we distributed, these families can now feel secure in their shelter,” said Mohammed Alzailei, a member of the IOM shelter team in Ta’iz. In addition to distributing shelter and relief materials, IOM trained displaced people in Heartha on how to build wooden shelters, enhancing their carpentry skills. A carpentry expert was brought in by IOM to build shelters and provide the training. These skills can be used beyond just their own shelter construction. For Aisha, Ali and their families, this distribution means that they have one less worry to face. “It’s not like our previous home and we are still missing out on some services, but it is better than sleeping in a risky place. Now we can sleep safely, and we are not worried about our lives," said Aisha. “I was only thinking about my family and how I can keep them safe,” added Ali. IOM Yemen reached nearly 58,000 people with emergency shelter support and other emergency assistance in the last year through its partnership with EU Humanitarian Aid. Written by Majed Mohammed with editing from Olivia Headon of IOM Yemen’s Communications Team.
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