The lives of Yemeni people have been marked by hardship, uncertainty, and a bitter struggle for survival, with many resorting to extreme coping mechanisms, including reducing meal frequency since the outbreak of the civil war eight years ago, announced the World Bank.
In its new report, Voices from Yemen, the World Bank aims to shed light on Yemenis’ experiences, providing a human context for the quantitative data presented in 'Surviving in the Times of War.’
Over four years (2019-2022), the team conducted in-depth interviews with 156 individuals from different governorates across Yemen.
One of the themes that emerged from these interviews was the prevalence of food insecurity.
The report noted that to stretch limited resources, families have had to resort to extreme coping mechanisms, including reducing meal frequency, limiting the variety of food they consume, and prioritizing which family members eat.
A male respondent from al-Mahwit described the agonizing trade-offs his family is forced to make, as he and his wife would sometimes sleep without dinner.
He recalled that sometimes, when he has money for dinner, his wife tells him that the kids need milk, so he buys them milk, and they sleep without having dinner. “The kids are more important."
Children have also been hit hard in their education journeys. Schools are underfunded, teachers are scarce, and many families cannot afford to send their children to school.
A school principal from Hajjah depicts the dire state of education, saying his school has 1,050 students and has only six rooms, one of which is used as a residence for the teachers, one for the principal’s office, and the remaining four rooms for the classes.
He explained that the school has three shifts for different grades.
The World Bank warned that healthcare access is equally compromised, with many individuals forgoing medical care except in the most severe emergencies due to high costs and limited availability of services.
The report interviewed a health worker from Hodeidah who said that they used to offer services and medicine for free.
However, now they have to charge the patients and write them a prescription to buy medicine from pharmacies. People stopped coming because they can’t afford all that, given that commuting here will also cost them a lot.
It is even a hardship for staff who spend half of their salaries on transportation, according to the participant.
The report indicated that internally displaced Yemenis are grappling with an added layer of hardship.
They navigate a perilous journey to safety and struggle to secure the necessities for survival as they continue to face the threat of displacement, the erosion of their livelihoods, and rising living costs.
The World Bank asserted that the conflict and subsequent humanitarian response had disrupted the local economy, affecting all sectors, from education to healthcare.
It warned that displacement further compounds these challenges, affecting food availability, education access, health provision, and livelihood stability.
The Bank highlighted that these narratives reflect the scale of the suffering, as well as how the Yemeni people often have no other choice than to endure while turning to destructive coping strategies.
The report underscored the urgency for comprehensive and sustainable solutions to alleviate the tremendous hardships faced by Yemen's people.
It called upon policymakers, humanitarian actors, and the international community to move beyond short-term aid and towards interventions that restore more sustainable livelihoods, address the root causes of the crisis, and build a foundation for a more stable and prosperous Yemen.