The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) was established by royal decree in 2018 as a strategic initiative aimed at providing economic and development support across all sectors in Yemen, contributing to the improvement of infrastructure and basic services available to the Yemeni people, creating job opportunities, and fostering economic growth. As of April 2020, SDRPY had launched 175 projects in partnership with 51 Yemeni companies across Yemen in support of healthcare, education, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), agriculture and fisheries, electricity and energy, transportation and government entities, thus expanding employment opportunities, building capacity and transferring knowledge.
“The program was founded on the principle that sustainable development is a force for stability, security, peace and – ultimately – prosperity,” says Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed bin Saeed Al Jabir, who is the general supervisor of SDRPY. “We believe SDRPY forms the cornerstone of a comprehensive solution to the current situation in Yemen, and we’re passionate about working alongside our Yemeni brothers and sisters to help improve living standards.”
SDRPY reconstruction operations are designed to increase access to basic services while strengthening and expanding the entities and infrastructure that make these services available. By carefully assessing essential needs at the local level, the program can focus on making the biggest positive difference possible to daily life.
“The key strength of SDRPY lies in knowledge, know-how, know-what and progressive learning,” says Dr. Adil Al-Qusadi, director of strategy and planning at the program, adding that SDRPY embodies Saudi Arabia’s special relationship with Yemen and long-standing partnership – historical, cultural and economic.
“Our knowledge of the Republic’s developmental needs is greater than that of any other developmental actor,” says Al-Qusadi. “As we mobilize that knowledge, deploying best practices in sustainable development with particular attention to the most vulnerable so that we ‘leave no one behind,’ we maximize the impact of developmental aid on all levels and reinforce our thought leadership in development in Yemen, today and tomorrow.”
SDRPY is responding to short- and medium-term needs at the same time as it contributes to long-term sustainability. The program supplies tractors to farmers and fishing boats to fishermen, but it also erects greenhouses and trains farmers in their effective year-round operation. SDRPY distributes supplies and furniture to existing schools, but it also renovates and builds schools to ensure a proper learning environment, and supplies means of transport to make it easier for students to attend class. SDRPY has delivered and installed modern medical equipment and ambulances to hospitals and health centers, but it has also trained Yemeni medical professionals, as well as constructing new clinics and hospital units to expand capacity.
“The program puts the interests of Yemenis first, identifying needs in close partnership with local authorities and residents,” says Dr. Hala Alsaleh, director of developmental programs, pointing out that, as Yemenis take the lead in project implementation, the capacity of Yemen’s most valuable resource – its people – is built.
“SDRPY builds on the mutually beneficial Saudi-Yemeni relationship, empowering Yemeni communities to drive the wheel of development more effectively,” she adds. “A big part of this is the empowerment of women.”
In addition to projects in the above sectors, SDRPY’s work includes emergency response and rescue operations during natural disasters, such as cyclones and floods. In the course of the three-month “Beautiful Aden” environmental sanitation and hygiene campaign in Yemen’s provisional capital, Aden, launched in the fourth week of March and conducted alongside the Cleaning and Improvement Fund of Aden (CIFA), SDRPY work crews have served as first responders during lethal flooding. SDRPY immediately began directing field teams to assess damage, open roads, remove floodwater, repair electricity networks and provide equipment to alleviate the distress of local residents. The program administered two workstreams in cooperation with the Yemeni government: first, urgent intervention to open routes for relief convoys delivering aid to the affected population and withdrawing water from flooded areas with tankers and pumps; second, provision of new generators and repair of existing generators to restore electricity supplies.
During the period of April 21-25 alone, the campaign removed 1,583 cubic meters of flood waste. As of April 25, the total volume of waste cleared from Aden’s streets and neighborhoods stood at 8,857 tons, equal to 25,083 cubic meters. The lethality of the floods highlighted the importance of the “Beautiful Aden” campaign’s goals, which included reducing health risks from environmental and visual pollution and helping to curb the spread of epidemics and disease, dangers heightened by the flood disaster.
“The ‘Beautiful Aden’ campaign is an example of Saudis and Yemenis working side by side to improve public services and the quality of daily life,” says Ambassador Al Jabir. “A key goal of SDRPY is empowering communities to take the lead in development in Yemen.”