The continued conflict in Yemen has forced more than 2 million Yemenis from their homes and has left 17 million people – more than half the population – struggling to eat. Poor infrastructure, coupled with ongoing violence, makes growing and distributing food unpredictable. Where food is available, it is unaffordable, with prices that have skyrocketed more than 40 percent. Malnutrition has always been a serious problem in Yemen but cases of severe acute malnutrition have spiked in the last three years. Currently, more than 2 million children under the age of five are acutely malnourished and face an increased risk of morbidity and death.
Hajjah governorate in northwestern Yemen is home to nearly half a million displaced people, and faces frequent airstrikes in its northern districts. Even before the conflict, more than half of the rural households did not have a market within their localities. Now, the destruction of road infrastructure has meant it’s difficult to transport food and has resulted in sporadic availability of food commodities. People simply need rapid access to food.
To the southeast, Amanat Al Asimah governorate – home to Sana'a, the capital and the most populous city in Yemen – also faces consistently disputed border areas that make even counting the number of displaced people difficult. Daily airstrikes on military targets inside the capital make it hard for vulnerable families to access reasonably priced fuel and food. Most of the private businesses have been forced to shut down or reduce the workforce by more than half due to physical damage to premises, loss of capital, mounting debt and lack of electricity and fuel. This has led to loss of livelihood options for more than 50% of the population. For people in Amanat Al Asimah, where food is available but at highly inflated prices, people need assistance to engage in the market.
In Amanat Al Asimah, Relief International uses vouchers to provide assistance without disrupting the area's fragile economic balance. Food vouchers allow severely threatened families to buy groceries, which, in turn supports the merchants selling the groceries.
Food vouchers also help create jobs and generate income for local storekeepers, drivers and other workers. The food vouchers stimulate the local economy and spare families the difficult decision of skipping meals or sacrificing nutritional quality to pay for other basic needs like rent, fuel and education costs. With funding from the UN World Food Program, Relief International distributes vouchers to thousands of families in Amanat Al Asimah every month.
In Hajjah governorate, where markets are not available, Relief International is delivering hundreds of metric tons of food to more than ten thousand vulnerable households every month. The food baskets, provided with funding from the UN World Food Program, include basic food supplies like flour, pulses, vegetable oil, salt, and sugar. For those households with children under the age of two, RI is including malnutrition-preventing Plumpy Doz food supplement packets in the food baskets each month.
More than 5 metric tons of Plumpy Doz is distributed to more than three thousand children under two every month.