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Yemen turns to the challenge of reducing poverty and hunger Ian Johnson


n February, Yemen elected a new president for the first time in 22 years, following a year of street

protests, violence, and political unrest. Yemen’s new government marks the beginning of a new era in the country— part of the Arab Awakening—and holds the potential for greater freedom and prosperity for its citizens. But the conflict has been costly, even beyond the toll in human lives. Many Yemenis are poorer, more vulnerable, and more food insecure than they were before the uprising.

IFPRI, in collaboration with the Euro- pean Union, Gesellschaft für Internatio- nale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), World Food Programme, and World Bank, worked with Yemen’s previous government, civil


society organizations, and the private sector in 2010 and 2011 to develop a food security strategy. But the uprising came before the strategy could be implemented. Now, IFPRI is supporting the new government and its international partners in efforts to address key development challenges. Clemens Breisinger, a research fellow who leads IFPRI’s work in Yemen, says, “Yemen wants to get back on track.”

One severe challenge is food insecu- rity. Te country relies heavily on food imports, making it especially vulnerable to price fluctuations in the global market. Te global food, fuel, and financial crises of 2007–2009 hit Yemen’s poor especially hard. As food prices increased, households struggled to meet their nutritional needs.

Te global financial crisis slowed eco- nomic growth, reducing incomes and

further depressing household purchasing power. In 2009, 7.5 million Yemenis, or 32 percent of the population, did not have access to enough food. Nearly 60 percent of children under five were stunted, or too short for their age, and faced possible developmental and health problems.

Around this time, the Yemeni government invited IFPRI to work with a national food security committee set up under the leadership of the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. Working with the committee and the ministry, IFPRI developed the Digital Food Secu- rity Atlas for Yemen, a tool for mapping and analyzing food security indicators.

IFPRI’s team also helped produce a

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