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10 percent in 2011, and government estimates put this number even higher. Te consumer price index rose precipitously between 2010 and 2011. Almost 55 percent of Yemenis are now

National Food Security Strategy, which called for reforming petroleum subsi- dies and water policies, improving food security risk management, and reducing qat production and consumption, among other priorities. (Many Yemenis chew qat leaves as a stimulant, and the qat plant uses up about half of Yemen’s scarce water resources. Getting people to consume less qat would improve public health, and cutting production would free up water for other uses.) Among the suggested measures to reduce qat consumption and production are the introduction of a qat consumption tax, awareness campaigns led by local leaders, and the promotion of alternative crops.

Last year’s protests and violence desta- bilized the country, and the situation now is even more dire. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Yemen’s economy contracted by more than

estimated to live in poverty, up from 43 percent in 2009. According to Breisinger, “Even getting back to pre-crisis levels may take three to four years.”

While economic and social conditions have worsened, Yemen’s political uprising may raise the country’s profile in the Arab region. Observers around the world are following Yemen’s post-conflict experi- ence; its success will support those push- ing for more political freedom in other countries, such as Syria. As Breisinger points out, “Yemen is one of four Arab countries where uprisings have initiated significant political transition processes. Te better they do, the better it is for all the countries in the region.”

Te international community is rally- ing support for the new government. A “friends of Yemen” donors meeting in May brought together major international donors, such as the Arab Gulf states,

European Union, IMF, Islamic Development Bank, United Nations, United States, World Bank, and others, to help the government chart a path forward. In preparation for the meeting, IFPRI contrib- uted—with support from the

EU, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Bank—to an assessment of the costs of the conflict, with estimates of post-conflict poverty levels and the investments needed for recovery and growth. Te assessment also calls for government reforms, including those pro- posed in the earlier National Food Security Strategy. Yemen’s government must meet donors halfway; to ensure efficient use of donor funds, the government must improve governance and public services, push forward with economic reforms, and better target public investments.

Despite the challenges, Breisinger is optimistic about Yemen’s prospects. “It’s a country with great potential in several areas,” he says, noting the country’s strate- gic location on the Arabian Peninsula and huge potential for improving governance to attract private investment. Furthermore, he says, “Yemen has great potential for tourism if security improves. Tere are mineral resources. And it has a strong tradition of coffee growing—the word ‘mocha’ comes from a city in Yemen.” Te opportunities are there—the task for Yemen is to seize the moment and bring greater prosperity and well-being to its people.


Photos: © 2010 Clemens Breisinger, Olivier Ecker, and Jose Funes/IFPRI; Garlic © 2012

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