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Key facts: Yemen

  • Population: 22.4 million (World Bank (WB), 2007).
  • Average life expectancy: 62 years (WB, 2006). UK: 78 years (UN Statistics Division (UNSD), 2007).
  • Average per capita income: US$2,200 (purchasing power parity (PPP)) (World Development Indicators (WDI), 2007). UK: US$33,800 (PPP) (WDI, 2007).
  • Gross national income (GNI): $49.33 billion (PPP) (WB, 2007).
  • Average annual growth rate: 3.6% (International Monetary Fund, 2007).
  • Percentage of people not meeting daily food needs: 12.5% (Yemen Poverty Assessment, 2007).
  • Women dying in childbirth: est. 430 per 100,000 live births (Millennium Development Goals Indicators (MDGI), 2005). UK: 13 per 100,000 (UNSD, 2007).
  • Children dying before age 5: 100 per 1,000 live births (WB, 2006). UK: 6 per 1,000 (UNSD, 2005).
  • Percentage of children receiving primary school education: 75.4% (UNESCO, 2006).
  • Percentage of people aged 15-49 living with HIV/AIDS: est. 0.2% (UNAIDS, 2004). UK: 0.2% (UNSD, 2005).
  • Percentage of people with access to safe, clean water: 67% (MDGI, 2005).

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DFID: Working to reduce poverty in Yemen

Making aid effective | Economy | Health/education/infrastructure | Gender | Corruption/insecurity | Hunger/humanitarian aid | Water/sanitation | Millennium Development Goals

To help tackle the country’s many serious problems, DFID is increasing what it gives to Yemen. In 2008-09, our aid will total £20 million and is scheduled to rise to £35 million in 2009-10. We’ve expanded existing programmes in education as well as our support for community-based development through the Social Fund for Development (SFD). e’re also promoting investment and growth, justice and policing, water resources management and humanitarian aid.

Making aid effective

In August 2007, we signed a Development Partnership Arrangement (DPA) with Yemen - the first 10-year DPA in the Middle East. This is helping us secure and monitor government commitment on poverty reduction and human rights, and by making our aid predictable and long term, the DPA also helps Yemen.

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Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. Although oil has provided most of the country’s revenue since its discovery in 1984, the modest reserves are predicted to run out by 2020. As they run low and oil prices seesaw, Yemen’s budget will come under increasing strain. There has also been a significant downturn in tourism owing to the poor security situation.

Economic diversification remains a priority. While the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are advising on the restructuring of the economy, DFID is helping by supporting an £8.9 million programme (2008-11) to create a better environment for non-oil growth. Run by the International Finance Corporation, this will help promote business and investment and create employment opportunities for Yemen’s young and rapidly growing population.

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Health, education and infrastructure

DFID has increased its funding for the Social Fund for Development (SFD) to £63 million (2004-10). The SFD works with local communities on health, education and infrastructure projects that bring services to the poor as well as giving them access to micro-credit. In 2007, in addition to creating 3.7 million temporary jobs setting up and running projects - for example, infrastructure construction - the SFD contributed 12% of classrooms nationwide and trained 1,084 female reproductive health workers and 270 health institute staff.

In January 2008, DFID and the Netherlands formally agreed to work together in Yemen, particularly on maternal and neo-natal health. This programme (£4.5 million over six years) will help prevent mothers from dying in childbirth and keep their children healthy.

As a result of our previous support, the enrolment rate for basic education - which is available for children up to the age of 13 - increased from 72% in 2005-06 to 75% in 2006-07. We will be providing £15.9 million over six years (2008-14) to help the Yemeni government reform the Ministry of Education and increase access to quality basic education, particularly for girls. We will also be investing in secondary education in Yemen.

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The ratio of male/female enrolment in education has fallen from 28% in favour of males in 2005-06 to 24% in 2006-07. Between 2008 and 2014, we will be contributing £20 million towards a multi-donor project to improve gender equality and the quality and efficiency of secondary education in selected districts. This will be particularly focused on girls in rural areas.

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Corruption and insecurity

Corruption is a serious issue in Yemen: the country is placed 141st out of 180 on Transparency International's 2007 Corruption Perception Index. Because of these concerns, DFID does not provide direct support to the government of Yemen.

The government has taken steps to improve this by:

  • joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
  • creating the Supreme National Authority for Combating Corruption
  • instituting a ‘best practice’ public procurement law
  • increasing the independence of the Central Organisation for Control and Audit.

One of the objectives of the DPA that we have with Yemen is ‘strengthening financial management and accountability and reducing the risk of funds being misused’. DFID is now working with other donors on this and on judicial reform in Yemen, and we’re supporting the Ministry of Finance to develop and implement an action plan for public financial management reform.

Because the poor suffer most from a lack of security, we are also addressing insecurity and conflict in our programme. For example, we’ve expanded our work on justice and policing with funding of £7.9 million over seven years (2005-13). We’re also providing £3 million (2007-9) through the World Food Programme (WFP) for food aid to those displaced by the fighting in the northern governorate of Sa’dah, where conflict has been ongoing since 2004.

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Hunger and humanitarian aid

DFID is considering measures to offset the impact of rising food prices, which threaten to set back Yemen’s progress on poverty reduction and which led to riots in spring 2008. We’re looking at extending our support for the WFP across the country to support those affected by this. We’re also examining ways in which Yemen can improve its food security in the longer term.

Yemen ploughs much of its oil revenues back into well-intentioned but costly fuel subsidies. We are encouraging the government to phase out subsidies and use its oil wealth to really benefit the poor.

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Water and sanitation

DFID has signed a partnership with the Islamic Development Bank on water and sanitation and on water resource management - the first agreement of its kind between DFID and the bank. We’re also working with the World Bank, Germany and the Netherlands to help the Yemeni government update its national water policy and design a new sector-wide programme.

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Progress towards Millennium Development Goals

MDG 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Latest reliable figures show that 34.8% live below the national poverty line.

MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education
As of 2006, only 75.4% of children were enrolled in primary education.

MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Female literacy in Yemen stands at 34%. A quarter fewer girls attend primary school than boys; only about a third as many young women as young men attend university. Although women comprise some 30% of the workforce, 80% of them work in the agricultural sector and only 8% in formal employment.

MDG 4: Reduce child mortality
About 10% of children die before their fifth birthday.

MDG 5: Improve maternal health
An estimated 430 women in every 100,000 of those giving birth die shortly before, during or shortly after childbirth.

MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
An estimated 0.2% of Yemenis aged 15–49 are living with HIV/AIDS. Tuberculosis afflicts 78 in every 100,000 of the population.

MDG 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Although 66% of Yemenis now have access to an improved source of drinking water, this percentage is rapidly decreasing. In addition, an average of only 46% have the use of improved sanitation.

MDG 8: Develop a global partnership for development
An element of this MDG is access to communications technology. From 2000 to 2006, the percentage of people in Yemen with a mobile phone subscription rose massively from 0.17% to almost 14%.

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