The war in Yemen continues to rage into its sixth year with no clear end in sight. Communities have had to adjust to the uncertainty of finding work, food and security for their families. With little prospect for improvement in the situation, a growing portion of the population is falling further into food insecurity as public resources dry up and jobs become increasingly scarce.
Yasmeen, a 70 year old grandmother with a family of 10, is one such person whose family is persistently struggling to cope with the lack of food, water and work opportunities.
Speaking of life from before the war, she recalls that life was not always easy but the community was comfortable and could meet their basic needs as the government at that time was still providing basic services and paying the salaries of the civil workers. “My sons could earn a steady income to take care of us and there was enough food, water and resources for everyone in the area.”
Now the situation is starkly different. “Most of the family members lost their daily income. It became difficult to afford food, water, other items, as well as health services. They are not there for us.”
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Coupled with this, the conflict between the Houthis and the Internationally Recognized Government, has caused massive price inflation for basic goods, forcing families like Yasmeen’s to resort to extreme measures. “There is no more access to food, even vegetables and fruits at cheap prices. Sometimes we have to skip meals like breakfast or dinner.”
Nestled in the southeast of Lahj, Al Millah is a desert-like mountainous district known for its hot dry summers and rolling hills. Despite the limited fighting in the area, the local population have not been immune to the effects of the five-year long Yemeni conflict. There is a clear absence of food and other basic supplies at markets, health services cannot cope with the needs in the area, and employment opportunities are largely limited to an ad hoc basis. All of these resources have been further strained as IDPs from northern regions continue to pour into Lahj to escape the war and as COVID-19 increases its grip on the country.
To improve the situation for families like Yasmeen’s, ACTED provided almost four hundred vulnerable households with six rounds of cash assistance to the value of 80 USD per round.
By spreading the assistance rounds over a longer period of time, recipients can choose which needs they want to prioritise for their families and are able to plan their finances for the coming months.
Midway through the intervention individuals like Yasmeen are already seeing a positive impact on their lives. “ACTED’s assistance is helpful for my family. We’re able to pay off some debt that we’ve accumulated, can buy food, water and other items, and are able to visit health services.”
Some families have decided to use the money provided to invest in longer term planning too. “Other people have been investing the cash into their own private businesses,” said one community leader, mostly within the agricultural sector. Some of the families have also reported been able to stimulate growth or tackle debt that has been hindering their business. Ultimately, this will enhance their ability to become more independent from NGO emergency support once these activities are phased out.