Aid and development in Yemen

Yemen Aid

AFP is reporting the concerns of Abdel-Karim Ismail al-Arhabi, Deputy Premier for Economics Affairs for the Yemen government. He states that the state could otherwise turn into a failed state like Somali, and hence become a threat to the international community.

Access the full article here via Lebanon’s Daily Star.

Arhabi calls for the international community to prove more development assistance, and complains that they currently receive only $13 per capita. AFP also reports:

“At the end of 2006, a donor countries’ conference in London secured pledges of $5.7 billion for Yemen. But more than two years later, just “20 percent of those promises have been met,” one expert told AFP.”

Water problems

Ali Saif Hassan, director of the Political Development forum in Yemen, returns to a more basic problem in his analysis:

“The worst problem is the water,” said Hassan. “Twenty years from now, there will be no water in the whole district of Sanaa,” a mountainous region that is now home to 2 million people.

“There [will] be 6 million in 20 years in the whole Sanaa region. These people will have no jobs, no water. And they are tribal people. They only have machine guns. What will they do? They will go south,”

‘Going south’ of course raises the spectre of Yemen’s civil war returning. The country only managed unification in 1990.

One of the problems plaguing the nation is also connected to potential water problems. The authorities in Yemen have recently began a clampdown on the cultivation of qat. Media Line reports that 30% of the nation’s water is used to grow the narcotic, which is widely chewed in the region to achieve a rush.

International aid

Media Line continues:

‘The farmers will also receive a modern irrigation network, and water tanks will be placed near the fields courtesy of the World Bank, which is also providing experts in the fields of protecting water and soil. It will also perform studies on the possibilities of alternative crops such as cactus, which, according to bank officials, can be very profitable for the farmers.

The international community is heavily involved in Yemen’s aid programme, although the poorest country in the Middle East also helps itself. This video shows some of the government’s efforts in the area of education (admittedly, it is by the UN). I couldn’t get sound, or embed it, but you might have more luck. 77% of school-age children currently attend primary school.

There is little doubt that Yemen is in need of more help than the government alone can provide. It has declining oil reserves and with prices worldwide tumbling, the economy is being forced to diversify.

Investment in other sectors of the economy has made Yemen more attractive to international donors, but despite promising $5 billion, the country is still suffering in the recession.

Shahid Malik, the UK International Development Minister, recently signed a new deal with Yemen, pledging £50 million in aid to 2010. He stated that:

“Yemen has historically never been given much aid, but the UK, with this increase in funding and the new development partnership arrangement, is committed to long-term support to help Yemen tackle its poverty and build a sustainable and prosperous future. The UK is also giving support to the Government of Yemen’s ambitious reform agenda that is essential to help bring about long-term changes to Yemen.”

Although we have seen that Yemen is still dependent on foreign aid, there are even more signs that the country is helping itself. The Social Development Fund, established by law in 1997, aims to:

“reduce poverty by improving living conditions and providing income generating opportunities for the poor.”

Have a look at their full sections here.

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