YECRP: A story of restored hope for Yemeni people

The protracted conflict in Yemen since March 2015 has exacerbated the already dire humanitarian and economic conditions in the country leaving millions of vulnerable Yemenis in need of urgent assistance. The number of people who are food insecure in Yemen stands at an alarming 17.8 million making it the world’s largest food security crisis.

With a large displacement of people, collapse of key public services, disruption/cessation of monthly salaries, and a sharp decline in the economy associated with hyper-inflation, millions of people in Yemen lost their livelihoods.

With no political solution in sight, people of Yemen feel that their crisis is forgotten by the world despairing at the idea that things will get better soon. Many Yemenis believe that their situation before the conflict was not the best but, when comparing it to the current crisis, they long to those days.

In response to such devastating crisis, the World Bank has funded and supported the US$300 million Yemen Emergency Crisis Response Project (YECRP) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with two key national institutions, the Social Fund for Development (SFD) and the Public Works Project (PWP).

YECRP works on reviving Yemen’s economy through massive cash-for-work initiatives, support to small businesses, and labor-intensive repairs of socio-economic community assets benefiting vulnerable communities in over 300 districts across the 22 governorates of Yemen.

Residents of Al-Madad village of Al-Dhale’ governorate suffered a lot because the area is rugged and mountainous and lacks access road. Women had to transport water on their heads or on animals. Some patients suffered because they were not taken to hospital quickly.

“We made a dirt road to transport food and water to the village on animals, such as donkeys, but the problem remained because the road was very long and took time,” said Abdulla, a resident in the village.

All residents in Al-Madad village were looking forward to having a paved access road that connects their village with other vicinities.

Thanks to PWP and through YECRP, access road into the village was paved and villagers were able to transport their needs including food and other stuff easily on cars and motorcycles.

“We are very happy because this road has made everything easier. We suffered a lot in the past because we had to walk for an hour to bring water to the village,” said Abdullah.
216,571 workers received wages for working on labor-intensive repairs of socio-economic community assets benefiting 879,508 people

Like many villages in Yemen, residents in Serdah village in Tuban district of Abyan governorate suffered from severe water shortages and had to fetch water from far away wells.

The shortage of clean drinking water leads to the spread of diseases by contaminated water and also makes residents prefer not to waste water in washing their hands.

Salem Awadh, a resident in Serdah village, said that residents had been suffering from this problem for a long period.

“We lack of a reliable public water scheme in the village. Sometimes residents don’t get water to cook or drink. They bring water from uncovered wells that are located far away. It’s a real suffering.”

The village had no access to water until PWP built a 50,000-litre water tank. This tank will not only provide water for the villagers, but will also save time and effort because the tank is near to the village.

231,659 cubic meter of water reservoirs built in deprived rural areas securing a basic need for Yemenis
“Villagers are very happy and relieved now. Women will no longer have to walk for hours to bring water in jerry cans and carry them on their heads or using animals,” said Abdullah with a smile of satisfaction brightening his face.

In Al-Dhalea governorate, specifically in Al-Ozlah district, Al-Abass Elementary School sustained great damages due to the conflict. As a result, students had to study in destroyed classrooms.

“Last year, Al-Abass school was almost completely destroyed. There were no chairs, windows or doors in the classrooms. Even whiteboards were destroyed and we weren’t able to understand what teachers write on them. Many students fell sick because of the cold weather and the lack of windows. Even during rainy days, water would always seep into the classrooms. We studied in inappropriate conditions,” said Rana, a student in the school.

However, the situation has totally changed following the renovation of the school by the World Bank-funded YECRP.

“Currently, the school accommodates large number of students (girls and boys) now studying in an appropriate educational environment,” added Rana.

In Al-Sabra district of Ibb governorate, students of Ajyal Al-Wahda School were suffering as well due to the lack of adequate classrooms and bathrooms. Students had to study outdoor and urinate behind the school. Many other students had to go to study in a neighboring village that is more than two kilometers away.

“Last year, we used to study under these stairs due to the lack of classrooms. My classmate Rufaida and I used to sit on the ground for more than four hours every day. We fell sick because of the cold weather,” said Asma’a, a student at the school.

Many students used to escape during the break to avoid studying under the burning sun.

However, the situation has changed following the reconstruction and increase of classrooms at the school and provision of necessary equipment by YECRP to serve more than 200 students in 14 villages.

“Now there are adequate classrooms that are equipped with chairs and new whiteboards. We can study better and we never cut classes as we used to do in the past,” said the student Ammar, with a large smile.
1,297 classrooms rehabilitated to ensure Yemeni children continue getting proper education need for Yemenis

YECRP supports education through training and employing youth to become school teachers. One of those teachers is Mohammed, who studied at the Education College and was accredited with a bachelor degree but he didn’t find a job. He decided to volunteer in Al-Ghafeqi School in Al-Basateen area of Aden governorate.

“Despite the scant salary, I was very enthusiastic to work as a volunteer teacher. I used to receive $30 per month from the Ministry of Education. Although this amount wasn’t enough to cover the needs of my wife, four daughters, my mother and my visually impaired father, I was optimistic that one-day things will get better,” said Mohammed.

Mohammed was hoping to receive a higher salary but, unfortunately, the Ministry of Education reduced the payment to volunteer teachers to $20 per month, so he quitted volunteerism and started to look for another job with decent pay.

“Amid this gloomy situation, one of my colleagues called and told me that the Social Fund for Development would implement a World Bank-funded project that is supervised by the UNDP. He told me that the project will cover the monthly payment of volunteer teachers,” said Mohammed. After returning to school and teaching, Mohammed began to receive $150 per month. His situation has improved and he began to pay off his debts.

YECRP has also invested on Nutrition Conditional Cash Transfers, where mothers of malnourished children receive cash amounts for nutrition. The project includes health awareness sessions for mothers. These sessions are conducted by young female health educators. However, it was very difficult for the educators to convey the health messages due to the prevalent illiteracy among mothers in Bajil district.

Laialy Al-Shameri, a female health educator at the project, said, “I found out that those mothers couldn’t read and write. It was difficult for us to convey the health and nutrition messages to them because we use written materials in the awareness-raising sessions.”

Laialy and four of her female colleagues agreed to deduct part of their monthly payment to start an initiative call Ishraqat Elm to end illiteracy among mothers in Bajil district.

“I didn’t know how to read and write even an SMS. I used to get someone to help me whenever I want to make a call. I wasn’t able to help my kids with their homework. I thought that education isn’t useful for poor people like us but today I found out that I was wrong,” said Fatima, one of the beneficiary mothers.

The initiative has expanded to include 380 women in two education centers in Bajil district.

5,161 youth trained & employed to improve their livelihoods and provide health and education services and build the resilience of their local communities

Fatima Bahassan, a woman from Aden governorate, is among Yemeni women affected by the conflict in Yemen. Her son was killed in the clashes that took place in Aden governorate, the other one sustained a permanent disability and her small business that was supported by SFD prior to the crisis was vanished.

“I used the funds provided by SFD for my small business by buying women’s clothes, perfumes, cosmetics and going to the women houses and selling my goods and making good profit margin. However, when the conflict broke out in the city of Aden, people’s purchasing priorities and women specially diverted to essential commodities and my business opportunities decline tremendously,” said Fatima.

With the escalation of clashes in Aden and the loss of her business, Fatima sustained the second shock. Her son was killed and the other one became permanently incapacitated.

Within this gloomy situation, Fatima saw a glimpse of hope in her life as stability finds its way in Aden city. She received a new funding from the Union Microfinance Program, which is also supported by YECRP through SFD to cover for her losses and restore her small business. “I know that nothing can make up for the loss of my son but still, I will work hard to compensate for my financial losses and provide a decent living for my kids,” said Fatima.

728 Small and Micro Enterprises received grants to offset their debts and sustain their businesses

Originally published at medium.com on May 16, 2018.