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5-min © Mohanad Waqas Yasin Mahmoud pour Action contre la Faim



In Yemen, the population is struggling to meet its basic needs

In 2023, 21.6 million people were in need of humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations¹. Years of fighting have exacerbated pre-existing vulnerabilities, leading to the collapse of essential public services and economic activities and increasing dependence on humanitarian aid.

Today, Yemenis lack food, water, access to primary healthcare and mental health, while declining funding and regional tensions threaten to further worsen their living conditions.



A still alarming humanitarian situation


Under the combined impact of conflict and economic decline, Yemen continues to experience critical levels of food insecurity. In 2023, 17 million Yemenis were food insecure, while the rate of acute malnutrition among women and children in Yemen remained among the highest in the world, with 1.3 million pregnant or breastfeeding women and 2.2 million children under the age of 5 requiring treatment for acute malnutrition².

With national food resources insufficient to meet the needs of the population, the country is largely dependent on food imports. However, the depreciation of the Yemeni rial against the US dollar, rising market prices, a lack of job opportunities and low wages have made essential foodstuffs unaffordable for a large proportion of the population.

As a result, many families are going into debt, while others are having to limit the amount of food they eat and are resorting to foods of poor nutritional quality. “When we notice that certain products are running out, we cut back on meals until the next food distribution. Sometimes, the family sleeps on an empty stomach“, says the father of six children, including Zakia, a 1-year-old girl being treated for acute malnutrition in the governorate of Hajjah. It is not uncommon for adults, particularly mothers, to go without food in order to give it to their children. In the most extreme cases, the total lack of resources encourages the use of child labour or the recruitment of children into armed groups³.

Zakia 1-min
© Action contre la Faim
Zakia waving
© Action contre la Faim


Deteriorating water quality due to economic decline and extensive damage to water and sanitation infrastructure, particularly in conflict-affected areas, continue to hamper access to safe drinking water and domestic use for almost 15.3 million Yemenis. This lack of access to water resources and water treatment products increases the risk of epidemics linked to contaminated water, such as cholera, which had a particularly devastating impact from 2016 to 2019⁴.

By 2023, 23 million Yemenis needed health assistance, with only half of health facilities fully functional and health centres lacking specialised staff. In addition, the remoteness of health centres, the unavailability of the type of service required and the high cost of care are major obstacles to accessing quality health care and treating malnutrition quickly and effectively⁵.  “Before the opening of the Duban health centre⁶, we had difficulty obtaining health and nutrition services. There is no health unit near our village and we have no money to go to hospital with our sick children. So we just stood there, helpless and sorrowful“, explains Zakia’s father.

The continuing conflict, forced displacement, deteriorating economic situation, poverty and food shortages are exacerbating the prevalence of mental disorders, which affect all communities and social strata in the country⁷. Today, more than a quarter of Yemenis – over 8 million people – suffer from mental disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia.

Despite the scale of this public health crisis, there is no national mental health programme in Yemen, and only 10% of primary health care facilities in Yemen have staff trained to identify or treat mental disorders⁸.  The stigma surrounding mental health delays treatment and, by devaluing the related professions, discourages the training of students.


Act in a challenging environment


In 2022, Action contre la Faim (ACF) teams had provided essential aid to more than 388,940 people (229,205 women and 159,735 men) in Aden, Al Khawkah, Hodeida, Hajjah, and Abyan. Our actions aim to improve the health and nutritional status of vulnerable populations, to support the rehabilitation of health infrastructures and access to drinking water and hygiene, and to provide psychological and psychosocial support to people affected by violence and abuse.


22-min © Mohanad Waqas Yasin Mahmoud pour Action contre la Faim
25-min © Mohanad Waqas Yasin Mahmoud pour Action contre la Faim
12-min © Mohanad Waqas Yasin Mahmoud pour Action contre la Faim
15-min © Mohanad Waqas Yasin Mahmoud pour Action contre la Faim

Like other humanitarian organisations, we operate in a context of insecurity and face numerous bureaucratic obstacles in delivering aid, particularly in the north-west of the country. In addition, numerous restrictions on the freedom of movement of female national aid workers (mahram) compromise the delivery of aid to women and girls.

Despite growing humanitarian needs, the capacity of humanitarian organisations to intervene is limited by the drop in funding: in 2023, only 32% of funding requests had been met. In particular, the lack of funding has forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to announce a “pause” in the General Food Assistance (GFA) programme, with an impact on 9.5 million food-insecure people in northern Yemen. As a result of this reduction in food aid, a deterioration to emergency level (IPC phase 4) is expected in several governorates under the Sana’a-based authorities, where more than half of the population previously received humanitarian assistance, during the period February to May 2024⁹.

The resurgence of hostilities in the Red Sea and on Yemeni territory following Israel’s offensive against Hamas, which has put a brake on peace efforts, and the recent designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organisation by the Biden administration threaten to put the population in a stranglehold. In the coming months, this could further increase prices, disrupt supply chains and the delivery of vital humanitarian aid.





[4] The cholera epidemic in Yemen is one of the worst in recent history, with almost 2.5 million cases and around 4,000 deaths.

[5] HeRAMS, 2021.

[6] The Duban health centre is a health centre supported by Action contre la Faim in the governorate of Hajjah.

[7] A survey of community leaders carried out by Action contre la Faim between 20 November and 7 December in the governorates of Marib, Abyan, Lahj and Al Hudaydah reveals that psychological problems are mainly due to the conflict and the deteriorating economic situation.


[9] With assistance paused, some SBA areas to deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) | FEWS NET


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