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YM WASH 2016 FlorianSeriex 4-min © Florian Seriex pour Action contre la Faim

Press release


A cholera epidemic threatens millions of Yemenis

In a country ravaged by conflict and economic decline, all the elements are in place for an epidemic outbreak. In Yemen, almost 20 million people are still in need of humanitarian assistance and 17 million Yemenis are food insecure, while the funding allocated to the humanitarian response has been drastically reduced.

Cholera is characterised by sudden, painless, watery diarrhoea and vomiting. Although simple to treat, the disease can kill within hours if left untreated. Children under the age of 5, pregnant and breast-feeding women, people over 60 and people displaced are most at risk. 

1.3 million pregnant and breast-feeding women and 2.2 million children under the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition in Yemen. They are also the most at risk of contracting cholera, as malnutrition and cholera create a harmful circle. “Malnutrition reduces a person’s immunity, which increases the risk of contracting the disease. In addition, cholera causes an abundant loss of water and nutrients, reduces appetite and also affects immunity,” explains Daniel Nyabera, Director of the Action Against Hunger’s office in Yemen.

Action Against Hunger (ACF) and its partners ACTED and Mercy Corps will carry out an emergency response project in at least five particularly vulnerable governorates (Al Mahwit, Dhamar, Sana’a, Hudaydah, Taiz) across the country. The aim of the intervention is to implement water, sanitation and hygiene activities in order to prevent the transmission of cholera at community level and to provide operational support to health centres in order to save lives.

Humanitarian actors have few resources at their disposal, and the rapid mobilisation of additional funds is essential if humanitarian organisations are to contain the epidemic“, warns Daniel Nyabera. Although humanitarian coordination is aware of the need to react quickly, limited capacities have delayed the cholera crisis alert, while the means of analysis and accurate data are lacking. On the other hand, the humanitarian response to the cholera crisis is under-funded, as is the overall humanitarian response in Yemen. This year, funding from the main donors has fallen by 40% compared with the previous year.

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 drop in food aid, a deterioration to emergency level (IPC phase 4) is expected in several governorates under the Sana’a-based authorities between now and May 2024.


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