Yemen is facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. 7 years after the beginning of a serious escalation of the conflict, the situation in the country is becoming increasingly desperate.
Nearly 400,000 people are estimated to have died and more than 21 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Hunger is widespread and compounded by economic collapse, with millions unsure where their next meal will come from.
Along with the Yemeni people, their environment is also feeling the effects of the protracted crisis. Yemen was already at risk of floods, drought and heavy sandstorms, but further damage is being caused by an increase in deforestation and desertification caused by the crisis.
Increase in demand for wood
Severe fuel shortages resulting from a blockade of Houthi-controlled areas and restrictions on imports at the port of Al Hodeidah have forced people and businesses to chop down trees for firewood. More than 5 million trees have been felled since 2018, with more than 889,000 felled each year to supply bakeries and restaurants in the capital, Sanaa alone.
The growing demand for wood has triggered a wave of deforestation, the effects of which are likely to be devastating for Yemen’s long-term development. The demand, coupled with high unemployment, has seen some former farmers whose land is no longer arable turn to logging to support themselves.
Forest and woodland protection measures have been abandoned and habitat loss has forced some birds and other species to migrate.
Climate and food insecurity
Deforestation and desertification are compounding Yemen’s already devastating problem of food insecurity, wiping out what was once farmland and depleting sources of clean water.
Millions of people are on the brink of starvation and malnutrition is rampant. Many families don’t know where their next meal will come from.
People and livestock are at risk of dying from lack of water and fodder across Yemen, and shrinking arable land cover is also depriving those who depend on it of a stable means of supporting themselves and their families. their families. 75% of the Yemeni population lives in rural areas and is highly dependent on stable climatic conditions to maintain their livelihoods.
Without it, households and communities are forced to relocate, adding to what is already one of the largest internal displacements in the world.
The homes and livelihoods of Yemenis are not the only things lost to climate change. The crisis has led to neglect of the delicate terraced agricultural systems used for millennia as a source of food and livelihoods in this mountainous country. This, combined with extreme weather events, threatens the existence of this way of life.
“Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time and often those who have contributed least to it bear the brunt of it. Yemen is no exception. Climate change is aggravating the humanitarian crisis in the country,” said said Ammar Abdulbaset Nagi Aldumini of Islamic Relief Yemen.
“We have heard of people trying to make a living selling firewood because they have no other source of income, but the damage this is doing to Yemen’s landscape is profound. Without arable land and agriculture, more people will lose their livelihoods and be pushed into food insecurity and any long-term recovery efforts will be seriously hampered.
“To stop deforestation, an end to the ongoing conflict must first be accepted by all parties involved. A lasting end to the conflict will allow Yemenis to access the fuel they need – only then will Yemen be able to take action to support agricultural production and reduce poverty.
Islamic relief in Yemen
Islamic Relief has worked in Yemen since 1998. We significantly scaled up our programs in the country following the escalation of the crisis in 2015.
In collaboration with the World Food Program (WFP), we distribute food and vouchers to vulnerable people, including internally displaced people.
We support health facilities to provide care and education to fight dangerous diseases like Covid-19 and cholera. Since the start of the pandemic, Islamic Relief has provided medicine and materials, including ventilators, to isolation centers in Yemen.
Islamic Relief works to provide access to clean water and supports families and communities during the cold winter months by providing food, fuel and blankets.
During Ramadan, we distribute food parcels to help people in need to break their fast. We also provide qurbani meat packages to celebrate Eid al-Adha.
Children face extreme hardship in Yemen and one of the ways Islamic Relief supports them is through our orphan sponsorship program, which works with thousands of children in the country.
The Yemeni people need your support more than ever. Please help Islamic Relief continue its lifesaving work in Yemen. Donate now.