Scaling Up Rural Development in Yemen

The nexus of biophysical environment and societal challenges in Yemen

      Yemen, with a population of 25 million, is one of the poorest countries in the world. About 68 percent of the population lives in rural areas where the poverty rate is about 40 percent compared to 20 percent in urban areas (World Bank, 2014). The country ranks 154 out of 187 countries in the 2014 Human Development Index (UNDP, 2014), and 72 out of 78 countries in the 2013 Global Hunger Index (IFPRI, 2013). It is among the ten countries in the world with the highest rates of food insecurity, and it has the third highest level of malnutrition in the world. For poor people in Yemen, who mostly live in rural areas, agriculture is particularly important as a source of food and income. Growth in Yemeni agriculture is, however, hampered by its reliance on a weak natural resource base - specifically land fragmentation and extreme water scarcity.

     Rural development programs in Yemen have suffered from a lack of integrated analysis and monitoring that combines natural resource and land use indicators with socio-economic data. To adequately address the problems, policy-makers need to improve their understanding of the bio-physical environment in which rural households pursue their livelihoods. The World Bank is embarking on "Scaling up Rural Development in Yemen, an Economic and Sector Work (ESW)," to support to the Government of Yemen (GoY) in its efforts to stimulate sustainable economic growth, reduce poverty, and promote shared prosperity in rural areas.   The challenge in this study was to develop and examine information that would summarize individual community responses to the environment.

     The Yemen Dynamic Information Framework (YemenDIF) component of the project was developed to organize information to address the questions: What are the important elements in the bio-physical environment that capture the status of the natural resource base on which rural communities make their living? How does the physical environment set the stage for the communities? And how do the rural households cope with the demands of that physical environment, especially in a dynamic context?

    Click to explore YemenDIF.