As Yemen grapples with political unrest and Al-Qaeda, the Middle Eastern country can ill afford further shocks. But hunger is also threatening Yemen, and funding for food aid programs remains low.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says it needs almost $60 million for its 2011 relief operation to help feed the hungry in Yemen. WFP’s mission includes food for victims of conflict in Northern Yemen and rations for impoverished families suffering from high food prices.
In addition, WFP is feeding thousands displaced by fighting in the south between the government and suspected Al Qaeda militants. WFP also hopes to run a Food for Education program to give Yemeni children rations and encourage class attendance. This program has suffered from such a lack of funding that WFP has reduced its planned beneficiaries from 115,000 down to 59,000. Funding for this reduced amount, however, is still in doubt.
In short, hunger-fighting programs in Yemen by WFP and UNICEF have not received support equal to the crisis at hand. It’s a relatively small price for the international community to finance, but huge in terms of aiding Yemen’s quest for peace.
Hunger is a deeply rooted crisis in Yemen. WFP says, “Yemen is the 11th most food-insecure country in the world,” and “Rates of stunting are the second highest in the world after Afghanistan and the number of underweight children is the third highest, after India and Bangladesh.”
The recent political unrest has increased hunger. Food prices have gone up for already impoverished families.
The hunger crisis in Yemen coincides with debate in the Congress on funding for the Food for Peace program, the primary tool for the U.S. in fighting hunger abroad. Food for Peace has made donations, for instance, to the WFP relief program for victims of the conflict in Northern Yemen.
If the Congress scales back overall Food for Peace funding, it could harm hunger fighting efforts in Yemen. Yemen needs a surge in international support for fighting hunger. Support from the U.S. Food for Peace program and action from other governments is crucial for this Middle Eastern country in crisis.
Article first published as Yemen: Food for Peace Plan Low on Funding on Blogcritics.