World Food: The collapse of the Yemeni currency exacerbates the hunger crisis

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Aden, NewsYemen:

 The World Food Program has warned again of the alarming rapid economic decline in Yemen, and said that this threatens to exacerbate the hunger crisis, as the rise in food prices during the first half of this year caused the suffering of millions, and weakened their ability to buy enough food, stressing that  Only peace can stop the economic decline and prevent starvation.

While WFP asserts that humanitarian food assistance is the best first line of defense against the massive loss of life in Yemen and is vital in preventing famine, it asserts that it cannot resolve the underlying drivers of food insecurity, and that only peace can do so.

The UN program called for a sustainable solution to the crisis in Yemen, and said that with the increasing economic cost of the war, urgent action is needed to prevent further deterioration of the economy.

The United Nations Information Center quoted Tobias Flemig, head of the Research, Evaluation and Monitoring Department at the World Food Program in Yemen, as saying that the rise in global commodity prices - an increase of 34 percent year on year in June - led to a rise in the cost of food in Yemen, which  It depends on imports, as the cost of the minimum food basket has increased by more than 25 percent in 12 governorates since the beginning of 2021. The governorates of Al-Dhalea, Lahj, Saada, Ibb, Aden and Abyan recorded the highest increase, but Marib - the center of the current conflict - increased prices by 44 percent, since the beginning of this year.

The UN official also indicated that the Yemeni riyal reached its lowest level in the south of the country, reaching a thousand Yemeni riyals against the dollar for the first time in late July, and it is stable in areas under the control of the Houthis due to the strict economic controls imposed by the group, but fuel imports in those areas are down 74 percent, and fuel prices are up 90 percent, year on year.

According to the World Food Program, insufficient food consumption, one of the measures of hunger, is increasing every day, largely driven by this economic downturn.

Inadequate food consumption in Yemen has crossed a “very high” threshold (40 percent) according to data on VAM.  

The program noted that families are resorting to desperate measures to survive, as the high cost of food and fuel shortages are pushing Yemen's population to the brink.

He indicated that reducing the amount of meals, not eating adults in order to feed their children, reducing the diversity of the diet, and relying on cheaper or lower quality foods, are all “common strategies in Yemen for adaptation.  Families also borrow to pay for food.”  However, he said, no famine has been declared in Yemen because the declaration to classify famine requires “specific evidence of food security, malnutrition and mortality, which is data that is difficult to collect in a conflict zone.” Communication is difficult and access is sometimes limited, and displacement is widespread.

It indicated that reducing the amount of meals, not eating adults in order to feed their children, reducing the diversity of the diet, and relying on cheaper or lower quality foods, are all “common strategies in Yemen for coping.  

Families also borrow to pay for food.”  However, it said, no famine has been declared in Yemen because the declaration to classify famine requires “specific evidence of food security, malnutrition and mortality, which is data that is difficult to collect in a conflict zone.” Where communication is difficult and access is sometimes limited, and displacement is widespread.

According to the programme, the total number of severely food insecure people is 16.2 million, including 2.3 million children under the age of five suffering from severe acute malnutrition, 400,000 of whom are at risk of death if left untreated.

About 1.2 million pregnant and lactating women suffer from acute malnutrition, while starvation is exposing people to the various public health risks facing the country, including the "Covid-19" pandemic, cholera, dengue fever and malaria, says WFP.

The program has announced an increase in its food assistance in all areas at risk of famine since the beginning of this year with the availability of additional funds, but it stated that about 3 million, out of the 13 million people supported by the World Food Program with food aid, are still receiving food aid in alternating months, as  Funding remains uncertain.

The amount of cash assistance, according to the program, was increased, starting in July, to help families cope with the rise in food prices.  

It also supports 3.3 million children and mothers with nutritional supplements to treat and prevent malnutrition.

WFP School Feeding provides daily nutritious snacks to 1.55 million students, a vital increase in nutrition that also helps increase school attendance.