Doha: For a country that relies on industries such as agriculture, fishing and tourism, there aren’t many avenues left to generate income.
In strife-torn Yemen, the seaports and fishing waters are blocked for security reasons.
The conflict has destroyed farmlands and security threats have put a halt to tourism.
As aid agencies provide families with blankets and utensils, the goods are sold in exchange for exorbitantly priced staple food items.
On Tuesday, the second day of the Qatar Charity-organised Yemen Humanitarian Crises Conference saw focus shift from emergency needs such as health care and food insecurity to long-term planning for development and economic stability.
Before the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention, which was launched last March, much of the development work was based on devising working plans, whereas now all attention is focused on emergency plans.
“There is a lack of coordination and understanding between international aid agencies and the needs of local people,” said Mohammad Allai who spoke on the economic emergency and lack of livelihood opportunities for the Yemenis.
Allai, who was representing Al Amal Microfinance Bank from Yemen, blamed the lack of a government-regulated system for economic uplift for the worsening standard of living in the country.
“I come from a rural part of western Yemen, where there are no international organisations or development infrastructure but we sure have a soft drink distributor in our village. Often, what is available is not necessarily suitable for the target groups.”
Participants agreed that when community empowerment is promoted in such conflict-affected regions, it grows into a more sustainable income-generating option than short-term employments.
Aid workers who have spent years working in Yemen spoke highly of the country’s culture of community spirit and coordination, which has gone missing as the inability of the breadwinner to put a meal on the table has overtaken all other responsibilities.
A representative of UK based Human Appeal International, Hassan (who only gave his first name), spoke of the sense of despondency for the future and urgency for the present.
“When you have kids as young as 11 or 12 holding guns instead of pens, or people waiting for hours in the sun to get a few litres of clean water, your mind doesn’t want to think about developing infrastructure or promoting cultural heritage.”
While participants and speakers disagreed on the manner in which aid work is being done or where it is being directed, they were all of the view that Yemen and its people need much more help than is being provided by the international community.
As Allai summed it: “Yemeni people want to eat and stay alive. That is all.”