UNDP and EU  go large in Yemen  but cash alone will not bring peace

The European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Programme in Yemen (UNDP) have signed a partnership agreement aimed at improving the economic and social wellbeing of Yemenis. With concentrated efforts toward the poorest and most vulnerable populations, the EURO 69.8 million (approximately 82.4 million) partnership will be the largest of its kind and will work to strengthen local authorities, bridge lifesaving humanitarian and longer-term development work, and engage the Yemeni private sector to fight poverty.

A three-year initiative, the Strengthening Institutional and Economic Resilience in Yemen (SIERY) intends to rebuild community trust in the Yemeni state and help redefine the central-to-local relations. SIERY will help scale-up support to the Yemeni formal local governance system to help maintain and ensure citizens’ have access to a wide range of basic services, that conflict is minimalised and social cohesion is fostered at the community-level, and that there is a sustainable economic recovery process in place for communities.

Fully aligned with the EU’s Global Strategy to build resilience by supporting good governance, strengthen humanitarian-development nexus and support private sector development, SIERY responds to crucial development challenges.

“In the sixth year of the devastating conflict in Yemen, the Europe continues to stand by the Yemenis, not only to face the most immediate challenges but also to build up their future,” said EU Ambassador to Yemen, Mr. Hans Grundberg. “This new initiative will put a particular emphasis on critical sectors for vulnerable populations such as health, water, food and education. It will also improve the livelihoods of people by creating jobs and learning opportunities. This will help strengthen the resilience of those already facing difficult situations to better face the multiple challenges linked to the conflict and the coronavirus pandemic.”

UNDP Yemen’s Resident Representative, Mr. Auke Lootsma, indicated that “The protracted conflict has created institutional and economic deficiencies in Yemen that have resulted in dire consequences for citizens. UNDP Yemen is delighted to work with the European Union to continue to improve the lives and situations of Yemenis to maintain, enhance and expand local governance systems.” He added that “Given the crucial role that small and medium sized businesses and Yemeni entrepreneurs play as the economic backbone of the country, SIERY will be instrumental in helping to forge new paths for inclusive and sustainable growth in the future.”

Implemented by UNDP and local partners, SIERY will help ensure basic service delivery such as rehabilitating vitally important community infrastructure like schools, water sanitation and hygiene facilities; address emerging needs such as conflict resolution; help avert disaster by training local authorities and community groups; assist with economic stability by creating plausible, local-level recovery plans; and working with internally displaced people.

UNDP has a longstanding partnership with the EU in Yemen that has impacted hundreds of thousands of Yemenis across the country. Our work together has focused upon enhancing financial security of Yemenis through income-generating activities; improved access to healthcare services; strengthened the ability of local authorities to deliver basic services; and assisted the most vulnerable with access to public services, solar energy and reliable income.

TME Comments: Throwing money – however essential – at the problem, will not make it go away. Yemen and its people have now suffered over several devastating years, as foreign-sponsored conflict has savaged the country. And the destruction continues.  More efforts are essential to bring to account those responsible for the continuing state of war in Yemen. The efforts of the UNDP and the EU, however laudable, will only serve to plug a hole in the real problem.

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