Social Policy

In Yemen, UNICEF Social Policy interventions ensure that every child has an equal chance in life — in its social, political, economic, civic and cultural dimensions

UNICEF Yemen/2019/Mona Adel

The Challenge

The armed conflict and economic decline have placed an immense pressure of essential public services accelerating the collapse of public systems and contributing to the unprecedented scale of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Poverty rates have increased from 49 per cent in 2014 to a range of 62-78 per cent in 2017. Child poverty (monetary) has increased from 53 per cent in 2014 to 84.5 per cent in 2017 (est., HBS). The formal social protection systems are on the verge of collapse, while informal social protection mechanisms and networks are overstretched. 

UNICEF Yemen/2019
Infographic marginalised groups

After four years of conflict, the economic deterioration continues in Yemen, with the rial losing nearly 50 per cent of its value since September 2018, putting services and commodities, including food increasingly out of reach of vulnerable populations.

Lack of income and adequate access to social services are among the main causes of the threatening food insecurity and malnutrition throughout the country, in particular for vulnerable populations. Today, an estimated 80 per cent of households in Yemen are in a worse economic situation compared to the pre-crisis period; 8.4 million people lost their livelihoods and income; and 17.5-21.6 million of Yemenis are pushed into extreme poverty.

When the conflict started, the Muhamasheen were the first ones to be severely hit by extreme poverty. Historically, the Muhamasheen have mostly lived in poor conditions in slum areas on the outskirts of cities. They suffer from social exclusion and fall outside established Yemeni tribal and societal structures. Many are unemployed, and those who do work are often confined to menial, low-paid jobs. As a result, they have had to reside in open farmland, parks and other public spaces, and struggle to access basic services or other support mechanisms. This has further exacerbated their existing vulnerabilities.

The Solution

Social Policy/Social Inclusion Programme has adopted the ‘humanitarian plus’ approach that aims at bridging the humanitarian and development linkages to achieve better results for children of Yemen. The Programme focuses on (i) addressing multidimensional aspects of child poverty and disparities, (ii) preserving and strengthening national social protection systems, (iii) building resilience to external shocks and enhancing humanitarian responses.  

UNICEF Social Policy programme addresses the needs of the poorest and most excluded communities.

UNICEF Social Policy programme continues investing in generation of evidence on child poverty, investment cases and social protection systems, by supporting national household surveys and analyses, which provides a review of child wellbeing indicators such as living conditions, workforce, income and wages, education, immunization coverage, health care use and coping mechanisms. The Programme also focuses on monitoring the social and economic situation of children and their families in the country for decision making and effective programming purposes. One of the key initiatives supported by the Programme is Yemen Socio-Economic Update (YSEU), which provides an update on the various public finance and social policy issues that have impact on the poorest and most vulnerable children and their families in the country.

In the context where most of the economic and social data are not available publicly, Yemen Socio-Economic Update (YSEU) remains almost the only source of information on key developments in Yemen both internally and externally. 

Given the multidimensional nature of poverty and vulnerability in Yemen, Social Policy introduces a holistic model called “The Integrated Model of Social and Economic Assistance and Empowerment” (IMSEA), in which social assistance is complemented by additional social services, inputs and linkages to other services to augment income effects. In addition, this model increases cooperation and collaboration between providers and agencies, lead to improvements in service quality, and produce better outcomes and satisfaction with service delivery amongst service users and providers.

The programme, based on a community and household-level case management approach, addresses the immediate needs of the Muhamasheen, the poorest and provide them with socioeconomic opportunities/empowerment to enhance their livelihoods and strengthen resilience against shocks and stresses.

Thanks to IMSEA advocacy, the agenda of this marginalized group has been advanced and for the first time they are part of Yemen 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview.

UNICEF Yemen/2019
A marginalised child receiving cholera vaccine during oral cholera vaccination campaign in Sana'a.