Yemen is one of the least developed countries in the world in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In 2019, the United Nations reported the country has the highest humanitarian aid, reaching 24 million people or nearly 75% of its population.
As a country with the least contribution to global GHG emission, at 0.03 % of the total GHG emission, it is disproportionately vulnerable to climate change impacts such as drought, extreme floods, pests, sudden disease outbreaks, changes in rainfall patterns, increased storm frequency/ severity, and sea level rise that threaten the already fragile state of the country, and among the least prepared to adapt and mitigate its impacts.
In July 2023, the Yemen Family Care Association (YFCA), the country’s leading non-governmental organisation, published a report, Climate Change Impacts on Yemen and Adaptation Strategies, to highlight the climate-related hazards and their impacts on different sectors such as water, agriculture, coastal areas, livelihoods, and food security, and their effects on vulnerable groups such as women, girls, children, people with disabilities, and older people.
It also sheds light on the climate-related conflicts and mitigation and adaptation solutions that can be implemented to alleviate the impacts of climate change on the country.
The report features the most impactful climate change effects on Yemenis, which include:
- The worsening cyclones and floods are damaging their crops and leading to significant economic losses and more food insecurity in the county, leading to undernourishment, especially in children and reliance on external aid.
- The country has around 19 million (62% of the population) facing food insecurity and 161,000 living in famine-like conditions.
- Droughts and temperature rise have also increased desertification and deforestation from 90% in 2014 to 97% in 2022. Desertification has reduced 3-5% of its arable land each year.
- Sea level rise has increased the risk of saltwater intrusion, worsening the country’s water scarcity problems. Aden is one of the most vulnerable cities in the world to SLR and storm surges, and increased flooding has led to significant contamination of both surface and groundwater.
- Decreasing precipitation and climate change made the country the seventh most water-scarce country in the world, with dwindling groundwater levels ranging between 3 to 8 meters per year in critical basins. Water scarcity could reduce 40% of its agricultural productivity.
- Climate change is increasing the endemic and epidemic diseases in the country, particularly the spread of vector-borne and waterborne diseases.
- Climate change also increases the number of internally displaced people and exacerbates social and political tensions. For example, an activist from Marib stated that fights have often broken out within IDP camps between different families or groups over food and water.
- Water and food scarcity, in particular, have led to significant violent outbreaks.
The report suggests climate adaptation strategies like improving water resource management through efficient irrigation techniques and rainwater harvesting, promoting drought-resistant crop varieties, and improving disaster preparedness and response mechanisms.
It also emphasises the importance of international cooperation and financial support to effectively help Yemen implement these climate adaptation measures.
Climate Change Impacts on Yemen and Adaptation Strategies. (2023, September 23). ReliefWeb. Retrieved from https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/climate-change-impacts-yemen-and-adaptation-strategies