COVID-19 is a crisis on top of existing crises such as war, famine, and other rampant communicable diseases like cholera. Nearly 80 per cent of Yemenis need humanitarian assistance and protection, 16.2 million people are on the brink of famine, and 4 million are currently internally displaced and unable to return to their homes. Unchartered territory, a quickly spreading virus and a laissez faire approach will most certainly increase the likelihood of a devastating outbreak.
Even before COVID-19, with over half the hospitals defunct, Yemen battled a fragile health system. To help fight the rampant spread of the virus – and led by the UN Resident Coordinator and WHO – UNDP helps procure supplies, rehabilitates critical infrastructure, and supports production of non-medical grade personal protective equipment (PPE) by collaborating across key sectors and mobilizing manufacturing businesses across the country.
In the wake of heightened violence during the pandemic, UNDP also worked to empower local governance actors and mainstream gender for effective service delivery. The signing and implementation of the Yemen Women Union (YWU) partnership facilitated knowledge-sharing and enabled the scaling up of gender justice and health security programming in COVID-19 response activities.
Youth and women have also been trained to address misinformation that has spread along with the virus and to lead community initiatives with local authorities and influencers, including through an awareness raising campaign working with radio stations and social media outlets.
As a country already facing rapid economic decline, earning regular income during COVID-19 is critical for many Yemenis. UNDP has helped enable businesses and buyers to digitally connect with each other by establishing Yemen’s first ever business-to-business e-commerce platform. Forward-looking international and national partnerships are currently helping extend direct cash transfers, cash-for-work and public work schemes.