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Cablegate: Yemen's Mepi Strategy

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF A) STATE 126550; B) SANAA 166

1. (U)Summary: Embassy Sanaa presents the MEPI Strategy
2003/04 at para 2, prepared by the Embassy Development Team
that includes Pol/Econ, PD and USAID. This strategy reflects
Embassy Sanaa's long-term goals for MEPI. Embassy Sanaa
believes MEPI will become a substantive part of our
engagement with the ROYG, and looks forward to substantial
programs in the MEPI pillars of Education, Democracy and
Economic Reform. End Summary.


Introduction and Overview

In the past two years, the U.S.-Yemeni relationship made
great strides: Yemen is a key partner in the war on
terrorism, a USAID office re-opened, and recent
Parliamentary elections demonstrate that Yemen is making
solid democratic progress. However, internal instabilities
are threatening the country's move towards greater democracy
and economic freedom, which could possibly weaken the U.S.-
Yemen partnership against terrorism. Extreme poverty, an
uneducated populace, inexperienced civil society, and
traditional tribal order all threaten Yemen's ability to
move forward.

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Over the next five years, Embassy Sanaa's MEPI goals are
aimed at giving Yemen an opportunity to provide its citizens
with more educational opportunities, stronger democratic
institutions, and improved economic conditions. MEPI
initiatives will expand choices in education, government,
and economics to empower all Yemenis, including the
traditionally marginalized categories of the poor, women,
and children, to become active participants in all aspects
of Yemeni society.

Specifically, we expect Yemen to have made great strides in
its security situation, buttressed by significant progress
in democracy. A diversified economy will provide jobs for a
growing population. In education, we envision greater
access to schools for both girls and boys, and more
education choices that lead toward jobs in the private

Specifically, Embassy Sanaa requests MEPI funding for:

Education Reform
1) Expanding basic education and literacy;
2) Increasing English language training;
3) Improving technical training; and
4) Expanding U.S.- Yemeni Education and Research

Political Reform
1) Strengthening democratic institutions
2) Improving electoral processes
3) Reforming the judiciary
4) Increasing the professionalism of media organizations
and journalists

Economic Reform
1) Increasing trade and investment
2) Expanding employment and business opportunities at the
local level
3) Enhancing policy reform and program development

Each pillar strategy is comprehensive and includes an
analysis of the need for reform along with achievable and
measurable results. The entire MEPI strategy corresponds to
our 2005 MPP plan, including Goal 3: Democratic Systems and
Practices; Goal 4: Economic Growth and Development; and Goal
5: International Public Opinion. Based on this strategy,
Embassy Sanaa looks forward to working closely with MEPI and
USAID personnel to develop specific activities and Request
for Grant Proposals.


The quality of education and training helps determine
economic development and social progress in Yemen.
Therefore, Embassy Sanaa will focus on raising education
standards and providing the training needed to meet the
demands of the modern business environment and increased
trade. Higher education standards will also create an
improved climate for development goals. Corresponding with
Post's MPP Economic Growth and Development and International
Public Opinion goals, the MEPI Education strategy includes
support for: 1) Expanding basic education and literacy; 2)
Increasing English language training; 3) Improving technical
training; and 4) Expanding US-Yemeni education and research

1. Expanding Basic Education and Literacy

Problem: Only half of all Yemeni children aged 6 to 11
enroll in school and gender disparity is pronounced,
especially in rural areas where only 30% of girls attend
school and two-thirds drop out before completing their
primary education. In the rural areas where three-fourths
of Yemenis live, 68% of men and 94% of women have had no
formal education or have failed to complete primary school.
Nearly all (91%) never-married rural women are illiterate.
Only 60 percent of teachers have a basic education, or at
most, one to two years of secondary school. The majority of
children in grades 4-6 have difficulty relating what they
learn in schools to their daily lives. Most pupils have
limited ability to read, write or solve problems. There are
shortages of teachers and teaching materials. Constraints
also include severe overcrowding, insufficient numbers of
schools and inadequate school buildings.

In Yemen, girls are more likely to enroll and stay in school
if they have female teachers, but only a fifth of Yemeni
teachers are women and only 8% of those women teachers work
in the rural areas. Only 56% of schools have any toilet
facilities and few have separate facilities for girls.
Overcrowded co-educational classrooms also deter girls'
enrollment and retention because families feel uncomfortable
with the close physical proximity of male and female

MEPI Strategy:

The USG education strategy in Yemen focuses on basic
education (grades 1-6), improved literacy, especially for
women and girls, and education reform. To carry out these
goals, Embassy Sanaa seeks MEPI funding in the following
areas: 1) Enhancing access to quality primary education in
the public sector; 2) Increasing literacy and numeracy for
adults and out-of-school youth at the community level; and,
3) Improving the environment for public education.

1. Enhancing access to quality primary education in the
public sector:

-- Build, renovate and equip elementary schools in
partnership with community organizations. Special
attention will be paid to physical constraints to
girls' participation (e.g. separate latrines)

-- Train teachers (especially female teachers) with a
focus on improved students' ability to think abstractly
and solve problems

-- Train administrators to better manage limited
resources and increase engagement with the community

2. Increasing literacy and numeracy for adults and out-of-
school youth at the community level:

-- Create opportunities for illiterate men, women and
children in rural communities to learn to read, write
and do basic math in programs related to their needs.
Community-based activities may include
radio/video/internet distance-learning and parents' and
women's education circles

3. Improving the environment for public education

-- Develop district and governorate education plans
with community participation; Increase citizen input by
providing education planning and program grants
-- Promote new teaching approaches, i.e., interactive
and inquiry-based learning
-- Develop policies to increase girls' enrollment and
retention in school
-- Structure outreach programs to educate adults and
out-of-school youth
-- Provide technical assistance to the Ministry of
Education and the district and governorate education
offices to implement the ROYG decentralization
objectives and the ROYG Basic Education Strategy
-- Provide technical assistance to the ROYG at all
levels to collect and use education data for planning
and management
-- Develop IT applications that can be used with solar
and satellite technology
-- Develop programs to improve public attitudes
regarding the value of education, especially for girls

Expected Results:

-- Increased number of teachers trained in interactive,
inquiry-based, teaching methods
-- Increased number of administrators trained, with a
focus on maximizing limited resources
-- Education facilities improved
-- Increased average number of days teachers spend in
the classroom
-- Increased enrollment and retention of girls in
-- Increased numbers of adults and out-of-school youth
with improved basic literacy and numeracy skills
-- Expanded communities receiving education outreach
-- Community-based education organizations formed or
-- District and governorate education plans and
resource allocation budgets prepared with community
-- District and governorate education offices with data-
based planning capacity; District education offices
that plan and share budget information with the

2. Increasing English Language Training

Problem: English language instruction is uneven throughout
the Republic of Yemen. In Sanaa, English has become a
"second language," where it is routinely used in business,
educational and diplomatic endeavors. The Yemen America
Language Institute (YALI)'s high enrollment figures
(approximately 1,350 students per term), the number of new
language institutes, and the number of professional job
vacancies requiring English proficiency all point to a clear
demand for quality English language instruction.

Outside of Sanaa, however, a far lower percentage of the
population has any working knowledge of English. Moreover,
there are few venues to learn English outside of Yemeni
schools and universities in the major cities. Even where
English is taught, the quality of language teaching is
mediocre. Without increased opportunities to learn
English, Yemen's development options will continue to be
limited along with the American-Yemeni political, economic,
and cultural relations.

MEPI Strategy:

To improve the quality of English language training in Yemen
and to expand access to English instruction, Embassy Sanaa
seeks MEPI funding to:

-- Expand English language instruction in rural Yemen
-- Provide training in technical and specialty topics
(e.g. medical, auxiliary health services, public
administration, engineering, business, trade, finance)
-- Offer stipends (tuition, fees, materials,
transportation and living expenses) for students and in-
service training
-- Train English teachers in improved methodology and
-- Supply instructional materials to expand English in
public sector classrooms

Expected Results:
-- Increased numbers of schools and language centers
teaching English
-- Expanded pool of teachers able to teach English
-- More Yemenis able to communicate and work in English

3. Expanding Technical Training:

Problem: There are too few job opportunities for Yemen's
growing population. For those who have a high school
education, finding work is difficult because their skills
often do not match the needs in the public and private
sectors. Adults also do not have the skills now demanded by
the labor market and must be retrained. Furthermore, those
who have academic degrees often lack the practical skills
required by employers.

MEPI Strategy:

To provide appropriate training suitable for the job market
in Yemen and to enhance education opportunities for Yemenis,
the Embassy seeks to use MEPI funding to:

-- Train teachers at technical universities in updated
teaching methodology
-- Strengthen Community College management and their
ability to provide practical, job-related training
-- Promote workforce development centers with the
private and public sectors
-- Develop curricula in basic technical areas such as:
computer skills, laboratory technicians, medical
equipment operators and repair technicians,
electronics, management, accounting, building
management, construction management, hotel and tourism
-- Offer scholarships to enable students to attend
technical training (tuition, fees, materials,
transportation and living expenses)

Expected Results:
-- Increased enrollment at technical institutes
-- Strengthened community college system, including
increased enrollment
-- Workforce development centers established in
partnership with the private and public sectors
-- New curricula and teaching materials developed and
used by teachers
-- Expanded number of students trained and placed in

4. Expanding US/Yemeni Education and Research Cooperation:

Problem: American researchers who wish to visit Yemen lack a
permanent home from where to base their research. Presently,
the American Institute of Yemeni Studies (AYIS), the premier
institute of its kind in Sanaa, has been operating out of
ill-equipped, leased quarters. As a result, AIYS is unable
to expand its cultural outreach activities that promote
deeper understanding between Yemen and America.

MEPI Strategy: Post seeks funding to acquire a facility for

Expected Results:
-- Enhanced U.S.- Yemen cooperation in research and
cultural exchanges
-- Establishment of a permanent home for the American
Institute of Yemeni Studies

Political Reform

Despite a weak economy, nascent democratic development, and
few examples to draw from in the Middle East, Yemen has
moved towards significant political reform since 1990.
Yemen has universal suffrage, a multi-party system, elected
national and local representatives, and an active, if still-
developing, civil society sector. However, recent April
2003 parliamentary elections exposed the considerable
weaknesses that remain in Yemen's political reform efforts,
including allegations of fraud, a lack of support for women
candidates, and a judicial and media system that favored the
ruling party.

With local council and presidential elections scheduled for
2006 providing an important opportunity, the MEPI goals of
strengthening democratic processes, promoting the rule of
law and accountable, effective government institutions, and
strengthening the role of media in society will help
strengthen citizens' participation in democratic life and
foster a society in which adherence to the rule of law is
the norm. Corresponding with Post's MPP Democratic Systems
and Practices goal, the Embassy Sanaa strategy for MEPI
political reform support includes the following categories:
1) Strengthening democratic institutions; 2) Improving
electoral processes; 3) Reforming the judiciary; and, 4)
Increasing the professionalism of media organizations and

1. Strengthening Democratic Institutions

Problem: Yemen's democratic institutions remain fragile,
which reduces the avenues by which strong democratic reform
can take root, particularly regarding the inclusion of women
and other underrepresented groups. Local councils, elected
in 2001, represent an arm of government close to the
citizens where women and opposition parties stand a much
better chance to take advantage of political life. However,
local councils lack the resources, skills, and knowledge of
their power to function properly. ROYG Ministry offices at
the district and governorate levels lack the ability,
resources, and experience to implement ROYG decentralization
policy, and engage effectively with elected officials and
The Parliament also remains weak and is not effective in
providing oversight of the executive branch of ROYG,
drafting legislation, or representing constituents. While
Yemen enjoys an active multi-party system, the ruling party
dominates the political scene and all parties lack a clear
long-term strategy, a membership base that represents
citizens, and a democratic internal structure. Strong
political parties that effectively represent Yemenis are
needed to consolidate democratic progress. In a similar
way, most non-governmental organizations (NGOs) suffer from
poor organization, little experience, and unfocused goals
that reduce their ability to advocate effectively on behalf
of the community, particularly outside of urban areas.

MEPI Strategy:

To strengthen democratic institutions, Embassy Sanaa seeks
MEPI funding for long-term multi-year programs for
activities in the following areas: 1) Increasing democratic
participation; 2) Encouraging decentralization; and, 3)
developing the NGO sector and civil society.

1. Increasing Democratic Participation

-- Local council governance program to assist members
to better represent their constituents and act as more
effective officials through training on their legally
mandated roles and responsibilities, including
integrating traditional tribal culture into democratic
political culture. (FY O2 MEPI funds have funded the
first-phase of this project via the National Democratic
Institute (NDI) through March 04.)
-- Parliamentary strengthening program to build the
institutional capacity and increase the ability of
parliament to act as an independent entity through
training new members, fostering communication between
democratic institutions and improving constituency
-- Political party strengthening program to consolidate
party representation of citizens and strong multi-party
-- Women in politics program to improve the skills and
knowledge of women office holders and increase the
number and efficacy of future women candidates for
public office as a complement and follow-on program to
the regional campaign training schools program that
began in November 2002 and ongoing NDI programming.

2. Encouraging Decentralization:

-- Pilot decentralization projects in selected
governorates to train and equip local councils to
manage resources and provide services to constituents
-- Pilot decentralization projects in selected
governorates to train and equip local offices of ROYG
Ministries to engage effectively with local councils
and citizens to plan and implement sectoral programs

3. Developing the NGO sector and Civil Society:

-- Enable the NGO sector and civil society to
effectively participate in community and human rights
development through training interventions and
establishing an NGO support center

Expected Results:
-- Increased numbers of local councils that represent
citizens effectively, obtain and allocate resources
wisely, provide needed services to the community,
integrate tribal culture and offer avenues for women
and other disadvantaged groups to participate in
democratic life
-- Increased number of times Parliament challenges
government initiatives or amends legislation
-- Increased number of Members of Parliament (MPs) who
represent constituents effectively
-- Increased use of strategic planning and internal
democratic processes by political parties
-- Increased party membership base representing
citizens across Yemen
-- Increased multi-party competition resulting in a
more balanced political spectrum
-- Increased numbers of women in elected office
-- Increased numbers of elected women and men with the
ability to advocate effectively on issues
-- Increased efficacy and number of NGOs that
effectively advocate on behalf of citizens
-- Increased number of district and governorate offices
of ROYG Ministries that engage substantively with local
councils and citizens in program planning and resource
2. Improving Electoral Processes

Problem: The April 2003 parliamentary elections marked an
improvement in Yemen's electoral process, but significant
flaws show that much more work is needed to build confidence
in the electoral process. With local council and
presidential elections scheduled for 2006, problems with the
voter registry (caused by a lack of civil registry
documenting citizens accurately that allowed significant
underage voting), election administration, political party
fraud, and citizen confidence in the election must be

MEPI Strategy:
To improve the electoral process, Embassy Sanaa seeks
support for the following long-term programs:

-- Continue to assist to the Supreme Committee for
Elections and Referenda (SCER) to professionalize its
operations and to administer the 2006 elections in an
effective, independent and confidence-building manner
-- Assist the ROYG and SCER to develop a modern, cost-
effective, accurate and comprehensive civil registry
-- Support and train Yemeni civil society groups to
monitor the elections to help ensure confidence in the
election and to foster political party confidence in
the SCER and election administration

Expected Results:

-- Increased professionalism in the SCER resulting in
effective management of and confidence in the electoral
-- The first-ever civil registry in Yemen and
government identification cards for all Yemenis
-- Improved accuracy in voter registration and other
benefits, including citizen access to basic services
and more effective counter-terrorism measures
-- Increased confidence in election results through
monitoring and effective adjudication of citizen, NGO
and political party concerns

3. Reforming the Judiciary

Problem: Yemen's judicial system needs comprehensive reform,
including reconciling differing pre-unification laws, de-
politicizing judges, strengthening the application and
implementation of law, training more effective and fair
judges, and effectively responding to human rights concerns.
The absence of effective rule of law affects all aspects of
Yemeni society negatively, including undermining the
stability of land tenure, fostering a reliance on tribal
adjudication outside the political system, and negative
impacts on expanded trade and investment.

MEPI Strategy:

Participate in the MidEast Regional Judicial Reform program
and design effective follow-up programming within the Yemeni
judicial system by training judges, assisting in the reform
and effective implementation of key laws, and encouraging
the non-politicization of judges.

Expected Results:

-- Improved information sharing of best practices in
judicial reform across the region
-- Increased number of judges that are impartial and
give fair judgments
-- Increased number of needed laws that are implemented
-- Increased confidence and transparency in the
judicial system, lessening the reliance on traditional
tribal justice

4. Increasing the Professionalism of Media Organizations
and Journalists

Problem: While Yemen has a fairly active government and
opposition written press compared to other countries in the
Middle East, it suffers from ruling-party dominated
broadcast media, government oppression of journalists, and a
lack of professional journalists trained in investigative
and factual reporting.

MEPI Strategy:

To increase the professionalism of media organizations and
journalists, Embassy Sanaa seeks funding to establish a
Media Training Center to:
-- Provide working journalists with best practices and
methods of journalism, including investigative and
factual reporting
-- Offer training and support to foster a more
effective media sector
-- Work to reduce government oppression of the media

Expected Results:
-- Increased professionalism of journalists resulting
in more effective reporting and decreased oppression of

Economic Growth

One of the 25 poorest and least developed countries in the
world, Yemen's real GDP per capita is approximately US$300.
According to the World Bank, GDP growth for 2002 was 2.9 %,
which does not match population growth of 3.5% a year.
Unemployment is estimated to be 25-35%, and oil resources,
which account for one third of the gross national product
and 70% of government revenues, are expected to decline
significantly during the next decade. Despite these
negative indicators, many international donors praised
Yemen's fiscal policy and progress in economic reform
throughout the last five years.

MEPI goals encouraging foreign direct investment and
developing revenue and employment growth will help diversify
and strengthen the Yemeni economy by providing jobs,
expanding the economic base, and, in the long term, lessen
Yemen's dependence on oil. Corresponding to its MPP
Economic Growth and Development goal, the Embassy Sanaa
strategy for MEPI economic reform support has three goals:
1) Increasing trade and investment; 2) Expanding employment
and business opportunities at the local level; and, 3)
Enhancing policy reform and program development.

1. Increasing Trade and Investment

Problem: Yemen is considered by the World Bank to be among
the most open and trade liberalized countries in the MENA
region. However, oil exports represented more than 95
percent of total merchandise exports in 2000. Of the
remaining 5 percent, products such as fish, coffee, fruits,
and vegetables are low value added. This fact made economic
growth in Yemen vulnerable to volatility in price and

Obstacles constraining the growth potential and development
of export-potential sectors are:

-- Weak institutional and organizational structures
that fail to uphold competition and prevent monopoly,
ensure good quality products and protect intellectual
property rights
-- Limited infrastructure necessary to enhance
exporting activities
-- Limited-quality economic, population and trade data
-- Limited information about markets and demand for
-- Informal activities that dominate the private sector
-- Lack of technical know-how, product quality and
trade experience resulting in the inability to meet
international standards

Similar constraints also restrict the ability of Yemeni
producers to contribute to internal economic growth and
employment creation by exporting their products to markets
within Yemen.

Foreign investors are discouraged from investing in Yemen
because the commercial legal system is ill-equipped to
adjudicate disputes. Judges are often unfamiliar with
commercial law, and since unification, conflicting laws
remain on the books. Courts are burdened with large
caseloads and, often, a case may take years to be heard and
then stagnates in the appellate process. If a commercial
ruling is won, it is rarely enforced. Without a clear land-
titling system, limited ability to collateralize against
property, and courts' reluctance to enforce default
judgments against property collateral, domestic investors
are also reluctant to invest their money into new

MEPI Strategy:

The MEPI strategy for trade assistance will work to enhance
the export climate and to reform commercial law to establish
the appropriate export and investment environment in Yemen.
MEPI goals will be coordinated with and assist in Yemen's
active participation in the proposed U.S.-Middle East Free
Trade Area. Embassy Sanaa will also integrate commercial
law reform with the MidEast Regional Judicial Reform Program
and subsequent follow-up activities. Embassy Sanaa seeks
MEPI funding to:

1. Enhance the Export Climate
-- Identify trade opportunities. Targeted research in
selected sectors will identify opportunities to expand
exports and increase investment in new businesses
-- Develop the country's overall export potential
through an improved legal, regulatory, and
institutional environment for international trade
-- Improve the quality of data needed for expanded
trade and investment
-- Provide exporters with the training and technical
expertise required to meet international standards
-- Support selected elements of the WTO Integrated
-- Increase economic growth and jobs

2. Reform Commercial law

-- Train judges and lawyers in commercial law
-- Embark on a program to deconflict old laws remaining
on the books since unification
-- Expand existing alternative dispute resolution
mechanisms to lessen reliance on the over burdened
court system
-- Develop programs to train ROYG courts to enforce
commercial rulings
-- Identify participants for the Mideast Regional
Judicial Reform Program

Expected Results:

Export Climate:

-- New trade opportunities identified
-- Expanded investment in export sectors
-- Improved legal and regulatory environment
-- Increased international, regional and internal
trade; Enhanced trade links between Yemen and regional
trading partners
-- Level of non-oil exports increased
-- Improved quality and transparency in commercial and
population data
-- Selected elements of the WTO Integrated Framework
-- Increased economic growth and jobs at the sub-
regional level through increased trade within Yemen

Commercial law:

-- Increased numbers of judges and lawyers with
appropriate commercial training
-- Expanded use of alternative dispute resolution, if
proven more effective, for commercial cases
-- Evidence of enforcement of commercial dispute

2. Expanding employment and business opportunities at the
local level

Problem: With unequal access to government, credit and
markets, the growth in number, size, and productivity of
small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) stagnated over the
last decade. Because SMEs comprise 96 percent of the private
sector, their lack of growth is stalling the Yemen economy
and helping to increase the poverty level.

The underserved governorates of Marib, Al-Jawf, Shabwa,
Saada, and Amran, in particular, have vast, unrealized
potential in the agriculture, mining, and light
manufacturing sectors. Enterprises cannot take advantage of
these resources and potential because they lack financial,
business, and marketing services and know-how. Virtually no
opportunities exist for entrepreneurs to access capital, to
expand or start enterprises or to receive business
development support (e.g. marketing, business planning).

MEPI Strategy:

The focus will be placed on providing small and medium-sized
enterprises with greater and reliable access to sustainable
financial and business services: 1) Enhance microfinance
and SME finance institutional development; 2) create SME
business development services; and, 3) Expand SME
association development. This program element will pay
particular attention to expanded business and employment
opportunities for women.

1. Enhance Microfinance and SME Finance Institutional

-- Create and enhance institutional entities that are
able to offer finance to small lenders in Marib, Al-
Jawf, Shabwa, Amran, and Saada Governorates
2. Create SME Business Development Services (BDS)
-- Develop access to non-financial services for micro
and small entrepreneurs to receive training and
technical assistance, technology transfer, product and
services marketing assistance, general management
assistance, and business mentoring

3. Expand SME Association Development

-- Develop associations that integrate producers,
processors and vendors into a single organization
focused on developing different sub-sectors and
enhancing the prospects of economic success

Expected Results:

-- SME finance providers developed and offering
services in the five target governorates
-- SME finance providers reach sustainability (meeting
100% of their operational and financial costs) and
offer services to capable SMEs
-- Technical assistance and training programs for SMEs
-- Business development services available for specific
SME sectors, such as agriculture, food processing,
transport, handicraft and tourism, mining, and light
-- Increase in business linkages between SMEs and
economic drivers
-- Associations developed, coordinating and networking
-- New business opportunities identified
-- Increase in income and employment generating-

3. Enhancing Policy Reform and Program Development

Problem: Economic development in Yemen is constrained by
limited institutional support by the ROYG and the private

MEPI Strategy:

To enhance the Republic of Yemen's policy reform and program
development, Embassy Sanaa will seek funding to:

-- Expand and improve the higher education and research
institute systems' to support economic growth in trade,
investment and SMEs
-- Expand the ability of the ROYG Ministry of Industry
and Trade to produce and share business abstracts and
-- Develop comprehensive district and governorate
economic and development growth plans
-- Establish economic development offices and/or
authorities at the local level
-- Expand business education and training in high
schools, community colleges and universities
-- Establish public/private sector fora to identify
obstacles to expanded business and employment

Expected Results:

-- Increased access to information
-- Improved laws, regulations and policies
-- Economic growth integrated into local level planning
-- Increased numbers of Yemenis with business-related
-- Improved partnerships between the public and private


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