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Cablegate: Yemeni Poverty Levels Highest in War-Afflicted

VZCZCXRO4646
PP RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHYN #2202 3471339
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131339Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY SANAA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3376
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SANAA 002202

SIPDIS

NEA/ARP FOR ANDREW MACDONALD
USAID FOR CHRIS KISCO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAID PHUM PGOV PREL YM
SUBJECT: YEMENI POVERTY LEVELS HIGHEST IN WAR-AFFLICTED
AREAS

REF: A. SANAA 2124
B. 08 SANAA 1918

1. Summary. The poorest country in the Middle East, Yemen is
particularly affected by poverty. 34.8 of the population
lives below the poverty line as defined by a UNDP index; 45
percent of the population lives on less than two dollars a
day. The real losers when it comes to poverty are the
war-afflicted, northern governorates of Amran and Sa'ada.
End Summary.

2. With an economy more similar to sub-Saharan Africa than to
the rest of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen suffers from levels
of poverty rivaling some of the Least Developed Countries
(LDCs). 34.8 of the population lives below the poverty line
as defined by a UNDP index; 45 percent of the population
lives on under two dollars a day. Poverty is particularly
concentrated in rural areas, where 84 percent of the poor
live. High levels of poverty have basic life consequences:
malnutrition is rampant, and death during childbirth is
common. According to UNICEF's Chief of Communication and
Information Naseem-ur-Rehman, 250 Yemeni children die per day
from malnutrition alone, and twelve Yemeni women die every
day in childbirth.

3. According to UNDP and the ROYG's Social Fund for
Development (SFD), levels of poverty differ significantly
across the governorates. With 71 percent of the population
poor, poverty reaches the highest levels in Amran, a
governorate bordering the war-torn Sa'ada governorate.
Malnutrition is at its worst in Sa'ada, where 60 percent of
the population is malnourished, according to UNICEF.
(Comment: Poverty levels in Sa'ada are lower than in
geographically isolated Amran due to Sa'ada's connection to
trade along the Saudi border. Because of the ongoing
conflict, poverty has mounted in Sa'ada, perhaps to levels
rivaling those in Amran. End Comment.) In general, levels
of poverty in southern Yemen are similar to levels of poverty
in northern Yemen, excluding the war-afflicted governorates
of Amran and Saada.

4. Comment: Despite popular perceptions in southern Yemen
that they are worse off than their northern neighbors, in
fact, levels of poverty do not differ significantly between
northern and southern Yemen. The real losers when it comes
to poverty are the war-afflicted, northern governorates of
Amran and Sa'ada. Lack of basic services and goods in Sa'ada
due to the ongoing Houthi conflict not only contributes to
instability, but also adds to plight of the poor in the
governorate. End Comment.
SECHE

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