Yemen: Poorest Households Receive Cash To Help With Food Costs

Published on 15 March 2012

A young Yemeni woman shows her WFP cash transfer card at the Hajjah Post Office. Copyright: WFP/ Ali Al-Homeidy

In late 2011, WFP in Yemen began giving cash to the poorest families in the Hajjah and Ibb governorates so that they could afford to buy food. The programme benefits 10,000 vulnerable households, comprising around 70,000 people in total. WFP food monitor Ali Al-Homeidy visited the governorate of Hajjah where he met with family heads collecting their vouchers from their local post office.

Mariam Jaber Shuei, in her 40s, walks into the post office to collect her 10,500 Yemeni Riyal cash voucher – the equivalent of roughly US$50. She looks weak and fragile like many people in the Haradh district of Yemen who need all the assistance they can get. 

The mother of six says the cash she receives helps her buy food as well as medicine and other necessities she cannot afford. “It’s enough; at least it’s something that helps us get by,” she says. …if the money runs out, God will never let us down.” Mariam has no income and depends entirely on WFP assistance.

“We have no land, no income, nothing,” says Mariam as she gets ready to go to her family. “I wish WFP would continue handing out cash.” 

WFP calculates the value of the cash transfer based on the local market price of 50kg of wheat flour and 5 litres of vegetable oil. 

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WFP is providing a total of 1.3 million people in eight governorates with seasonal food or cash assistance to cover the essential food needs of the severely food insecure families who have no means to produce or buy the food they need. 

The cash transfer in Yemen is still in its pilot phase and following the final round of distribution in March, WFP Yemen, with assistance from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), will assess the success of the scheme. The assessment will help WFP decide whether or not to expand the use of cash transfers in other areas as well as increase the number of people benefiting from it.

 “This is a new intervention in Yemen, that is why we need to assess its success before implementing a wider scale expansion,” said WFP representative in Yemen Lubna Alaman. “Throughout the duration of this six-month pilot scheme, WFP will distribute US$1.4 million.” 

WFP has partnered with the Yemen Post Office to conduct the transfers; the same distribution the government uses for its Social Welfare Fund.

“It is best to use a proven existing network rather than develop a parallel system,” said Alaman.  “Thus far, the pilot project seems to have been very successful, but we will wait until the final evaluation to determine how to proceed.”