This RYE Policy Brief, which is based on discussions the Development Champions Forum held in Cairo in December 2023, outlines a set of recommendations aimed at empowering local authorities in Yemen to effectively provide services and lead local economic development. The aim is to analyze and draw lessons from three ongoing tracks that seek to empower local authorities in Yemen, while also addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with these efforts.
Since April 2022, the war in Yemen has mutated from a high-casualty conflict to a protracted stalemate with relatively stable frontlines. The current phase has been marked by the expansion of economic warfare, with the Houthi authorities shutting down trade from internationally recognized government-controlled areas, stoking discontent as public utilities break down and the currency tumbles across the south. From 24 to 26 May 2023, the Development Champions Forum came together in Amman to discuss these challenges to Yemen’s public revenues and potential avenues for relief of the government’s current fiscal crisis. This RYE Policy Brief is based on these deliberations and brings forward relevant recommendations to improving and reviving certain revenue streams.
Missiles, drones, precision-guided munition, and other military technologies that enable belligerents to attack their enemies from a distance are changing the concepts and practices of warfare. This can best be observed in the conflict-ridden region of the Middle East, particularly in the Yemen war, which has witnessed one of the most extensive use of missiles and other aerial weapons of any conflict in the 21st century. From 31 May to 1 June 2022, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies and CARPO convened a two-day workshop with international and regional experts in Berlin to discuss this changing nature of warfare in the region, the humanitarian consequences of the new remote warfare by Gulf States and non-state actors in the Yemeni context, as well as implications for arms control. This FES/BICC/CARPO-Perspective is a summary of the workshop discussions and offers policy recommendations for international actors.
Poor electricity services remain a key barrier to sustainable economic development in Yemen, exacerbated by the ongoing conflict and related damages to the electricity sector’s infrastructure. Given Yemen’s high average hours of annual daily sunshine and a significant level of solar irradiation, solar energy is a viable and cost-effective alternative to the currently prevalent fossil fuel-based electricity supply. This Policy Brief provides an introduction to electricity provision in Yemen and explores the viability of specific solar energy applications for the country‘s fragile context. It further considers the feasibility of partnering with the private sector in the solar energy sector, and finally presents recommendations and practical steps to address challenges to scaling up investments in this sector in Yemen.
For decades prior to the ongoing conflict, Yemen had been vulnerable to recurring budget deficits. The escalation of the ongoing conflict in 2014/15 has had a profoundly negative impact on Yemen’s debt position. Large-scale oil exports ceased, leading to a collapse in public revenues, while banks and pension funds stopped purchasing government debt instruments. Management of the public debt became bifurcated between rival central bank administrations in Aden and Sana’a, both of which suspended payments on foreign and domestic debt obligations. Unable to receive interest payments, public debt holders faced a liquidity crisis, leaving banks unable to honor customer obligations and threatening their solvency, while pension funds have struggled to support retirees. Based on the input and discussions of the Development Champions Forum, this paper outlines the history, characteristics and drivers of Yemen’s public debt and presents recommendations for addressing this crisis.
Yemen is predominantly a rural country, with over 70% of the population living in 140,000 settlements in impoverished rural areas. Road transport is thus essential for the country’s development and overall economic growth. With only about 3,744km of paved rural roads, representing approximately 6.4% of all roads in the country, Yemen’s neglected road network poses significant development challenges. Next to an overview of the road transport sector in Yemen and of the repercussions of the war on the sector, this RYE White Paper offers recommendations on alleviating these impacts; infrastructure policies for rural and urban roads; policies for road maintenance and repairs that impact commercial traffic; and updating the institutional structure of the sector.
Yemen has a heavily cash-based economy with low levels of financial inclusion. The country’s formal banking sector is highly underdeveloped, undercapitalized and concentrated in urban areas, leaving it inaccessible for most Yemenis. Plans by the Central Bank of Yemen to develop and improve electronic interbank transactions and local electronic payment systems, including mobile money services, were interrupted by the onset of the ongoing conflict. This paper examines (and provides recommendations on): the existing regulations surrounding the use of e-money in Yemen; attempts to adopt e-money services both before and during the conflict; the major players and state of infrastructure in the sector; and the challenges and prospects facing greater adoption of electronic currency in the country.
Local councils are responsible for spearheading development projects and providing basic public services to Yemen’s population of more than 30 million people. The councils are particularly important in rural areas, where about 70 percent of Yemen’s population lives. In July 2018, the Rethinking Yemen’s Economy initiative published a White Paper that explored how the collapse of Yemen’s economy and the fragmentation of central government institutions during the war affected local councils. This new White Paper builds on those findings by examining how local governance has evolved in the intervening years, with a focus on the relationship between local authorities and the central governments in Sana’a and Aden.
From 25-27 January 2021, the seventh Development Champions Forum, held virtually, focused on the dire business environment in Yemen. To help address local economic challenges, the Development Champions discussed the possibility of establishing Local Economic Councils. According to their analysis, between the community-level local development committees and the Supreme Economic Council on the national level, a space exists for a governorate-level body to drive development by guiding investment to serve local needs and strengthen ties between the governorates and the private sector.
Poor electricity services in Yemen, even before the war, have been one of the key barriers to sustainable economic development and basic service provision (e.g., water supply, health care, education). This paper assesses the power supply system status prior to the war and subsequently discusses the impact of the war on electricity sector performance, followed by an identification of the key barriers faced by the sector. It concludes with the identification of the top priorities for restoring electricity sector services and reforming the sector after the war.
Yemen is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world. Its agricultural sector is the dominant user of groundwater resources, accounting for around 90 percent of total consumption. Due to the current crisis, fuel required for pumps has become scarce and very expensive; as a result, solar energy has begun to play a role in the extraction and supply of groundwater for irrigation. However, there is concern about possible negative consequences of this new technology. This Policy Brief examines the current trend of solar-powered irrigation system (SPIS) use in Sana’a Basin, identifying the pros and cons of this approach. It proposes governance and policy recommendations for overall water management and for future studies and regulation of SPIS-driven groundwater use.
by Mareike Transfeld, Mohamed al-Iriani, Maged Sultan and Marie-Christine Heinze
After six years of war, state institutions in Yemen have fragmented along multiple fault lines. The security sector is no exception. Given their role as central nodes of the country’s security governance structure, this Policy Report explores governorate-level Security Committees in three governorates that have been particularly affected by violence and institutional fragmentation: Ta‘iz, al-Hudayda and Aden. Next to seeking to understand the institutional set-up and functions of the Committees, questions guiding this Report are how the Committees have evolved in the context of state fragmentation and what, if any, capacities they have to play a potential role in local-level mediation (for instance, regarding humanitarian access) or transitional security governance arrangements.
view YPC/CARPO Report
The telecommunications and information technology sector in Yemen is the second largest source of public revenue after the petroleum sector, and contributes important work opportunities, whether directly or indirectly, through its connections to other sectors of the national economy. Some of the most important challenges of the sector are the unsuitability of the legal and institutional regulatory environments; fragmentation of public entities in the sector; the lack of separation between political, regulatory and operational roles within the sector; and the reliance on a weak and fragile infrastructure to provide these services. This Policy Brief identifies urgent as well as medium to long-term policies and programs to address these and other challenges identified in the paper.
Since early 2015, Yemen has been almost completely dependent on three external sources to secure foreign currency inflows and stimulate economic activity: foreign humanitarian aid, Saudi financial support to the internationally recognized government, and – by far the most significant – remittances from Yemeni expatriates, most working in Saudi Arabia. All three of these foreign currency sources have dramatically declined in 2020 because of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The current acute shortage of foreign currency has profound implications for the value of Yemen’s domestic currency, and the country’s ability to finance fuel and basic commodity imports. This is likely to lead to the rapid intensification of the humanitarian crisis. This White Paper presents policy recommendations to address this situation for relevant national and international stakeholders.
The sustainability of a peace agreement in Yemen will, amongst others, depend on two critical insights: First, in a conflict that is largely over access to resources, the issues of distribution and control of those resources can make or break peace. Second, where peace agreements lack provisions that create overall economic stability, warfare can resume during the fragile implementation period. At the sixth Development Champions Forum in Amman, Jordan, from 25 to 27 January 2020, the Development Champions therefore focused on identifying urgent macroeconomic, fiscal, and monetary issues that pose a direct threat to the successful implementation of any peace agreement in Yemen. This Policy Brief summarizes their key recommendations on economic provisions that need to be included in the peace agreement.
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This White Paper explores the historic development of Yemen’s microfinance industry and its players, as well as the impacts of the ongoing conflict. This analysis is followed by recommendations that address four specific areas – capacity building, financing, program design and research – to help create a more conducive operating environment for microfinance overall. The objective is to better place the industry to achieve its socioeconomic aims in the near term and contribute to Yemen’s recovery post conflict.
This policy brief summarizes discussions regarding Yemen’s fishing industry at a ‘Rethinking Yemen’s Economy’ workshop held in al-Mukalla, Yemen, on November 26-28, 2019. The workshop participants, among them numerous stakeholders in the fishing industry from across Yemen, agreed that given the inability of the Ministry of Fish Wealth to carry out its basic institutional functions due to the ongoing conflict, it is crucial that the ministry’s executive privileges for short-term policy making and regulation be temporarily delegated to local councils and that they be empowered to regulate the industry during the conflict. The participants also identified longer-term policies for the government and international stakeholders to revitalize the industry and enhance its capabilities.
This Policy Brief summarizes discussions regarding Yemen’s human capital at a ‘Rethinking Yemen’s Economy’ workshop held in Amman, Jordan, on August 24-25, 2019. The workshop participants agreed that many of the obstacles to improving Yemen’s human capital were present prior to the current conflict. This Policy Brief thus recommends: countrywide population surveys; more funding of development projects over emergency humanitarian assistance; education reforms; and the targeting of sectors with high human capital returns. Crucially, policymakers should not wait for the end of the conflict to implement these recommendations.
This Policy Brief addresses the issue of public finances in Yemen, which have long suffered from an overdependence on energy exports, one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world, and chronic budget and balance of payments deficits. With the intensification of the conflict in 2015, energy exports and foreign grants were frozen, while general economic and state collapse saw a precipitous decline in tax revenues. Public debt has thus risen, while the fracturing of state institutions across frontlines has hobbled public revenue collection, as well as fiscal and monetary policy. On April 27-29, 2019, the Development Champions convened in Amman, Jordan, and brought forward recommendations for the internationally recognized Government of Yemen on necessary steps to restructure public finances. These are laid out in the full text.
This Policy Brief addresses the issue of Yemen’s bloated public sector. Amid consistently large budget deficits, the inflated public sector wage bill is fiscally unsustainable and threatens to undermine economic recovery and future stability in Yemen. Recognizing the multiple challenges of reforming the public sector, even in a stable country, the recommendations brought forward in this Policy Brief are addressed to the post-conflict government, which should: conduct an assessment to evaluate the conflict-driven growth of the public sector payroll; reduce administrative corruption through the biometric registration of all public sector workers; and develop a strategy to demobilize and reintegrate fighters into society without absorbing them into the public sector. Further recommendations in the full text.
This Policy Brief addresses the need for private sector recovery in Yemen and gives recommendations for the improvement of the overall business and investment climate. While the private sector has shown a far greater degree of resilience than the public sector and in many cases stepped in to replace government services, its situation – and that of its working force – remains challenging. The surest means of laying the foundations for private sector recovery in Yemen, and indeed recovery for the country overall, is to end the ongoing conflict and reunify public institutions and governance mechanisms. While the conflict is ongoing, however, there are still practical, realistic steps national and international stakeholders can take to support the Yemeni private sector.
This Policy Brief offers recommendations to maximize the effectiveness of governance in post-conflict Yemen – whatever the composition or structure of the government. It presents three case studies on government models previously introduced in Yemen, Tunisia and Lebanon after periods of instability. These case studies offer useful lessons on the challenges, risks and opportunities of forming transitional governments in post-conflict contexts.
This Policy Brief sheds light on the impact of the ongoing conflict in Yemen on women’s participation in the workforce. It finds that the protracted conflict has, on the one hand, pushed more women into the workforce and new labor markets, in some cases into professions previously dominated by men. On the other hand, the war has imposed new constraints on an already low women’s participation rate. The Policy Brief recommends, amongst others, that micro-economic initiatives to bring women into the workforce must be accompanied by long-term efforts to address socio-economic structures that have historically constrained women’s access to the workforce.
This White Paper addresses the impact of Saudi Arabia’s increasingly restrictive handling of its expatriate workforce on the economy in Yemen. The kingdom’s policies, which have forced tens of thousands of Yemenis to return home, have resulted in a dramatic loss of income from remittances for their families in Yemen at a time when the country is already going through a catastrophic humanitarian situation. The authors thus argue that it is incumbent upon GCC states, and Saudi Arabia in particular, to allow Yemeni expat workers an exemption from the current labor nationalization campaigns – at least until a post-conflict Yemen has attained acceptable economic growth and the issue of the repatriation of Yemeni workers can be revisited responsibly.
This Policy Brief brings forward the results of in-depth discussions held by the Development Champions with the aim of developing recommendations and guidelines to ensure the reconstruction and recovery of Yemen is a comprehensive, effective process that has a long-term positive impact.
The Champions’ recommendations include measures to link immediate humanitarian interventions to Yemen’s long-term economic recovery; mechanisms to address fiscal challenges and enhance social protection; guidelines to create new jobs, rebuild infrastructure and strengthen the rule of law; and strategies to enhance local governance and local inclusion in the reconstruction process.
This Policy Brief brings forward crucial recommendations resulting out of the fourth Development Champions Forum in Amman, held in December 2018. The Development Champions recommend that the Yemeni government resumes salary payments to all civil servants working in the administrative apparatus of the state registered in the Ministry of Civil Service database of 2014 across Yemen, prioritizing payments to education and health workers. Meanwhile, Ansar Allah should allow all state revenues in areas under their control to be deposited into the accounts specified by the Central Bank of Yemen temporarily headquartered in Aden, and all parties should work toward the restoration of the Central Bank as a national institution that serves all of Yemen. The Development Champions call on regional and international donors to cover any funding gap to support the payment of salaries and pensions.
This Policy Brief outlines recommendations for the immediate priorities of the Government of Yemen, both to achieve quick wins and to prepare the ground for medium and long-term success. These recommendations are the outcomes of in-depth discussions held during the fourth Development Champions Forum convened on 8-11 December 2018 in Amman, Jordan. They are designed to offer Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed and his cabinet a set of practical measures to help the government build on the momentum and increased visibility it achieved in the final quarter of 2018.
This White Paper assesses the multifaceted pervasiveness of corruption in Yemen. It is demonstrated, amongst others, that patronage networks are now emerging among previously marginal or unknown figures and that the financial involvement of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has extended patronage across national borders. It is argued that any anti-corruption agenda must aim to understand the complex configuration of patronage networks in Yemen, to be introduced gradually, and to get the buy-in of as wide a group of Yemenis as possible.
This Policy Brief brings forward crucial recommendations to address Yemen’s worsening economic and humanitarian crises. These recommendations result from the third Development Champions Forum, which took place in Amman, Jordan, between 14–16 July 2018 as part of the “Rethinking Yemen’s Economy” initiative. Amongst others, the Development Champions recommend that policy makers seek to create jobs by investing in sectors that have historically been neglected in favor of oil and gas activities. This includes investing in agriculture, developing the fishing industry, expanding mining operations, and linking reconstruction efforts to the local construction sector. In the medium term, policy makers should look to new initiatives, such as constructing a free zone on the Yemen-Saudi border.
This White Paper assesses the factors weighing on private sector development in Yemen. It lays out the impacts of the 2011 uprising in Yemen, the ensuing political crisis and the current conflict on the economy and the private sector. Following this, recommendations are offered to both the Yemeni government and international stakeholders regarding steps that can be taken to revive and develop the private sector post conflict.
This White Paper deals with the role of local councils in Yemen and analyses their current situation. In the absence of central state authority and despite all the challenges they face, these councils remain important instruments for coordinating humanitarian relief efforts and local-level conflict mediation. Local councils are among the best-equipped and best-established institutions to support a shift away from the previous centralized model. Thus the Brief concludes that it is imperative that local, regional and international actors seek not merely to keep local governance structures from collapse but to enhance the capacities of local councils in post-conflict scenarios.
herausgegeben von Andrea Warnecke and Bilkis Zabara
This publication is an output of our 2018 summer school, which introduced students to the theory and practice of linking relief, reconstruction, and peacebuilding efforts in Yemen in light of the ongoing war. As the fighting and airstrikes in Yemen have continued unabatedly, several international governmental and non-governmental organizations have had to reconsider their approaches to delivering aid during war. In particular, humanitarian aid and assistance have at times been politicized by the warring parties or altogether withheld by denying access to areas most at risk. At the same time, a number of parties to the internationalized war in Yemen simultaneously act as humanitarian donors, throwing into question the degree to which such aid adheres to the traditional humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, and neutrality. In four essays, the participating students discuss the politics of relief and reconstruction; security in Yemen; justice, reconciliation and the political framework; and the socio-economic framework.
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This White Paper proposes an institutional structure for a future reconstruction process in Yemen: a permanent, independent, public reconstruction authority that empowers and coordinates the work of local reconstruction offices, established at the local level in areas affected by conflict or natural disasters. This proposal does not arise only from lessons learned from previous reconstruction efforts in Yemen, but also from the immediate need for such an institution to begin planning and implementing reconstruction work to the greatest extent possible.
This Policy Brief brings forward recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of the humanitarian response in Yemen. These recommendations result from the second Development Champions Forum, which took place in Amman, Jordan, between 14–16 January 2018 as part of the “Rethinking Yemen’s Economy” initiative. Among the key topics of discussion among the Development Champions were the need for international humanitarian actors to increase their coordination with local authorities, civil society actors, and the Yemeni private sector; the importance of decentralizing the humanitarian response; and the importance of prioritizing assistance to the most vulnerable members of Yemeni society.
This Policy Brief addresses the role of the Yemeni private sector in mitigating the humanitarian crisis in Yemen as well as its relationship to international humanitarian organizations. It finds that a large number of Yemeni business owners have been engaged in trying to alleviate the suffering of Yemenis out of their own volition, but also in service of and cooperation with international humanitarian agencies. Despite this successful cooperation relationship, this Policy Brief also finds that there remains significant room for improvement particularly what communication and coordination measures are concerned. To this end, it is recommended – amongst others – that international humanitarian actors form a joint coordination platform with the Yemeni private sector, local authorities and civil society.
This Policy Brief brings forward crucial recommendations to address Yemen’s current challenges in the financial sector. These recommendations result from the second Development Champions Forum, which took place in Amman, Jordan, between 14–16 January 2018 as part of the “Rethinking Yemen’s Economy” initiative. Here, among the urgent topics of discussion was the deterioration of the value of the Yemeni rial (YR), the magnifying impact this is having on the humanitarian crisis, and the need to re-empower the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) as the steward of the rial and the economy in general. The recommendations collectively underline the need for the CBY to function in a more coherent, assertive manner – whereby its various branches operate as a united bank that is able to draft and implement economic and monetary policies for Yemen as a whole.
edited by Marie-Christine Heinze and Bilkis Zabara
This publication is the result of a summer school entitled “Academic Approaches to Peacebuilding in Yemen” held in Amman, Jordan, in September 2016, which brought together advanced academics from the University of Bonn and the Gender-Development Research & Studies Center at Sanaa University as well as MA and PhD students from Yemen and Germany. In an exercise over the course of two mornings, the student participants, led by the editors of this paper, developed recommendations for researchers and policy-makers on how best to approach, implement and present research on peacebuilding in societies in conflict. The exercise aimed to achieve two objectives: a) to develop a guide for young researchers, NGOs and policy-makers involved in generating knowledge on and for peace-building processes; and b) to subject the summer school participants to a intercultural / inter-academic writing and learning process in which a German and a Yemeni student teamed up to produce one recommendation. This paper is the result of this exercise.
by Marie-Christine Heinze and Marwa Baabbad
This Study brings together the findings of qualitative research conducted in Ibb and Aden by the Yemen Polling Center (YPC) in cooperation with CARPO and Saferworld. It looks at the impact of the war on women and their families in these two regions, particularly in terms of security-related issues, and the roles women play or have played in the conflict as well as in the building of security and peace.
This Policy Brief summarizes the short-term recommendations to address Yemen’s current most critical challenges in development and economy which resulted from the first Development Champions Forum. This Forum took place in Amman, Jordan, between April 29 and May 1, 2017 as part of the “Rethinking Yemen’s Economy” initiative. The challenges addressed in this Policy Brief were identified within three main, if overlapping, categories: the food security crisis, the problems faced by the banking industry, and the collapse of basic service delivery.
by Marie-Christine Heinze
This literature review provides an overview of women’s interactions with peacebuilding efforts in Yemen, in view to informing current strategies on how to enhance their role. In doing so, it considers questions in regard to women’s political participation in the past; the impact of conflict on women’s lives; the social norms governing women’s activism; and examples of women’s involvement in peacebuilding processes.