WASHINGTON: The World Bank has approved a second additional financing of US$207 million for the Emergency Social Protection Enhancement and COVID-19 Response Project (ESPECRP) in Yemen, aimed at addressing chronic food insecurity and malnutrition in Yemen.
This funding, provided as a grant by the World Bank’s International Development Association, will help sustain and scale up the impact of the ongoing project, including US$150 million from the Crisis Response Window. The financing will enable the cash transfer program to deliver its annual benefits in three payment cycles per year, reducing the risk of operational delays. The project will also target areas with high food insecurity and malnutrition, bundling geo-focused interventions to maximise impact and improve sustainability.
Around 1.8 million Yemeni households are set to benefit from the additional financing. The project will also further the transition towards digital payments in cash transfers, fostering a digital payment-friendly local ecosystem. This includes supporting the acquisition of national IDs and providing access to financial literacy interventions on a pilot basis. It will also extend crucial support to poor and vulnerable households coping with multiple overlapping crises, including conflict, food price inflation, climate-related emergencies like the August-September 2022 floods, and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Notably, the additional financing will implement the geo-focused bundles of interventions introduced in the parent project, in line with the World Bank Group’s Country Engagement Note. By combining cash for nutrition, labor-intensive works, and support to SMEs (as well as complementary resilience-building interventions from other Bank projects) in areas with high incidences of food insecurity and malnutrition, the AF is expected to have a more sustained impact on food insecurity within target communities.
Yemen remains one of the poorest and most food-insecure countries in the world, with the ongoing conflict, severe economic decline, and collapse of essential services exacerbating an already precarious situation. About 21.6 million people need some form of humanitarian assistance in 2023, with a staggering 19 million people in crisis, emergency, or catastrophic levels of food insecurity.
"This additional financing reflects the World Bank's unwavering commitment to improving the lives of Yemenis caught in the midst of multiple crises, including conflict, food insecurity, and climate-related emergencies," said Tania Meyer, World Bank Country Manager for Yemen. "By promoting digital payments and extending crucial support to poor and vulnerable households, we aim to offer a lifeline to those who need it most, laying the groundwork for a more resilient and sustainable future for the people of Yemen."
The ESPECRP has already made significant implementation progress, reaching on average 1.42 million poor and vulnerable Social Welfare Fund beneficiary households. The second additional financing will continue to be implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the United Nations Development Programme, with support from the Social Fund for Development and Public Works Project.
The project meets the criteria for the World Bank’s International Development Association Remaining Engaged in Conflict priorities, particularly on strengthening local systems and attention to sustainability, with a goal of working directly with local institutions and preserving their programs and systems critical for supporting current needs and post-conflict recovery.
The World Bank’s country-wide program for Yemen has reached US$3.5 billion in IDA grants since 2016. In addition to funding, the World Bank provides technical expertise to design projects and guide their implementation by building strong partnerships with UN agencies and local institutions with working capacity on the ground.
Tariq Al Fahaam/ Amjad Saleh