The original version of this article, by Nancy Lindborg, appeared on The Huffington Post
This weekend in Sana’a, I had dinner with a group of young men and women activists who are on the forefront of Yemen’s historic struggle for a better future. They turned out for change with great courage last year, and at dinner, with great eloquence they outlined for me the many challenges facing Yemen
during this critical transition period: conflict in the north and south, weak government institutions, cultural barriers to greater women’s participation, an upended economy, and one of the world’s highest birthrates
. And, as one man noted, it is difficult to engage the 70 percent of Yemeni people who live in rural areas in dialogue about the future when they are struggling just to find the basics of life: food, health, water.
His comment makes plain the rising, complex humanitarian crisis facing Yemen. At a time of historic political transition, nearly half of Yemen’s population is without enough to eat, and nearly one million children under the age of five are malnourished, putting them at greater risk of illness and disease. One in 10 Yemeni children do not live to the age of five. One in 10. This is a staggering and often untold part of the Yemen story: a story of chronic nationwide poverty that has deepened into crisis under the strain of continuing conflict and instability.
Unfortunately, in communities used to living on the edge, serious malnutrition is often not even recognized in children until they are so acutely ill that they need hospitalization.
Continue reading on The Huffington Post.
Nancy Lindborg is the assistant administrator of the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Sources: U.S. Department of State.
Photo Credit: Informal settlements near the Haddjah governorate, courtesy of E.U. Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection.