Read caption Yemenis check their names at a WFP food voucher distribution point to collect their aid from NRC’s team in Amanat Al Asima's Azzal district. Photo: Nasser Abdulkareem/NRC

Yemenis welcome return of food aid in Sana’a

Nasser Abdulkareem|Published 25. Sep 2019
“During the last two months our suffering has been aggravated and many times I could not find food for my children,” says Juma’a Saleh, a mother of eight from Yemen’s capital city Sana’a. Juma’a is one of many residents celebrating the resumption of food distribution in the city, following a deal between the World Food Programme (WFP) and the authorities earlier this month.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) had been supporting people in war-stricken Sana’a with monthly food baskets consisting of flour, beans, cooking oil, sugar and salt, funded by WFP.

However, in June 2019, there was a disagreement between WFP and the authorities over the necessary conditions needed for the delivery of food aid. This led to WFP temporarily suspending food aid in Sana’a, and NRC was forced to stop its WFP-funded distributions.

Read also: Urgent need to address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Juma’a’s story

Juma’a is in her 40s and lives in a small house in Sana’a with her family. She has been struggling to eke out a decent living for her children since 2010 when her husband died after suffering from paralysis.

Juma’a Saleh, 40, is a mother of eight orphans. She is seen here receiving WFP food aid from NRC in Amanat Al Asimah’s Azzal district follwing two months of suspension.
“I have very few resources and lack an income so I was forced to stop my children’s studies as I could not prioritise their education amid these bad conditions,” Juma’a said. “To get enough food, pay the rent and buy required medicines are the priorities for the family nowadays.” 
Juma’a suffers from diabetes and needs medicines to treat her condition. One of her daughters also suffers from a bladder and kidney disease and she needs $50 per month to pay for these medicines which she can barely afford.
“Sometimes generous people help me with the costs for medicines but most of the time it is difficult to find the money from anywhere, so one of my daughters has resorted to working as a cleaner in a school to help us pay the rent. NRC has played an important role in assisting my family over the last few years by providing us with food on a monthly basis.
“Getting enough food was not a problem over the last few years as we received food aid, and any other income we managed to raise we used to cover other basic needs like medicines and water.”
 With funding from the World Food Programme, NRC has been supporting people in the capital Sana’a with monthly food baskets consisting of flour, beans, cooking oil, sugar and salt.
In June 2019, disagreement between WFP and the authorities over the necessary conditions needed for the delivery of food aid led to WFP temporarily suspending food distributions in Sana’a. NRC was forced to stop its WFP funded distributions.  Following a welcome agreement reached by WFP and the authorities NRC resumed food distributions in the capital.
"During the last two months our suffering was aggravated and many times I did not find food for my children,” Juma’a added. “I borrowed money from my neighbors but could not pay it back until now.”
“We had to prioritise buying food over spending money on medicines, so my daughter could not have medicine for her bladder and kidney condition.”
Juma’a said: “It was Eid day for us when our neighbours told us food distributions would resume. I felt happy to be receiving food baskets again.”
Photo taken on 2 September 2019
Photo: Nasser Abdulkareem/NRC
Read caption Juma’a Saleh is a mother of eight from Yemen’s capital city Sana’a. She suffers from diabetes and needs medication to treat her condition. Photo: Nasser Abdulkareem/NRC


Before 2015 Juma’a used to receive money from the government’s social welfare system, as well as some donations from generous people in her community. However, when the war broke out in Yemen both sources of income dried up and her eight children had to drop out of school because she couldn’t afford to pay their school fees.

“I have very few resources and lack an income so I was forced to stop my children’s studies as I could not prioritise their education amid these bad conditions,” Juma’a explains. “Getting enough food, paying the rent and buying the medicines we need are the priorities for the family nowadays.”

Medical bills add to the burden

Juma’a suffers from diabetes and needs medication to treat her condition. One of her daughters also suffers from a bladder and kidney disease and needs USD 50 per month to pay for her medicine – a sum that she can barely afford.

NRC has played an important role in assisting my family over the last few years by providing us with food on a monthly basis
Juma’a Saleh, mother of eight

“Sometimes generous people help me with the costs for medicines but most of the time it is difficult to find the money from anywhere, so one of my daughters has resorted to working as a cleaner in a school to help us pay the rent,” Juma’a explains.

“NRC has played an important role in assisting my family over the last few years by providing us with food on a monthly basis. Getting enough food was not a problem as we received food aid, and any other income we managed to raise we used to cover other basic needs like medicines and water.”

A two-month struggle for survival

The suspension of food aid in June 2019 meant that Juma’a had to take some difficult decisions.

“During the last two months our suffering has been aggravated and many times I could not find food for my children,” she says. “I borrowed money from my neighbours but could not pay it back until now.”

“We had to prioritise buying food over spending money on medicines, so my daughter could not have medicine for her bladder and kidney condition.”

Read also: Teaching on an empty stomach

NRC provides welcome relief

Thankfully, relief was at hand. Following a welcome agreement between WFP and the authorities, NRC resumed food distributions in Sana’a on 2 September 2019.

Juma’a Saleh, 40, is a mother of eight orphans. She is seen here receiving WFP food aid from NRC in Amanat Al Asimah’s Azzal district follwing two months of suspension.
“I have very few resources and lack an income so I was forced to stop my children’s studies as I could not prioritise their education amid these bad conditions,” Juma’a said. “To get enough food, pay the rent and buy required medicines are the priorities for the family nowadays.” 
Juma’a suffers from diabetes and needs medicines to treat her condition. One of her daughters also suffers from a bladder and kidney disease and she needs $50 per month to pay for these medicines which she can barely afford.
“Sometimes generous people help me with the costs for medicines but most of the time it is difficult to find the money from anywhere, so one of my daughters has resorted to working as a cleaner in a school to help us pay the rent. NRC has played an important role in assisting my family over the last few years by providing us with food on a monthly basis.
“Getting enough food was not a problem over the last few years as we received food aid, and any other income we managed to raise we used to cover other basic needs like medicines and water.”
 With funding from the World Food Programme, NRC has been supporting people in the capital Sana’a with monthly food baskets consisting of flour, beans, cooking oil, sugar and salt.
In June 2019, disagreement between WFP and the authorities over the necessary conditions needed for the delivery of food aid led to WFP temporarily suspending food distributions in Sana’a. NRC was forced to stop its WFP funded distributions.  Following a welcome agreement reached by WFP and the authorities NRC resumed food distributions in the capital.
"During the last two months our suffering was aggravated and many times I did not find food for my children,” Juma’a added. “I borrowed money from my neighbors but could not pay it back until now.”
“We had to prioritise buying food over spending money on medicines, so my daughter could not have medicine for her bladder and kidney condition.”
Juma’a said: “It was Eid day for us when our neighbours told us food distributions would resume. I felt happy to be receiving food baskets again.”
Photo taken on 2 September 2019
Photo: Nasser Abdulkareem/NRC
Read caption Juma’a is seen here receiving food aid from the Norwegian Refugee Council in Amanat Al Asimah’s Azzal district. Photo: Nasser Abdulkareem/NRC


Juma’a recalls: “It was Eid day for us when our neighbours told us food distributions would resume. I felt happy to be receiving food baskets again.”

Read more about NRC's work in Yemen