Read caption The fighting in the Hodeidah governorate forced Ridha Saleh, 35, and her ten family members to flee to the Lahj governorate, where there are other displaced families. Ridha has been struggling to provide her family with enough food as the prices are unaffordable. Photo: Mahmoud Al-Filastini/NRC

Yemen: All-time high cost of living driving families to despair

Published 07. Dec 2021
Yemen’s skyrocketing inflation is driving families to further cut down on their meals, edging them closer to hunger and malnutrition.

A survey by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in southern Yemen found that almost one out of every two families who were already vulnerable had recently reduced the number of daily meals because they could no longer afford them.

Besides cutting down on their meals, 99 per cent of people interviewed said they could no longer afford to buy meat, chicken, fruit, milk or rice, because of the rising costs.

“Millions of Yemen’s most vulnerable families are now caught in this torrent of despair unleashed by the warring parties,” said NRC’s Country Director in Yemen, Erin Hutchinson. “Children have been going to bed hungry, and now they have even less food than the little they had before. We need more aid funding to help them urgently. Governments, donors and international financial institutions need to ensure an economic rescue package to avert famine.”

Respondents told NRC that their costs of transportation doubled in 2021. More than 60 per cent had stopped buying propane gas for cooking and were forced to resort to firewood. The cost of flour went up drastically, and it keeps increasing.

“The 50kg bag of flour used to cost 8,000 or 7,000 riyals only. Now, it costs 35,000 riyals. It is a huge difference,” said Ridha Saleh, one of the people participating in NRC’s survey.  

Six years ago, Yemen’s domestic currency traded at 215 Yemeni riyals (YER) against the US Dollar (USD). By early December 2021, the riyal traded for YER 1,700 per USD due to inflation.

 

Key survey findings and statistics:

  • NRC contacted 760 beneficiaries from the four selected districts (Al Silw, Mukha, Al Shamaytein, and Tuban). The survey was conducted by phone in early November
  • 97% said they were affected by the increase in food prices 
  • 46% said they reduced the daily number of meals recently 
  • 99% of them mentioned that there are some products they can't afford anymore (meat, chicken, fruit, milk, rice, and many other kinds)
  • 63% of the beneficiaries switched to firewood instead of propane this year to cook as it is less expensive. Price of propane skyrocketed (20 000 YER now, used to be 5000 a few months ago). 
  • 70% of the tenants' beneficiaries mentioned that the rental cost has increased by around 30,000 YER this year 
  • On average, our beneficiaries get 7 hours of electricity a day. 

 

Notes for editors

  • NRC has spokespeople in Yemen and the region available for interviews.
  • Photos and B-roll are available for free use and distribution.

 

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