The World Bank Board of Directors approved a $50 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, to support the Yemen Integrated Urban Services Emergency Project (YIUSEP).
This additional financing is for restoring access to critical urban services and strengthening the resilience of selected cities in Yemen to external shocks.
Yemen’s cities have been very badly affected by six years of conflict, with the destruction of urban infrastructure widespread. In January 2020, damage in the 16 cities covered by the World Bank’s Yemen Dynamic Needs Assessment was estimated at between US$6.9 billion and US$8.5 billion. Among the 16, Sana’a has suffered the greatest damage, followed by Taiz. Aden and Hodeida have also been severely affected.
“This project is more necessary than ever. In addition to the devastating impact of the conflict and compounding effects of COVID19, Yemen is vulnerable to floods and other climate-related shocks” said Tania Meyer, World Bank Country Manager for Yemen. “Through an integrated approach aimed at building resilience in urban areas, YIUSEP II will support basic services, key corridors and off-grid power to health and education facilities”.
Major roads and bridges—and municipal roads in Sana’a, Aden, Ibb, Taiz, Hodeida, Sa’ada and Amran, among others—have been severely damaged. The damage to urban roads has rendered large segments inaccessible to people and vehicles, with negative impacts on trade, mobility, and access to local services like markets, health facilities, and schools. Through YIUSEP, 234 kilometers of urban roads in eight cities have been rehabilitated, and access to critical services has been restored for more than three million beneficiaries.
Recent floods have also caused extensive damage to urban road networks, as well as to a number of key road corridors considered economic lifelines.
Yemen had one of the lowest per capita levels of electricity consumption—and the lowest level of access to it in the Middle East and North Africa region—before the current conflict worsened in 2015. Its public supply from the national grid has since largely shut down. Light emissions visible from satellite imagery indicate that electricity consumption has decreased by about 75%. The population and economy are suffering greatly from the effects the scarcity of diesel fuel is having on reducing the supply of electricity.
Its impact on critical facilities has been devastating: the country is struggling to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic because many of its hospitals and clinics have been damaged by the conflict and those remaining open face frequent power shortages. Under YIUSEP, solar systems were installed in water wells and 208 health and education facilities.
Federica Ranghieri, Senior Urban Development Specialist and Task Team Leader said, “The new project will not only support restoring critical urban services but also ensure that the country’s fragile public institutions are sufficiently benefiting from a wide range of training and other capacity building opportunities that can potentially maximize productivity and extend the reach of services to the populations in need.”
By working across sectors, the project aims to provide 600,000 Yemenis with access to rehabilitated water and sanitation, rehabilitate 60 kilometers of urban roads, and restore 39,000 megawatt hours of electricity capacity. It will be implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in partnership with local Yemeni institutions.
The project is aligned with the World Bank Group’s strategy for countries suffering from fragility, conflict, and violence, which focuses on remaining engaged in countries experiencing conflict in order to support their most vulnerable communities and key institutions.
The newly approved funds bring the total of IDA grants for Yemen to US$2.291 billion since 2016. In addition to funding, the World Bank provides technical expertise to design projects and helps put them in place by developing partnerships with UN agencies.