World Bank resumes work in Yemen, economists unconvinced
The World Bank has resumed working in Yemen after more than a year following political unrest that overthrew former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
During last month’s Friends of Yemen Conference in Riyadh, the bank provided Yemen with an estimated $61 million monetary grant to support public service projects.
Anghr Anderson, the World Bank’s deputy head of Middle East and North Africa projects, said Yemen is crying out for help.
The project will mainly concentrate on marginalized communities and on women by improving water services and access to primary education and healthcare.
The Program for Public Services was established in 1996 by article no. 36, issued by Saleh, and led by Minister of Cooperation and International Planning Mohammed Al-Sadee. Members include the minsters of local administration, public services, education, higher education, the cabinet secretary general, the deputy minsters of foreign affairs, cooperation and international planning.
The agreement stipulates that the World Bank provide development loans to Yemen. The prime minister issued decision no. 3 to establish a committee to determine major program tasks.
Job opportunities, basic services for the impoverished and widening citizen participation in the development process are the program’s aims alongside a heavy emphasis on education. The activities will focus on rural areas.
|Sector||Cost in dollars||Number of projects||Beneficiaries|
|Road and city infrastructure||6 million||30||195,000|
|Social affairs and vocational training||1 million||5||15,000|
According to Program for Public Services’ 2011 annual report, it completed 298 projects costing $53 million. However, the report indicated that 2011 differed from most years as a shortage of financial support from donor countries and the World Bank left projects incomplete.
In 2010, 378 projects were completed costing $47 million.
According to the report, finished projects created nearly one million jobs.
Last month, the committee overseeing the program set the 2012 budget at $63 million.
Program Manager Saeed Abdu Ahmed said they’re hoping to create more than 115,000 jobs this year, with 62,000 entry-level and 53,000 professional.
In a statement to the state-run Al-Thwara newspaper, Ahmed said the program plans to complete 475 projects in 2012.
Although many programs are complete, Mohammed Jubran, an economics professor at the University of Sana'a, said World Bank-funded projects are repetitive and useless. He said the government shouldn’t rely on foreign funds; it should self-fund development projects to alleviate poverty and create jobs.
Jubran said the government should support youth by establishing projects to provide loans to start businesses. He said it would help the nation improve economically.
Funds obtained by the Yemeni government are insufficient, especially during such a difficult time, Dr. Saeed Abdu Anam, dean of the Humanitarian Administration Science College at the University of Sana’a, said.
Anam said the World Bank's motivation for the loans is for propaganda, not legitimate support. He said he doesn’t think the fund will strengthen Yemen’s sustainable development.
Consultation by foreign experts poses a problem, as they’re expensive for the program to retain, Anam said.
He said the government and the World Bank’s Yemen office should consider this when deciding the most effective distribution of funds.