Yemen is still a low human development country, UNFPA says [Archives:2006/1001/Front Page]

November 23 2006

By: Ismail Al-Ghabri
SANA'A, Nov. 22 ) “Yemen has improved its score on the human development index since 1990, but is still a low human development country, with a current ranking of 151 out of 177 countries,” the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) stated at a workshop Tuesday on the Country Program Action Plan (CPAP) for 2007-2011.

The U.N. fund released a report indicating that Yemen's per capita gross domestic product is $889 and has remained relatively static in recent years. Meanwhile, the most recently available statistics reveal that 42 percent of Yemeni households live below the poverty line and 16 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day.

According to the UNFPA report, poverty in Yemen is more of a rural than an urban phenomenon, with 83 percent of the poor and 87 percent of all those suffering food poverty living in rural areas. Poverty also is related to the number of children in a family.

“With 6.2 births per woman, Yemen is among those countries with the world's highest total fertility rates. Although its growth rate decreased from 3.7 percent in 1994 to just over 3 percent in 2004, rapid population growth continues to be an underlying cause of many of the problems the country faces,” the report revealed.

It added that as Yemen's population is expected to double in 23 years at the present growth rate, the nation's poverty situation is expected to further aggravate, thus hindering prospects for sustainable development and threatening prospects for equitable access to and expansion of education and primary health care.

Regarding maternal mortality, the report revealed that the phenomenon accounts for 42 percent of all deaths among Yemeni women of childbearing age. With 365 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, Yemen has one of the world's highest maternal death rates. Approximately, 75 percent of maternal deaths occur due to lack of access to and availability of high-quality reproductive health services.

The workshop was held in the presence of numerous ministers and population and heath officials, representatives from UNFPA's regional office, Yemeni universities and both governmental and non-governmental research centers, as well as health office managers and experts from 20 Yemeni governorates.

Opening the workshop, Minister of Public Health and Population Abdulkarim Rase'e pointed out that the country program is a new phase of continuing and constructive cooperation between Yemen and the UNFPA. It was held as part of a series of programs UNFPA has funded since 1992.

“This new program constitutes an action plan to be implemented for the next five years and the plan is expected to address several population problems, which reflects UNFPA's interest in reproductive health and social gender,” Rase'e stated.

Hans Obdeijn, UNFPA representative in Yemen, clarified that the plan aims to assist Yemen with population issues, particularly after succeeding at the London Donors Conference and receiving regional and international support to implement its development projects.

The workshop aimed to undertake a participatory peer review of the draft CPAP to enable UNPFA to finalize the document, which will be signed at a later stage. Specifically, the workshop's expected outcome is to provide feedback for improving the final document, taking into consideration multiple issues.

Another goal of the workshop was to ensure that the plan adequately addresses national plans and policies, as well as streamline its links to Yemen's program goals, outcomes and outputs. The workshop's third goal was to ensure that the plan is a coherent document bringing together programmatic and operational aspects of Yemen's program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

The workshop's final goal was to draw an adequate balance between the program's central and decentralized levels in terms of services, capacity building and resource mobilization.