Forced displacement in Yemen

Several complementary surveys and qualitative interviews of IDPs and communities in Yemen about their welfare, including food security, labor market activity, basic services, and related topics.

13 Jul, 2023

Overall objectives

The overall objective of this activity is to help World Bank and humanitarian operations better address the needs of displaced households in Yemen to ensure the data will have a direct influence on their outcomes. Data needs from the largest ongoing operations will be sought out and information fed directly into project implementation and planning.

Activity description

This project seeks to build a more robust data collection system through three separate but related avenues. First, it is proposed to hire an experienced call center that will continuously perform a number of surveys:

  • High-frequency tracking of displaced households addressing welfare dimensions in addition to food security.
  • Increase representation of underrepresented and especially vulnerable regions in existing high-frequency surveys.
  • Expand key informant interviews of local governments and sectors that are key to displaced households.
  • Collect prices of key commodities and whether they are currently available.
  • Collect information from local governments on changes in a wide variety of issues facing each region. For example, issues related to the provision of basic services (e.g., health, school, law and order, etc.).

Second, it is proposed to coordinate each of these activities with a geospatial team that is better able to map the availability of service provision across the country and to include additional remote sensing data sources. Third, the new data sources, described above, as well as the ongoing monthly mobile phone surveys of food security and some other limited welfare dimensions, being conducted by the World Food Programme (WFP), will be jointly analyzed. In all surveys and analyses produced, there will be a thorough discussion of sampling issues and the populations to which the results are representative.

In addition the team also hopes to contribute analytics that broaden the evidence base on the determinants of displacement, and the needs of displaced populations.  Analytic papers will be submitted for publication in high impact working papers series and academic journals.  Furthermore, the team will seek out opportunities to present results to academics, donors, and partner organizations to ensure the broadest dissemination possible.

Engagement with partners

All deliverables (the monthly bulletin, the lessons learned, and the summary of how well each project supports displaced households) will be disseminated widely among project teams.  Additionally, the team will embed itself within the project teams to ensure an ongoing dialog between the analytics and operations.

To ensure the work will have the broadest impact on operations, the project will work through three avenues to engage partner organizations to broaden the use of data systems and to ensure their timely use. Given the unique implementation arrangement the World Bank uses in Yemen where all projects are implemented through UN and local non-profit organizations, the statistics will directly feed into the largest assistance programs in the country: Social Fund for Development (SFD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), WFP, and the World Health Organisation (WHO). These are all organizations that deliver the vast majority of assistance in Yemen. The SFD is the most extensive national institution with which to engage and inform the data collection and analytics.

Direct coordination with the overall humanitarian response will be carried out through the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to more broadly disseminate the findings and seek feedback regarding the types of data that are most needed. Monthly calls coordinated by the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), which is an organization that coordinates all analytical work and data collection among the main stakeholders (including OCHA, the World Bank, local organizations, and donors), will serve as a way to disseminate findings and seek feedback in real time as conditions on the ground continually change.

Lastly, direct coordination with UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration will be carried out, and new data sources will be combined with other displacement surveys being conducted. The free flow of information across organizations can feed directly into survey modules and the types of information gathered and improve the overall quality of data collected.

Background and Context

Yemen has been in the midst of a forced displacement crisis since the conflict expanded in 2015. There was a large surge in internal displacement at the onset of the violence, followed by continued displacement of new households roughly equal in aggregate to the number of households that have been returning over time. Over 10 percent of the population has been displaced since the start of the conflict (IOM 2020).  However, other surveys, such as the Gallup World Poll and WFP monitoring, suggest the figure could be as high as thirty percent of the population.[1],[2]

Given the magnitude of the problem and the fluidity of the crisis with households going in and out of displacement, the current data systems in the country are not equipped to fully gauge the needs of displaced populations in the country and a more robust data system needs to be developed. Currently, the most complete data sources addressing displacement are key informant interviews trying to identify the size and location of the displaced population (IOM)[3], and food security data sources that identify food needs by displacement status (such as WFP, Integrated Food Security Phase Classification)[4].  However, more direct estimates of the scale of the displacement crisis, understanding of non-food dimensions of welfare, and a better understanding of regional differences in needs are vital to help displaced households and the communities supporting them.

There is a great urgency to better identify the needs of displaced households in the country.  Currently, there is approximately USD 4.5 billion of humanitarian assistance distributed annually, in addition to the World Bank IDA (International Development Assistance) portfolio consisting of five projects, totaling USD 1.7 billion.  Displaced households are an important target of humanitarian assistance, but the efficacy of assistance on displaced households could be greatly improved with a much richer data system.

In particular, existing data sources need to be supplemented with a wide variety of other types of data. Data sources that would be particularly useful include high-frequency surveys of displaced households that collect information beyond food security, interviews with service providers and local governments across the entire country to understand the ways to better ensure access to key services for displaced households, and general economic conditions and availability of key commodities. Combining such information would help improve the targeting of the substantial assistance to the country.

Yemen is not the only country in the region to face these issues.  Iraq, Libya, and Syria also face the prospect of large displacement crises and limited understanding of the needs of displaced households. More robust monitoring systems in Yemen could become part of a region-wide initiative to improve welfare monitoring in Middle Eastern countries engaged in conflict.

[1]  Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) – those who have been forced to leave their homes after March 2015 due to violence, rapidly deteriorating humanitarian conditions related to the conflict, or due to natural disasters.

[2] Gallup World Poll 2016

[3] The IOM estimates of displacement are used to weight the sample from the WFP household survey.

[4] Monthly mVAM survey


For further details on this activity, please contact:

Jeffery Tanner –  [email protected]

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