Food distribution in Utmah district supports people to meet their basic food needs

Sunday 17 May 2015

Food distribution in Utmah district supports people to meet their basic food needs


In Dhamar governorate in Central Yemen, Save the ChiIdren is running a “Food for Assets” project which started in 2013 and is funded by USAID. The project aims to build assets, like roads and other infrastructure in Utmah and Magreb Ans Districts, to strengthen the resilience of the communities living there.  




Muammer, a Save the Children member of staff, explains to Abu Saleh how to collect his food basket using the new e-card system. PHOTO: Muhammad Awadh/ Save the Children

Even prior to the conflict, around 10.6 million Yemenis (41% of the population) were unable to meet their basic food needs. According to the UN, food insecurity affects 12 million people today, with some estimates putting this number close to 20 million people (80% of the population). Since the airstrikes started on 26 March 2015, Yemeni food markets are not functioning and people are struggling due to the shortages of food and increases in prices. Basic food items are now unavailable in the market such as wheat and flour.  


In response to this food crisis, Save the Children is distributing food baskets to 3,500 families in Dhamar governorate. The food baskets include rice, wheat, oil and beans. In addition to this 7,500 households are directly benefiting from the project’s other activities.


Abu Saleh, 53 years old, is a farmer who lives with his wife, two sons and three daughters, in Utmah village in Dhamar. Abu Saleh and his family had been suffering due to the shortages in food, water and basic commodities long before the start of Save the Children’s project. His eldest son Saleh, who is 17 years old, was forced to leave school and work with his father in a farm in order to increase the family’s income to buy food. Now that Saleh’s family receives a food basket regularly, he has been able to go back to school. According to Abu Saleh “The food basket is extremely valuable to us as a family because not only is it helping us through this crisis, but it also means that my son can continue his education.”


During the first stage of the project, Yemeni families were given a voucher with their name on which they exchanged for a food basket at their local shop in their village. However after the first stage of the project Save the Children developed a different method for families to pick up their baskets as it proved to be difficult for families to use the vouchers due to the fact that it could only be the person whose name was registered on the voucher who could pick up the food. The new method uses an e-card instead of the voucher.


Abu Saleh explained how much easier it has become for his family to pick up their food basket. “The vendor in our village used to take a long time to process the food voucher. Also, I couldn’t ask my wife to go and collect our basket as the voucher was registered in my name and it was hard for me to go when I had work. The e-card system is much better. Now I can give the card to my wife and she can go pick up the basket immediately. It’s amazing!”


Fare’e, one of the vendors who supplies recipients of Save the Children’s food baskets says “This system is much easier. I just put the card in a machine and it registers everything. It saves time and a lot of paperwork. I think all vendors should start using this technology.”


Fare’e, one of the vendors who supplies recipients of Save the Children’s food baskets, smiles after the first successful attempt at using the e-card system. PHOTO: Muhammad Awadh/ Save the Children

Muammer, a Save the Children staff member working on the project, explained the new method of how to collect their food baskets to community members in an awareness session. “This food distribution is very appreciated by the community, especially in the current critical circumstances they are facing. We are doing our best to at least meet people’s basic needs.”


Save the Children organized an awareness sessions for the community in Utmah Village, Dhamar, in order to explain the new e-card system to them. PHOTO: Muhammad Awadh/ Save the Children