ADEN -- Living standards have dropped in provinces of Yemen controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis, where a significant percentage of the population is having trouble putting food on the table, a new report reveals.
Government employees in Houthi-controlled areas have not received their salaries for months, which has pushed some to seek other means of making a living, or be forced to do without.
Among them is Sanaa University professor Abdullah al-Hakimi, who has taken work as a taxi driver, out of necessity.
"My work as a taxi driver will not diminish my academic and moral standing," al-Hakimi wrote on his Facebook page. "Rather, it is a badge of honour on my chest at a time when respect for science and scientists is in decline."
In another Facebook post, Sanaa University professor Samia al-Aghbari said she was attempting to sell some of her home items to put food on the table.
A United Nations (UN) report based on a survey of the public's food needs, published September 11, has concluded that residents of eight Houthi-controlled provinces in Yemen face serious food insecurity.
"Nearly 54% of the households experienced hardships due to food shortages and adopted food consumption-based coping strategies," the report said.
"Frequently adopted coping strategies included eating less preferred foods and limiting portion size at mealtimes," it added.
In Hajjah province, there is a high prevalence of food insecurity, hunger and inadequate diet based on all five measures that are used to record hunger.
Among the other provinces surveyed, al-Hodeidah, al-Jawf, al-Mahwit, Amran, Dhamar, Ibb and Sanaa had a high prevalence of food insecurity in three out of the five food security measures, the report said.
The survey, which targeted 2,452 families through computer-assisted telephone interviews in all of Yemen's provinces, showed they resorted to crisis coping strategies.
Of the families surveyed, 30% had turned to emergency coping strategies, including borrowing money, buying food on credit, selling household assets and reducing health expenses, the report noted.
The Houthis are widely seen to be making the situation worse.
The Iran-backed group seeks to take all the country's wealth and impose taxes on its residents under the guise of collecting "zakat" and other pretexts, Deputy Minister of Justice Faisal al-Majeedi told Al-Mashareq.
He accused the Houthis of exploiting the Yemeni people "in life, illness, hunger and death, by broadcasting tragic scenes and promoting them to the international community to garner support".
The decline in the value of Yemeni currency and the increasing inflation, which has soared to 47% per year, make it clear that Yemen's humanitarian crisis is worsening, economist Faris al-Najjar told Al-Mashareq.
The suspension of salaries since 2016 for a large segment of state employees has contributed to the rise in poverty and famine indicators, he said.
Food insecurity increasing
Food insecurity "is increasing day by day", said al-Najjar, noting it affected 19.5 million Yemenis last year, compared to 16 million the year before.
"This means that 3.5 million people became food insecure in just one year," he noted.
He stressed the need to change food consumption behaviour patterns, as the majority still rely on wheat, an imported commodity whose price continues to rise, especially amid the Ukraine war.
Other reliable types of grain are cheaper and more readily available in Yemen, he said.
The purpose of the UN report is to "shed light on the situation in Yemen and urge donors to provide more support", said Deputy Ministry of Legal Affairs and Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez.
In 2022, the humanitarian community is seeking $4.27 billion to provide principled assistance to 17.3 million people in Yemen.
So far, less than half of this amount has been raised.