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The Yemen Challenge

This guest post was written by David Craig and originally appeared on the World Development Report 2011 blog on February 9, 2010.

January's High Level Donor Meeting on Yemen in London reminded the international community once more that we have to support this country in need.

Yemen is in trouble. A worrying mix of security-related and economic crises has the potential to destabilize the country. We are now paying more attention to Yemen, because the Al Qaeda-inspired failed airliner bombing in the United States on December 24 originated, at least in part, there. But Yemen is also facing long-standing civil unrest in the north and south, as well as an increasingly deteriorating fiscal situation.

According to the UN refugee agency, 250,000 people have been uprooted since clashes in the country erupted in 2004, with the number having doubled since last August. Many are struggling to cope and depend on assistance from the government and NGOs. Even in more peaceful times 60 percent of the people are affected by poverty.

The challenges confronting the country call for action and immediate support from the international community including the World Bank.

The World Bank Group is committed to help fostering stability in Yemen. With interest free loans through the International Development Association (IDA) of about US$135 million per year, the Bank supports 20 active projects covering a broad range of sectors (education, water, roads, flood protection, community-based activities, and health). IDA also provides significant analytical and advisory services, and the International Finance Corporation is active with five operations worth $150 million.

But despite this substantial commitment, we need to make sure that we provide the necessary help. Given the problems the country is facing, we as donors might have to step up our efforts to stabilize the country. The donor meeting was a good first step in our effort to collectively support Yemen.

DAVID CRAIG was recently appointed as the World Bank's Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti. A New Zealand national, he joined the Bank in 1984 and has broad experience across many countries in eastern Europe, northern and western Africa and the Middle East.

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