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Helping Displaced Mothers Save their Families from Hunger

A woman holding a body with two other kids smiling

Summer sitting with her children in a small room after being displaced from their village. Photo: Sarah Rasheed/CARE

Summer sitting with her children in a small room after being displaced from their village. Photo: Sarah Rasheed/CARE

After nearly seven years of conflict, according to the 2021 Yemen Humanitarian Needs Overview, a total of nearly 21 million Yemenis people are in need of humanitarian assistance. This constitutes two-thirds of the population including 22 per cent of whom are women and over half are children. The UN is once again warning of catastrophic levels of food insecurity and dire malnutrition for more than half of Yemenis, with five million people being one step away from famine and ten million more being right behind them.

Summer, a 22-year-old mother of four children, fled from Alhakom village of Taiz governorate to Taiz city due to the conflict eruption in 2017. “Our village was bombed and my house was destroyed by the shells. We were terrified and were forced to flee looking for safety, leaving everything behind,” says Summer. In Taiz city they now live in a small room, which is not enough for her family but they feel safer for the time being.

Displacement raises many risks for families who have been forced to uproot their lives and flee.  Leaving everything behind, they find themselves having to start afresh in an environment that is unfamiliar to them. Not being able to secure a source of income, many face food insecurity, finding they cannot provide for their families, resorting to making difficult decisions.  “Somedays we have had to eat one or two meals. It would break my heart seeing my children crying because they haven’t had enough to eat,” Summer says.


A group of children sitting on the ground reading a book
Summer, the only breadwinner for her children, is cooking while her children are studying. Photo: Sarah Rasheed/CARE

Summer’s husband suffers from a mental health problem which causes him significant impairment in his day-to-day living and impedes his access to a source of income.  With no proper education, Summer has found herself as the sole provider of daily essentials to her family.

In areas impacted by conflict, there is an increasing prevalence of families now headed by women, either because they have been widowed as a result of the conflict or their husbands have become unable to work due to injuries or illness. These women find themselves carrying the heavy burden which comes with immense challenges. Summer, for instance, resorts to working as a cleaner and sometimes carries and delivers gas cylinders for other families to make a living. “Sometimes I get some verbal abuse from people that I work for but I keep working to provide food for my family,” Summer says.

Continued conflict, displacement and economic downturn has also meant that the nutrition situation continues to worsen as acute malnutrition is becoming rampant among women and children in Yemen. Up to 1.2 million pregnant or breastfeeding women and 2.3 million children under 5 require treatment for acute malnutrition – one of the highest malnutrition rates around the world. At present, two of Summer’s children are suffering from malnutrition.  “It’s been so hard to see my kids suffer and feeling I can’t do anything for them,” says Summer.

Food prices have soared since the conflict escalated six years ago, and continues to rise making the most basic of items out of reach for many families, more so for those who are experiencing displacement. Wheat flour prices in the South are significantly higher than they were at the same time last year, having increased by over 60 per cent “One day, my daughter kept asking me to give her one apple, but I couldn’t provide her with one due to high price. It is difficult to eat more than one type of food since we got used to just eating one type of food for many weeks,” says Summer.

To improve the status of families who are facing insufficient food intake as a result of the conflict and displacement, CARE has been supporting 38,849 families in Taiz Governorate with emergency voucher and food assistance such as flour, oil, sugar, salt and beans. This support seeks to alleviate the challenges faced by families such as Summer’s, to ensure they are provided with sufficient food that meets their daily needs to “My children are able to eat more than one meal a day after having this project in our area,” says Summer, clearly showing her relief.

Like many residents in Taiz governorate, Summer hopes this project continues some the daily family food is affordable. “Every night I pray for those who help me to get food basket. It supports us to survive,” Summer concludes.

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