Yemen: The Story of Nothing

23 May 2013
nature Views

Aid agencies and international NGOs warn that almost half of Yemen does not have enough to eat, including about 267.000 children who face severe levels of malnutrition. During the Arab revolts, the Yemenis eventually ousted their dictator – Ali Abdullah Salah, but his specter looms large and Yemen remains the poorest Arab country. The economic crisis is catastrophic: 50% economic contraction, plus 23% inflation.

“There is food in the markets, but there is not enough money in people’s pockets,” claims Juan Herrero. In a country of extreme poverty and political corruption, Yemen has not gone through a democratic transition and is struggling with the aftermath of more than three decades of dictatorship. Although humanitarian aid is being sent to the Bayt al-Faqih district in western Yemen, monitoring the food crisis and distributing rations to the most impoverished families is far from being over.

Juan Herrero (b. 1984, Spain) started covering development projects in Cuba and Indonesia, while also contributing to Cordon Press agency. In the summer of 2012, he relocated to Sanaa, Yemen, where he photographed daily life and the ongoing hunger crisis in the west of the country that almost erupted in civil war. He has published in Paris Match and Der Spiegel, among others. To view more of his work, visit: www.juanjoherrero.com

  • The poor and heavily populated district of Bayt al-Faqih is one of the main targets of international aid in Yemen. October 2012.

  • Mohannad (2). Bayt al-Faqih. October 2012.

  • A woman walking in Attorba village. October 2012.

  • Ashima village. View from the road that goes to the port city of Hodeidah. October 2012.

  • Mothers with their children wait at a rural hospital which assists malnourished children in the Bayt al-Faqih district. October 2012.

  • Women waiting at one of the cash distribution points that an NGO operates in the schools of Bayt al-Faqih. October 2012.

  • Ali Ahmad, a farmer from Al Kadha village, standing where he used to store food for his family. October 2012.

  • “Sometimes we go to bed and our stomachs hurt,” says Aisha Mohammadiya by her house. October 2012.

  • Men waiting in line at one of the many cash distribution points in western Yemen. October 2012.

  • Hend and her family at her house in Attorba village October 2012.

  • Hend Mohammed (18) holds her malnourished daughter, Rahaf, on the threashold of their home in Attorba village. October 2012.

  • Abdul Salam Yusuf (50), a carpenter from Bayt al-Faqih city, stands in his livingroom with two of his 12 children. His 15 month old son, Abdul Majid, is malnourished. Two of his older sons (17 and 25) work illegally in Saudi Arabia; one is a waiter and the other a carpenter. He and his family are beneficiaries from one of the cash distribution programs. October 2012.

  • Dr Yahya Hassan, who operates the outpatient clinic, says “some of the malnutrition cases are the worst I have seen in the past 2 years”. 267,000 children in Yemen are at risk of death from malnutrition. October 2012.