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Yemen - Second periodic report submitted by States parties under articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant [2009] UNCESCRSPR 14; E/C.12/YEM/2 (8 December 2009)

United Nations
Economic and Social Council
Distr.: General
24 November 2009
Original: Arabic

Substantive session of 2011

Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Second periodic report submitted by States parties under articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant


[3 July 2008]

Second national report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

June 2008


The Government of the Republic of Yemen received with interest the concluding observations (E/C.12/1/Add.92) adopted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights further to its consideration, at its 33rd to 35th meetings held on 12 and 13 November 2003 in Geneva, of the initial report of Yemen (E/1990/5/Add.54) on its implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the legislative, judicial and administrative measures which it had taken in that regard.

Yemen welcomes the distinguished Committee’s positive comments on the spirit of cooperation and understanding which characterized the discussions between, and the interventions of, the two sides, together with its acknowledgement of all the important achievements that Yemen has scored in promoting human rights and raising human rights standards to the desired level.

In accordance with articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant, and in the context of its second periodic report on the implementation of its obligations under the Covenant, Yemen is pleased to submit herewith clarifications in response to the Committee’s comments and recommendations.

The Republic of Yemen has achieved meaningful progress in the advancement of human rights, having acceded to over 59 international human rights treaties. The high degree of consistency between these treaties and the domestic legislation which deals with many human rights issues has helped to strengthen this process. Indeed, Yemeni legislation is conspicuous for its championing of human rights protection and supports the vital role which the Republic of Yemen plays in the framework of the democratic path on which it has embarked in pursuit of its political, economic and cultural objectives.

Since the submission of the initial report, there have been a number of positive human rights developments in the Republic of Yemen. For example, on 27 April 2003, as scheduled, parliamentary elections were held by free, direct and universal suffrage; this was the third round of parliamentary elections to be held since the unification of Yemen. A total of 8.3 million persons registered to vote, 3.4 million (48 per cent) of them women. Some 1,369 candidates stood for election, 931 nominated by political parties and 405 standing as independents; 11 of the candidates were women. The 2006 presidential and local elections were conducted freely and fairly in a tightly fought contest which helped to entrench democratic principles.

The date 18 May 2008 was a major turning point for the decentralization process as it was on that day that the first-ever elections for the office of Mayor of Sana`a and for regional governor positions were held following an amendment to the Local Government Act allowing for governors to be elected from among local government representatives.

Over the reporting period, the Government took several measures to revise the domestic laws on the status of women in the family and in public life; the Protection from Domestic Violence Act No. 6 of 2008 passed into law and includes numerous provisions guaranteeing all family members protection from acts of violence or harm within the family.

At present, further to a Cabinet decision of June 2004, a comprehensive review of all domestic laws is being planned in order to bring them into line with international human rights treaties.

With regard to general education for girls, the Yemeni Government has continued the efforts begun in recent years to promote female education more widely by encouraging girls to enrol in primary, secondary, higher, vocational and technical education and by increasing educational capacity in girls’ schools. In addition to the Government, a number of organizations have participated in efforts to reduce dropout rates among girls, particularly in primary education, by analysing the causes of the problem, devising solutions and expanding literacy activities targeted at girls and women. Even though women’s right to education is guaranteed under Yemeni law, there is still a marked gender gap in education and a pressing need to sensitize the public to the importance of educating girls, particularly rural girls, and to provide more educational resources and schools for girls throughout rural Yemen.

The passing of the Children’s Rights Act No. 45 of 2002 was a major step forward for children, and Yemen has furthermore ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Optional Protocol to the same Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

With the creation, in May 2003, of a separate ministerial portfolio for the Ministry of Human Rights, the level of attention paid to human rights issues was raised. The newly established Ministry of Human Rights works in consultation with an advisory body comprising 35 non-governmental organizations. Together with relevant organizations, it helps to raise awareness of the legal aspects of all public and private rights and freedoms. The Ministry receives complaints from the public via a mechanism consisting in a team of legal and human rights specialists. The team reviews and analyses complaints and refers them to the authorities concerned for remedial action. Any arbitrary act or injustice done to any person is brought to the attention of the proper authority, while visits are paid to custodial and detention facilities and to central and remand prisons in order to make sure that no one is being held illegally and to check on prisoners’ health, accommodation and living conditions.

The Government took the initiative of inviting Ms. Anne-Marie Lizin, the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, to undertake a mission to Yemen. During the mission, which took place from 2 to 5 October 2003, the Independent Expert met with the Prime Minister, several members of the Government, policy-makers who deal with poverty eradication issues, officials involved in civil status affairs, representatives of Government bodies, and United Nations and European Commission officials. The Independent Expert submitted her mission report, together with a number of conclusions and recommendations, to the former Commission on Human Rights at its sixtieth session. She drew attention to the positive developments that had taken place in Yemen since her first visit in 1999, including the improved situation for Yemeni women, the greater concern shown by the Yemeni Government for human rights and the evidence of a clear willingness to implement a poverty eradication programme. She also noted that the Yemeni authorities did not conceal the challenges that they faced and were exploring appropriate ways of confronting them, particularly the persistently high incidence of poverty in Yemen.

These positive developments and other measures — which cannot be mentioned here — to promote human rights are worth noting, as they provide a true picture of the actual human rights situation in Yemen. Despite the achievements scored in the human rights domain, however, the newness of the experiment means that certain kinds of human rights violations still occur. Moreover, certain negative aspects of the country’s cultural and social traditions continue to leave their mark and it will take additional effort, patience and persistence to deal with them. In that connection, we look forward to increased cooperation with the distinguished Committee and with the international community and can confirm that efforts to apply the Yemeni laws on the realization of fundamental human rights are continuing. Even though the political will to promote and protect human rights is there, there are real difficulties and obstacles which prevent the Government from achieving a number of human rights objectives. These difficulties can be ascribed to economic, cultural and social factors: Yemen is classified as one of the least developed countries, because it has few economic resources. This issue is being widely discussed at the highest levels with a view to finding appropriate solutions. It is obvious that a human rights culture cannot be created overnight; it is a task which takes time, patience and persistence. The main thing is to show persistence and to move forward in a credible and convincing manner.

In accordance with the foregoing, we submit to you herewith our second periodic report on the fulfilment by Yemen of its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The report discusses and analyses all the legislative and political developments which have taken place in the Republic of Yemen since the submission of the initial report on 27 April 2002. It also contains comprehensive information and data in response to the Committee’s recommendations and observations.

Lastly, the Government of the Republic of Yemen expresses its profound gratitude and appreciation to the distinguished members of the Committee for their unstinting efforts to promote human rights throughout the world.

Article 1

The right of self-determination, including the free determination of political status, the free pursuit of economic, social and cultural development and the free disposal of natural resources

Political system

1. The political system in Yemen is that of a parliamentary democracy which embraces all the features of both presidential and parliamentary systems. The system is constructed on the following principles:

• Yemen is a united, constitutional, republican (a simple republic, not a federation or a confederation), Islamic, Arab State.

• Yemen is a democracy founded on political and party pluralism and the peaceful alternation of power.

• Power is derived from the sovereignty of the people. The people are the holders and the source of power, which they exercise directly through referendums and general elections and indirectly through legislative and executive bodies and elected local councils.

• With regard to international relations, the system is founded on the recognition and application of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Pact of the League of Arab States and all generally recognized international law norms (Constitution, art. 6).

• All citizens are equal before the law without any distinction as to their rights and obligations.

• The system of government is based on the separation of State powers and cooperation among them.

• Yemen recognizes the principle of judicial review and amendment of the Constitution under the relevant conditions and procedures.

Economic principles

2. The economic system is founded on free enterprise, free trade and investment, which benefit the national economy, ensure justice for both the individual and society and enhance national independence. The economy is founded on the principles of: social justice in economic relations; the realization of social solidarity, equality of opportunity and higher living standards across society; legitimate competition between economic sectors (public, private, cooperative and mixed); equal treatment for all sectors; and the protection and preservation of private property. The State’s economic policy is based on scientific planning which optimizes resources and builds and develops the capacities of all economic sectors in all areas of socio-economic development.

3. The State encourages cooperation and savings and ensures, oversees and promotes the establishment of cooperative enterprises and businesses of all kinds. The law sets the salaries, allowances, emoluments, benefits and indemnities to be paid for out of the State coffers. Public assets and public property are safeguarded by law and must be preserved and protected by the State and individuals. Any encroachment or attack upon public assets and property constitutes an act of sabotage and an assault on society. The expropriation of public property is prohibited, and private property may only be expropriated further to a court order.

Social and cultural principles

4. Yemeni society is founded on social solidarity, underpinned by the principles of justice, freedom and equality. The family is the basis of society and its pillars are religion, morality and patriotism. The law preserves family cohesion and strengthens family ties. The State guarantees equality of opportunity for all in the political, economic, social and cultural domains. Education, health and social services are the mainstays of the social structure and social progress, and are provided by society and the State. The State guarantees freedom of scientific research and literary, technical and cultural activity, providing the means therefore and protecting the fruits of scientific and technical innovation and artistic creativity.

5. According to the Constitution, work is a right, a privilege and a necessity for the development of society. All citizens are entitled to perform work of their own choosing in exchange for fair pay. The State protects mothers and children and cares for the rising generation and young persons. Protecting the environment is a responsibility of the State and society and is also a religious and patriotic duty incumbent on every citizen.

6. The Constitution affirms a number of principles relating to the rights and duties of every citizen, in particular the principles of: equal public rights and duties; participation in economic, political, social and cultural life; the right to vote, to stand for elections and to express an opinion; the right to hold and not to forfeit nationality; the right of Yemenis not to be extradited from Yemen; and the non-extradition of political refugees. The Constitution also embodies a number of principles relating to the protection of the human rights to security and to participation in public life. The law prescribes the penalties to be imposed on any person who breaches these principles and determines the appropriate compensation to be provided to anyone who suffers injury as a result of such a breach. Physical or mental torture of a person who is under arrest or in detention or prison is an offence which is not time-barred from prosecution. Any person who commits, orders or participates in such an offence faces prosecution. The main principles which apply in this regard relate to the concepts of individual criminal liability, nulla poena sine lege and the presumption of innocence.

Local government

7. Article 4 of the Constitution provides: “The people are the holders and the source of power, which they exercise directly through referendums and general elections and indirectly through legislative, executive and judicial bodies and elected local councils.” Article 145 of the Constitution provides for the division of the national territory into administrative units, the number, boundaries and subdivisions of which are defined by law. The law defines the procedures for nominating and selecting the heads of these units. Administrative units (governorates and districts) have legal personality and have their own local councils, which are elected by free, direct and equal suffrage at the governorate and district level. These councils propose programmes, plans and investment budgets for administrative units and oversee and monitor local government institutions, which are accountable to them. The principle of administrative and financial decentralization is the basis of local government (Constitution, art. 147).

8. Yemen embraced decentralization as a strategic choice immediately after unification in May 1990. The governorates were given delegated authority to spend investment allocations on basic services and infrastructure projects assigned to them under the investment programme in the State’s general budget. By Presidential Decree No. 264 a higher committee was established under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister to support and promote decentralization. The higher committee has a technical subcommittee which serves as its secretariat.

9. The process of decentralization really began to take off with the promulgation of the Local Government Act No. 4 of 2000, its implementing and financial regulation, and with the holding of the first local council elections in the governorates and districts of Yemen in March 2001. As with other elections, women took part in the process and their participation was not confined to voting. Indeed, women exercised their right to stand for election to district and governorate councils. A total of 125 women stood for election, with 30 winning seats in district councils and 5 in governorate councils.

10. The year 2002 was the first year when local authorities began to prepare local development plans financed out of allocated funds. They used all the resources to finance new investment projects under local development plans for the administrative units, while the costs of projects that were under way before 2002 were borne by the Central Government.

11. Local government executive bodies and elected local councils in the different administrative units have done valuable work over the past four years, introducing a number of positive changes which have boosted the decentralization process and underscored the importance of wider public participation in decision-making and in local management of economic, social and cultural development as well as in the design and implementation of local investment plans and programmes.

12. In 2006, local council elections were held throughout Yemen for the second time, coinciding with the presidential elections. The date 18 May 2008 was a landmark for the decentralization process, as it was on that day that the first ever elections were held for the office of Mayor of Sana`a and for regional governor positions, following an amendment introduced to the Local Government Act allowing for governors to be elected from among local government representatives in the governorates.

13. A range of functions and powers were devolved to local district councils, in particular the discussion of public affairs, the identification, analysis and evaluation of citizens’ demands, needs and complaints and the submission of detailed reports on these matters to the relevant institutions. The councils issue appropriate recommendations on strengthened protection of rights and freedoms, the preservation of public and private social, professional and intellectual property and the provision of the necessary facilities for this purpose. Every local government member in a district or a governorate has the right to raise questions with the administrative unit chief or any director of an executive body in the unit according to the legally established procedure. Members also have the right to: oversee the application of environmental policies; take measures to safeguard the environment; suggest rules and norms regulating the public’s contribution to services; oversee the implementation of, and encourage citizens to enrol in, literacy programmes; ensure that the principle of compulsory education is applied; and provide health care in schools. Local councils from across Yemen hold an annual conference, under the auspices of the Prime Minister, to discuss and evaluate the local government system and its workings, together with ways of supporting and developing the system and proposals for related legislation. Other subjects discussed include the level of socio-economic development attained as a result of the local government experiment and the possibility of having local council directors elected from among elected councillors. The functions of local councils include: ensuring women’s advancement; providing care for women and children; utilizing population studies to further the development process, assign projects and achieve a demographic balance; promoting women’s economic, social and cultural advancement and supporting their participation in development; establishing public awareness plans and programmes on the aims and benefits of running one’s own services enterprise; examining and reviewing issues relating to the standard of social welfare and social security projects; conducting field surveys on the implementation of social welfare programmes; creating income-generating projects to combat poverty; tackling vagrancy and providing shelter for the homeless; providing incentives for local initiatives; promoting micro-industry and small trades; and developing the skills of farmers by offering agricultural advice and implementing information programmes and agricultural, irrigation, livestock and fisheries projects. In addition, the councils establish rehabilitation centres for the disabled and the profoundly deaf, homes for older persons, the blind and young persons, and youth camps. They promote literacy and adult education and support welfare homes and centres for mothers and children, together with family planning and community development centres. They support productive families, create primary health units and rural health units, provide safe water, health care and sanitation, register civil status details relating to marriage, divorce, birth and death and issue personal and family identity cards.

14. As part of the joint efforts by the Ministry of Human Rights and the Ministry of Local Administration to boost the role of local councils in the promotion and protection of human rights, the Ministry of Local Administration issued a circular in August 2004 appointing the chairperson of the social affairs committee in each governorate council as human rights coordinator for the governorate. The coordinator’s duties include receiving and reviewing complaints and following up on them with the authorities in the governorate responsible for taking the appropriate action. The coordinator also submits regular reports to the governor and the Ministry of Human Rights on all human rights violations that occur in the governorate and the action taken thereon.

Part II

Article 2

Exercise of the rights enunciated in the Covenant without discrimination

15. In paragraphs 8 and 27 of the concluding observations (E/C.12/1/Add.92), the Committee expresses concern about the discrimination experienced by certain marginalized groups commonly referred to as the Akhdam. The Government views the marginalization of the Akhdam as a socio-economic issue, since these groups are among the poorest in society (according to human poverty criteria) and are classified as being among the “less fortunate” in society[1]. However, the notion of marginalization is closely bound up with the Akhdam, which is why the designation is so widely used.

16. Since Yemeni laws do not discriminate between citizens, the Yemeni Government has not enacted special legislation on the rights of marginalized groups. The principle of equal citizenship underpins Yemeni law and offers a guarantee that the status of this group will change with the passing of time. In keeping with articles 41 and 42 of the Constitution, these persons enjoy the same rights and are bound by the same obligations as all other citizens. The situation of certain of these groups has improved to some degree, although others continue to live in very poor conditions. In the future, the situation of the latter will undoubtedly improve in the same way as it has for the former. The speed and the level of change will depend on the scale of the capacity-building and empowerment projects which governmental and non-governmental organizations carry out for the benefit of these groups.

Government efforts to rehabilitate these groups

17. In addition to the State’s general and sectoral strategies and plans to improve conditions for this group, efforts include those currently being made by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, the Social Development Fund, the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, with the assistance of the World Bank and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to finalize a comprehensive national strategy for the protection and development of children and young persons — including a plan of action — in which these groups are included as a target group. Some governmental institutions which are concerned with the protection of these groups have adopted special goals and projects in pursuit of their activities. In 2002, two services centres were established (in Sana`a and Yemen respectively) to offer educational, training and welfare services to poor families in general and these groups in particular. In 2003, the two centres carried out a series of educational, health, training, rehabilitation and social welfare activities. A total of 4,123 persons benefited from these services, the largest group of beneficiaries being children (2,602), followed by women (1,457), men with disabilities (17) and, lastly, older men (4). Delivering health services to children and mothers was the number one activity of the two centres.

18. The Ministry of Education and the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) are considering implementing a project to create child-friendly, single classroom schools in Yemen especially for street children, child workers and children who have dropped out of school, replicating the small, single-classroom schools found in remote areas of Yemen. The project entails the construction of 20 single classroom schools in various parts of Yemen and the training of from 70 to 100 teachers and administrators to work in these schools. The aim of the project is to provide children from marginalized groups with proper educational opportunities and to get more boys and girls in the 10 to 15 age group who are at risk of delinquency or who have dropped out of school into education. The schools are to be given curricula, seating, furnishings, equipment and computers and training will be offered to improve the economic and social skills of the families of child workers and street children from marginalized groups.

19. The municipality of Sana`a does exemplary work to improve the educational, economic, social, health and environmental conditions of these groups. A total of 1,300 social housing units, designed to modern standards, were built in the governorate of Sana`a and provided with a full range of infrastructure services. In conjunction with the relevant organizations, work is being done to deliver the remaining social services, such as a school and a health centre. The units have been assigned to residents on the basis of ownership contracts. In addition, residential areas have been built for marginalized groups in the governorates of Ta`izz, Lahaj and Hadramawt, in conjunction with civil and international non-governmental organizations and institutions. Priority has been given to transferring most of the inhabitants of shanty towns and members of marginalized groups to these areas.

20. The cleanliness of drinking water has improved with the delivery of infrastructure services such as water, sanitation and electricity to residential areas. In addition, public and household hygiene standards have improved as access to free water around the clock has led to higher rates of water consumption in the home. Households have been connected free of charge to the electricity grid, with due regard for safety standards. Residents are provided with a clean environment and the practice of using kerosene as a domestic fuel has been stopped. As a result the incidence of chest and respiratory disorders has fallen, together with the number of accidental fires.

21. These measures have had a positive impact on education and health: neighbouring schools have taken in children from shanty towns; treatment is available at local health centres and the municipality of Sana`a has taken steps to finalize a plan to deliver social services to these areas in coordination with support agencies.

22. The municipality of Sana`a has also taken steps to monitor the development of new residential areas including by:

• Establishing an institutional entity to manage urban development and ensure its sustainability, in partnership with civil society organizations

• Creating a continuous development programme for poor and marginalized groups that have been moved to new areas; the programme will be run in coordination and cooperation with organizations and funds devoted to this group which seek to build their capacities and improve their living standards through the implementation of the following programmes:

• Training and capacity-building

• Support for microenterprises which operate out of the home

• Promotion of productive work opportunities

• The provision of better educational opportunities

Efforts of non-governmental organizations to protect marginalized groups

23. These groups have formed their own associations in Sana`a and the governorates, with State support. The associations run projects which have the backing of international organizations such as UNICEF. There are not less than 10 associations specifically for these groups.

24. Civil society organizations take a special interest in running awareness-raising activities, studies, seminars and workshops on changing cultural attitudes and discriminatory social value systems and promoting a human rights culture based on the principles and values of justice, equality, freedom and dignity. During the 2001 local elections and the 2003 parliamentary elections some civil society organizations ran awareness campaigns targeting inhabitants of shanty towns who belong to these marginalized groups. The Civic Democratic Initiatives Support Foundation plays a leading role in this domain, and the Yemeni Society for the Development of Women and Children (SOUL) carried out a major study in 2003 on the inhabitants of marginalized districts of the governorates of Sana`a, Aden and Hadramawt. Non-governmental organizations and civil society institutions organize many activities designed to protect these groups and enable them to exercise their rights. As it is difficult to detail all these activities in this report, we shall confine ourselves to providing examples of relevant projects and programmes run by civil society institutions.

Social inclusion programme for marginalized groups in the city of Ta`izz

25. This programme is run by the Human Rights Training Centre in Ta`izz. Following the floods in the city of Ta`izz, the World Bank began negotiations with the governorate of Ta`izz on financing the construction of 46 housing affairs units for marginalized families struck by the catastrophe. The new residential complex was named “City of Hope”. The Human Rights Training Centre has designed and oversees the implementation of a social inclusion programme aimed at marginalized groups in general and the inhabitants of the City of Hope in particular. Activities focusing on education, health education, literacy promotion, reproductive health, empowerment and capacity-building have been run for these groups in the City of Hope.

Al-Qubbah al-Khadrah Coordination Council

26. Al-Qubbah al-Khadrah Coordination Council was established in early 1999 by people who come from what might be called “marginalized groups” in Sana`a City. A donation was given to the CARE organization to fund a school in the Mu’tamarat district. The CARE organization opened the school in the 1999/2000 academic year. Operating out of a rented building, the school has two classrooms, a courtyard and a three-period timetable. The organization also offers bursaries to some 200 primary school children in two nearby schools.

Social Association for Family Development

27. This association is one of the oldest non-governmental organizations to provide services to this group in the Asr district of Sana`a City. It is one of the few associations to have been founded by people who are not in a marginalized category and it delivers services only to marginalized groups. In 1998, the association opened up three classrooms in its headquarters to teach children from social groups stigmatized by marginalization. The association can be said to play a coordinating role in the delivery of educational services to children from marginalized groups. The Swedish Rädda Barnen organization covers the running costs of this educational project, while the association provides students with bursaries and school uniforms which it receives from the ECAL organization, UNESCO and CARE.

Al-Saleh Foundation for Social Development

28. Al-Saleh Foundation for Social Development, jointly with the municipality of Sana`a and the Social Development Fund, ran a training project for these groups in Sana`a in 2005. The project involved the establishment of training programmes offering these groups opportunities to acquire practical experience and skills in a number of jobs for which there is demand on the labour market. A further objective was to integrate this group as active members of society and protagonists who have a say in socio-economic development, and to improve their education and health.

Article 3

Ensuring the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the Covenant

29. With regard to this article and with reference to paragraphs 9 and 28 of the concluding observations, concerning discrimination against women in family and personal status law, as well as inheritance law, in order to avoid repetition, we refer the distinguished Committee to Yemen’s sixth periodic report, submitted in 2006, on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW/C/YEM/6).

30. The first legal team established by the National Committee for Women in 2001 reviewed and appraised 57 national laws and 11 international treaties signed and ratified by Yemen on the subject of women. The team concluded that most Yemeni laws guarantee equal rights for men and women, except for some parts of the Civil Status Code, the Nationality Act, the Criminal and Penal Code and the Civil Status and Civil Registration Act. The team suggested around 20 amendments or additions to those parts of these laws which discriminate against women. The proposals were referred to the Cabinet, which in turn referred them to the House of Representatives. The Committee had to make strenuous efforts to convince decision makers to accept the amendments and to have them adopted by the House of Representatives. Only five amendments were accepted, including one to article 47 of the Personal Status Code.

31. In 2004, another legal team reviewed Yemeni laws, particularly those relating to women, including the Personal Status Code. The team concluded that articles 7, 8, 11–15 and 139 of the Code needed to be amended and that three clauses should be added. The Cabinet approved the amendments in 2005 and issued Order No. 94 of 2005, concerning a revision of the draft legal amendments. The matter was referred to the Ministry of Legal Affairs in preparation for discussion and a decision by the House of Representatives.

32. With regard to paragraphs 18 and 37 of the Committee’s concluding observations, which refer to the living conditions of prisoners and detainees, particularly women, the Ministry of the Interior has taken action to improve conditions in prisons to the extent that resources allow. These improvements include the following:

1. Capacity in prisons has been increased.

2. Social welfare is provided by deploying social workers to prisons and enabling prisoners to meet with their families and relatives under a programme overseen by the Prisons Department. A building at Sana`a Central Prison has been set aside for prisoners to receive conjugal visits. There is also a children’s crèche at the women’s prison. Work is being done at present to replace the water and sanitation network at the prison. Satellite channels broadcasting cultural, educational and religious programmes have been installed in all prison wards in Sana`a Central Prison, in coordination with the relevant authorities, in order to provide inmates with access to suitable material. This experiment will be extended to all prisons in Yemen.

3. Health care for prisoners is provided, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Population; medicines are supplied in prison infirmaries and prisoners who are ill are taken to Government hospitals whenever necessary, where they receive treatment and undergo surgical procedures free of charge.

4. Education for prisoners is provided in coordination with education offices in the governorates. Textbooks and teachers are available in prisons and attendance at classes is mandatory for juvenile and illiterate prisoners.

5. A computer network has been created, linking the Prisons Department with its branches in the governorates.

33. The Government, through institutions such as the Ministry of Human Rights, the Higher Council for Women and the National Committee for Women (the operational arm of the Council), and with the participation of civil society organizations such as the Yemeni network to combat violence against women, the Human Rights Information and Training Centre, the Arab Human Rights Forum, the Yemeni Women’s Union and the Bar Association, runs numerous programmes and activities, including, in particular, a project on legal protection for women prisoners which is run by the Yemeni Women’s Union in 21 governorates. The aim is to defend the rights of women prisoners and women victims of violence and to raise legal awareness among women prisoners, judges and lawyers. Psychological services have been provided to a total of 268 female victims of violence and a residential facility has been established and fitted out to receive women who are former prisoners or victims of violence. These women are provided with training to enable them to develop self-reliance upon their return to society.

34. A circular issued by the Director of the Prisons Department on 3 August 2003 makes it clear that women prisoners who have completed their sentence may not be kept in prison, unless they submit a written request to the Office of the Public Prosecutor seeking leave to remain on specified grounds. Those who remain do so on a temporary basis until a home has been found for them.

35. Pursuant to a presidential decree, 71 women who had completed their sentence or had been ordered to pay blood money and other debts were released from prison. The State paid the women’s debts, amounting to YRI 5 million, on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2006.

36. According to information from the Ministry of the Interior, there were 179 women in governorate prisons in 2006. Of these, 62 women had been convicted, 64 were on trial, 94 were going through the preliminary investigation phase and 22 were foreigners. There were a total of 234 women prisoners in the central prison.

Part III

Article 6

Right to work

37. The right to work is one of the fundamental aims underlying the principles and provisions articulated in the Constitution of Yemen (art. 29). Moreover, article 5 of the Labour Code No. 5 of 1995 prohibits all forms of discrimination, distinction, exclusion or restriction based on race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, nationality or social origin which are likely to prevent or to impede the recognition, exercise or promotion of equal opportunities or equal treatment in employment or professional life. Hence, work is an inherent right afforded to every citizen on the basis of equality and subject to guarantees and rights, without any discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, colour, religion or language. Article 12 of the Civil Service and Administrative Reform Act No. 19 of 1991 guarantees all citizens without distinction the right of access to public employment.

38. Domestic legislation, in particular the Civil Service Act and the Labour Code, ensures respect for fundamental labour rights and recognizes the principles which guide labour relations. The legislation contains provisions regulating employment of women and young persons. The Civil Service Act regulates working conditions in the Civil Service and the public and mixed economy sectors, while the Labour Code regulates the rights and duties of private sector employees.

39. The new Labour Code was enacted following a review conducted at a workshop held in June 2007 in Sana`a with funding from the International Labour Organization (ILO). The event was attended by employers, workers and representatives of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, the Arab Labour Organization and ILO. In our view, the new Code offers some new solutions. As for the measures taken to provide employment to all individuals who are ready to work, this is the ambition behind a project which has been set up to develop investment and expand the employment base in order to create new jobs. The Ministry of Social Affairs has designed a programme to combat unemployment through employment generation and is formulating a national employment strategy which will be the central focus of this initiative. The Ministry and ILO ran a workshop to discuss the matter with a view to devising a national strategy and national programme.

Numbers of workers and trends

40. According to the statistics issued by the Central Statistical Organization in 2005, there were a total of 10.4 million persons of working age (15 years and over) in Yemen in 2004. This figure represents about half the population. The number of economically active persons was 4.2 million in 2004, accounting for not more than 39.2 per cent of the working age population (32.9 per cent in employment and 6.4 per cent unemployed). As Table 1 shows, the number of economically active persons was expected to increase from 4.4 million (39.6 per cent of all persons of working age) in 2002 to 4.6 million in 2006, an annual growth rate of 4 per cent. According to market estimates, the economically active population was expected to reach 4.7 million by the end of 2007, an annual average growth rate of 3.8 per cent over the period from 2004 to 2007.

41. The figure was expected to rise to 4.9 million in 2008. The number of persons actively employed in 2004 was 3.55 million. Of these, 59.5 per cent were men, while women accounted for 5.8 per cent of the working age population. Overall, the economically active population accounts for 32.9 per cent of the working age population. The number of the actively employed rose from 3.7 million in 2005 to 3.8 million in 2006 and was expected to top 4 million in 2007, an average rate of increase of 3.6 per cent per annum. Likewise, the number of the employed was expected to reach 4 million in 2008. Thus, job growth in the period 2004–2007 was lower than the growth in labour supply. Hence, the unemployment rate increased slightly, from 16.3 per cent in 2005 to 16.4 per cent in 2006, with the number of unemployed reaching 753,000, as compared to 721,000 in 2005. The unemployment rate was expected to reach 16.5 per cent in 2007, an annual average rate of growth of 4.4 per cent. The unemployed account for 6.4 per cent of the workforce (8.9 per cent males and 3.8 per cent females).

42. Generally speaking, the ratio of the actively employed population to the population of working age is 83.7 per cent, while the unemployment rate is 16.3 per cent.

State policies and measures to increase employment

43. In order to guarantee citizens the right to work, the State has adopted a series of policies, procedures and measures to increase employment. In particular the Socio-Economic Development Plan for Poverty Alleviation 2006–2010 includes a set of goals, objectives and indicators designed to strengthen economic reforms, to achieve real and sustainable economic growth and to generate employment as a means of mitigating poverty. The plan is to be carried out based on an active partnership with the private sector, civil society, neighbouring States and international donor organizations, as well as regional and international stakeholders. The plan was drawn up to achieve the following goals:

1. Reduce the growth rate for the population of working age to 2.75 per cent by 2010.

2. Increase the capacity of the national economy to create employment to approximately 4.1 per cent per annum over the next five years.

3. Reduce the unemployment rate to 12 per cent by the end of 2010.

44. In order to provide suitable and equitable employment opportunities for all citizens, a number of policies and measures have been included in the plan, as described below:

• Building the capacities of the ministries responsible for analysing labour supply and demand and adopting suitable policies and measures in the context of an employment strategy designed to increase employment, combat poverty and align labour supply with labour demand

• Doing what is necessary to provide a suitable investment climate for large and medium-sized programmes and projects included in the strategy

• Encouraging investment in labour-intensive activities, together with loans and financing for medium-sized and small enterprises, and enterprises run by young persons and graduates in general, particularly graduates with a technical education or a background in vocational training

• Increasing women’s participation in productive economic activities

• Developing legislation and laws on work, employment conditions and occupational health and safety standards; improving mechanisms for enforcing labour contracts and resolving conflicts; and expanding social insurance schemes

• Increasing and improving public awareness of behavioural and ethical standards in the workplace and the importance of honouring contracts

• Updating educational and training curricula and pursuing cooperation with educational and training institutes in order to make sure that what they produce meets the needs of the local and foreign labour markets

• Supporting specialized training centres, in the framework of international technical cooperation agreements, and concentrating on rare areas of specialization for expansion

• Involving the social partners in the design of educational and training programmes and curricula to further development, with a focus on teaching English, computer skills and information systems as the key to human resources development

• Focusing on and expanding training and further training programmes for workers and job-seekers

• Conducting studies and field research on different forms and types of unemployment and identifying the causes and socio-economic impact of unemployment and ways and means of eliminating the problem

• Following up on efforts to liaise with neighbouring States to facilitate the employment of qualified workers

• Opening up employment bureaux in governorates where there are none

• Developing employment bureaux, building their institutional and regulatory capacities and working more closely with the private sector to promote employment

• Revising the minimum wage to bring it into line with the minimum required for a decent life

• Continuing to include the non-regulated sector in official activities and increasing the number of major private enterprises and institutions, while building their capacity to execute projects and contracts in line with regional and international specifications and standards

• Stepping up efforts to modernize the Civil Service and increase its efficiency and productivity; involving the public administration more closely in improving work performance figures; and creating a system of good governance which helps to generate investment and employment opportunities.


45. The unemployment rate rose slightly, from 16.3 per cent in 2005 to 16.4 per cent in 2006: 753,000 persons in 2006, as compared to 721,000 in 2005. The unemployment rate reached 16.5 per cent in 2007 – an annual average growth rate of 4.4 per cent. Unemployment is mainly concentrated among the young; the male unemployment rate is approximately 12 per cent, while the female unemployment rate is 46.3 per cent. According to a labour demand survey conducted in 2003, this figure is destined to rise, as approximately 188,000 young persons are due to graduate, but the economy can only offer 16,000 jobs. Given the socio-economic repercussions, the problem of unemployment will remain a serious challenge for the development process.

Policies and procedures to deal with unemployment

46. In dealing with unemployment, the Government, through the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, has recently taken steps to reduce unemployment. The main steps taken are listed below:

• A national employment strategy was drawn up jointly with ILO and the social partners to identify ways and means of reducing unemployment

• A national human resources development strategy is being formulated at the present time

• A special programme on the development of a labour market information system was carried out, and employment bureaux received assistance with capacity-building

• In order to involve the private sector more fully in efforts to reduce unemployment, restrictions on setting up private employment agencies for the domestic and foreign markets were lifted

• The Labour Code was revised in consultation with employers and trade unions and with the assistance of ILO; the text is still being finalized.

Child workers

47. According to figures produced by the Central Statistical Organization based on the outcome of the 2004 census, in 2004, there were 8.9 million children under the age of 15, as compared to 7.3 million in 1994 – an increase of 1.5 million, representing an average annual growth rate of 2 per cent. Of this number 51.7 per cent are boys and 48.3 per cent are girls. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour calculates that out of the total number of children in the labour market some 51.6 per cent are females. This is a high figure, considering the restrictive customs and traditions which govern women’s lives in Yemen.

48. According to a report by the Central Statistical Organization, 326,608 children were in employment in 1999, accounting for 9.1 per cent of the workforce. The latest figures produced by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour for the period 2001–2005 indicate that there were 421,000 children in employment. A report on human resources development issued in 2004 stated that approximately 493,000 children aged between 10 and 14 years were in work in 2004, as compared with a figure of around 240,000 in 1994.

49. A study by the General Federation of Trade Unions of Yemen shows that more than 90 per cent of child workers are employed in rural areas. Most child workers (92 per cent) are employed in the agricultural sector and in related occupations, while 5 per cent work in general services and outlet or itinerant sales. Approximately 91 per cent of children work for the family without receiving any pay, while 8 per cent work for themselves or are paid in cash or in kind. Children go out to work for many different reasons, including: to help the family (71 per cent); because the family is poor, the father is unemployed or the breadwinner has died (15.3 per cent); because they have not enrolled in education, do not wish to go to school or have failed at their studies (10.4 per cent); and, lastly, because they wish to work (3.3 per cent).

Policies and procedures to curb child labour

50. A drive is under way to curb child labour. The Government has adopted a number of policies and measures in this regard, the most important being the following:

• The main ILO conventions on child labour, namely, the ILO Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182) and the ILO Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, 1973 (No. 138), have been ratified, and a national strategy and plan of action to curb child labour has been drawn up with assistance from ILO and issued pursuant to a Prime Ministerial decision of March 2000.

• A unit for the elimination of child labour was set up at the Ministry of Labour Manpower Department in June 2000.

• A memorandum of understanding was signed with ILO on the establishment of a national programme for the elimination of child labour.

• An office of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) was established, with funding from the United States Government, through ILO. In the first phase of the project, which ran from January 2001 to August 2005, a database on child labour was created, and relevant legislation was revised and amended in line with the international labour conventions which Yemen has ratified.

• In November 2002 and June 2004, part II of the Children’s Rights Act, concerning the rights of child workers, was rewritten and a regulation was issued on work that children are not permitted to do. The first phase of the project resulted in communication channels being established with a number of ministries and non-governmental organizations with a view to combating child labour. A national plan of action to eliminate child labour was drawn up and discussed at a workshop in August 2005 which was attended by all the relevant stakeholders. The event was organized in conjunction with ILO, with assistance from the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies.


51. One of the main challenges facing the labour market is the impossibility of matching labour supply with labour demand both in quantitative and qualitative terms. As a result of high levels of population growth, growing numbers of people are seeking entry to the labour market, while the education and training system has not been able to provide graduates who have the necessary skills to meet the needs of the national economy and employers. In addition, the fact that workers have poor qualifications and skills makes it difficult to increase efficiency and productivity.

52. Another issue affecting labour demand is stagnation in the regulated private sector, coupled with an investment climate that is not able to generate sufficient employment opportunities. This is compounded by falling levels of pay and a clear bias towards men, as shown in the labour participation rate, not to mention inadequate social security coverage and unfavourable working conditions.

Article 7

Right to just and favourable conditions of work

53. The Civil Service Act and Labour Code guarantee the rights set out in article 7 of the Covenant and their effective exercise in Government institutions and the private and mixed economy sectors. Follow-up is assured by the competent departments of the ministries concerned, which verify that the laws are being applied so as to ensure that sufficient protection is provided for labour rights. With regard to women’s employment rights, the law provides adequate guarantees and protection, together with benefits and other assistance to enable women to work and to reconcile their domestic and professional responsibilities.

54. With regard to the rules on occupational safety, articles 113 and 114 of the Labour Code contain a number of health and safety rules and norms. Article 115 provides for measures to protect workers from occupational hazards. Article 116 spells out the duties of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour with regard to the enforcement of the Code, while article 117 provides for the establishment of a higher committee for occupational health and safety, consisting of representatives of relevant institutions, which has the power to establish subcommittees in the governorates. Article 118 defines the duties of employers with regard to ensuring health and safety at work and compliance with the law in this important area.

55. Article 54 of the Labour Code spells out the methods for setting pay levels, including the minimum wage. It states that categories of pay for different types of work and occupations are to be determined based on the volume and nature of the work and taking account of the following criteria:

1. The nature of the tasks, duties and responsibilities;

2. The qualifications and experience necessary to do the job;

3. The importance and role of the work in developing output and the quality thereof;

4. The return on work;

5. The conditions and place of work;

6. The effort involved for the worker.

56. Article 55 of the Code states that the minimum wage for the private sector must not be lower than that for the Civil Service.

57. In practical terms, follow-up on these provisions is assured by:

1. A labour inspection service, although owing to resource constraints, it is not very active;

2. Labour departments, which control the minimum wage when reviewing labour regulations and permits;

3. Labour departments, which check employment contracts;

4. The Public Institute for Social Insurance, which also takes part in the review process when registering social insurance beneficiaries.

Principal wage-fixing methods

58. Article 54 of the Labour Code defines the categories of pay for work and occupations based on the volume and nature of the work and the following criteria:

1. The nature of the tasks, duties and responsibilities;

2. The qualifications and experience necessary to do the job;

3. The importance and role of the work in developing output and improving the quality thereof;

4. The return on work;

5. The conditions and place of work;

6. The effort involved for the worker.

Basic principles underlying the pay regime

59. With reference to paragraphs 11, 12, 30 and 31 of the concluding observations, in addition to the foregoing, article 11 of the Employment and Pay Scheme Act No. 43 of 2005 states that the pay scheme is based on the following basic criteria:

• The establishment and utilization of a standard and fair methodology for setting wage levels, which uses a progressive scale based on the classification and evaluation of jobs and the salaries paid in the labour market. Account must be taken of working hours and the standards applied for work in a similar category.

• Tables of occupations and salaries are used so as to achieve the socio-economic objectives set in State plans. Pay levels are determined according to the nature of the job, meaning the difficulty and complexity of the tasks involved, the level of supervisorial or non-supervisorial responsibilities, the socio-economic importance of the work and the educational, training and other qualifications required. The pay level is linked, therefore, to the results of the job classification and evaluation exercise.

Minimum and maximum pay

60. The table below contains data on minimum and maximum pay levels.

Minimum pay
7 000
20 000
Maximum pay
44 000
180 000

Article 8

Trade unions and the right to strike

61. The right to form a trade union is enshrined in the Constitution (art. 58). The Labour Code and Act No. 35 of 2002, concerning trade union regulation, regulate all labour relations. Article 144 of the Code grants workers the right to strike in pursuance of their demands, when negotiations have failed. This right is regulated under articles 145 to 150 of the Code. In fact, legal strikes are held in all Government, public and mixed sector institutions and in those parts of the private sector where there are trade unions.

62. Yemen has ratified the ILO Convention concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948 (No. 87), the ILO Convention concerning the Application of the Principles of the Right to Organise and to Bargain Collectively, 1949 (No. 98) and the ILO Convention concerning Tripartite Consultations to Promote the Implementation of International Labour Standards, 1976 (No. 144). Provisions on these instruments are contained in articles 151 and 152 of the Labour Code.

63. The State is committed to perfecting the legislative and legal infrastructure in which civil associations and cooperatives operate and to providing these organisations with appropriate benefits. Act No. 39 of 1998, concerning associations and cooperative unions, and Act No. 1 of 2001, concerning associations and civil institutions, were issued for this purpose. The boom in the number of associations has become a fact of life in Yemen; these organizations play an important part in development and are considered key partners in official efforts.

64. The Government facilitates and promotes the establishment of trade unions and federations, encouraging them to pursue their activities freely and independently of the Government apparatus. It also offers every facility to develop their activities and programmes and to help them translate their stated goals into action plans which meet the needs of target groups. In recent years, there has been a marked increase in trade union activity. Many trade unions have directed their efforts at helping to curb poverty and caring for special groups in society. The first trade union conference since unification in 1990 was held in March 2008, with the support and blessing of the Government, and gave a powerful boost to the trade union movement.

65. By the end of 2007 around 4,320 associations, federations and trade unions in Yemen were engaged in activities including charity work, social, vocational and cultural services and care for mothers and children. These organizations can be grouped as follows:

• 47 general federations

• 2,421 charitable societies

• 267 charitable foundations

• 1,103 social associations

• 71 cultural associations

• 66 professional associations

• 49 scientific associations

• 20 friendship societies

• 6 fraternities

• 98 trade unions

• 237 clubs

• 25 forums

66. These associations, federations, trade unions and cooperatives are found throughout Yemen. The State’s encouragement and support for these associations has become a set feature of State policy. The Government provides over YRI 200 million a year in financial support for associations and federations. Moreover, the State grants tax and customs exemptions to these organizations as a way of supporting them. In addition, the State is committed to mobilizing resources with a view to strengthening civil society.

Article 9

Social security

Social protection

67. The Second Five-Year Plan for 2000–2005 and the Poverty Reduction Strategy include policies and measures to increase public spending on basic social services, particularly education and health, and to increase public investment in infrastructure in rural areas with a predominantly poor population. Public spending is targeted at sectors where poverty reduction measures have a prospect of improving the population’s living standards. The data show that social spending grew during the period 2000–2005 by an average of 17.6 per cent in the health sector, 14.8 per cent in the education sector and 9.3 per cent in the social welfare sector. The health sector accounted for 4.3 per cent of public spending in 2005, close to the 6 per cent target set in the Plan for 2005. At the same time, spending on health as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) was around 1.4 per cent on average for the period, although the aim of the strategy was to increase this figure gradually to 2.2 per cent by 2005.

68. Spending on education accounted for 17.6 per cent of total expenditure in 2002 and around 21.2 per cent in 2005. Average expenditure on education as a proportion of GDP was around 6 per cent over the same period.

69. Spending on social welfare failed to reach the target of 1 per cent of total public expenditure, remaining at only 0.4 per cent over the period, although spending increased by 9.3 per cent on average, compared with a target of 32.7 per cent. Moreover, the level fluctuates from one year to another.

70. In the social welfare sector, the Government’s efforts focus on providing assistance to persons with special needs, older persons and young offenders with a view to facilitating their social rehabilitation and integration, improving services for children, eliminating vagrancy and child labour, etc. The Government has recently taken steps to develop its activities in these areas and to provide social welfare in two main areas of focus:

(a) Supporting social programmes which include social welfare centres, homes for older persons and the infirm and rehabilitation centres for persons with disabilities;

(b) Increasing participation by citizens, civil organizations, the private sector, associations and federations that are active in these domains.

71. Approximately 75 centres and associations, 8 of them Government institutions, had programmes and activities financed out of the Welfare and Rehabilitation Fund for Persons with Disabilities in the period 2001–2005. Some 106,800 males and females with disabilities from the different governorates benefited from these programmes and activities. Of this number, 12,500 beneficiaries used institutional and individual rehabilitation services, 63.9 per cent on an individual basis. As for the rest, meaning institutional and community-based social rehabilitation services, some 94,300 persons of both sexes made use of these services, 96.1 per cent using social welfare services.

72. Social rehabilitation services are available for widows, young persons, street children and child workers. The number of users of these services rose from 568 in 2001 to 5,905 in 2005. The number of persons using services provided by homes for older persons and the infirm increased by 4.3 per cent over the same period, while the number of beneficiaries of services designed to eliminate homelessness among children rose from 220 to 2,737 – an average of 65.5 per cent per annum. Lastly, the number of associations and civic federations jumped sharply, reaching 5,378 by the end of 2005, as compared with 3,245 in 2000.

73. The Second Five-Year Plan and the Poverty Reduction Strategy focus on improving living standards for individuals with a low income. The policies and programmes that have been introduced are designed to establish a social welfare mechanism for the poor which will deal with the causes and reduce the impact of poverty by creating a social safety net to mitigate the adverse consequences of the economic, financial and administrative reform programme. Poverty reduction measures include the delivery of social welfare services and assistance in cash and kind for the poor, the aim being to increase protection for the poorest groups and those most likely to slip under the poverty line.

Social safety net

74. A social safety net was created to: mitigate the adverse effects of the economic, financial and administrative reform programme; protect those who are unable to earn an income by offering them direct cash assistance; create physical and social infrastructure for deprived areas; and provide jobs via project implementation. In addition, mechanisms have been set up to finance small and microenterprises which generate income and job opportunities, to support production in the agriculture and fisheries sector and to build capacity through training and rehabilitation initiatives. The social safety net’s institutional mechanisms consist in the Social Development Fund, the Public Works Project, the Agriculture and Fisheries Support and Promotion Fund, the Social Welfare Fund, the Small Enterprises Finance Fund and the National Programme for the Development of Productive Communities and Families.

75. Social safety net mechanisms and programmes have been designed to reduce poverty and curb unemployment by creating permanent and temporary jobs and providing credit and cash assistance and services directly to the poor in order to improve their standard of living.

Social Welfare Fund

76. The function of the Social Welfare Fund is to offer cash assistance and direct benefits to the poorest groups, in addition to assistance to needy persons such as the infirm, the elderly and women without a family breadwinner. The groups covered by the Fund include 15 groups on benefits, and all groups receive equal coverage; the Fund provides them with cash assistance out of the Government (public) coffers.

Number of beneficiaries of the Social Welfare Fund and amounts disbursed in 2002–2006

438 682
537 398
648 780
746 380
943 668
Total assistances (in thousands of Yemeni rials)
8 235 450
10 058 700
11 099 853
12 830 114
15 263 178

77. The Fund’s operational policy is derived from the Social Welfare Act. Hence, it makes no distinction between different social segments and accords special attention to women; a total of 483,318 women have received social security benefits from the Fund, accounting for 44 per cent of all recipients.

78. Social welfare spending accounts for 7 per cent of total GDP, with spending on social security accounting for around 0.5 per cent of GDP.

79. Social welfare coverage has expanded over the past 10 years. As at the end of 1996, a total of 39,400 cases had been provided for; today, 1,044,078 families have received social welfare assistance – 556,760 males (54 per cent) and 483,318 (46 per cent) females.

80. It is important to note that these achievements have been scored over time: when Act No. 4 of 1982 was passed, the assistance available was a minimum of YRI 250 and a maximum of YRI 600. Those figures later rose to YRI 600 and YRI 1,000 respectively, before climbing to YRI 1,000 and YRI 2,000, only to go up again, to YRI 4,000 and YRI 12,000 respectively in 2008.

81. In this connection, the number of cases where assistance was provided increased from 439,000 in 2002 to 944,000 in 2006, and, thus, the total amount of assistance disbursed rose from YRI 8.235 billion in 2002 to YRI 15.263 billion in 2006. The goal is to expand the focus on cases of indigence that have been documented and investigated and to take on 250,000 cases during the course of the Third Five-Year Plan 2006–2010. Assistance was provided for 200,000 new cases in 2006, bringing the total number of cases up to 944,000 by the end of 2006 – an increase of 25.5 per cent over the previous year. The original plan was to target only 50,000 cases per year during the period 2006–2010. By the end of 2010, however, there are likely to be over 1 million cases, an average annual rate of increase in the target groups of around 5.8 per cent.

Social security spending, 2001–2007

Social Security Services
1 872
2 312
2 627
2 363
2 796
3 074
3 722
4 111
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
1 114 211
1 684 554
1 878 007
2 160 608
2 563 490
3 208 501
3 760 038
4 100 219
Percentage of GDP
Growth in spending on social security services

Source: Government financial statistics, issue No. 30, fourth quarter of 2007.

82. A further objective of the Fund is to establish a plan to train some 6,000 persons in occupations and trades that will help them to become self-reliant over the course of the plan. In 2006, a total of 2,756 persons received training (through associations, productive family projects, technical education and training centres), while 463 persons from small-scale enterprises received training (sewing, carpentry, animal raising, hairdressing, etc.).

83. It is important to note how the poor view the Fund: they see it as the only mechanism designed specifically for them, even if the amounts that they receive every quarter at best are rather paltry, meaning that it is not possible to live on social welfare benefit. The poor also see a need to revisit the objectives of the social safety net in order to include credit and training schemes which will enable them to improve their economic situation and to become self-reliant, especially those of them who are fit for work and who could considerably improve their socio-economic standing if only they had a little financial assistance.[2]

84. The following table shows the number of areas of social security which the Social Welfare Fund covers in Yemen.


Medical care
The Social Welfare Fund exempts beneficiaries from paying for medical care for themselves and their families.
Sickness benefit
Subject to the availability of resources, the Social Welfare Fund gives immediate cash payments to persons who are ill and apply to it for assistance.
Maternity benefits
Mothers receive assistance from the Fund to help improve their living conditions. Widows, divorcees, spinsters, women who have been abandoned and female orphans also receive help and assistance. Some 483,318 women have received social security assistance, accounting for 46 per cent of all cases taken up by the Fund. Women furthermore account for 44 per cent of all those granted interest-free loans by the Fund. A women’s department operating in the Social Welfare Fund runs awareness programmes for women on the services provided by the Fund and familiarizes expectant mothers with Ministerial Decree No. 344 of 2006, which states that Ministry of Health hospitals and health centres throughout Yemen must provide childbirth services free of charge for the poor.
Old age benefit
Older persons are provided with care and assistance; a total of 182,801 older persons receive social security assistance, representing 17.51 per cent of all cases taken on by the Fund.
Invalidity benefit
The Fund offers social security assistance to persons suffering from a temporary or permanent total or partial disability. The number of recipients of the benefit is 147,927, a figure which can be broken down as follows:
• Permanent total disability: 58,474 (5.6 per cent of cases)
• Permanent partial disability: 84,723 (8.1 per cent of cases)
• Temporary total disability: 1,052 (10 per cent of cases)
• Temporary partial disability: 3,678 (35 per cent of cases)
Unemployment benefit
The Fund offers cash assistance to the unemployed. A total of 227,308 persons receive unemployment benefit, accounting for 21.77 per cent of all cases taken up by the Fund.
Family allowances
The Fund dispenses a cash benefit of around YRI 6,000 to poor families in various categories. As at the end of 2007, a total of 1,044,078 families had received this benefit; the amount of the benefit was increased beginning in the second quarter of 2008.

Social Development Fund

85. As one of the key components of the social safety net designed to help mitigate the effects of the economic reform programme and combat poverty, the Social Welfare Fund has managed to build and absorb a large amount of capacity, supporting the implementation of around 1,000 projects a year and some 1,500 consultancy contracts annually. In addition, it has contributed to the establishment of a database on 15,000 consultants with expertise in a wide range of areas and to the establishment of an efficient administrative, technical and financial information system linking the headquarters of the Fund to its different branches.

86. A total of 4,618 projects had been completed by the end of the first quarter of 2007, at an estimated cost of $319.5 million. Of the various sectors covered, education was at the top of the list, accounting for 2,283 projects (57.6 per cent), at an estimated cost of $184 million, followed by water (663 projects or 12 per cent), at an estimated cost of $38.7 million, then health (356 projects), at a cost of $23 million, roads (143 projects), at a cost of $15.6 million, and persons with special needs (249 projects), at a cost of $14.3 million.

87. By the end of the first quarter of 2008, some 7,296 projects had been carried out in the framework of the Social Development Fund, at an estimated cost of $652,297,000.

88. The education sector occupied first position in terms of the numbers of projects: 3,290 at a cost of $343,755,000. This was followed by the water sector, with 1,005 projects at a cost of $68,466,000, and then roads, with 407 projects at a cost of $63,950,000. In the health sector, 691 projects were carried out, at a cost of $49,862,000, while in the cultural heritage sector there were 175 projects at a cost of $31,929,000. In the sector for persons with special needs, a total of 384 projects were carried out at a cost of $22,803,000. In the environment sector there were 173 projects, at a cost of $19,269,000, followed by the institutional support sector with 486 projects valued at $8,625,000. The integrated intervention sector received funding for 108 projects worth $8,571,000, and there were 24 projects in the agricultural sector valued at $1.1 million. In the business services sector, funding was provided for 19 projects, at a cost of $1.7 million. The number of beneficiaries over the period was 21.7 million, of whom 15.2 million were direct beneficiaries and 6.5 million were indirect beneficiaries.

89. A study on the impact of interventions by the Social Development Fund as at the end of 2003 showed that positive results had been achieved in several domains: between 1999 and 2003, the enrolment rate in schools where the Fund had intervened rose from 60 to 72 per cent for boys and from 42 to 60 per cent for girls. The number of health-care recipients over the same period increased from 55 to 70 per cent for both males and females alike. There was a marked improvement in water services. Revenues increased six-fold, covering costs, while the time taken up going to fetch water fell by 10 per cent.

(a) Development of small and microenterprises

90. The small and microenterprises sector, which includes commercial, industrial, transport, communications and construction enterprises, makes a significant contribution to the economy, with the latter segment employing more than half a million workers. The number of microenterprises (those with 1–4 employees) increased from 209,300 in 1994 to 358,000 in 2004. Loans worth around $1.732 million were disbursed by the Microenterprise Development Fund under the Second Five-Year Plan; a total of 2,342 individuals, 26.5 per cent of them women, received these loans.

91. The Microenterprise Development Fund focuses on 14 governorates and has yet to include the governorates of Sana`a, Sa`dah, Mahwit, Mahrah, Ma’rib, Jawf and Amran in its activities. There are several smaller-scale programmes and mechanisms offering small loans and microcredit to specific poor and low-income groups wishing to set up businesses and to generate employment.

92. The Small and Microenterprises Programme of the Social Development Fund was set up to help create income-generating employment for the poor by offering skills training, technical assistance and loans to small investors. Between 2001 and 2005, a total of 98 projects were carried out through the Social Development Fund, which provided fixed-term loans and assistance to develop small and microenterprises at a total cost of $8.4 million. The Fund financed a number of pilot projects to verify conditions in the market and develop the capacities of financial brokerage institutions to provide services. In addition, tools such as training materials and information systems were developed. Since 2001, the Fund has financed a large number of programmes targeting women only in the context of savings groups and credit schemes.

(b) National programme for the development of productive communities and families

93. This programme, which was set up in 1987, is designed to assist families weighed down by poverty. Priority is given to women, in particular providing women with training in productive and income-generating occupations. In the period 2000–2005, a total of 27,000 women benefited from this programme. The programme offers training in a series of practical and vocational skills, together with health awareness and literacy programmes. The number of training centres run by the programme rose from 41 in 2000 to 67 in 2005. A further 41 centres run by civil society organizations are supported by the programme. Six roving training units which used to deliver services to families and women in remote areas were disbanded, owing to a lack of funding.

(c) Institutional support and capacity-building

94. The Social Development Fund carried out 545 institutional support and capacity-building projects, at a cost of $12.8 million, during the period 2001–2005. These projects involved the delivery of training and institutional support for non-governmental organizations, government institutions, various social groups and the private sector (consultants and contractors) and helped the Fund to achieve its aims. The Fund increased the level of interventions which it undertakes to help local communities identify development projects and to promote community participation in those projects as a way of furthering the decentralization process and facilitating the work of local government.

Public Works Project

95. During the first phase of the project (1996–2000) a total of 435 projects were carried out, at a cost of $30.8 million. During the second phase (2000–2004), a total of 1,455 projects were carried out, at a cost of $108.3 million. These 1,020 additional projects represent an increase of 335 per cent in the number of projects. Approximately 2.4 million persons benefited from the activities and achievements of the first phase of the project, as compared with some 7.2 million under the second phase. The proportion of financing which the Fund allocated to the education sector was high, with 1,198 projects being undertaken during the two phases of the Public Works Project, at an estimated cost of $84.2 million, accounting for 60.5 per cent of the total number of projects undertaken over the period. Next came water, at 11 per cent, with 240 projects being carried out at a cost of $15.6 million. The third sector was health, at 8.3 per cent: 189 projects were carried out at a cost of $11.5 million. In 2006, a total of 581 civil works projects were carried out in different sectors, with $30.9 million being disbursed for civil works, consultancy services, oversight activities and employment costs.

96. An impact assessment on the work done during the second phase of the Public Works Project showed that there had been a positive impact in areas where services were scarce. Living conditions in general had improved, and account was taken of the impact of the project on women and the environment, as reflected in the following results:

• Health-care costs fell by around 17.8 per cent

• The school enrolment rate for both sexes rose by 141.4 per cent

• Water services improved by 82.5 per cent

• Road services improved by 18.9 per cent

• The number of trainees attending social affairs centres increased by 115.9 per cent

• The incidence of wastewater contamination fell by 83.3 per cent

Social insurance

97. Government policies have been established to provide social protection to all workers and their family members and to insure them against risks. In this way, job and social stability is provided, while resources are added to insurance funds through the investment of interest on insurance payments in profit-making activities which, in turn, help to support and develop social protection systems and to counter the corrosive effects of inflation. The institutions of the social insurance system include the Public Insurance and Pensions Authority, which provides coverage to employees in the State administration and the public and mixed sectors, the Public Social Insurance Institute, which offers coverage to private sector organizations, and the Military Pensions Bureau and the General Department for Pensions, which provide insurance coverage for employees in the security services.

98. Insurance services evolved over the period 2001–2005, as the number of insured persons in the State administration and the public, mixed and private sectors reached 698,146 in 2005. Of this number, 82.6 per cent were insured with Public Insurance and Pensions Authority and 17.4 per cent with the Public Social Insurance Institute. Out of a total of 194,910 users of insurance services, 59.7 per cent drew on the services of the Military Pensions Bureau and the General Department for Pensions of the Ministry of the Interior, while 32 per cent used the services of the Public Insurance and Pensions Authority and 8.3 per cent those of the Public Social Insurance Institute.


99. One problem facing the social insurance system at present is a lack of awareness about insurance among employers and employees, particularly in small private businesses, and the resulting lack of coverage across much of the sector. Moreover, pension levels are too low to provide recipients with enough to live above the poverty line. The system does not include health insurance and coverage against unemployment, while insurance institutions need qualified staff and need to develop their systems and tools in general.

100. One of the aims of the Third Five-Year Plan is to expand social insurance coverage to include all employees in the State administration, the public and mixed sectors and private sector institutions. The target is to increase the number of subscribers in these sectors by 4.6 per cent on average each year, so that social insurance institutions will be able to cover around 968,000 persons, of whom 75.6 per cent will be insured with the Public Insurance and Pensions Authority and 24.4 per cent with the Public Social Insurance Institute.

Article 10

Protection of families, mothers and children

101. With regard to paragraphs 14 and 33 of the Committee’s concluding observations, we refer the Committee to the periodic report submitted by Yemen to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 2006 (CEDAW/C/YEM/6) and to the fifth periodic report of Yemen on the rights of the child which was submitted in 2008.

102. With a view to highlighting the measures taken to eliminate violence against women, we should like to point out that the Protection from Domestic Violence Act No. 6 of 2008 contains numerous provisions guaranteeing protection from violence or harm committed in the home by a family member. A network of 16 civil society organizations dedicated to combating violence against women has been established. The network’s most important contributions are the following:

• Disseminating information about, and drawing attention to, the phenomenon of violence against women, and the scale and impact of the problem (using a variety of information materials)

• Providing training on gender, violence and development issues

• Producing a set of information leaflets and posters focusing on the problem and calling for it to be condemned, because of its adverse impact on individuals, society and development in general

• The holding, in March 2004, of a national conference on the elimination of violence against women

103. The SHIMA (The Yemeni Network Combating Violence against Women) network ran a project from August 2005 to July 2006 aimed at changing society’s and individuals’ attitudes towards the practice of early marriage. This task also entails changing the laws on the minimum age for marriage. Some important recommendations on the formulation of policies on women were produced as a result of the project.

104. Included in the goals and implementation measures for the national strategy for women’s development are the following objectives:

• Guaranteeing that women are afforded equal treatment before the law, without being subjected to any discrimination

• Providing efficient and modern facilities to assist and protect women victims of violence

• Establishing residential homes and emergency services to protect women victims of violence

• Taking adequate measures to guarantee girls protection from violence of any kind (female genital mutilation; denial of education; early marriage; denial of inheritance; and protection from sexual and economic exploitation)

105. The Yemeni Women’s Union runs programmes to combat violence against women, with the support of the Oxfam organization and in partnership with SHIMA. Legal assistance and advice for women victims of violence and women prisoners is provided in coordination with a network of civil society organizations. Incidents of violence against women and women’s statements about them are recorded, while training is offered to persons involved in this area of work (lawyers, the police and directors of the Department of Prisons). A psychosocial advice service is offered to women victims of violence, and solutions to their problems are found. The legal assistance programme of the Women’s Union focuses on the following:

• Sending cases to court and representing women

• Providing legal assistance when women appear before the relevant judicial and other bodies and writing legal briefs and prosecution and defence arguments, as well as following up on cases

• Maintaining contact with the families of women prisoners in order to convince them to support any female relative who has been charged or convicted, to take her back once she is released from prison and to refrain from subjecting the woman to humiliating or cruel treatment

• Releasing some women being held in prisons in the governorates, in furtherance of the legal protection programme

• Supporting women who need legal assistance in cases involving maintenance payments, custody of young children, annulment of marriage, divorce initiated by the wife, representation in court and the defence of their rights

• Protecting the many women who are subjected to violence

• Visiting prisons, documenting conditions and monitoring any new developments

• Creating community listening centres for women victims of violence

• Assisting women in need of legal advice and guidance on their rights

• Organizing a seminar to promote compliance with the Prisons Act and to produce recommendations to guarantee the exercise of all prisoners’ rights

• Establishing committees to visit prisons and assess conditions for women prisoners

• Widening the scope of advocacy committees so as to include local leaders and district and local government chiefs, and establishing legal, social, psychological and media affairs subcommittees

• Holding a seminar on the right of women defendants to a fair trial

• Reconciling families with women defendants, helping women to return to their families and establishing adequate legal safeguards

• Conducting an advocacy campaign and holding meetings with advocacy committees

• Producing publications and posters


106. The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood was established to improve conditions for mothers and children by supporting children, defending their rights, monitoring their situation and coordinating the efforts of governmental and non-governmental bodies in order to achieve the desired outcome. Among the key successes scored by the Council was the holding of the first National Conference for Children in May 2001. The Conference focused on the formulation of a comprehensive policy on children which would define the basic principles guiding action by the Government and civil society sectors to provide care for children and on a framework strategy for the establishment of action plans, programmes and priorities.

107. The Council also contributed to the special session of the United Nations General Assembly on children, which was due to be held in New York from 19 to 21 September 2001, and to the preparation of reports on the situation of children in Yemen, in conjunction with the relevant organizations and further to the Committee’s observations. A steering committee comprising representatives of relevant institutions was set up, with the support of a number of donor organizations, to design the comprehensive national strategy on children, with a focus on children in difficult circumstances. In early 2004, a field survey was carried out on violence against children and radio and television flashes on children’s rights were broadcast. Children’s books containing cultural material were distributed to several schools and childhood centres, and a children’s bureau was set up in Saba`in Park in Sana`a.

Special assistance measures for children

108. The Children’s Rights Act contains several provisions on the protection of children. For example, article 144 refers to the State’s responsibility to take specific measures to examine the plight of children living in difficult circumstances, such as street children, homeless children, child victims of natural and man-made disasters or abuse, deprived children and children who are exploited, and to prevent children from being enlisted to engage, directly or indirectly, in illegal activities or from falling into crimes. Article 147 of the Act provides that the State is required to protect children from all forms of sexual and economic exploitation and to take stringent measures to protect children from:

• Engagement in any form of vice

• Employment and exploitation in prostitution or any other illegal practices

109. With a view to protecting children, article 148 of the Act furthermore provides for the adoption of measures by the State to protect children from using drugs and psychotropic substances and to prevent them from being employed in the production or trafficking of drugs.

Minimum standards for child labour

110. Yemen has ratified the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, 1973 (No. 138) and the ILO Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182). The Children’s Rights Act establishes a minimum age for employment, stipulating that children below legal age may not be employed in paid work. Article 133 of the Act states: “A child worker is any person of 14 years of age or over. No person below that age shall be permitted to work, and children below 15 years of age shall not be employed in industry.”

111. The Unit to combat Child Labour succeeded in securing the issuance of Ministerial Decree No. 56 of 2004, which lists the kinds of work that it is prohibited for children below the age of 18 to perform.

112. The first survey of child labour in Yemen was carried out by the Central Statistical Organization in 1994 and produced the first official figures showing that 321,000 children were in employment. The Swedish Rädda Barnen organization, working in conjunction with the University of Sana`a, ran a study involving a sample of 1,000 child workers. The study was the first step on the way to the establishment of a national strategy and plan of action. The Government, in cooperation with ILO, then set up a project on combating child labour, which was launched in early 2001. The first phase of the project ended in mid-2004. Work is continuing with ILO on the second phase of the project, which began in March 2007 and was scheduled to end in 2008.

113. The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood carried out a field study on street children in a number of governorates (Sana`a City, Aden, Ibb, Ta`izz, Hudaydah, Hadramawt, Dhamar and Hajjah): the findings were due to be announced at a workshop to be held in June 2008.

Special measures

114. The Yemeni legislature devotes special attention to the issue of child protection. For example, in part VII of the Children’s Rights Act, social provisions on welfare for children are set out under five titles, namely, children’s nurseries, alternative care, children’s care and rehabilitation, young persons’ care and rehabilitation, and juvenile judges. Yemen signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990.

Child orphans

115. The Children’s Rights Act guarantees rights to orphans. Under article 110 of the Act, children in need of alternative care must be included in an alternative welfare scheme which provides children with care that is in their best interests. The scheme could involve any one of the following alternatives:

• A substitute family which will host the child temporarily or permanently

• A social welfare institution which offers accommodation to children without a family (orphans)

• A social welfare institution (a juvenile home)

Care for orphans

116. Caring for orphans is one area in which the Government seeks to provide help so that the children concerned can integrate into society and become normal, well-balanced individuals. Hence, there are orphanages for boys and girls, and a foundation for orphans has been established under the auspices of the President of the Republic. In addition, several local civil society organizations are dedicated to helping orphans. The Saleh Social Foundation for Development created a special department to guarantee care for orphans and to improve their living, social educational and health conditions, whether they are living with a family or in an orphanage. The Social Reform Charitable Society has furthermore had remarkable success in caring for orphans and children who have lost one or both parents according to scientific, psychological and educational principles and in ensuring that children are not separated from families and placed in residential facilities but rather are integrated into a family and community environment. The Society provides a model of how the interests of a child can be served through the delivery of educational, social and health care and recreational activities.

Children deprived of a family environment

117. Children whose circumstances preclude them from growing up in their natural environment, namely, the family environment, have the right to live in a different setting and to receive alternative care. Where the parents separate or one or both of them dies, the right to care for the child passes to the divorced parent or the surviving spouse or a relative. If the child is poor, he or she is legally entitled to maintenance.

Children with disabilities

118. The Yemeni Government, as represented by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, is responsible for coordinating the delivery of services to persons with disabilities. The Ministry has its own department for disabled persons which supports initiatives of associations for persons with disabilities, and non-governmental organizations through oversight and capacity-building activities. By law, the Fund for Persons with Disabilities is required to provide financial support for rehabilitation projects targeted at persons with disabilities and to coordinate and support activities which are targeted at this group. There is money earmarked in the fund to provide persons with disabilities with financial assistance for health care, education and the purchase of assistive devices.

119. We should like to point out that 60 schools took part in the inclusive education project which was launched in 1997. Approximately 218 girls and 235 boys with disabilities received services under the project. Moreover, the Ministry of Education established a general department for inclusive education in keeping with its commitment to providing inclusive education services and thus to effecting a significant shift in how the role of schools in educating children with disabilities is perceived. At the same time, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation takes a special interest in providing health and social services for persons with disabilities as part of its strategic vision for Yemen.

120. The Government, acting through the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, has taken decisive action to establish a comprehensive national strategy on disability issues that sets the priorities to be met in the decade 2002–2010. A path was mapped out for the strategy based on an analysis of the situation of persons with disabilities in Yemen to be used to achieve national, Arab, regional and international goals. In addition, the strategy involves a close study of national capacities in regard to welfare provision for persons with disabilities, coupled with efforts to analyse and diagnose these capacities.

121. According to the data provided by the Prosthetics and Physiotherapy Centre run by the Ministry of Health and Population, a total of 152,158 persons received treatment in physiotherapy departments in 2006, while 184,340 persons of all ages received treatment free of charge in 2007. Prosthetic devices and special physiotherapy equipment were issued to users: in 2006, 14,659 devices were distributed. That figure rose to 18,695 in 2007.

122. Civil society organizations provide a series of services for children with disabilities. For example, a Swedish child welfare organization supports social rehabilitation projects in five governorates and makes a major contribution to the development of associations for persons with disabilities and the growth of the movement which deals with disability issues.

Article 11

Right to an adequate standard of living and food security

123. With reference to paragraph 36 of the Committee’s concluding observations, concerning the adoption of effective measures to combat poverty with a view simultaneously to improving the population’s standard of living, generating employment and reducing poverty, development plans have been established to achieve an annual average rate of growth of not less than 5.5 per cent. If this result were to be achieved, real per capita GDP would have to increase by 2 per cent per annum or by 13.8 per cent overall. This indicator is one aspect of the progress in raising citizens’ living standards which the plan is designed to achieve.

Per capita GNP, 2005–2007

Per capita GNP
Yemen rials
145 521
171 252
193 015
Per capita increase
US dollars

US dollars

US dollars

Source: Central Statistical Organization, Statistical yearbook 2006.

124. There was a marked improvement in the level of per capita GDP in the period 2000–2007: from YRI83,859 in 2000 to YRI193,015 in 2007, an annual growth rate of 17.6 per cent on average. Over the same period, per capita GDP in dollar terms grew by 14.8 per cent on average per annum, rising from $519 in 2000 to $965 in 2007.

125. The Government’s decision to incorporate the poverty reduction strategy for 2003–2005 into the Third Five-year Plan confirms the importance of dealing with poverty from a global perspective in which all the causes, specific features and repercussions of poverty are taken into account when gauging the magnitude of the problem. The efforts of the Government, supported by development partners, managed to achieve positive growth in real GDP of around 4 per cent per annum during the period 2004–2006, together with a fall in the population growth rate of from 3.5 to 3 per cent over the same period. This had a positive impact on the incidence of poverty and on living standards. The findings of a household budget survey conducted in 2006 show that the incidence of urban poverty fell from 32.2 per cent in 1998 to 20.7 per cent in 2006, a reduction of 11.5 per cent on average, while the incidence of rural poverty fell from 42.4 to 40.1 per cent, meaning a 2.3 per cent drop over the same period.

Average monthly income by educational level, 2006 (in thousands of Yemeni rials)

Educational level of head of household
25 886
3 377
Can read and write
32 238
3 915
Primary, intermediate and both
30 199
4 250
Pre-secondary education diploma
33 141
4 603
39 535
5 791
Secondary education diploma
35 048
5 540
University and above
66 033
10 487
51 992
7 294
Not known
16 933
2 168
31 543
4 201

Source: Family budget survey 2006.

126. The statistics (2006 household budget survey) point to a marked improvement in individual and household income levels; average spending in male-headed households was YRI64,109, as against YRI42,886 in female-headed households. Similarly, average monthly expenditure per family member amounted to YRI8,297 and YRI8,795 respectively.

127. Average monthly income derived from wages and family allowances was YRI31,543 per household and YRI4,201 per person.

General poverty

128. According to the results of the 2005–2006 household budget survey, the incidence of poverty (in terms of the number of poor persons) had fallen by around 2 per cent per annum (by 2006) compared to the situation obtained in 1998. The incidence of poverty fell from 41.8 per cent in 1998 to 34.7 per cent in 2005–2006, taking rural and urban areas together. However, because of the persistently high rate of population growth, the number of poor persons has remained stable, at around 7 million, since the 1998 household budget survey was conducted. Similarly, the decline in poverty has remained modest, if compared with the Millennium Development Goals which the Government of Yemen has adopted. In order to meet Goal 1, i.e. to halve the incidence of poverty, the annual per capita consumption rate (which has been 1 per cent over the past seven years) needs to increase fourfold.

Poverty statistics, 1998–2006

Rate of change
General poverty


Poverty gap


Severe poverty



Source: Family budget survey, 2005–2006 – Central Statistical Organization.

Poverty gap

129. The data show that the extremely poor did better than the relatively poor, as the poverty gap narrowed in the period from 1998 to 2005/06 at a faster rate than the decline in the number of poor persons. Moreover, the incidence of extreme poverty fell more sharply than either of these two rates; the poverty gap narrowed to 8.9 per cent in 2005/06, as compared with a figure of 13.2 per cent in 1998. This indicates that groups which were far from the poverty line gradually came closer to it as a result of increasing expenditures and income stabilization.

Severe poverty

130. The incidence of severe poverty declined by 2.4 per cent, although there were disparities between urban and rural areas. The incidence of severe poverty fell by 4.02 per cent in 2005/06 in rural areas but by 1.47 per cent in urban areas, reflecting a marked improvement in living standards among the severely poor in urban as compared to rural areas.

Food poverty

131. The incidence of food poverty fell from 17.6 per cent in 1998 to 12.5 per cent in 2006, pointing to a considerable improvement in income levels among urban population groups which managed to escape the poverty cycle. This outcome is the result of significant amounts of capital and investment money from the general budget being allocated for urban areas. In addition the greater availability of education and training opportunities in urban as compared to rural areas helped to develop the skills and expertise of urban workers and thus to improve their productivity and incomes, allowing them to escape from the cycle of poverty.

Geographical distribution of poverty

132. The incidence of urban poverty fell sharply throughout the period — from 32.2 per cent in 1998 to 20.7 per cent in 2005/06 — as urban areas benefited from economic growth based primarily on rising oil revenues.

Poverty distribution by governorate, family budget survey, 2005–2006

Sana`a City


Source: Family budget survey, 2005–2006.

133. There are sharp disparities between poverty levels in different governorates, ranging from 5.4 per cent to 71 per cent in 2005/06. The governorate of Amran had the highest poverty rate, at 71 per cent, followed by the governorates of Shabwah and Al-Bayda’, at 60 per cent. The governorates of Mahrah and Sana`a had the lowest poverty rates.

Food security

134. In the period 1985–2006, the amount of land used for crop cultivation shrank by 2.4 per cent. The current rate of decline is 0.9 per cent per annum. In 2005/06, some 611,000 tons of grain were produced, supplying only 20 per cent of domestic demand, which is estimated at 2.7 million tons. In 2003, production fell sharply, to 417,000 tons, because of the drought and lower incentives and wages. Consequently, Yemen imports most of the grain that it needs. Average per capita consumption of grain is 159 grammes, while wheat consumption is higher, at around 114 grammes per capita. The drought and falling levels of rainfall constituted the main challenge for the agricultural sector.

Number of holders of agricultural land
1 180 105
Total area
1 609 484 hectares
Usable area
1 452 437 hectares
Harvested area
1 309 279 hectares

Efforts to deal with the problem of food

135. Global increases in the prices of primary food items since the second half of 2006 have threatened food security in Yemen, as in other developing countries, prompting the Government of Yemen to adopt a series of measures and remedies to guarantee continuity of supply.

136. Basic food items are delivered to domestic markets, including in rural and remote areas. Pricing levels are set based on a calculation of the components of the real price and on agreements with the private sector on reasonable profit margins. Efforts are made to facilitate procedures for importers at sea and land ports and to reduce charges and other costs.

137. The Government of Yemen has established plans and programmes aimed at devising interim solutions involving horizontal and vertical expansion of warehousing facilities and infrastructure such as grain silos and storehouses, the provision of every facility to encourage domestic and foreign investment in the sector and the promotion and support of investment in the agriculture sector, particularly in grain production.

138. Efforts are being made to promote agricultural development in Yemen, as the State understands the powerful link between progress in the agricultural sector and food security and the fact that the challenges posed by food security can mainly be ascribed to the difficulties confronting the agricultural sector. Perhaps the most important of these difficulties are climate change, water shortages and drought, in addition to sustained population growth and the environmental reverses which Yemen has faced. It is for these reasons, that the Government of Yemen, in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has developed a short-term plan for 2006–2010 and a medium-term plan for 2006–2015 for the agricultural sector with the aim of achieving food security and supporting agricultural production by supplying high quality seeds and mechanical equipment and irrigation plants in addition to supporting rainwater collection projects.

Water and sanitation

139. Yemen is classified as an arid and semi-arid zone. Rainfall is the main source of water. The amount of rainfall varies from 50 to 250 mm per annum in the eastern and coastal areas to 400–800 mm in mountain areas. The quantity of renewable water sources is estimated at around 2,500 million m3 per annum: 1,500 million m3 of groundwater and 1,000 million m3 of surface water. The total amount of water consumed is estimated at 3,400 million m3, which means that the shortfall — 900 million m3 — is taken from groundwater. Domestic consumption takes up about 238 million m3 (7 per cent), as compared to industrial consumption (68 million m3 – 2 per cent) and agricultural consumption (around 3,094 million m3 – 91 per cent). The production of Qat consumes approximately 30 per cent of water. Water consumption per capita per annum is not more than 150 m3, compared with an average of around 1,000 m3 in the Middle East and Africa and 2,500 m3 globally.

140. With reference to the recommendations set out in paragraphs 19 and 38 of the Committee’s concluding observations, the current state of affairs with regard to water resources can be ascribed to problems associated with depleting water resources and water management. In addition to the shortage of water resources and the striking failure to build enough dams and water barriers, there is growing competition between multiple users, as the needs of the population increase and economic activities expand. These problems are compounded by other difficulties and challenges.

141. Yemen is facing a chronic shortage of water, coupled with a high rate of population growth. At present, the rate of per capita consumption of water per annum is only 120–150 m3; this is much lower than the regional standard of approximately 1,250 m3. Around 90 per cent of water is used for agriculture, the sector largely responsible for depleting groundwater sources. The annual shortfall, estimated at more than 1 billion m3, is due to a lack of rainfall to replenish water stocks. The water tables in some areas are falling by around 8 metres a year, while water consumption has risen steadily in recent years, owing to population growth and urban and economic development.

Coverage rates for water and sanitation services, 2004–2015



Water (%)

Sanitation (%)

Population with access to water services (in millions)

Population with access to sanitation services (in millions)

Total population (in millions)


Source: Ministry of Planning and Technical Cooperation.

142. Of around 15.3 million persons living in rural areas only 34.5 per cent have access to sufficient water and around 23 per cent to safe sanitation facilities. The public sanitation network is confined to urban centres. The statistics show that around 86.3 per cent of urban households were connected to a sanitation network in 2004, while open pits are the basic sanitation method used in rural areas. The Government is taking steps to reduce the proportion of the rural population without access to drinking water from 65.5 per cent in 2004 to half that figure by the end of 2015; the rural population is projected to reach 18.9 million. Only 54 per cent of the population receives piped water and only 26 per cent has access to safe sanitation services. The drinking water supply in urban centres is often interrupted for various reasons, including water shortages, the age of the network, and the shortage of trained personnel and of spare parts for network maintenance.

The phenomenon of Qat

143. With reference to paragraphs 22 and 41 of the Committee’s concluding observations concerning the subject of Qat, it emerged from the discussions at the First National Conference on Qat held in 2002 that there were divergent views on the scale and gravity of the problem, because a large number of groups benefit from cultivation of the plant and associated activities. Moreover, there is no other crop to compare to it. Qat has an impact on the economy and on food security, as well as on the incomes of farmers and the rural economy in general.

144. The cultivation of Qat helps to preserve the soil and to protect agricultural terraces. Qat growing is a family activity, as all family members take part in producing and marketing the plant. Consequently, it provides work for rural inhabitants, generates employment and reduces the level of outmigration to urban centres. As demand has risen, the amount of land used to grow Qat has increased at the expense of other crops, with more water also being consumed, depleting available water resources.

145. Over the past three years, the area used for the cultivation of Qat has increased by a factor of 18 — from 7,000 hectares in 1970 to 127,000 in 2005 — accounting for 25 per cent of all irrigated agricultural land. Production rose from around 108,000 tons in 2000 to around 124,000 tons in 2005. Qat accounts for around 30 per cent of the water consumed by the agricultural sector (850 m3 per annum) and for around 500,000 jobs a year. This increase has distorted the composition of production, favouring the cultivation of a crop that has no impact on food security and a form of economic activity on which the rural population relies to an unprecedented degree.

146. Qat is consumed by low-income groups and persons who are poor and unable to supply their basic needs. Studies show that expenditure on Qat absorbs around 26 per cent of household income, in second place after food. This places a heavy burden on household budgets, especially those of low-income groups and the poor. An estimated YRI 250 billion per year is spent on Qat.

147. Consequently, the Third Development Plan was drawn up, inter alia: to resolve the problem of Qat on a gradual basis; to prevent more agricultural land from being used to grow Qat, by introducing a cap of 10 per cent for Qat cultivation; to find a balance between the various economic, social, health and environmental aspects of the problem; to create feasible alternatives to prevent the problem from becoming more widespread among all sectors of society in general, and low-income groups and the poor in particular; to strengthen the role of the Qat Investigation Unit; to create a database on Qat, using information gathered in Yemen and abroad; to promote scientific research into Qat and its social, economic and health effects; to provide appropriate alternatives to Qat consumption in society; and to take more stringent measures to prohibit the consumption of Qat in government institutions and the security and military services.

Article 12


148. In the period 2000–2007, an average of 1.5 per cent of GDP was spent on the health sector, accounting for 4.3 per cent of the State’s general budget.

Health indicators

General expenditure on the health sector, 2000–2008

Total health expenditure
20 253
24 155
23 373
29 909
46 029
47 919
55 276
60 102
90 737
Total health expenditure
493 731
506 761
574 305
755 567
867 497
1 169 242
1 403 966
1 748 424
1 793 396
Percentage of public expenditure

Source: Government financial statistics, issue No. 31, first quarter of 2008.

149. There has been considerable improvement in certain health indicators such as average life expectancy at birth, which was 62 years in 2006, 15 years higher than over the previous two decades.

150. The infant mortality rate in 2006 was 75 per 1,000 live births, as compared with figures of 84 and 77.2 in 1994 and 2004 respectively.

Life expectancy at birth




1994 census

2004 census




Both sexes



151. The under-five mortality rate was down to 92.3 per 1,000 live births by 2004 and is expected to reach 40.6 by the end of 2015. This high mortality rate can be ascribed to poor reproductive health habits, a high fertility rate (seven births per woman), poor nutrition and the prevalence of certain health disorders such as diarrhoea (50 per cent) and respiratory infections (25 per cent). Forty per cent of children have access to health care, while 60 to 70 per cent of children under the age of 5 are vaccinated.

Infant mortality rate



1994 census
2004 census
1994 census
2004 census

1994 census
2004 census





Both sexes



152. There has been considerable expansion in health facilities recently; the number of hospitals increased by 47 per cent, from 121 in 2000 to 178 in 2005. The number of health centres increased by 30 per cent over the same period, from 688 to 895. Likewise, the number of health units rose by 45.1 per cent, from 1,818 to 2,730, and there was a 90 per cent increase in the number of mothers’ and children’s centres (from 241 to 460).

153. Notwithstanding these developments, access to health services remains limited; the figures show that only 58 per cent of the population has access to health services, 80 per cent in urban centres and only 20 per cent in rural areas. These services are provided by the public sector (40 per cent) and the private sector (60 per cent). Twenty-seven per cent of users are poor families and 35 per cent are families which are not poor. This situation is the result of the wide dispersal of the population in Yemen and the great distances between health units and centres in rural areas, which prevent some poor groups from gaining access to these facilities.

154. The Cabinet decided to issue social welfare cards to poor families exempting them from paying health service fees. It stressed the importance of follow-up on the decision by the authorities concerned and encouraged civil society organizations to provide health services free of charge to the poor.

155. The 2005 study entitled “Voices of the Poor” shows that the obstacles to providing access to health and treatment services for the poor remain, in particular:

• Geographical obstacles: health centres and units are far away from agglomerations, while roads are impassable, particularly in rural areas. As a result, the costs of transporting the sick to health centres are high and patients’ health tends to deteriorate during the journey.

• Administrative obstacles: gaining access to services is difficult because some facilities are either closed or do not have basic medicines. In addition, health personnel are not on hand at all times and there is a lack of monitoring, oversight and follow-up.

• Financial obstacles: fees for services ranging from medical examinations to tests and the costs of medicines are too high and too onerous for the poor.

156. Perhaps the main challenge confronting the health sector is its inability to keep pace with growing demand in a situation where: the population growth rate is high; the uptake rate for family planning services is low (23.1 per cent); health facilities are not well distributed; the sector is underfunded (not more than 5.2 per cent of the general budget) and poorly equipped; efficiency levels in health facilities are not high; human resources management and staff training systems are weak; the health environment is unfavourable; and health awareness in the population at large is inadequate. Maternal mortality rates remain high, at 366 per 100,000 live births, as do the infant and under-five mortality rates, at 75 and 102 per 1,000 live births respectively. In addition, the prevalence of certain infectious diseases remains high.

157. For these reasons, the State’s plans and programmes have been designed to open up access to health, treatment and prevention services. For example, the Third Five-Year Plan 2006–2010 aims at raising the level of basic health care coverage to 67 per cent of the population by 2010 and average life expectancy at birth to 67.5 years, while reducing the infant and under-five mortality rates respectively to 65 and 87 per 1,000 live births by 2010.

158. The Government has adopted a declared strategy of balancing socio-economic development with population growth. To that end, it has formulated a population policy for 2001–2025 which sets out the following health objectives:

• Reducing the infant mortality rate to 35 per 1,000 live births by the end of 2015

• Reducing the under-five mortality rate to around 45 per 1,000 live births by the end of 2015, by raising health treatment and preventive health standards; improving health services; increasing access to comprehensive health care, particularly in rural areas, in order to provide coverage to at least 90 per cent of the population by 2025; and guaranteeing access to safe drinking water for at least 90 per cent of the population, also by 2025

• Improving the health of children, adolescents and young persons, meeting their specific needs and developing their capacities

• Preventing disability and rehabilitating persons with disabilities

159. The Government is committed to expanding reproductive health services. As at 2005, these services were available at 1,273 public health facilities. The scope of the nutrition programme has been widened, in partnership with communities in 16 districts, and a nutritional support programme for mothers, expectant mothers, children and persons with tuberculosis and leprosy has been launched in 47 health centres in targeted areas.

160. Action was taken to implement the Cabinet’s decisions on encouraging breastfeeding, salt iodization, adding vitamin A and vitamin B to oil and launching a procedure whereby the main national flour mills add iron and folates to flour meal. In that context, by 2005, a total of 3,949 tons of wheat, oil and soya mix had been distributed to nursing mothers, expectant mothers and tuberculosis and leprosy sufferers, benefitting a total of 15,832 persons.

Immunization and the eradication of endemic and infectious diseases

161. In 2005, a major improvement was achieved in the immunization of children; 80 per cent of children were vaccinated against the six main diseases and 96 per cent against infant poliomyelitis during seven rounds of house-to-house visits conducted in the framework of a national campaign. The rate of immunization against measles rose from 76 per cent in 2004 to 80 per cent in 2005. The main goal was to ensure health service coverage from birth to the age of 5, a task which cost $1,325 million.

162. In mid-2008, the Ministry of Health and Population completed the second phase of the national immunization campaign to eradicate neonatal tetanus in 60 districts of four governorates where 664,736 women in the 15 to 45 age group had been targeted for immunization. The objective was to raise the immunization rate to above 80 per cent, particularly in the target areas, reducing the number of cases to below one case per 1,000 live births with a view to achieving the goal of eradicating the disease by 2010.

163. Yemen has achieved great success in controlling endemic and infectious diseases. The incidence of malaria fell from 25.5 per cent in 2003 to 9.6 per cent in 2005 as a result of the intensification of community health awareness programmes, the mobilization and coordination of efforts among the authorities concerned and the promotion of prevention in environments where malaria is endemic. A total of 48,439 mosquito nets and 56,245 domestic pesticide sprays were distributed, together with 210,235 tents impregnated with a long-lasting pesticide and free anti-malaria drugs.

164. The Government, in conjunction with donor organizations and in cooperation with domestic and international civil society organizations, continued its efforts to eliminate bilharzia by ensuring immunization coverage in 63 districts in 2005, as against 56 in 2004.

165. Yemen has come closer to attaining the international goal of eradicating tuberculosis; around 98 per cent of the population in 293 districts was immunized in 2005, while the number of health units providing services to sufferers rose from 722 in 2004 to 998 in 2005.

166. Tuberculosis is one of the most dangerous infectious diseases and affects an estimated 0.8 per cent of the population. In around 2,724 cases it has proved fatal; the mortality rate for tuberculosis stands at around 1.3 per cent, while the incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis is around 13 for 100,000 cases. Treatment is mainly provided at health service facilities and by health personnel. There are plans to achieve full coverage by 2010; the current coverage rate is estimated at 25 per cent. These plans involve strengthening the surveillance and follow-up network. The total cost of the programme is $92.6 million.

National efforts to combat AIDS

167. With reference to paragraphs 20, 21, 39 and 40 of the Committee’s concluding observations, concerning intensified efforts to combat AIDS, the Government pays special attention to HIV/AIDS, even though the number of reported cases is low: 2,376 as of the current year, with 53 cases presenting in the first quarter of this year. Health services are provided to 300 individuals at special treatment centres in Sana`a and Aden.

168. Under the National Programme for the Prevention and Elimination of AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, a number of public health awareness activities are conducted. Awareness-raising events and talks have been held for groups which are most at risk of AIDS, such as long-distance lorry drivers, fishermen, seasonal workers, prisoners, marginalized groups, young persons, the homeless and health workers. Training courses and seminars have been held for teachers, mosque imams, civil society leaders, network developers, religious instructors and young persons involved in anti-AIDS advocacy work. The most recent consultation exercise was held in June 2008 on the subject of strengthening the role of managers of government institutions which offer AIDS advisory services and voluntary testing. The event was organized as part of the national programme, in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It was attended by 32 managers of institutions in the governorates of Aden, Ta`izz, Hadramawt, Makala, Hudaydah, Dhamar and Ibb which offer advice and voluntary testing.

169. The Ministry of Health and Population has taken measures to facilitate the purchase and distribution of anti-AIDS drugs; the procedure is subject to oversight and approval by the Ministry. Standards and mechanisms have been put in place to ensure the safety of donated blood, to train health personnel and coordinators on the use of a guide on treating AIDS sufferers in the home and a guide on preventing the transmission of the virus in health facilities and raising AIDS, and to raise awareness among the public, including, for example, mosque preachers, hotel workers, barbers, cleaners of public lavatories, etc. However, owing to inadequate monitoring and reporting systems, there is still not enough documented information on cases that have been diagnosed.

170. In June 2008, the Government signed a programme document entitled “Developing national capacities to address HIV/AIDS (Phase II)”, which is due to run from 2008 to 2010. It also signed a document on a project for which the Global Fund provided $10.6 million. The aim of the programme is to support the Yemeni Government in a number of areas where it is hoped that targets can be met by 2010, including in: efforts to identify the number of AIDS sufferers in Yemen, including groups most at risk; strengthening the internationally recognized rights of persons with the virus by offering them, inter alia, medical care; increasing the number of safe blood transfusions in order to prevent AIDS infections; and setting national criteria to define what “safe blood” means. Another goal of the programme is to build national capacities in the health sector and in segments which deal with AIDS in Yemen, using a number of events to raise awareness among leaders at all levels and among the public at large, specific target groups and high risk groups.

Number of AIDS sufferers by sex in the Republic of Yemen, 2000–2006

Not known
1 989
1 187

Source: National Anti-AIDS Programme, report on the status of women in Yemen, 2006.

Drug safety

171. Under the National Drug Supply Programme, drugs and medicines worth YRI 950 million were distributed in 2005, as compared with a figure of YRI 700 million in 2004. This increase was the result of action taken by the Ministry of Health to overhaul the fund by turning it into the Drug Supply Programme, coupled with continued support from donors for the Programme. The National Pharmacopoeia was furthermore updated in order to guarantee the public access to safe drugs at affordable prices. The total costs of disease prevention amount to around $364.5 million.

172. With a view to enhancing national capacities, optimizing the utilization of government resources and strengthening partnerships with existing and potential partners, in the primary health-care sector, for example, a number of joint activities were organized with donors, in particular:

• Cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) to support various segments of the health sector, mainly primary health-care programmes, through the allocation of $3,560,832 in regular support for the 2004–2005 biennium.

• Cooperation with UNICEF in support of primary health-care activities in areas such as expanded immunization, nutrition and children’s health, together with awareness-raising and public information about immunization against polio.

• Cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in order to improve health conditions in five target governorates (Ma’rib, Amran, Sa`dah, Jawf and Shabwah).

• Coordination with the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ) on the conclusion of an agreement to support the health sector under a reproductive health programme involving access to family planning methods and focusing on basic services, private sector support and the implementation of a social marketing programme.

• Cooperation with the European Union on the implementation of a health sector reform project designed to build capacities in health reform, the application of decentralization policy and a strengthened system of health directorates. The project was implemented in two governorates: Lahaj and Ta`izz.

Main health indicators 2005–2006

Population of Yemen
20 282 944
20 900 532
Number of doctors
5 920
5 980
Number of dentists
Population/doctor ratio
3 426
3 495
Number of families
13 841
14 413
Number of people per [hospital] bed
1 465
1 450
Number of nurses
15 121
11 073
Nurse/doctor ratio
Total number of reported cases
260 393
366 758
Number of malaria cases
156 413
162 270
Percentage of malaria cases
Number of diarrhoea cases (enteric fever)
87 630
181 592
Percentage of diarrhoea cases
Other cases
16 350
22 896
Percentage of other cases

Source: Central Statistical Organization, Statistical Yearbook 2006.

Women’s health indicators

173. The Safe Motherhood Bill which is currently before the House of Representatives contains a number of clauses on women’s health, including on mandatory access to health care, protecting girls from the health risks associated with early marriage, the prohibition of female genital mutilation and access to family planning services in all health institutions. The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood intends to announce the creation of a safe motherhood network comprising a number of organizations which work with mothers in all spheres, not just on health. The following table contains data on women’s health indicators.


Average life expectancy at birth and average age at the time of first marriage
Average life expectancy at birth for girls rose from 58.96 years in 1994 to 62.03 years in 2004.
The average age of a woman at the time of first marriage rose from 20.7 years in 1994 to 22.1 years in 2004.
Population growth rate and fertility rate
The annual population growth rate fell from 3.7 per cent in 1994 to 3.5 per cent in 2004.
The total fertility rate also fell from 7.4 children per woman to 6.1 over the same period.
Child and infant mortality
Infant mortality rates for girls fell from 76.4 per 1,000 live births in 1994 to 75 in 2004; this can be ascribed to the provision of pre-, peri- and postnatal care.
The under-five mortality rate for girls fell to 91.7 per 1,000 live births; 85 per cent of infants receive health care from a public health professional.
Maternal mortality
Maternal mortality rates in Yemen remain among the highest in the world despite the State’s efforts to bring them down. The maternal mortality rate is 365 per 100,000 live births and varies depending on the location (rural or urban) and the level of educational attainment. The State has taken measures to resolve this situation, including by delivering more services such as clinics and roving teams.
According to the data on reproductive health issued in 2005, the main causes of maternal death in Yemen are: haemorrhaging (39 per cent); complications during delivery (23 per cent); shock (19 per cent); puerperal fever (19 per cent); early marriage and early childbearing; multiple pregnancies; lack of birth spacing; poor nutrition resulting in anaemia; lack of access to emergency obstetrics services in remote areas; lack of blood transfusion centres in all districts and governorates; deliveries performed at home without a trained birth attendant being present; difficult and impassable roads; and lack of prenatal monitoring. The Government is hoping to reduce the maternal mortality rate by 75 per cent over the period 1990–2015.
Family planning methods
There has been considerable progress in the use of family planning methods in recent years owing to several factors including: better awareness; the availability of family planning methods in health centres, especially in rural areas; and the use of social marketing to provide these methods at nominal prices in governmental and private institutions. There has been a sharp increase in the use of (modern) family planning methods – from 9.8 per cent in 1997 to 13 per cent in 2004.
The use of traditional methods has declined – from 10.8 per cent in 1997 to 9.7 per cent in 2003.
Prenatal care
Around 25 per cent of expectant mothers receive care at the hands of a public health professional. Some 12.8 per cent of women receive postnatal care.
According to the 2003 household health survey, 38 per cent of women receive tetanus vaccinations.
The proportion of women suffering from complications of any kind fell from 76 per cent in 1992 to 53 per cent in 2003.
The proportion of expectant mothers who visit a doctor because of complications increased from 13.4 per cent in 1997 to 47.2 per cent in 2003.
The proportion of women who give birth at home fell from 84.2 per cent in 1997 to 77.4 per cent in 2003.
The proportion of deliveries performed under medical supervision increased from 26 per cent in 2003 to 27.3 per cent.
The State pays special attention to the nutritional health of mothers and children. The World Food Programme (WFP) and the Department of Nutrition at the Ministry of Health and Population ran a medium-term project (2002–2007) on nutrition for expectant and nursing mothers and children under the age of 5 suffering from malnutrition. A total of 41,000 pregnant women, 35,000 nursing mothers and 50,000 children under the age of 5 benefitted from the programme.

Health sector objectives

174. The Third Five-Year Plan includes a series of health programmes on improving public health standards in society at large and combating diseases with a view to achieving the quantitative targets set out in the following table.

Health sector targets


Reproductive health
Reduce the maternal mortality rate to at most 238 per 100,000 live births by 2010
Increase to 45 per cent the number of deliveries performed under medical supervision
Increase to 35 per cent the take-up rate for family planning methods
Increase to 25 per cent the maternal care coverage rate
Combating sexually transmitted diseases
Contain the spread of AIDS
Reduce to 30 per cent the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases
Combating bilharzia
Reduce the prevalence of bilharzia and of soil-transmitted helminths
Prevent the spread of bilharzia and parasitic infections to new areas
Quarantine stations
Strengthen the quarantine station infrastructure in health facilities
Step up quarantine measures to protect the public from contracting infectious diseases via international sea traffic while minimizing the level of interference with sea traffic
Combat eye diseases
Reduce the prevalence of eye diseases by 50 per cent
Build capacity in the treatment of eye diseases
Combat rabies
Reduce the number of rabies deaths by 70 per cent
Reduce by 15 per cent per year the prevalence of rabies in governorates where the incidence of rabies is high
Combat malaria
Reduce the number of malaria cases by 75 per cent
Protect, using pesticide-saturated mosquito nets, 60 per cent of women of childbearing age and children under the age of 5 in areas where malaria is endemic
Nutrition and food safety
Reduce malnutrition rates in society at large
Increase consumption of iodized salt
Children’s health
Reduce by 10 per cent per annum the prevalence of diarrhoea, chronic respiratory infections, measles and malnutrition
Reduce the infant mortality rate of 2 per cent per annum
Medical treatment
Improve emergency health services
Provide safe blood transfusions
Improve the effectiveness of the private sector in the delivery of treatment and primary health-care services
Increase the vaccination rate for polio to at least 95 per cent by 2010
Reduce the prevalence of measles by 95 per cent by 2010
Reduce the prevalence of tetanus to less than one case per 1,000 live births by 2010
School health
Increase health awareness among students, using health education programmes and instruction on healthy behaviours
Build technical and administrative capacities at the central and local levels
Combat tuberculosis
Increase the recovery rate for infectious pulmonary tuberculosis to 85 per cent
Achieve 100 per cent coverage via a treatment strategy subject to direct daily supervision (health facilities)
Increase the number of tuberculosis + anaemia cases diagnosed to 75 per cent of the projected number per year
Epidemiological surveillance
Provide epidemiological information on infectious diseases to facilitate the establishment of appropriate intervention plans
Create a comprehensive surveillance system
Strengthen the technical skills of personnel working in the capital who deal with epidemics
Psychological health
Improve psychological health in the context of primary health care services
Reduce the prevalence of psychological disorders by 6 per cent per annum
Pharmaceutical policy
Accord greater importance to, and develop and apply pharmaceutical policy
Harmonize legislation, adapting it to changing realities and ensuring its application
Health insurance
Create laws and regulations on health insurance
Train insurance managers
Rehabilitate health facilities in selected governorates with a view to introducing an insurance scheme

Source: Third Socio-Economic Development Plan for Poverty Reduction 2006–2010.

Article 13


175. Education is central to human development and is a strategic resource which provides society with the human resources that it needs. Education has also become a diversified and renewable resource capable of boosting economic growth, increasing value added and improving the quality of human life. Studies show that 34 per cent of economic growth can be ascribed to the development of new scientific knowledge, while 16 per cent comes from investment in human capital through education. Hence, 50 per cent of economic growth can be ascribed to education in the general sense of the term.

Literacy promotion and adult education

176. Illiteracy is one of the most complex problems confronting the socio-economic development process, because it is bound up with several economic, social and educational problems which affect and are affected by development. In the past five years, literacy and adult education programmes have been successfully developed with the number of persons enrolling in literacy centres rising from 66,100 in 2000 to 171,200 in 2005, an increase of 159 per cent. Cumulatively, a total of 587,000 persons enrolled in these centres between 2001 and 2005, exceeding the expectations of the Second Five-Year Plan and the Poverty Reduction Strategy, which had set a target of around 345,000. The number of persons enrolled in basic and women’s training increased by 327 per cent over the same period, rising from 2,562 to 10,952.

177. According to the 2004 population census, the illiteracy rate among the population aged 10 years and over is 45.7 per cent. There is a large gap between males (29.8 per cent) and females (62.1 per cent). Moreover, 31.7 per cent of the population knows how to read and write. In other words, three quarters of the population does not have even a basic education.

Challenges and goals

178. Illiteracy is spreading because many children in the 6 to 14 age group do not attend school. The problem of children, particularly girls, dropping out of school in the early years of education persists, while information and cultural programmes and activities to raise awareness of illiteracy and the seriousness of the problem are not particularly effective. In addition, there are few literacy and adult education programmes in rural and remote areas because there are not many centres or teachers and pay levels are low. Moreover, the funding provided for literacy promotion is inadequate and in no way reflects the scale of the problem.

179. The National Literacy and Adult Education Strategy stresses the importance of liberating Yemenis from illiteracy and ignorance by offering them a suitable education that equips them with skills, expertise and basic knowledge. The strategy is intended to reduce the illiteracy rate by 20 per cent among members of the population aged 10 years and over to offer basic and women’s training to 30,000 persons in the period 2006–2010, providing them with life skills training and the basic knowledge that they need to gain access to employment and improve their living standards.

Primary and secondary education

180. General education (primary and secondary) is indispensable for human resources development and is the cornerstone of socio-economic development. General education, in particular primary education, is a major priority, as it is the foundation of the entire education system and is central to achieving sustainable human development. Secondary education is a core component of the educational system and is the preparatory stage for university education and working life. In recent years, interest in the development of education in general has been growing as rapidly evolving technological advances call for a reappraisal of educational goals and priorities and qualitative improvements to educational outputs that take account of development needs.

181. In 2005, there were a total of 244 kindergartens in Yemen, 178 of them in the private sector. A total of 17,574 children were enrolled in kindergarten, 7,886 of them in private kindergartens.

182. In 2005, there were 14,617 primary education schools — 260 in the non-governmental sector — with a total of 82,354 classrooms and 4,357 students, 38.7 per cent of them girls. The enrolment rate was 64.3 per cent: 73.1 per cent of boys and 53.9 per cent of girls in the 6 to 14 age group. This is lower than the target set in the Second Five-Year Plan of 69.3 per cent. These figures conceal a significant disparity between rural and urban areas and between sparsely and densely populated areas. Many children of primary school age (6 to 14 years) do not attend school.

183. The number of children enrolled in secondary education increased from 484,500 in 2000/01 — an average of 36.9 per cent (52.6 per cent for boys and 20.3 per cent for girls) — to 682,765 in 2005/06 (an enrolment rate of 40.5 per cent). This is close to the 41.3 per cent target set in the Second Five-Year Plan and has helped to narrow the gender gap to around 56 per cent, even if there is still a bias in favour of boys. The number of classrooms increased to 11,981, with an average teacher-pupil ratio of 57:1. The latter figure is higher in densely populated areas such as municipal Sana`a, however, where the teacher-pupil ratio is as high as 80:1. Nevertheless, non-attendance rates (truancy and dropping out of school) remain high in secondary education at 35 per cent.

Expansion and development of education and the Fast Track Initiative as a model for cooperation with donors

184. A project to expand basic education with the support of the World Bank and other donor organizations was launched in 2001 in the governorates of Sana`a, Amran, Muhwayt and Dali`.

185. The project succeeded in reaching out to poor and deprived communities. The Government’s decentralization policies were put into effect, spending efficiencies were achieved, the performance of teachers and district administrators was improved and guarantees were provided for teachers’ employment. The enrolment rate for girls rose significantly from 52 per cent in 2002 to 62 per cent in 2004. Yemen has been involved in the Fast Track Initiative since 2004 and plans have been made to target a wider range of governorates (Hudaydah, Hijjah, Bayda’ and Dhamar). The Government, in conjunction with the World Bank and donors, designed a primary education development programme which was launched in 2005. The purpose of the programme is to support the reform and development of primary education, to ensure the quality of primary education and to cover all the remaining governorates.


186. General education faces challenges which hamper its development, in particular the fact that the population is widely dispersed, which makes it difficult to reach all communities. Moreover, the population growth rate is high, the demographic structure places great demands on education services and the number of children enrolled in education exceeds the capacity of the education system. There is not enough funding for facilities such as educational establishments, libraries and laboratories and to develop curricula and cover the costs of employment, maintenance and refurbishment. This affects the efficiency of the education system, as does the age and unsuitability of many school buildings. Even though the private sector plays an increasing role in general education, its investments fall below the level of participation required.

187. The maintenance of school buildings is one of the main problems confronting the education system, especially in rural areas. Some 61 per cent of school buildings do not have the equipment needed to run a school, while 98 per cent have no school library, 85 per cent have no teachers’ room and 95 per cent have no space for other school activities. Most schools do not have even the basic amenities which a school building needs and which have the biggest impact on the education process, such as health facilities, particularly in girls’ schools. Electricity is available in only around 49 per cent of primary schools and 23 per cent of secondary schools. Moreover, there is a shortage of school chairs and other supplies, and those that are provided are not used properly.

188. The results of a needs assessment in general education showed that in order to achieve the goal of basic education for all by 2015, qualitative improvements would have to be made in addition to improving premises, including institutional reforms, increasing the number of teachers and updating curricula. These improvements are needed because some 35.7 per cent of children in the 6 to 14 age group are still not enrolled in education, meaning that over 2 million children do not have the opportunity to enrol in primary schools. The measures required to meet these needs and to achieve the target enrolment rates by 2015 are summarized hereunder:

Educational stage
In millions of United States dollars ($)
Primary education
13 121
Secondary education
2 321
16 039

189. The Third Five-Year Plan includes a set of policies and procedures designed to expand general education by updating the school map, building new schools, rehabilitating existing schools, establishing study wings in existing schools and encouraging the private and non-governmental sectors to build more kindergartens and basic and secondary schools. Other measures include increasing the intake in the first grade of primary education to 71.8 per cent by 2010, enrolment in primary education among 6 to 14 year olds to 78 per cent by 2010 and enrolment in secondary education to 50.6 per cent among 15 to 17 year olds, while narrowing the gap between rural and urban school enrolment rates.

Technical education and vocational training

190. Technical education and vocational training are essential to developing skilled and semi-skilled human resources. Expansion in these areas is assured through education and training programmes delivered at training centres, technical and technology education centres and community colleges. The Government has adopted a national strategy for technical education and vocational training, together with a plan of action. It accords growing importance to this type of education and training by establishing technical and technology institutes.

191. The number of vocational training institutes and centres increased from 26 to 55 over the period 2000–2005, and the number of persons enrolled in them rose from 6,567 to 20,209 over the same period. This increase can be ascribed to the development of certain areas of technical specialization.

192. The number of girls enrolled in this kind of education is increasing year on year. However, the number is still too low to meet the labour market’s need for technically skilled women workers. In the period 2000–2007, a total of 2,738 females enrolled in technical education and vocational training, as compared with just 97 in 2000 and 2,565 in 2007. The number is increasing gradually, as areas of specialization and institutes which deliver training suited to girls’ interests open up.

193. Only 11.4 per cent (2,300) of the students enrolled in vocational institutions, technical institutes and community colleges in 2005/06 were girls. In the 2007/08 academic year, the ratio of girls to boys was 11 per cent, as compared with 2 per cent in 2008. This increase is the result of increased attention being paid to technical education and vocational training in general, particularly for girls.

194. Even though there are no legal impediments to girls’ enrolment in technical education and vocational training, the gender gap in this form of education and training is very wide; the enrolment rate for girls was only 20 per cent in 2004. This reflects a continuing lack of social acceptance of girls’ enrolment in this kind of education. Moreover, the areas of specialization which attract girls are rather limited in scope and are little suited to girls’ needs and to future work opportunities. In order to improve this situation, educational goals, policies and plans of all forms and stages of education need to be reviewed and educational curricula and subjects need to be diversified and developed to take account of changing realities and the demands of development and the labour market.

Education and training activities

195. It is clear from the number of applications submitted for admission to technical education and vocational training colleges and community colleges in the 2007/08 academic year that, even though evening classes and morning classes have been introduced in the Ministry of Education technical institutes and community colleges to deal with the problem of under-capacity, only 58 per cent of applicants can be absorbed. The figures can be broken down as follows:

• Three-year technical diploma (community colleges): 2,072 students were accepted, accounting for 76 per cent of the total number of applicants

• Two-year diploma: out of 10,488 applicants, 5,732 (55 per cent) were accepted

• Vocational secondary education: out of 1,522 applicants, 877 (58 per cent) were accepted

• Vocational training diploma: out of 6,867 students, 3,828 (56 per cent) were accepted

196. In 2007/08, a total of 21,600 persons from across Yemen applied for admission, an increase of 61 per cent over the previous academic year, when 20,353 candidates applied. After admission tests had been taken and selections had been made based on the registration and admission criteria applied by institutes and colleges, 12,509 students were accepted, an increase of 5.12 per cent over the previous figure of 11,152.

197. In 2006/07, 5,820 persons (76 per cent) graduated in technical education and vocational training. This is the highest number of graduates that the Ministry of Technical Education has ever had. Some 801 persons applied for continuous education and training programmes in 2007/08; they were all accepted.

198. As for short courses, the number of applicants was 4,330, while the number admitted was 3,906. These students enrolled in a total of 153 training courses under 36 different programme titles. The courses were delivered in 33 training institutions in 13 governorates, and 3,209 students graduated. Some 82.2 per cent of trainees graduated, 464 being awarded university certificates, 951 general secondary school certificates, 1,207 primary education certificates and 587 either lower qualifications or none at all.


199. There are numerous obstacles which prevent higher numbers of students from gaining access to technical education and vocational training. The main challenges are: under-capacity in technical institutes and community colleges; the fact that syllabuses are somewhat traditional and rather rigid; low levels of professional development among teachers; and a lack of regular training to allow teachers to keep pace with new technical and scientific developments. As a result of the foregoing, performance standards are low and do not meet the requirements of development. In addition to poor performance, there is little awareness of the importance of technical education and vocational training for socio-economic development and of the role that women can play if allowed access to this type of education.

200. Consequently, the Third Five-Year Plan includes a series of policies and procedures which seek to strike some kind of balance between secondary education on the one hand and technical education and vocational training on the other by increasing capacity in vocational education and training to absorb 7 per cent of students enrolled in secondary education by 2010. One target of the Plan is to achieve horizontal and vertical expansion in technical education and vocational training and to increase to 145 by 2010 the number of centres, institutes and community colleges.

Acceptance, enrolment and graduation in primary and secondary education, 2000/01 and 2005/06

Primary education (in thousands)
Secondary education (in thousands)
Increase (%)
Increase (%)
2 185
2 671
1 216
1 686
3 401
4 357

Source: Third Socio-Economic Development Plan for Poverty Reduction 2006–2010.

Evolution of technical and technology education (2000/01–2005/06)

Technical and vocational education
Technology education
Increase (%)
Increase (%)
2 393
5 654
5 287
5 715
10 336
9 873
1 059
1 687
3 411
2 748
1 138

Source: Third Socio-Economic Development Plan for Poverty Reduction 2006–2010.

Technical education and vocational training 2006–2010

Vocational colleges
5 330
5 654
11 869
1 017
12 886
Technology colleges
3 201
3 717
7 966
1 283
9 249
Community faculties
1 272
1 570
3 714
4 586
9 803
1 138
10 941
23 549
3 172
26 721
Vocational colleges
9 595
10 336
23 350
2 128
25 478
Technology colleges
5 602
6 505
14 272
2 298
16 570
Community faculties
2 713
3 368
8 411
1 974
10 385
17 910
2 299
20 209
46 033
6 400
52 433
Vocational colleges
3 199
3 411
6 402
6 957
Technology colleges
1 920
2 287
5 044
6 008
Community faculties
1 586
2 027
5 466
6 159
13 032
1 960
14 992

Source: Third Socio-Economic Development Plan for Poverty Reduction 2006–2010.

Evolution of university education, 2005/06–2010/11

5 763
2 560
8 323
8 643
3 942
12 585
38 997
12 989
51 986
47 214
17 359
64 573
44 760
15 549
60 309
55 857
21 301
77 158
18 972
8 627
27 599
33 056
14 232
47 288
103 827
39 204
143 031
140 573
54 330
194 903
122 799
47 831
170 630
173 629
68 562
242 191
3 096
1 217
4 313
4 666
1 939
6 605
14 919
6 058
20 977
21 611
8 652
30 263
18 015
7 275
25 290
26 277
10 591
36 868

Source: Third Socio-Economic Development Plan for Poverty Reduction 2006–2010.

[*] In accordance with the information transmitted to States parties regarding the processing of their reports, the present document was not formally edited before being sent to the United Nations translation services.

[1] Republic of Yemen, Ministry of Planning and Development, “Poverty reduction strategy paper”, 2003–2005, p. 111, Box 5.16.

[2] Third Five-Year Plan for Development 2006–2010, p. 194 (“Voices of the poor” study, 2005).

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