The Yemeni population is estimated at 28.9 million [1], the majority of which is rural, with only 36.6 percent of the population living in urban areas.[2] Youth below 24 years old make up 62.6 percent of the total population.[1]

The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen is classified by UNOCHA as the worst in the world. Nearly four years of escalating violent conflict, economic collapse, and ravaging cholera have caused a dramatic deterioration of the humanitarian conditions in the country. It is estimated that 24 million Yemenis --around 80 percent of the total population—currently need some form of humanitarian assistance and protection.[3] While 18 million people suffer from food insecurity, 8.4 million are at risk of starvation. Seven million Yemenis suffer from malnutrition, out of which close to 2 million children and more than 1 million lactating and pregnant women. 16 million Yemenis lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities and 16.4 million are in dire need of basic healthcare. Nearly 1 million Yemenis were hit by cholera in 2017 in the worst cholera outbreak in modern history.[3]


Since 2015, the ongoing conflict continues to inflict significant damage to Yemen’s human and physical capital. It is estimated that there are around 57,000 casualties, 3.9 million displaced, and more than 25 percent of children out of school, while 50 percent of health facilities closed and more than 70 percent do not have regular supplies of vital medicines.[3]


The economy in Yemen is on the edge of collapsing. Over the past three years, the damages to the economy have been snowballing. UNOCHA estimates that over the last three years, cumulative losses in real GDP reached 47 percent, and employment opportunities have significantly diminished with more than 600,000 lost jobs.[3] The decline in GDP growth is bottoming out in 2018 with an estimated reduction of 2.6 percent compared to 5.9 percent in 2017 and 13.6 percent in 2016.[4]


During the continuing war, Yemen’s exports – namely the oil and gas exports— have been suspended, while restrictions on imports and remittances, delays at ports that are also subjected to the conflict are driving the country to the edge of famine, especially that Yemen imports approximately 90 percent of its food.[4] As per the UNOCHA 2019 Global Humanitarian Overview the price of a basket of food increased by 60 percent in the last year while fuel prices have doubled in the past two years. The same report assesses the dramatic effects on the incidence of poverty that dramatically increased from 52 percent [5] (with the poverty line at a US$3.20 PPP) in 2014 to approximately 81 percent in 2018.[3]


An already weak public finance structure, public revenues declined from around 24 percent of GDP before the conflict, to nearly 8 percent of GDP in 2018, with hydrocarbon tax being a principal source for revenues. Public expenditures in 2018 are estimated at 18 percent of GDP leading to an estimated fiscal deficit of around 11 percent of GDP.[4]

Prior to the start of the conflict in 2014, Yemen was a low-income country that faces difficult challenges and the current conflict has only aggravated the situation. Yemen was highly dependent on oil and gas resources, with oil and gas revenues accounting for approximately 25 percent of GDP and 65 percent of government revenues. With a labor force participation rate of 37.9 percent, the participation rate for men is significantly higher than that for women, 69.7 percent and 5.8 percent respectively. Yemen’s unemployment rate fluctuates around 12 percent since 2010 and is much higher for women reaching 30 percent in 2018 compared to 12.9 percent for men.[6] Trade is moderately important in the Yemeni economy; the combined value of exports and imports amounting to 33.5 percent of GDP in 2016 down from 49.8 percent in 2014 before the conflict started.[5]

This overview was last updated in January 2019. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2018. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 January 2019].

[2] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2018. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 January 2019].

[3] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 2019. Global Humanitarian Overview 2019. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 January 2019].

[4] The World Bank. 2018. Yemen’s Economic Outlook. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 January 2019].

[5] The World Bank. 2018. World Development Indicators. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 January 2019].

[6] International Labor Organization. 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 January 2019].

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Data Highlights

  • In 2013, 40% (9.8 million people) of the population were multi-dimensionally poor, while an additional 22.4% (around 5.5 million) lived near multidimensional poverty.

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