At the Yemen Donor Conference in Riyadh, which I attended on September 4, I was impressed by how far Yemen has come in the past year. But I think what really made this conference stand out is that we focused on what happens after the conference, and how key “quick impact” programs will benefit from the commitments made and deliver the greatest impact to the most critical challenges facing Yemen.
Last year, Yemen negotiated a political solution that allowed the country to pull itself from the brink of conflict and begin implementing long-overdue political, military, and economic reforms. Yet Yemen is embarking on this promising path under the shadow of significant challenges, including nearly 40 percent unemployment and a dire humanitarian crisis in which ten million people – nearly half of Yemen’s population – go to bed hungry every night. And, Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, could potentially run out of water in a decade.
The Yemeni government’s “Transitional Program for Stabilization and Development” – which was presented at the conference – describes plans to rebuild the economy, advance the political transition, enhance security and the rule of law, and significantly improve the welfare of the Yemeni population. At the conference, Yemen agreed to a “Mutual Accountability Framework,” which outlines the relationship between Yemeni goals to restore political, security and economic stability and the supporting role of donor countries.
Yemen cannot carry out its ambitious agenda without significant international support. The Donor Conference, hosted in Riyadh by Saudi Arabia, the World Bank and the Yemeni government, was critical to rallying this support and strengthening donor coordination. During the conference, partner countries pledged nearly 6 billion dollars and I had the opportunity to emphasize the strong commitment of the United States as a friend and partner to Yemen during this incredibly important time.