Three Years of Conflict in Yemen: Haja Fatima's Story

As Yemen enters its fourth year of war this week, 22 million people ─ more than 80 percent of the population ─ are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Nearly 10,000 lives have been lost as a result of the conflict between Al Houthi forces and government forces supported by an international coalition. The conflict has contributed to the collapse of the economy and basic services, as well as an elevated risk of famine and a massive cholera epidemic. Today, more than 8.4 million people are on the brink of starvation. Learn more here

“We owned a small farm, where we grew corn and wheat, as well as some vegetables. We harvested several times a year and lived in a big house with my son, Ali, who is a math teacher, and his family, including my six grandchildren,” says Haja Fatima. In her sixties, she remembers a time before the war had not yet ravaged their village and chased her family out forcing them to go into exile.

“Ali taught in the mornings and joined us in the fields in the afternoon. Our lives were stable and safe. This was two years ago, before everything changed and we found out how painful it is to live in exile and leave our home.”

When the war began, Haja Fatima and her family picked up items necessary for their survival and fled their home. They moved from place to place, and eventually they settled in the town of Al-Qanawis a few months ago. Together, they all live in a small house, rented for 6000 Yemeni rial – about $15 – a month.

“That sum may not seem like very much for many people, but it is a lot of money to us,” says Haja Fatima. “Every month, we find it hard to scrape the rent together.”

Haja Fatima and her grandchildren.

Haja Fatima and her grandchildren.

Action Against Hunger, Yemen

Since they arrived in Al-Qanawis, Ali has been looking for a paid teaching job, but the government has not paid civil servant salaries for some time now. In a situation where the job market is compromised, and faced with the urgent need of supporting his family, Ali accepted a scholarship in India and has been gone for two months now.

Ever since, Haja Fatima has been taking care of the family by herself, supported by financial assistance from Action Against Hunger: “I work in one of my neighbor’s fields, but the aid given to me by Action Against Hunger is my main source of income. I can pay my rent, buy flour, and can finally pay the water bills that have been accumulating.”

Haja Fatima receives financial aid to support her family.

Haja Fatima receives financial aid to support her family.

Action Against Hunger, Yemen

Action Against Hunger's Response

Despite access and security challenges, Action Against Hunger has been present in Yemen since 2012. Our 260-strong team is currently providing humanitarian assistance in the areas of Abyan, Hajjah, Hodeidah and Lahij.  Our emergency programs deliver lifesaving treatment to severely malnourished children, improve families' access to food, and deliver vital clean water and sanitation to communities.

Nutrition and Health

  • We perform health screenings and provide lifesaving treatment for malnourished children under five years of age. 
  • We provide health screenings for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, as well as pre- and post-natal screenings for malnutrition, and we administer micronutrient supplements.

Food Security and Livelihoods

  • Where local markets are still functioning, we distribute cash and food vouchers to enable families to meet their daily survival needs.
  • Where markets no longer exist, we provide food assistance and essential relief supplies.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

  • In communities, schools, and healthcare centers, we build and repair water sources and latrines to improve access to safe water and sanitation 
  • To prevent the spread of waterborne disease, we educate communities about sanitation and hygiene, and distribute hygiene kits and ceramic water filters. 


Action Against Hunger is the world’s hunger specialist and leader in a global movement that aims to end life-threatening hunger for good within our lifetimes. For 40 years, the humanitarian and development organization has been on the front lines, treating and preventing hunger across nearly 50 countries. It served more than 21 million people in 2018 alone.