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Stories from Yemen: DRC Economic Recovery Interventions

In the last two years, DRC Yemen, through funding from Danida and European Union (EU), have helped hundreds of conflict affected Yemenis secure sustainable and dignified sources of livelihood. After providing them with the necessary funds to start their small businesses, DRC returned to follow up with eight of them. Here are their stories and where they stand now.

Posted on 29 Oct 2023

Written by Noor Mousa

Noor Mousa


Let's begin with Jumaa, a 45 years old, displaced mother of five. Jumaa is a widow and has a background in farming. Faced with the responsibility of caring for her children alone, through small Danida grant she decided to invest in farm animals. She began with a few goats and has now expanded to include few cows. Jumaa is happy with the progress she managed to achieve with her small project.

Originally from the western side of Yemen, specifically Mokha, Jumaa cannot return to her home due to the continued presence of landmines in her village. Also, in her current displacement location, she found a school for her oldest daughter. Jumaa doesn't want to take her daughter out school by returning to their village in Mokha due to the lack of schools in there.

In Yemen, widows like Jumaa are usually entitled to social support income. However, she no longer qualifies for this benefit as she is now a displaced person. However, this social support income doesn't interest Jumaa that much as it would not have been sufficient, providing only around 15-20 USD per month.

Jumaa is a contented woman, despite living in a camp and being solely responsible for her children. She also has to make more to be able to take care of her cows, covering their food and necessary veterinary services, which can sometimes strain her budget. Nevertheless, she's grateful that she and her children are safe and that she's received assistance in managing her livelihood.

Jumaa is currently residing in a transitional shelter provided by DRC Yemen operations.

Noor Mousa


Marwan, 27 years old father of two girls.

Meet Marwan, a 27-year-old father of two girls. He is also a displaced individual from Hodeida, particularly from the region currently under Ansar Allah control. 

In November 2022, Marwan was selected by DRC for specialized training in small business management, accompanied by a small grant through Danida fund to establish his own source of livelihood.  

With this support, Marwan invested in a small truck affectionately known locally as "Al-Majnowna," or "the crazy one." He utilized this truck to transport locally produced goods from the surrounding farms, aiding the local farming community with the transportation of various items. 

However, Marwan currently faces a significant challenge as his faithful "Majnowna" is no longer functioning properly. He finds himself in a dilemma about how to address this issue, as the repair costs are beyond his budget, amounting to $500. Selling it is an option he's considering, but he's uncertain about what to pursue next. 

The year 2019 marked a turning point for Marwan and his family as they were displaced from their homes. Back then, they were all engaged in farming. Returning to their previous life is no longer an option, as the lands they once cultivated are now contaminated with landmines. This unsettling fact became clear when some who attempted to return fell victim to these hidden dangers. Marwan remains unsure about the safety of his own home in Hodeida; it too could potentially be compromised by these perilous mines.  

Marwan said “ it is difficult to survives, if I return to Hodeida the only option for the survival of my family would be in me joining the fight. Will stay here until things hopefully change”  

Marwan and his family also live in small wooden transitional shalter that was provided to them by DRC.

Noor Mousa


Hannan, 20 years mother of one little girl.

Hannan hesitated to have her photo taken, respecting her husband's wishes. She didn't share much about her project either, even though she had received a small grant from Danida fund that allowed her to purchase a sewing machine. What Hanan truly wanted to talk about was her emotional well-being and struggles as a female. 

Married at the age of 14 and during her first pregnancy, Hanan experienced a traumatic event while fleeing the ravages of war. During their escape from the conflict, she lost her child. Hannan was four months pregnant when that happened. 

Time passed, and Hannan found herself unable to conceive again. Seeking treatment for her infertility was costly, but her desire for a child remained strong. After suffering another miscarriage, Hannan finally gave birth to her daughter, who is now two years old. However, the memory of her difficult pregnancy and the fear of experiencing another one still weighs heavily on her heart. She has also developed some illness in the last few years.  

Through her sewing business, Hannan managed to purchase a goat, and she aspires to expand her livestock. She faces challenges when sewing, especially during the scorching summer days in Lahj, where access to electricity is limited. Adding to her struggles, their shelter lacks even the simplest comforts like a fan. 

Noor Mousa


Nawal, 43 years old mother of four from Lahj.

Nawal has a unique passion for printing, and she saw a critical need for printing services within her community. Stepping up, she opened her very own printing shop. With the support of DRC and European Union (EU) fund, Nawal received business management training and a small grant, enabling her to acquire a printer and essential supplies. She established her shop right at her own home, and to her delight, two of her older children assist her in running the business. 

Nawal's entrepreneurial spirit has led her to expand her services from printing to include photography and assisting illiterate community members who may need help with filling out forms. 

Like many Yemenis, Nawal struggles with power shortages, making it only possible for her to work when electricity is available. This sometimes limits her work for just four hours a day and mainly during evening hours. However, Nawal is planning to save up for a solar power system, which would not only improves her working hours but also significantly boost her productivity levels. 

Nawal has the only printing shop in the community, and she acknowledge that her business in not only helping her family but also the whole community and that gives her the motive to grow her small shop and learn to do more with that she has. 

Noor Mousa


Ahmed, a 31-year-old father of two form Lahj. 

Before receiving the business grant from DRC, Ahmed worked as a daily wage laborer. With the support of a small grant from the European Union (EU) fund, he decided to invest in a small grocery store. Ahmed is satisfied with is small business, and he's working to save for a refrigerator, which will enable him to expand his offerings to include more fresh fruits. The refrigerator will enable him to better serve the community's fruit needs which he is not being able to meet yet. But also, he will need to save for a solar system. He is hoping an INGO can help with that as it can be out of his budget. 

Ahmed said that his small grocery store has had a transformative impact on his life, providing both him and his family with much-needed financial stability. He now can work during the day and spend quality time with his children in the evening. 

Maher & Hisham

Both Maher and Hisham received small business grants from DRC, and interestingly, they both embarked on the same business idea: utilizing motorbikes for local transportation of people and goods. Hisham was supported by DRC to buy his motorbike.   Their motorbikes provide them with a modest daily income, which is essential for their livelihoods. For Hisham, who has a 10-month-old daughter suffering from melanoma, he must work all the time to secure daily income. Gas expenses are a constant challenge, and they are unable to raise prices as it would be unwelcomed within the community. Maher & Hisham bikes are a crucial part of addressing transportation needs in their community, providing vital services for everyone in there.  On the other hand, Maher's father (Hasan) pursued a different business idea with the support of DRC. He chose to grow a small Yemeni jasmine farm. Maher actively assists his father intending to the farm, and it's growing well. They harvest the fragrant flowers, and Maher transports them on his bike to sell to local sellers at the market. These sellers create beautiful necklaces from the blossoms and sell them on the streets, offering an organic and delightful fragrance. The jasmine business not only helps secure much needed incomes to Yemeni families, but it also preserves a cherished Yemeni tradition, ensuring its continuation. 

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Noor Mousa


Maram is 21 old females from Lahj.  

Maram's story is a sad one. Despite the support she and her family received through a DRC grant supported by Danida, enabling her to improve her shop and provide clean water to a community that often struggles to access it, Maram still carries a heavy heart and a sense of powerlessness. 

Maram's responsibilities extend to caring for her one-year-old ill brother, whose medical treatment comes with substantial expenses and multiple hospital visits a week. Balancing these costs with the financial demands of transportation and books has made it impossible for her to fulfil her dream of studying nursing at the university. Maram expressed her frustration, saying, "I scored well in my exams, and I'm eager to study nursing, but I simply can't. The combined monthly expenses for transport only amount to around 40,000 reals (about 58 USD), and it's beyond my means." 

Maram's community is in need of a nurse, lacking both a health centre and local medical personals. Her education could significantly benefit her, her family and the community, a prospect that she passionately yearns for. While the income she earns from her shop is largely allocated to her family and her brother's medical care, her dreams of pursuing university education have become a source of tears and despair. 

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