Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity

Project description

Title: Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Yemen
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Yemen
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Water and Environment
Overall term: 2011 to 2018

Millet harvesting in Socotra Island


Widespread poverty and rapid population growth are increasing the pressure on natural resources in Yemen. In addition, the ongoing war and political unrest are accelerating the long-term loss of livelihoods, particularly for the rural population. Although several important biodiversity strategies, policies and programmes have been developed with international support, implementation is still in the very early stages. Moreover few good examples exists to demonstrate the importance of sustainable use of biodiversity for economic development.


The local population (women and men) benefits from sustainable management of natural resources, and from a number of livelihood projects.


Following a harmonized approach with other development partners in the field of biodiversity, the program operates at different levels.

Firstly, it supports the development of institutional capacities at the national level within the  Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and among various other partners at the local level. With enhanced capacities, these institutions will enable EPA and other supported authorities better to fulfil their tasks and responsibilities.

Secondly, the programme is conducting a number of concrete measures on the Island of Socotra, the most important area of biological diversity in the Horn of Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The support is expected to directly benefit local people, raising the incomes of the poor communities living inside or adjacent to protected areas. In addition, those communities will manage the use of the natural resources in a more sustainable.

Finally, the programme is assisting the EPA with the effort to improve its internal and external communications, in order that can better share its knowledge and experiences with its own local branches and with the other relevant authorities. This is significant as, since the outbreak of the war in Yemen, other donors have withdrawn and state institutions are very restricted in terms of their environmental functions.

As well as the provision of advisory services and training at national and local levels, the programme includes a limited supply of materials and equipment, as well as financial contributions and grants to support local communities and selected partner organisations with the income-generating measures on Socotra Island.


About 20 to 30 years ago, farmers gave up traditional millet growing when alternative staple foods, such as rice and wheat became available on the market. However, the older farming system has a high value for its potential to support biodiversity on Socotra, and enhance the communities’ resilience to climate change, while securing nutrition and income for the rural people. The programme has provided advice and financial support for the revival of 119 millet fields in 25 villages in Socotra. Up to date, more than 300 families have benefited directly from the millet farming projects, with another 600 families also benefiting indirectly from cash-for-work measures and training activities during the rehabilitation of the fields.

During the current political crisis in Yemen the Program supported EPA and other partners at local level to strengthen their institutional capacities. The programme has completed a training needs assessment for EPA staff, both at its headquarters and in the local branches. Several training programs according to their needs have already been carried out. Furthermore, to improve the authority’s horizontal and vertical communications and coordination, the programme has run several workshops among EPA head quarterfor the staff in the EPA headquarter and in the branches as well as for other relevant authorities. 

In 2015, the programme developed a waste management strategy for Socotra Island. Following the recommendations of a study, the local government has established a cleaning fund to cover the operational costs of waste management. Despite the difficulties arising from the war, this fund has already begun to collect revenues for services provided to customers.