Yemen's uncertain future

Mikiko Tanaka, U.N. Development Program country director for Yemen, talks about the organization’s programs in the Arab state.

Four years after the Arab Spring, Yemen has fallen into yet another crisis as President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, his prime minister and cabinet heads tendered their resignation Thursday — effectively rendering the Gulf state without a government and threatening to undo the gains Hadi’s administration has put in place.

The U.S.-backed president chose to resign rather than agree to further concessions with Shiite rebels, called Houthis, who have taken over the presidential palace and the capital.

We spoke to U.N. Development Program Country Director Mikiko Tanaka in December to talk about the work the agency was doing with the government and assess the political climate — at that time — in Yemen.

Tanaka shared one of their programs was to reform, restructure and rationalize the prime minister’s office, a move that got rid of “ghost employees” and “double dippers,” and cut the staff from more than 1,000 on paper to an actual count of just 400.

UNDP was also active in creating channels for communication — building the capacity of a spokesperson and involving community-level leaders in the planning process — the first steps to a decentralized government, Tanaka said.

“Yemen is really at a crossroads,” Mikiko Tanaka, UNDP country director in Yemen, says in this video interview.

It remains unclear whether these gains will be sustained after the armed takeover.

Tanaka described the situation in Yemen as being at a crossroads, saying that the prolonged political and security crisis in Yemen have had a devastating effect on a lot of people.

Last year, Tanaka said, a historic national dialogue conference that brought 565 representatives from a wide spectrum of social and political groups discussed contentious national issues to find a road map for a “peaceful, democratic and prosperous” country.

But in September 2014, an armed takeover in the capital Sanaa sparked a series of violent incidents across the country — a development that led the government to strike a deal with the armed group, a national partnership which Tanaka said was “the only hope for Yemen.”

“Every crisis has a lot of challenges and risk, but also, you have to find the opportunities,” Tanaka said about post-Arab Spring Yemen. “There are youth who are also in the demonstrations who do not want to let go of that space they created … You would like Yemen to pull through with this … You [want to] see the summer, you don’t want to go back to winter.”

Watch the clips above to know more about the events leading up to Thursday’s resignation of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government. What can development community do to ease the effects of the current crisis in Yemen? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

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    Jacques Jimeno

    Jacques is a copy editor at Devex’s news production team. Previously, he worked with the Philippine Department of Tourism and the World Wide Fund for Nature. He is currently taking his master’s degree in communication from the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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