Viewpoint by Rene Wadlow *
GENEVA (IDN) - The UN-mediated peace negotiations for Yemen led by Ismail Ould Cheikh in Kuwait move ahead slowly. The 13-month war was at first between Hauthis tribal forces loyal to the former president Ali Abdallah Saleh and those supporting the current president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi who had been Saleh’s vice-president for many years. The war is a struggle for power but is not an ideological-religious-tribal conflict.
Into this conflict has come a Saudi Arabian-led military coalition using bombs and sophisticated weapons. (According to Yemen’s khabaragency.net website, on July 14, a Saudi F-16 warplane crashed in the west-central Yemeni province of Sana’a, killing one of its pilots. The incident took place in the province’s Nihm district, with one unnamed source saying it had been brought down by Houthi fighters. "The Yemeni army's air defense force and Popular Committees targeted a Saudi F-16 warplane on July 14 night and managed to down it in the Nihm district east of the capital Sana'a," the source was reported as saying.)
As a result of Saudi-led bombings, some 2.5 million people have been displaced within the country. Yemen was already a poor country which needed to import much of its agricultural and food supplies. As a result of the Saudi bombing raids, the underdeveloped socio-economic infrastructure has been largely destroyed.
Thus, there is a serious need first for post-war planning to be followed by international aid for development. “Reconstruction” would be the wrong term since there was little that had been “constructed”. Rather, we need to look to a post-war socio-economic construction developed on a basic needs approach.
The Basic Needs Approach to Development with its emphasis on people as central to the development process is embodied in the June 1976 World Employment Conference Declaration of Principles and Programme of action. (See the Director General’s Report and the Declaration in the International Labour Office. Employment, Growth and Basic Needs: A One World Problem. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1977, 224pp.)
The Declaration underlines the importance of the individual and the central role of the family and household as the basic unit around which to work for development.
Although the Basic Needs Approach builds on the development thinking of the United Nations and national governments of the 1950s and 1960s such as rural development, urban poverty alleviation, employment creation through small-scale industries, the Declaration of Principles is a major shift in development strategies with its focus on the family with the objective of providing the opportunities for the full physical, mental, and social development of the human personality.
The Programme of Action defines a two-part approach: “First, Basic Needs includes certain minimum requirements of a family for private consumption: adequate food, shelter and clothing, as well as certain household equipment and furniture. Second, Basic Needs includes essential services provided by and for the community at large, such as safe drinking water, sanitation, public transport, health, education and cultural facilities.”
The Programme added a basic element to the actions: “A Basic Needs-oriented policy implies the participation of the people in making the decisions which affect them through organizations of their own choice.”
The Basic Needs Approach concentrates on the nature of what is provided rather than on income − income having often been used as the criteria for drawing a ‘poverty line’. The Basic Needs Approach is concerned not only with the underemployed but also with the unemployable: the aged, the sick, the disabled, orphaned children and others. Such groups have often been neglected by the incomes and productivity approach to poverty alleviation and employment creation.
For Yemen which is largely structured on the basis of clan-extended family institutions, the Basic Needs Approach is most appropriate. In practice, there are few institutions or associations beyond the clan level, although tribal and religious identities are often mentioned. Tribes and religious identity are “shorthand” terms as it is impossible to mention the multitude of clans.
However, a family welfare – meeting basic needs is the most appropriate strategy on which to base post-war planning. Although the fighting continues sporadically and agreement on a possible “unity government” seems far away, Basic Needs Planning must start now.
* Rene Wadlow is the President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation on and problem-solving in economic and social issues. He is also editor of www.transnational-perspectives.org and a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 4 July 2016 with the headline Yemen Negotiations Move Ahead Slowly: Post-War Planning Needed. It is being reproduced under the creative commons license. [IDN-InDepthNews – 15 July 2016]
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
Photo: Registration of Indian citizens evacuating from Yemen in progress in March 2015. Credit: Indian Navy | Wikimedia Commons.