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Youth Exclusion in Yemen: Tackling the Twin Deficits of Human Development and Natural Resources

Published on: November 2009​
Genre: citizenship​ Category: Research Report/ Research Paper/ White Paper​

Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East region and one of the poorest in the world. Its population, already overwhelmingly young, is expanding rapidly, creating an explosion in the number of youth aged 15 to 29. A large youth population can provide the ideas and manpower necessary to foster economic growth and stimulate social development—but only if adequate resources and institutions are in place to help them do so. With a dwindling supply of natural resources, low levels of human development, high levels of poverty, and policies and institutions that work against youth instead of for them, Yemen faces signifi cant challenges in helping youth reach their full potential.

The situation in Yemen is particularly challenging because of the twin defi cits that the country faces in both human development and natural resources. Yemen ranks 138th out of 179 countries and territories on the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index and 148th on combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment (UNDP 2008). Yemen also faces one of the largest gender gaps in human development in the world. For instance, in gross primary enrollment rates it ranks as the country with the fifth largest gender gap in the world (UNDP 2007). These human development challenges are compounded by severe limits on essential natural resources, such as water and arable land, for a rapidly growing population that is still predominantly rural.

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