Rebuilding Rural Life and Rain-fed Agriculture in Yemen: Documentation and Policy Change

in collaboration with Sana'a University 

LSE PI: Dr Martha Mundy  
Co-PI: Dr Adel Washali 
Duration: August 2020 – February 2023

North western Yemen, close to the border with Saudi Arabia. Photo: ECHO/T. Deherman.

This project aims to document the social and ecological impact of macro-economic and technological policies in a major food-producing region of north-west Yemen; the mountain highlands and the lowland Tihama plains.

Since the late 1970s, Yemen has been subject to various social and economic strains, as well as ecological degradation. These include pro-natalist social policies that ensure cheap labour and consumer demand, the valorisation of cash-crop farming for both internal and external urban markets, and speculation in land and real-estate development. Since 2015, the war and blockade have further devastated rural life.

For the first time in many decades, the de facto government in Sana'a has initiated debate on policy for rural Yemen. Solid documentation and detailed policy proposals could help in the struggle to restore rural Yemen to the centre of government policy. The project aims to produce proposals for policy change that are grounded in the ecological and social realities of north-west Yemen. This will first be achieved by compiling and analysing aerial photographic and satellite images, mapped over selected years from the 1970s to today. Case-studies will then be selected to ground proof and look into the history of land-use and farming in distinct sub-systems. Lastly, the project will relate the ecological and agrarian changes documented to economic and technological policies witnessed over the examined period.

The project builds on preparatory work carried out in the spring of 2020, funded by a seed grant from the LSE IGA Yemen Voices initiative, to explore remote sensing/GIS material, agricultural and economic policy, and research capacity at the Faculty of Agriculture, Sana'a University.

This project forms part of the Academic Collaboration with Arab Universities Programme, funded by the Emirates Foundation.

Research Team


Dr Martha Mundy | Principal Investigator 

Martha is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Anthropology.


Dr Adel Washali | Co-Principal Investigator

Adel is Associate Professor and Dean at the Faculty of Agriculture, Sana'a University. 


Dr Ayoub al-Mhab | Researcher 

Ayoub is Head of Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Yemen.

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Dr Amin al-Hakimi | Researcher 

Amin is Professor of Plant breeding, Sana'a University. 


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