Working in fragile states like Yemen is for more than salmon fishing

This week on PITAPOLICY, we feature a post from the World Bank blog.  Wael Zakout, Yemen Country Manager, reflects on his experience of disaster risks when working in fragile states.  Zakout also shares his views on the impact the World Bank projects have on the economic well-being these states, specifically Yemen. 


Working in fragile states like Yemen is for more than salmon fishing 

By: Wael Zakout

The other day I was in a car going to a meeting with Yemen’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation.  A car bomb exploded less than 500 meters from our location, targeting the Minister of Defense.  The minister escaped but 12 people were killed and many more were injured.

Two days later, I was planning to go to a pool-side party at the American Embassy; for relaxation this time. Again, I was lucky. The party was scheduled for 2:00 pm, and the demonstrators that broke into the Embassy arrived at 11:00 am. The planned party was, naturally, cancelled.

These are only some examples of events that we face in a fragile and conflict-affected state. These are the big ones, and they do not happen very often (at least not in Sana’a), but when they do, they remind us of the environment we work in.

The World Bank group re-opened its temporary office in the Movenpick Hotel in January 2012, after the signing of the GCC brokered agreement between the ruling party and the opposition. In addition to around 30 Yemeni staff, there are three international staff now based in Sana’a. The latter include me, in the role of country Manager, the head of the International Finance Corporation’s office and our security advisor.   The old office was closed and the staff was evacuated to Amman in March 2011 at the height of the civil unrest and military/tribal conflict.  Since January 2012, we have lived and worked at the Movenpick Hotel. Our movement is restricted and we limit travel to essential missions only.

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Filed under Interests, PIDE (Policy, International Development & Economics)

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