We recently published an article on the International Science Partnership in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s journal, Science & Diplomacy. The article describes our pilot project to address water and energy challenges in Yemen and places it in the broader context of engagement between the technical communities in Yemen and the United States.
Of course, the article posts against the backdrop of turmoil resulting from events of last week, when hundreds of people marched on the American embassy in Sana’a in protest to a film produced by an Egyptian-American that was denigrating to Islam. Yet the turbulence only underscores why it is important for the United States to strengthen its relationship with Yemen in order to weather these storms. To that end, the natural resource challenges facing Yemen, daunting as they are, can be seen as an opportunity for the United States to demonstrate that its interests are aligned with those of the Yemeni people.
Politics aside, it is also worth repeating that the sheer direness of Yemen’s situation demands attention. Although our ISP project focuses mainly on water and energy issues, the food crisis has become every bit as urgent. Hunger has doubled in Yemen over the past two years and now affects nearly half of the country’s 25 million people.
While it is important to rev up the relief efforts, it is also important to build true partnerships to enable technically-trained Americans and Yemenis to work together in a collaborative fashion. At the end of the day, the only truly sustainable solutions in Yemen are those that are led by Yemenis. They have the talent to tackle the country’s problems; what they often lack are the resources and opportunities to work with peers.