Three Unfortunate Facts About Yemen

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Six years ago I read a pair of articles about Yemen which predicted that its population would double by 2035; oil revenue would decline to zero by 2017; and the capital city of Sanaa would run out of water by 2015. Today I got curious: How are those forecasts panning out?

Population: On target. Yemen’s population has increased from 23.6 million to 27.5 million since 2010—an annual growth rate of 2.58 percent. If this continues, Yemen’s population will double by 2037.

Oil revenue: On target. Yemen is currently producing a meager 22,000 barrels of oil daily. In fairness, much of this is due not to pumping their fields literally dry, but to infrastructure destruction during the current civil war. They still have proven reserves of about 3 billion barrels, so production could rise again if the war ever ends.

Water: On target? Adela Jones of USC writes: “Already, Yemenis allocate up to 30% of their annual income towards water….As early as 2017, Sana’a may officially run out of water. Given consumption trends, the rest of the nation may follow.”

I remain fairly ignorant about Yemen, aside from the fact that it’s the site of a brutal proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran—in Saudi Arabia’s view, anyway—and we’ve been assisting the Saudis since it started. But Yemen’s future looks pretty bleak no matter who wins. What happens when they finally pump the last of the groundwater and there’s nothing left?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest