Demographic features of Yemen shows that it has young and rapidly growing community having total population in year 2013 of about 23,852,400, of which about 48% are under age of 15 years (UNICEF, 2014). With a population growth rate of 3.2 (average for the period 1990 to 2012); Yemen’s population could grow from 23 million today to 50 million sometime between year 2035 and 2040 (United Nations-World Urbanization Prospects, 2011), forcing enormous pressure on its natural resources and challenging the sustainability of its environment.
It is important to note that statistics related to Yemen should always be read with caution as different worth-trusty sources presents different results for the same indicator. For instance, according to UNICEF urbanized population forms about 39.2% while United Nations-World Urbanization Prospects: the 2011 Revision explains that urbanized population is projected to be 34.7%. this can be due to the original source of information (statistics authority in Yemen) which still developing and the fact that proper census have not been implemented since several years to date.
Regardless of the above, all related secondary data indicates that there is rapid decline in the percentage of rural population and ever growing total population (). Combined analysis of both trends reflects the urbanization rates and internal migration from rural to urbanized areas, and as such the rapidly increasing demand on land and biological resources, most of which are concentrated within the western part of Yemen.
Though Yemen historically has been characterized by a large outflow of labour and permanent migrants, the socio-economic and socio-political pressures in recent years negatively contributed to increase in the number of migrants to neighboring countries, and have caused escalation in socio-economic conflicts and challenges, including human trafficking, illiteracy, poverty, unemployment and gender issues.
Being subject to years of political unrest, economic constraints and changing demographic characteristics, the country natural resources have been subject to several pressures causing unsustainable exploitation of natural resources and significant impacts on its biodiversity.
The above pressures have been combined with weak environmental governance, under developed regulations and/or enforcement systems, weak capacity to address environmental issues, weak public environmental awareness, and the recent environmentally unsound development in the economic sector. These drivers and pressures are key to Yemen currently witnessed environmental challenges and impacts to its critical ecosystems, habitat and overall biodiversity.
MOSAL data indicates that there are about 7,045 CSOs registered with MOSAL till end of 2009. However, there are many forms of CSOs that are not part of the MOSAL information system including CSOs registered with other government departments, traditional CSOs, and thousands of introduced CBOs/ community groups that have been created by some funded development programmes in deferent sectors run by government, donors, or senior CSOs.
The World Bank study (2013) noted that about 24% of the 3451 CSOs appearing in MoSAL data in year 2010 have registered after 2010.
Factors contributing to the rapid growth in the number of CSOs include, but not necessarily limited to:
1.Role of donor agencies and modifications made to CSOs governance in the country
2. Political situations
3. Socio-economic new realities and increased number of educated people.
During last decade or so a number of funding agencies and international organization implemented projects and activities within and around KBAs' in Yemen EAM region. This include, but not necessarily limited to the World Bank, Small GEF Programme, UNDP, UNEP, the German International Cooperation (GIZ), French Agency for Development (AFD), Italy (DGCS), IUCN, Birdlife, and others.
NCSA Report and Action Plan for Environmental Capacity Development (2008) explained that prior to year 1990 there was only one environmental CSO/NGO in Yemen, however in year 2000 the number of CSOs/NGOs active in the field of environment jumped to 31 organizations. The report further explained that CSOs/NGOs active in the field of environment include:
• Organizations specializing in a specific aspect of environment protection, such as the pollution prevention societies, including among others the palm trees protection societies, horses and water protection societies.
• Local development societies, which dedicate part of its activities to environment protection activities, including the development of water resources, palm-tree planting, water and stream harvesting, combating desertification developing range land, and preventing over-cutting of trees, protecting fisheries and implementing sanitation projects, cattle breeding, developing bee-hives and conservation of heritage... etc.
The EU assessment study of Yemeni CSOs conducted in year 2009 and reported on in 2010 explained that "working on environmental issues is still very limited within the CSOs arena in Yemen". CSOs involvement in environmental projects is mostly related to awareness raising at different levels, however CSOs' action on policies change and provision of large scale activities is limited and less effective (EU, 2010).
However it was noted by the training needs assessment conducted for CEPF in 2013, and from recent literature, that lacking well-trained staff is the most serious constraints to CSOs development and sustainability.
Being donor-driven, and since most of the funds made recently to Yemen were focusing on social aspects, human rights and political advancement; therefore CSOs have become in many cases service providers to those projects and donors, and shifted their agendas toward funded projects.
Another major constraint for environmental CSOs is donors approaches to implementing projects in Yemen, especially those involving training. Where conventional intensive training packages are delivered with financial incentives to participants. It worth mentioning that this situation made most of the interviewed CSOs having very limited experience in developing and implementing projects.