Cash for Work: Promoting Livelihood Opportunities for Urban Youth in Yemen

Project name :

Cash for Work: Promoting Livelihood Opportunities for Urban Youth in Yemen

Budget :

more than 5M$

Project duration :


Location :

The project started in September 2018 and ends in August 2021. Total budget is EUR 10,030,000 funded by the European Union including EUR 250,000 UNESCO contribution.

Yemen’s unique cultural heritage is recognized by UNESCO for its Outstanding Universal Value to humanity. The World Heritage Sites of the Old Cities of Sana'a, Shibam, and Zabid are the remains of an extraordinary urban civilization in the Arabia Felix. The Historic City of Aden is also the site of modern Yemeni heritage. In the current conflict, Yemeni heritage and culture is vulnerable to severe risks. Valuable heritage sites have been affected by a diversified level of collateral damages. For UNESCO, the deterioration of Yemeni culture affects the identity, dignity, and future of its people – and their ability to believe in the future.

The provision of income-generating opportunities and the promotion of cultural expressions present a major contribution to peacebuilding, reconciliation, and recovery. Youth in Yemen are the most affected by the conflict and the associated unemployment crisis. Youth involvement in stabilizing communities through rehabilitation works and cultural programming is key to fostering social cohesion and reducing armed violence.

In partnership with the European Union, UNESCO has launched emergency response actions to cooperate with esteemed local partners to provide emergency relief assistance, safeguard heritage, and foster sustainable cultural development. UNESCO’s interventions focus on the protection and promotion of tangible and intangible heritage through:

  • Youth and community participation in the implementation of income-generating activities for heritage safeguarding and cultural programming;
  • Capacity building, specialized training, and targeted demand-driven assistance to better safeguard, manage and promote heritage and reinforce resilience;
  • Reinforcing cooperation with national stakeholders and international partners, in particular networks of cultural heritage professionals to ensure a coordinated share of information, actualized in the preparation of Site Rehabilitation Plans drafted with local consultation;
  • Technical consultation, expert assessment and data collection as essential instruments to identify priorities, establish risk-mitigating measures and prevent further damage as well as plan recovery strategies;
  • Monitoring and assessing damage, destruction, looting, and illicit trafficking by working with modern technologies such as satellite imagery;
  • Advocacy initiatives to raise awareness of the threats that culture faces in conflict and on the importance of its protection and promotion as an element of resilience for peaceful co-existence in multicultural societies.

Strategic Areas of Action

Urban Rehabilitation

Providing livelihoods opportunities for youth in Yemen through urban regeneration activities which will include the restoration of particular buildings in historic urban centers. Read More

Youth Engagement

Empowering the Yemeni youth and promoting their role as participants in dialogues and policy-making relevant to culture and reconciliation. Read More

Creative Industries

Promoting cultural diversity and creativity in Yemen through supporting the livelihoods of young Yemeni artists and local cultural organizations. Read More

Supporting livelihoods for youth through the protection of Yemeni heritage and culture is key to UNESCO’s efforts to promoting dialogue and peace in Yemen

UNESCO Representative for GCC and Yemen

The project aims to promote livelihoods opportunities for youth in Yemen through urban regeneration activities which will include the restoration of particular buildings in historic urban centres that have been damaged during the ongoing conflict. The project contributes to social cohesion and peace-building through targeted cultural programming and support for civil society.

Particular attention goes to promoting livelihoods for young people as a vulnerable group, but a group which comprises the majority of the Yemeni population (70% under the age of 25). The project intensifies its efforts to strengthen the provision of sustainable short and long-term employment with a particular focus on the conservation and restoration of historic urban architecture. The rehabilitation of associated infrastructure within the historic urban fabric forms an activity that is also expected to contribute to Yemen's economic development in the long-term.

The project proposes a unique combination of interventions, linking the promotion of livelihood opportunities for youth with strengthening social cohesion through culture and the preservation of urban environments and assets of cultural and historic value. Moreover, the project will contribute positively to the prevention of radicalization of the urban youth in the short-term, as well as up- skilling the labour force from the perspective of future development and reconstruction in Yemen.

Creating the conditions for sustainable employment and preservation of Yemeni culture is a very important element of the EU effort in this country

EU Ambassador to Yemen

Project Objectives

  • Increase livelihood opportunities for young Yemenis and appreciation of Yemeni heritage through cash-for-work restoration of historic urban environment
  • Support sustainable, community-led youth programming in the arts to promote future employment in Yemeni cultural sector
  • Improve heritage management capacities within government and civil society


working cash-for-work days


urban youth employed


heritage buildings and sites assessed

What is Cash-for-Work?

  • Cash-for-Work is a temporary social protection measure that offers cash-wage employment in restoration work to vulnerable communities
  • It is a cutting-edge technology in the field of cultural heritage
  • Diversified work activities for women to promote gender equality

Immediate Interventions in Heritage Rehabilitation

  • Sana’a: Roofs, walls, windows and facades of private houses, public spaces around Sailah and the main Mosque, City Wall, Sana’a National Museum, Bustan gardens and Al-Qasimi, sanitation and infrastructures, souq area at Bab al-Sabah;
  • Shibam: Main Souq, City Wall, Oasis, private mud houses, infrastructure, public squares and urban landscape, Sesabana trees;
  • Zabid: Structure and architectural details of historic houses, central Souq, Bab Siham and Bab Shabariq, Museum in Citadel, Mydan square, City Wall,, gardening works, architectural details of remarkable buildings;
  • Aden: Central Crater District, public squares; Water Tank reservoirs, National Museum and Sultan Palace, the Market, facades carpentry and wooden balconies of historic houses.

When questioned about the personal changes in their lives, beneficiaries of Cash for Work projects mention dignity and empowerment.

Lamis Al-Iryani, SFD M&E Officer

UNESCO and the European Union Partnership

UNESCO and the European Union (EU) are close and natural partners, sharing values and objectives. UNESCO’s approach to culture is rooted in its unique mandate as the only UN organization to safeguard and promote culture. Together, UNESCO and the European Union form a strong alliance that safeguards cultural heritage, promotes intercultural dialogue and achieves gender equality, peace and reconciliation through culture.

Discover the UNESCO EU Partnership in Culture

Implementing Partner

Social Fund for Development was established by law in 1997 as a non-profit organization and is acting as the main implementing partner of the UNESCO/EU Cash for Work Project. Working in close consultation with cultural heritage agencies and local communities, SFD provides expertise for the implementation of Cash for Work programmes, trainings and capacity buildings, awareness-raising and communication activities aimed at safeguarding cultural heritage in Yemen.

Project Contact Person:

Salah Khaled
Director, UNESCO Office in Doha and UNESCO Representative in the GCC and Yemen
Bojana Zivkovic
Project Manager, UNESCO GCC and Yemen
Mohammed Al-Jaberi
Project and Communication Officer, UNESCO GCC and Yemen