Ali Abdullah al-Moudai – Community liaison officer, Yemen (June 2013)

Name: Ali Abdullah al-Moudai

Age: 28

Location: Thula

Does your spouse/partner live with you? Yes.

What is your primary job? Community liaison officer for an energy exploration company.

What is your monthly salary? Now, it is between $1,500 and $1,600 a month. With the oil company, I work one month on, one month off. I used to work as a tourist guide on the side, but we don’t have any tourists in Yemen now. In my month off, I work as a fixer for journalists. When I work with them, I earn $150 per day. Some months, you are at home sleeping, and sometimes you have work. Sometimes I earn nothing. Sometimes, I earn $500-2,000 per month.from $1,366, plus $500-600

What is your household’s total income - including your partner’s salary, and any additional same sources? Just mine. Only my brother has an additional income, but with it, he takes care of his own family. I take care of my family, my other brothers and sisters, and my mother.

How many people are living in your household - what is their relationship to you? Fifteen - wife, son, mother, sisters, brothers, their children, and my new daughter. She counts as two people.

How many are dependent on you/your partner's income - what is their relationship to you? All of them.

How much do you spend each month on food? Now, it’s a little bit more: YR 210,000-230,000 ($977-1,070). Some months, food costs less; some months, it is more. Since a month ago, every kilogram of tomatoes, potatoes, vegetables is 100-200 riyals more than it used to be. from $840-930

What is your main staple - how much does it cost each month?We don’t buy bread from the market. We make it at home. There are different qualities of flour. We buy a 50kg bag for YR 7,000 ($33); we buy 3-4 bags per month. Flour is a little bit cheaper than it used to be, but rice used to cost YR 11,000 ($51) per 50kg bag; now it costs 14,000 ($65). So we don’t use rice the way we use flour. Sugar costs 12,500 ($58) per bag, where it used to cost 10,000 ($47).

How much do you spend on rent? I own my house.

How much on transport? Last month, I had to travel to the capital Sana’a for work 15 days of the month, which means I have to spend money on petrol, eat at the restaurant, sometimes sleep there. I spend a minimum of 50,000-60,000 ($233-279) per month, sometimes it’s as high as 100,000 ($465). from more than $233

How much do you spend on educating your children each month?YR 25,000-30,000 ($117-140).

After you have paid all your bills each month, how much is left? Nothing at all. A the end of the month, it’s zero and I have to wait for my new salary.

Have you or any member of the household been forced to skip meals or reduce portion sizes in the last three months? We have reduced what we eat.

Have you been forced to borrow money (or food) in the last three months to cover basic household needs? I have a friend who has a big shop. When I don’t have any money, I call him. I take what I need and promise to give him money when I get my salary. This happens two out of every three months.

Better
Worse
No change
Ali Abdullah al-Moudai - Community liaison officer, Yemen
"I earn about 15 percent more than I used to. But it’s [still] really very difficult to save money"
THULA, June 2013 (IRIN) - Ali Abdullah al-Moudai got a pay rise since IRIN last spoke to him in December 2012, but he says he struggles financially just as much as he used to, if not more. That is partly due to a new arrival in the family.

“Now, we have a baby daughter. She needs a lot of things. We have to take her to the doctor. She needs milk, new clothes, everything.

“Sometimes, we have to delay responding to the family needs, so that we can save [the money required] for our new daughter. We have to take care of her more than the older ones. We can stop buying new clothes for the older kids. We can even cut back on food. For example, before my daughter came, I spent about 12,000 Yemeni riyals [YR] [US$56] per month on household needs. Now I spend around 8,000 [$37], so that I can save the rest for her. Before my daughter was born, we could eat meat five days a week, but now, only three.

“Every week, I have to buy two bottles of milk from the pharmacy. It costs more than 3,000 riyals [$14]. Every month, she needs two packages of diapers. The package costs about YR 3,200.

“I earn about 15 percent more than I used to. But it’s [still] really very difficult to save money. You cannot save. The crisis [in Yemen] is exactly the same as a few months ago. Security is a little bit better than before. This is the one thing that has changed. But the prices of food are exactly the same. “With my salary, we are OK. I have to thank God. I am better than others. Some people earn $150 per month. But at the same time, we cannot do anything for the future. You cannot save anything.

“What I am really worried about is if you have a surprise, for example, someone is sick. My company gives me medical insurance, but the rest of my family doesn’t have it. When my father was in the hospital for three and a half months, I spent a lot of money. I sold my wife’s and sister’s jewelry, because what can I do?

“For about eight months now, we haven’t had government-supplied water. The water comes from another village behind our city. The people there stopped it [from flowing to us]. Now we have to buy water from trucks. Every truck, we pay YR 7,000 [$33] - about 3-4 times per month. Everyone is trying to make our own water in our city, but until now, nothing has been done. They have to find a solution.

“I was hoping things would change, but honestly, nothing has changed. Now it’s a new government, new president, new everything, but honestly, it has become more difficult. They are spending millions of dollars employing people in the National Dialogue. These are people who already have money. Why aren’t they giving this money to the poor? Or using it to employ the unemployed?

“I am looking for a better job than what I have now - either inside Yemen or outside. I sent my CV to a lot of companies, including in Libya and in Saudi Arabia. Now, I am waiting to do an interview with them. It’s not easy for me to decide to leave my family, but what can I do? I cannot stay all my life like this - not saving anything. I have to look for my future. I have to change my life and my family’s life.”

ha/cb

*Exchange rate as of 26 June, with US$1 trading at 215 Yemeni rial

< December 2012