Scientists and researchers in Yemen face daily personal challenges and professional obstacles that make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to participate in research activities.
A few years ago, their priority was how to secure financing to support their research programs, travel to conferences and pay publishing fees. Today, however, their main concern is to survive and provide basic necessities for their families. Many of them have not received salaries for more than a year, and many have left the country out of fear for their lives or because conditions forced them to continue their work elsewhere. (See a related article, “Yemen’s Ongoing War Leaves Scientific Research Crippled.”)
The war has not only destroyed the nascent research infrastructure, but also the foundation of higher education and research in the country. Unfortunately, what took decades to build was destroyed in a few years. Of course, the longer the conflict lasts, the more people will leave and the less likely they will be to return. If no serious steps are taken to reverse this trend, the damage to the higher-education sector will be irreparable. (See a related article, “For a Yemeni Researcher, Emigration Is the Only Opportunity.”)
Talking about higher education and research in Yemen may not sound like at top priority today when the great majority of the population are struggling to access water, food and basic health care. But this is precisely why it is crucial and urgent to not only prevent further deterioration of the higher-education sector in Yemen, but also to invest more in universities and advanced training institutions in the country.
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When the war ends, and it will end, rebuilding the country, planning for its future and sustaining the economy and peace will be the sole responsibility of the people of Yemen and will require strategic planning and a national work force that is capable to execute and lead. History teaches us that the proclaimed international community commitment will not go beyond providing limited financial support and that we should not expect doctors, engineers or other experts to come and lead the groundwork for building the new Yemen.