World Bank and the United Nations Office for Project Services have signed an agreement to invest $50m in off-grid solar energy projects in Yemen.

The Yemen Emergency Electricity Access Project will be funded by a grant form IDA — the World Bank fund for the world’s poorest countries — and implemented by UNOPS.

The three-year project aims to restore electricity supply to 1.4 million Yemenis (200,000 households), 400 health facilities and 800 schools.

The project will also strengthen the existing solar market in Yemen through targeted financing to the private sector which will expand its reach to the poor and vulnerable.

“Electricity blackouts affect every aspect of life in Yemen,” said Dr. Asad Alam, World Bank Group Country Director for Yemen Egypt, and Djibouti. “This innovative operation will bring power to schoolchildren, patients and healthcare professionals, and poor families in Yemen.”

Solar power has proved to be the most immediate solution for severe energy shortages throughout Yemen. A booming solar industry has developed since the beginning of the crisis, employing thousands of Yemenis and providing basic electricity services in a situation with few alternatives. But the high cost of the products still represents a barrier for the poor and most vulnerable.

“We look forward to supporting our partners in the World Bank in implementing this important project and building on joint efforts in support of the people of Yemen,” said Ms. Bana Kaloti, Director for the Middle East Region.

With this new financing, IDA emergency grants to Yemen issued since July 2016 have totalled US$1.22bn.