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Sana'a Old City, UNESCO World Heritage site in YEMEN. Credit: Hiro Otake via Flickr

Estimation of crisis-attributable mortality in Yemen

Novel methods for estimating excess mortality in crises settings.

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About

Quantifying excess population mortality in crisis settings is necessary to inform humanitarian responses and conflict resolution efforts. In settings where access to affected populations is heavily constrained by insecurity and bureaucratic restrictions there are few means to obtain the required data to inform population estimates. This project aims to explore novel methods to measure crisis-attributable mortality in Yemen. This project is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Research

We have developed the following methods for estimating mortality in Yemen:

  1.  Satellite imagery analysis of cemeteries,
  2.  Key informant capture-recapture, and
  3. A web-based respondent driven sampling survey of the Yemeni diaspora. As a complement to these methods we also undertook a population denominator reconstruction.
Research and publications
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Satellite imagery analysis of cemeteries

The satellite imagery project was led by LSHTM in partnership with the technology and innovation company the Satellite Applications Catapult. Using high-resolution satellite imagery the team quantified burial activity across all identifiable cemeteries within Aden governorate, Yemen to generate estimates on excess deaths. Our findings suggest an increase in burial rates attributable to crisis conditions in a non-representative, disproportionately urban sample of Yemen.

Key informant capture-recapture

The key informant project involved estimating population mortality during the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods in nine purposively selected urban and rural communities of southern and central Yemen (Aden and Ta’iz governorates). We found some evidence of a peak in mortality during the early phase of the pandemic, but death rate estimates were otherwise too imprecise to enable strong inference on trends.

Web-based respondent driven sampling survey of the Yemeni diaspora

The web-based respondent driven sampling (RDS) survey of the Yemeni diaspora project involved using RDS to disseminate a mortality survey amongst the global Yemeni diaspora. We used mortality estimation methods and survival analysis to calculate mortality and/or survivorship amongst respondents’ close family members residing within Yemen. Though our findings were underpowered we see some evidence that the war and pandemic periods, or the war period and the pandemic period combined, were associated with a two to threefold increase in hazard of dying compared to the pre-war period. Read more information about this study.

Population denominator reconstruction

The population reconstruction project aimed to reconstruct the evolution of Yemen's population between June 2014 and September 2021, at subdistrict level, whilst accounting for growth and internal migration.

Resources
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Data sets and analysis scripts for this study can be found on GitHub