The Governorate of Abyan is located in the southern part of the Republic of Yemen and borders Aden. It is 427 kilometers south of Sana’a. The governorate is located on the coast of the Arabian Sea and consists of 11 districts. Zinjibar is the governorate capital.

Abyan governorate information

Districts of Abyan:Al Mahfad, Mudiyah, Jayshan, Lawdar, Sibah, Rasad, Sarar, Al Wade'a, Ahwar, Zingibar, Khanfir.

Map of Abyan


Agriculture and fishing are the main economic activities in the Governorate of Abyan. Agricultural production from Abyan constitutes approximately 5% of the total agricultural production of the Republic of Yemen. The most important crops produced in the governorate are cotton, vegetables, and fruits.1 The governorate is also the site of livestock breeding and beekeeping.2Interview with one member of the local council of the Governorate of Abyan. March 2019.

According to the 2014 Local Authority Budget, central grants and subsidies constituted 97% of the total income of the governorate, while local revenues amounted to only 3% of the budget.3Please see the appendix for further information on these different types of revenue. Local revenues were mostly shared local revenues derived from sales of goods and services, zakat, taxes on goods and services, taxes on income, as well as fines and penalties. Revenues were adversely affected by the war.4Republic of Yemen, Ministry of Finance, Budget Sector: estimated local authority budget for the 2014 fiscal year.

According to the 2014 Households Budget Survey, the poverty rate in Abyan was 48.6%. With the economic downturn the governorate has faced due to the war, this rate is likely to have increased tremendously over the past few years.


Local governance

The governorate’s local council consists of 22 members in addition to the governor. There are two vacant seats, which could not yet be filled by elections. Although all 20 remaining members are present in the governorate, the local council has not held regular meetings since 2015. The administrative board of the council, which consists of the governor, the secretary general, and heads of the council’s committees, is performing the work of the council and has been holding ad-hoc meetings when needed.

The executive offices are functioning normally. They provide services to the people at the minimum level with support mainly from international donor organizations in areas such as education, healthcare, and humanitarian relief.5Interview with Local Council Member, Abyan. March 2019. Central government subsidies are currently limited.


Access to basic services

According to OCHA (2023 People in Need in Yemen), there are nearly 350,000 people (52% of the population) in need of assistance in Abyan. Seventy-four percent of them are in dire need. Abyan has a current IDP population of 62.000 (status December 2022).6, 2023 People in Need in Yemen

Health services in the governorate are available through hospitals and healthcare facilities that rely mainly on support from international organizations. The services provided are very limited and insufficient to meet the needs of the population.7Interview with Local Council Member, Abyan. March 2019.

With regard to education, 69 schools have been damaged in the war in Abyan, according to OCHA (An Overview of the Humanitarian Needs in Yemen 2018). However, teachers were being paid regularly, as Abyan was one of the governorates receiving regular salary payments. Overall, education in Abyan appears to be stable and continues to function, with funding from local authorities and a number of donors.

As for drinking water, almost half (48%) of households in Abyan do not have access to potable water (OCHA: An overview of the humanitarian needs in Yemen 2018). Water services and sanitation are available in some districts, but not all. Local water services operate with support from international organizations.8Interview with Local Council Member, Abyan. March 2019.



District Size (km2) Population (Female) Population (Male) Population (Total)
Al Mahfad 2,256 18,385 18,631 37,017
Mudiyah 992 23,922 25,011 48,933
Jayshan 824 9,897 10,413 20,310
Lawdar 2,166 59,388 63,521 122,909
Sibah 361 11,830 11,914 23,744
Rusad 198 37,900 37,601 75,501
Sarar 746 10,797 10,267 21,064
Al Wade’a 618 15,929 16,723 32,652
Ahwar 4,384 17,052 17,661 34,713
Zinjibar 2,199 19,943 21,233 41,176
Khanfar 2,199 78,699 82,173 160,872
TOTAL 16,943 303,743 315,149 618,892

Figures are based on the 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview Yemen, OCHA. Population figures include the number of IDPs and residents.


Resources relevant to Abyan

Water-related Conflict Assessment Report

Water-related Conflict Assessment Report

Report analysing water related conflicts in Abyan, Dhamar, and Hadhramout governorates, to build evidence, knowledge and understanding of water-conflicts, and to provide conflict-sensitive programming recommendations.

Law 4/2000 Concerning the Local Authority

Law 4/2000 Concerning the Local Authority

The full text of the Local Authorities Law 4/2000 in English and Arabic.

Supporting Local Governance in Yemen: Steps to Improving Relationships between Citizens and Government, Manual for Local Councilors, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens

Supporting Local Governance in Yemen: Steps to Improving Relationships between Citizens and Government, Manual for Local Councilors, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens

This manual was designed for local councilors and civil society organisations in Yemen. It introduces the role of local councils within the local governance set-up of Yemen and introduces tools that councilors and civil society actors can use to monitor expenditure and improve relations with citizens. It introduces a six-step process for assessing public expenditure […]

Changing Local Governance in Yemen The areas under the control of the internationally recognised government

Changing Local Governance in Yemen The areas under the control of the internationally recognised government

Following a brief overview of local governance in Yemen since unification in 1990 for background, this report analyses the current situation in areas under the control of the internationally recognized government, focusing on changes in decision-making, changes in revenues, and changes in services. It closes with a consideration of the implications of these changes for […]

Yemen’s Draft Constitution of 2015

Yemen’s Draft Constitution of 2015

This is an unofficial translation of Yemen’s draft constitution that was finalized on 15 January 2015 by the Constitutional Drafting Committee. This unofficial translation was carried out by the United Nations and reviewed by International IDEA ( The draft includes 446 articles along 10 chapters, prepared by the Constitution Drafting Committee. The committee which was […]