30 January 2008, Rome - Almost all of Gaza's 13 000 families who depend on farming, herding and fishing have suffered damage to their assets during the recent conflict and many farms have been completely destroyed, FAO said today.
Destruction caused to the agricultural sector has worsened ongoing problems of food production caused by 18 months of border closure: agricultural inputs are either too costly or simply not available; access to land and sea has been restricted; and the import and export of goods has been severely curtailed. Owing to limited agricultural production, people in Gaza are facing an acute shortage of nutritious, locally-produced and affordable food. Meat and animal protein is generally unavailable. (FAO brief on Gaza, 23 January 2009.)
FAO is expecting a rise in food insecurity, as an increasing number of Gazan families are relying on food aid or are switching to cheaper and less nutritious food.
"Farmers already struggling to make a profit before the outbreak of the conflict are now facing the possible irreversible loss of their livelihoods, as they are unable to replace or repair destroyed equipment, land and livestock," said Luigi Damiani, FAO Senior Project Coordinator in Jerusalem. "For many women whose husbands were killed or injured during the conflict it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide food for their families.
FAO will soon resume its project activities in Gaza and has already started planning emergency agricultural rehabilitation interventions to assist the most vulnerable farming families. Emergency aid will include the distribution of input packages (including seeds, seedlings, fertilizers, feed and veterinary kits) to kick-start plant, livestock, aquaculture and household food production for the coming spring season. Aid interventions will also focus on repairing damaged greenhouses, animal sheds, irrigation networks and water wells.
The agency will need around $6.5 million for these immediate activities, which will directly benefit around 27 500 people. FAO is also appealing for funds for coordinating aid activities by non-governmental organizations, national and international agencies, donors and the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Agriculture.
In the longer term, FAO will provide assistance to farmers in Gaza to ensure that locally produced foods, such as meat, eggs, milk and dairy, vegetables and fruits, are available and affordable for consumers.