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Gaza: Flash Appeal 2009
Between 27 December 2008 and 19 January 2009, the Gaza Strip was the site of intense military operations, including bombardment by land, sea and air. Twenty-three days of fighting resulted in a heavy death toll, thousands of people injured and extensive damage to local infrastructure. The conflict deepened the already acute humanitarian crisis in Gaza caused by severe restrictions on movement of people and goods since June 2007.
With the borders sealed and fighting taking place in densely populated areas, civilians had nowhere to flee and bore the brunt of the conflict. An estimated 21 000 homes, about 13 percent of the total, were destroyed or severely damaged. Furthermore, extensive damage to infrastructure has left hundreds of thousands unable to access food, water, health care, power and fuel. The Gaza Flash Appeal 2009 was launched on 2 February and seeks a total of USD 613 million to meet the humanitarian needs of Gaza’s 1.4 million residents over a nine-month period.
The United Nations (UN) Consolidated Appeals Process 2009 has been revised to reflect the Flash Appeal for Gaza. As the lead agency for agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) will assist Gazans in resuming their livelihoods and food production activities in the aftermath of the conflict. While addressing immediate needs through the Flash Appeal, FAO is also responding to the crisis in the longer term through the Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan being prepared jointly with UN agencies, the Palestinian Authority and other partners.
Challenges facing food security and livelihoods
Eighteen months of border closures compounded by over three weeks of intense conflict have left Gaza’s farmers, herders and fishers at risk of losing their livelihoods. Bans on importing and exporting goods have stifled the agriculture sector. Increased demand for inputs, such as fertilizer, pesticide, plastic sheeting and seed, has in turn caused both input prices and production costs to soar. During the recent conflict, production practically came to a halt as military forces took control over the sea and 70 percent of agricultural areas. FAO estimates that almost all of Gaza’s 10 000 smallholder farms have suffered damage and many have been destroyed.
Many farmers are unable to begin the next growing season owing to lack of safety and the destruction of their land and farms. High numbers of livestock deaths and the destruction of animal shelter have had severe impacts on Gazan herders and poultry farmers, while fishers face heavy losses of boats, fishing equipment and cold storage facilities. Diminished food production and the resulting price hikes are making it increasingly difficult for the local population to find and afford meat, fruit and vegetables. FAO expects an imminent rise in food insecurity as more families turn to food aid, skip meals and switch to cheaper, less nutritious food. The rehabilitation of the agriculture sector is paramount to protecting farming livelihoods and food security in Gaza.
Within the framework of the Gaza Flash Appeal 2009, FAO has requested USD 6.5 million to restore farming and fisheries-based livelihoods, boost local food production and strengthen the wider economy. At the same time, FAO will enhance programming and coordination of food security interventions in the Gaza Strip. FAO’s emergency response endeavours to:
- kick-start vegetable, aquaculture and backyard food production through the provision of essential inputs;
- rehabilitate agricultural infrastructure (farmland, greenhouses, animal shelter, irrigation pipes and wells);
- protect and restore herders’ livelihoods through animal health interventions and feeding;
- enhance coordination of the wider emergency response in the agriculture sector; and
- improve evidence-based programming by carrying out food security assessments to inform policy-making.