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West Bank & Gaza Strip
Palestinian farmers, fishers and herders face many challenges to make a living. As the Separation Barrier and Israeli settlements expand, farmers have increasingly less land and water resources for their crops and animals. In addition to access constraints, families face disproportionate economic hurdles. For example, many must rely on water brought by tankers, which costs four-times more than the networked water supply.
The high costs of livelihood inputs – such as fertilizer and animal feed – reduce farmers’ profits and inflate market prices. These conditions lock communities in a situation of poverty, leaving one in five Palestinians food insecure. FAO projects introduce sustainable ways for families to increase their livelihood potential, and to produce more and better quality food among a population that is expected to double in the next 20 years.
A greener landscape and skyline
FAO assists communities to continue and improve farming, whether on their fields or rooftops. Innovative methods of producing food – such as establishing vegetable gardens on the tops of buildings and fishponds that recycle nutrients and moisture to sustain crops – maximize the use of limited space and resources. Another key focus is to ensure that poor families with land have the agricultural inputs they need to continue farming, as there is greater chance to retain access to their land when actively cultivated. The seeds and other inputs FAO provides are of high quality so people can obtain more food and income from their plots.
Increasing water access
Water scarcity affects most people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, complicating efforts to grow crops and raise livestock. FAO is working with partners to build and repair cisterns to collect rainwater – an investment that means big savings for poor families without access to water networks and unable to afford tankered water. In addition, FAO is building grey wastewater treatment units that recycle water daily, providing supplementary irrigation for rangeland and home gardens.
Investing in people
FAO supports junior farmer field and life schools (JFFLSs) that teach agricultural, life and entrepreneurial skills to school girls and boys. Covering everything from how to produce and preserve food to nutrition to business management, the schools aim to instil confidence and self-esteem in young people and develop their potential. FAO also helps farmers’, herders’ and women’s groups to develop or strengthen business plans, avail themselves of services such as microfinance and veterinary care, improve product quality and explore marketing options. Through one programme, for example, local women’s associations are earning income by providing in-school feeding to students during JFFLS sessions.
Planning and responding together
As Agriculture Sector lead, FAO facilitates the coordination of food security and agriculture interventions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Around 35 organizations meet regularly – including the Palestinian Authority, national and international NGOs and civil society – to agree on needs, priorities, the type and timing of interventions. This partnership lays the foundation to rapidly and effectively reach people most in need, based on what they need most.