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The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2010: West Bank and Gaza Strip

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2010: West Bank and Gaza Strip

Nov 2009

The humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip worsened in 2009, largely as a result of Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip, which caused civilian casualties and widespread damages to property and infrastructure, deepening the already acute humanitarian crisis.

Palestinian populations in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip continue to suffer from border closures, the construction of the barrier, limited access to natural resources, land confiscations and heavy restrictions on the movements of people and goods.

Declining incomes and pervasive unemployment are depleting the coping mechanisms of ordinary Palestinians, leading to loss of livelihoods. Unemployment levels remain highest in Gaza, where 42 percent of the inhabitants are out of work, compared to 23 percent in the West Bank. Women have become increasingly vulnerable to poverty because of their limited access to the labour market.

Challenges facing food security

Soaring global food prices have a significant impact on household-level food security across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, forcing families to reduce the quality and quantity of food consumed. The main source of food for the majority of Palestinian households is imported, thus making food insecure populations more vulnerable to price shocks, given the environment of low wages and reduced purchasing power. As a consequence, food insecure households are on the rise with 61 percent prevalence in the Gaza Strip and 29 percent in the West Bank.

A joint FAO/WFP/Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics Socio Economic and Food Security survey indicated that the severe economic downturn and protracted livelihood crisis have forced local populations to rely heavily on aid to sustain a minimal level of food consumption. In the Gaza Strip, the agriculture sector has been devastated by the imposed blockade and, most recently during the military offensive, which resulted in an estimated USD 180 million in damages to agriculturerelated infrastructure and the destruction of an estimated 17 percent of cultivated areas, including orchards and open fields. Although an important livelihood asset, fishing has become increasingly rare among Gazans, on account of the growing number of security measures in place.

The existing import and export restrictions have driven up agriculture production costs, reduced productivity and impeded the rehabilitation of cultivated fields, greenhouses, poultry farms, irrigation and water wells. Farmers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip continue to endure a water scarcity crisis owing to drought, desertification, the fragmentation of agricultural landholdings and the inequitable distribution of water resources. Consequently, the productivity of most vegetables and fruit trees has plummeted.

FAO Response

The main objective of FAO’s activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2010 will be to focus on providing a safety net for food insecure households that can no longer rely on agriculture and fisheries-based practices to restore their livelihoods. To this effect, project proposals include support to women-headed households in diversifying their income sources through the establishment of home gardens, smallscale aquaculture farming, cottage industries and the distribution of small livestock. Proposed activities also include the distribution of key agricultural inputs, including crop seeds, fertilizers, animal feed and veterinary kits. In order to optimize the use of existing water resources and mitigate the effects of escalating food prices, FAO seeks to construct collective high‑capacity water tanks, cisterns and ponds, deliver drought‑tolerant seed varieties and rehabilitate irrigation networks, orchards and greenhouses.

In collaboration with partners, FAO intends to conduct biannual food security assessments to gauge the changing needs of beneficiaries and collect information on acquisition and consumption levels. Sectoral and cluster coordination will be strengthened through stakeholder consultations, improved information sharing and the institutionalization of agricultural and food security monitoring systems. These activities are expected to improve evidence-based policy planning and ultimately minimize gaps and overlaps in emergency and rehabilitation efforts.