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The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: West Bank and Gaza Strip

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: West Bank and Gaza Strip

Dec 2011

Humanitarian needs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip stem from decades of conflict, occupation and severely restricted access to natural resources, basic goods and services necessary for survival.

2011 was marked by significant developments, including a reconciliation agreement reached between Fatah and Hamas that has yet to be implemented, presentation of the Palestinian National Development Plan 2011–2013 and an application for full UN membership.

At the same time, 2011 also saw rises in civilian casualties, settler attacks and displacement. The conditions of everyday life deny many Palestinians their basic human rights and increasingly erode their ability to cope.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

The conflict continues to wipe out families’ most basic means to engage in agriculture. Access restrictions separate farmers from their fields, fishers from sea and herders from pastures. In the West Bank, Palestinians with land near settlements or behind the Separation Barrier are constrained or barred from accessing their lands, while in the Gaza Strip severely restricted areas represent about 35 percent of remaining arable land, and fishing is limited to 3 nautical miles. In areas such as Jerusalem Governorate – where nine out of ten people depend on herding for at least part of their income – 97 percent of localities have lost access to land and grazing areas.

In the limited areas where production can take place, vulnerable families lack essential livelihood assets. In 2011, destruction of agricultural livelihood structures, such as animal sheds and cisterns, increased. Imposed restrictions continue to limit or cut off access to natural resources (e.g. land and water), inputs and markets. Outbreaks of plant and animal pests and diseases cause further production losses.

The erosion of livelihoods leaves families unable to afford sufficient and nutritionally diverse food products. It has forced the poorest to adopt negative coping strategies, such as distress selling of productive assets and forgoing vital expenses, such as health and education, which increase their vulnerability. It is a vicious cycle, deepening poverty and diminishing self-sufficiency. Families employed in the agriculture sector face significantly higher than average levels of food insecurity: 32 versus 22 percent in the West Bank, and 75 versus 52 percent in the Gaza Strip. The average food-insecure household spends between 48 and 60 percent of its income on food.

Four continuous years of water scarcity and poor rainfall distribution in many areas (especially in the Gaza Strip, Hebron and Tubas) have further threatened livelihoods. Rains during the 2010/11 season were 28 percent lower than the historical average, and reached as low as 50 percent in many areas. Insufficient rains between September and November 2010 caused major losses in cereal production in 2011, including rainfed crops such as wheat and barley.

Women are among the groups disproportionately affected by the ongoing crisis and experience high unemployment rates (29 percent in the West Bank and 44 percent in the Gaza Strip). They play a key role in agricultural activities (from crop cultivation to livestock production and fish farming) and must often make sacrifices, such as skipping meals and selling personal assets, to keep their families nourished.

FAO response

Within the CAP, FAO will focus its assistance on Palestinian families affected by recent shocks and requiring immediate support to replenish their production base, maximize and safeguard the use of their remaining assets, and expand their livelihood opportunities.

With donor support, FAO aims to provide vegetable seeds, seedlings and fertilizers to help families continue or establish backyard gardens and rooftop gardens (for urban homes). Distribution of production units such as beehives and animals (e.g. ewes, goats, rabbits and chickens) will increase sources of protein and disposable income.

Herders, especially those located in Area C, will receive emergency fodder, seeds and seedlings of drought-tolerant fodder crops/plants, as well as veterinary inputs to protect animal survival, health and productivity. Restoring small-scale aquaculture – through digging and stocking fishponds and related activities – will make available a source of highly nutritious food as well as benefit agriculture, with nutrient-rich water from fishponds and tanks used to irrigate and fertilize crops.

Agricultural inputs will also be delivered to ensure farmers’ continued cultivation of protected farmland, open fields and orchards to mitigate further loss of land access. The repair (or establishment) of rainwater collection cisterns, grey wastewater treatment units and irrigation networks will help families meet their basic water requirements and enhance resilience to water shortages. All assets will be provided together with training on best practices, many of which will focus on women and youth.

As Agriculture Sector lead, FAO facilitates coordination for effective humanitarian response in the Sector. Dedicated resources are required to consolidate existing data, fill gaps in information gathering and analysis, improve information flow among agencies and ensure sex- and age-disaggregated data are collected efficiently.