The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2011: West Bank and Gaza Strip

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2011: West Bank and Gaza Strip
Nov 2010

The situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is characterized by ongoing political stalemate, regular exposure to violence, continuing restrictions on access and movement of goods and people and persistent human rights violations – all factors leading to a protracted humanitarian crisis.

Despite macro-economic stabilization, specific populations are still struggling to meet their basic needs, as their livelihoods remain under immense pressure. The latest available data indicate that almost 1.6 million people, or 38 percent of the population, are food insecure, with increasing exposure to chronic poverty for many and great concerns over longer-term prospects.

Restrictions on reconstruction material, exports and movement of people continue to hamper any meaningful economic revitalization, thereby making a substantial part of the population dependent on external aid. In the West Bank, socio-economic assessments indicate that food-insecure households are more likely to be refugees, particularly living in camps, and rural households whose subsistence depends on agriculture, female-headed and/or headed by someone who is unemployed.

Similarly, in the Gaza Strip, food-insecure households are more likely to be female-headed, families deprived of assets as a result of the Israeli offensive at the end of 2008/early 2009 or the destruction of assets in the restricted areas, or those with chronically unemployed members.

Challenges facing food security

The main food security challenge faced by Palestinian households remains economic access to food in local markets, with a majority of food-insecure households spending over half their income on food. High market prices and lack of opportunities to secure employment and higher household incomes are maintaining many Palestinians in a state of entrenched food insecurity. This situation is compounded by poor food utilization, as a result of poor water, sanitation, hygiene, limited access to health care and declining quality of diet, and, to a lesser extent, food availability owing to obstacles to agricultural production, fisheries and food trade/market supplies.

Food insecurity is increasingly prevalent among households whose livelihoods depend on agricultural production (37 percent and 85 percent in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, respectively, which is higher than the local average figures). High operating costs, including water for irrigation and fodder, are placing additional pressure on agricultural livelihoods. In the West Bank, vast swaths of land and many agricultural roads require rehabilitation.

In the Gaza Strip, 178 000 people, or 12 percent of the population, are directly affected by access restrictions to land and fishing areas. Farmers with landholdings in these areas have reported that their income has been reduced to less than one-third of what it was in 2008, while many have given up farming altogether and opted for other work like rubble crushing or participation in the tunnel trade.

FAO response

Under given funding constraints, only 5 percent of the intended 222 934 persons targeted by the Agriculture Sector were reached through the 2010 CAP. Agriculture Sector activities involved the rehabilitation of greenhouses and open fields, distribution of animal feed and agricultural inputs for home gardens and backyard production units and repair of cisterns for water harvesting. Further efforts are required to restore and protect the livelihoods of the most vulnerable farmers, fishers and herders, especially in the less accessible and deprived areas.

In 2011, FAO will focus on coordination and information sharing efforts and the development of common approaches on beneficiary inclusion in planning and implementation, and in gender equality programming. FAO will support priority interventions in the agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors to reduce vulnerability and increase farmers’, herders’ and fishers’ household resilience to shocks (e.g. drought, animal disease, price fluctuations, etc.). To this effect, project proposals include support to home gardening (particularly important for women-headed households), small-scale aquaculture farming, livestock production in the most marginalized areas and agriculturebased activities specifically targeted for conflict-affected schoolchildren. In order to optimize the use of existing water resources and alleviate water shortages, FAO will focus on the repair of water reservoirs (e.g. irrigation water systems, groundwater wells and rainwater harvesting cisterns) and support best practices in water management, especially in the most drought-prone areas.