Bureau régional de la FAO pour le Proche-Orient et l’Afrique du Nord

While peace awaits, do not let crises compromise the way forward

The Government of Palestine officially endorses a new national food and nutrition security policy and a corresponding National Investment Plan

©FAO - Humanitarian- Development-Peace nexus would help to address the urgent needs whilst addressing the root causes of food insecurity and malnutrition.

14 January 2021, West Bank and Gaza Strip -- Restrictions on the movement of people and goods, repeated violent confrontations and full-blown conflict: the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip demonstrates well the concept of protracted humanitarian and food crises. Over 1.7 million people, or about one out of three households (two out of three in the Gaza Strip) are food insecure[1]. When these numbers hit the headlines, emergency interventions and humanitarian aid become the priority.

Despite the imperative of addressing crises, emergency responses do have downsides. When crises are protracted, repeated emergencies can lead to donor fatigue, thus forcing the humanitarian community to target less people in need and as a result, a vast number of people are left with no aid whatsoever.

In 2020, if the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) was to receive the full USD 350 million it appeals for, almost one million, of the total 2.4 million people in need of assistance, in any case, would not receive any. The appeal for 2021 has been raised to USD 417 million, and yet still 650,000 people in need will be left behind[2]. This continued underfunding does not reflect a reduction in humanitarian demand but rather the maximum number of vulnerable people who can realistically be reached and therefore, calling for complementary increased investments in ensuring long-term solutions in order to decrease the need.

However, the sense of urgency and donor fatigue overshadows medium and long-term development needs and attracts most of the funding, undermining efforts to build resilience and address the underlying causes of food insecurity and malnutrition and feeding into a neverending vicious cycle.

Linking both emergency and long-term interventions through the establishment of a Humanitarian- Development-Peace (HDP) nexus would help to address the urgent needs whilst addressing the root causes of food insecurity and malnutrition. However, it is often difficult for emergency response to accommodate the complexity of the underlying causes of malnutrition, and usually the emergency responses are aimed at short‑term results.

The European Union-FAO FIRST Programme has faced this challenge since it started its work in Palestine. The partnership has focused on improving survey tools and building capacities to strengthen the HDP nexus planning and operationalization to inform responses steering the analyses towards a more long-term vision.

Realising that a governance system resting on sectoral strategies independent from one another was not enough to deal with the amount and size of the challenges (limited movements and access to basic goods, lack of reliable energy supply, deteriorated agricultural livelihoods, unpredictable market environment, etc.), FIRST has worked together with the Ministry of Agriculture and other actors to advocate for a multisectoral food and nutrition security policy. Similarly, FIRST has supported the activation of the SDG2 Working Group to strengthen its capacity to review and develop national priority goals for the achievement of SDG2 targets level, formulate initiatives and interventions to achieve them, coordinate their provision, also complementing policy studies and researches, and monitor progress.

To this end, the programme has also facilitated policy dialogue and consultations within the working group to shape the first National Food and Nutrition Security Policy in Palestine 2030 (NFNSP) and a National Investment Plan for Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture 2020-2022 (NIP). All actors were given the opportunity to consider together the short, medium- and long-term interventions needed to achieve food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture in such a critical context. On 7 October 2020 the Government officially endorsed both the policy and the plan.

The NFNSP and the NIP jointly aim at consolidating policy frameworks and coordinating and prioritizing interventions by different actors. This renewed policy approach rests on strengthening the link between agricultural development, social protection and economic empowerment. Its validity has been demonstrated in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic that has shown the interconnected nature of humanitarian and development objectives. In the face of the protracted crisis, Palestinians’ fragile living conditions are systematically exacerbated by recurrent shocks and stressors. Therefore, an approach that simultaneously addresses their most urgent and their structural needs – while leaving Palestinians with a way forward into the future – is key to confront the challenges of their everyday life.  

[1] Figures refer to the Socio-economic Food Security Survey of 2018. Recent estimates, inclusive of the impact of COVID-19 report 2 million food insecure and, within these, an increasing proportion of severely food insecure.

[2] HRP 2021 targets 1.8 million of the 2.45 million in need.