State of Palestine
Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
Active in Palestine since 1991, the World Food Programme (WFP) works in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza to meet the food needs and early recovery of the most vulnerable non-refugee populations in the face of socio-economic hardships. WFP activities focus on assisting people whose ability to buy food has been hampered by increased access restrictions and poverty brought about by decades of occupation in the West Bank and a ten-year-old blockade in the Gaza Strip. WFP supports the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) national safety net by strengthening the Government’s capacity to target and administer its food assistance interventions efficiently in support of families most in need.
What are the current issues in Palestine?
Severe restrictions imposed on people’s livelihoods and movements, along with recurrent violence, have resulted in high levels of poverty and limited poor households’ access to adequate and nutritious food. Though food is available in markets, prices are often too high for poor families to afford.
According to the latest national survey on food security (2014), more than 27 percent of the population – or 1.6 million people – suffer from food insecurity. The impact of the 2014 conflict in Gaza continues to severely affect both the people and the economy. In Gaza, one in two people are food insecure, and one in three are severely food insecure and require assistance to meet their basic daily food needs. Poor and vulnerable Palestinians spend more than half of their income on food, and often resort to negative coping strategies such as consuming less nutritious food or fewer meals as well as spending less on education and healthcare.
WFP’s food assistance programme with the Ministry of Social Development is an integrated pillar of the Palestinian social protection system, which provides direct social (including food) assistance, insurance and services to people living below the national poverty line as a priority.
Unemployment and poverty
The prolonged period of slow economic growth, triggered by the Gaza blockade and West Bank occupation, has resulted in stagnation in the average income of Palestinian citizens and persistently high unemployment. In the second quarter of 2016, nearly one in five people in the West Bank were unemployed. At 42 percent, unemployment rates in Gaza are among the highest in the world, and reach 60 percent among youth.
Almost 25 percent of Palestinians are considered poor, with half of them (13 percent) living in extreme poverty. In Gaza, these figures are even higher, reaching 39 and 21 percent respectively.
What is the World Food Programme doing in Palestine?
Food distributions and cash-based transfers
WFP aims to provide assistance to about 600,000 non-refugees - mainly through in-kind food distributions and cash-based transfers, using electronic food vouchers (e-vouchers).
Each month, WFP assists more than 180,000 people through e-vouchers. Households receive a debit card they can use at local shops to purchase nutritious and locally produced food including dairy, eggs, bread, pulses and vegetable oil. WFP works with around 245 shops in the West Bank and Gaza..
Through WFP’s OneCard, the people we serve receive both food and non-food assistance. During the 2014 Gaza conflict, WFP and its partner Oxfam GB were able to rapidly scale up their emergency response through vouchers – reaching in a few weeks 300,000 conflict-affected people compared to the earlier caseload of 60,000. WFP’s OneCard has been used by a large array of humanitarian/development partners to deliver complementary or their own assistance.
For further information on WFP’s cash-based transfers, please see fact sheet.
Strengthening national emergency preparedness and response
WFP works in collaboration with the Palestinian Civil Defence to strengthen its capacity to prepare for and respond to external shocks. WFP developed and transferred critical tools, systems and processes to build the Palestinian Civil Defence’s decision-making capacity and improve its ability to anticipate and mitigate the impact of shocks through coordinated response. Completed or ongoing projects include the setup of Emergency Operation Centres in the West Bank, a Palestinian Civil Defence Disaster Preparedness Web Portal, as well as the development of information technology and geo-spatial instruments to conduct rapid emergency assessments to map out hazard or crisis-prone and/or affected areas.
Working with partners
Supporting enhanced food security is a task shared by WFP, the Palestinian Authority and sister UN agencies. WFP also works closely with governmental, NGOs (Oxfam GB, Global Communities) and UN partners (UNRWA) to deliver food and voucher assistance in Gaza and the West Bank. WFP's interventions in Palestine are in line with national plans and policies and are integrated in the 2014-2016 United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan.
WFP has been providing policy, planning and coordination, as well as financial support to the Ministry of Social Development in the preparation of the new Public Policy Agenda and related strategies.
Nutrition awareness and gender empowerment
Gender mainstreaming and empowering women is central to the design and implementation of WFP’s interventions in Palestine. Food distribution points and voucher shops are easily accessible for women and are located in areas close to households headed by women. Also, vouchers and food entitlement cards are issued in women’s names whenever possible.
WFP promotes the inclusion of women as project management members for food and voucher committees at the community level and works with NGOs and UN partners to ensure that women take a leading role in the management of food distributions.
To strengthen the nutritional impact of its voucher programme, WFP runs a nutrition awareness activity reaching every year 2,500 women and 1,000 men receiving vouchers in Gaza. This is critical as 50 percent of the population suffer from more than one micronutrient deficiency. Seventy-two percent of adolescent girls in Gaza suffer from vitamin D deficiency and 64 percent from vitamin A deficiency.
For further information on WFP’s Nutrition Awareness Campaign and gender empowerment, please see WFP factsheets.
Strengthening analysis and response
WFP co-leads the Food Security Sector (FSS) with UN partners Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FSS strengthens food security analysis and response and links humanitarian and developmental interventions for the Palestinian Authority. More than 40 organizations participate in the FSS.
Promoting economic recovery
WFP uses its purchasing power to support local production and the Palestinian economy. Since 2011, WFP has injected more than US$ 200 million into the local economy, including US$125 million through e-vouchers and 80 million through local food purchases. Studies on WFP’s cash-based transfers in Palestine show that vouchers have a positive secondary impact on participating shops, enabling owners to invest and hire new employees. Findings revealed that between 2011 and 2014:
- Every dollar spent through voucher generated 40 cents of additional sales at participating shops;
- Voucher shops stimulated the local economy through US$772,000 worth of investments;
- Two hundred and twenty-five new jobs were created in participating shops and local producers, more than a third of which in the Gaza Strip alone.
- Over US$64,000 of Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue was generated every month;
- Sixty-five percent of participating dairy processors attributed their increased sales to greater distribution through the programme.
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