A barefoot Palestinian girl walks through the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank between Jerusalem and Jericho. She and her family are among 1.6 million "food-insecure" Palestinians who struggle to buy or procude enough food on a daily basis to live a healthy life.
Khan al-Ahmar is in Area C, an Israeli-controlled zone where restrictions on movement make it difficult for the Bedouins to maintain their traditional, nomadic lifestyle. WFP provides emergency food assistance or vouchers for 460,000 of the poorest Palestinians, including 30,000 Bedouins and herders.
Families receive their food rations at a WFP food distribution carried out with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The rations include daily staples like wheat flour, cooking oil, lentils, salt and sugar.
"There's no one to support me so I'm very happy to receive this assistance," says Basmah is a single mother of five. "The first time I got my food allowance I was in tears when I showed my children the food I bought. Without this food we'd be miserable."
In the West Bank town of Jericho, Basmah is using her Sahtein electronic voucher. WFP is increasingly using vouchers as a way of delivering assistance, especially in towns where there are shops and markets but people do not have enough money to buy food. Food vouchers enable families to buy fresh produce like eggs and dairy products that are not included in conventional food baskets. This type of assistance also boosts the local economy.
Locally produced olive oil is a new addition to the list of foods voucher beneficiaries can get at groceries participating in the programme. Over the past three years, WFP has injected more than US$100 million into the Palestinian economy through food vouchers. The majority of food is purchased locally and the vouchers are redeemed in local shops, which supports local businesses and generates employment.
Children play outside an atypical school in Khan al-Ahmar. The school is built entirely usinig old tyres and mud to overcome Israeli-imposed restrictions on building in this area. The community leader says he learnt about this building technique through the internet.
WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin visited the community and chatted to Bedouin women. “High food prices and low wages mean that 1.6 million Palestinians don’t know from where their next meal is coming,” she said. “Yet food security IS security. Food security is a vital component for sustained peace across the region.”
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