QALANDIA, JERUSALEM – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced today a new contribution of US$22.6 million in food and cash to the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) food assistance projects to vulnerable Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The announcement came during a visit of the USAID Assistant Administrator for the Middle East, Mara Rudman, to the agency’s warehouses in Qalandia near Jerusalem.
“Our top priority is to meet the basic food needs of the most vulnerable Palestinians. Thanks to this timely contribution from USAID, we’re able to respond at this critical time, when resources are scarce and people need us most,” said Pablo Recalde, WFP’s Country Director. “The United States is once again showing its commitment to lead in the fight against hunger and poverty at a difficult time facing this region.”
The USAID contribution includes US$15 million worth of food assistance and US$7.6 million in cash which will allow WFP to provide food insecure Palestinian families with a food basket composed of chickpeas, fortified wheat flour, vitamin enriched vegetable oil, and iodized salt and sugar.
Despite the progress made to address food insecurity over the last few years through the efforts of the Palestinian people and international initiatives, food insecurity still affects close to 45 percent of the population in the Gaza Strip and around 17 percent of the West Bank population. It is estimated that in 2012, more than 1 in 5 households remain food insecure even with the food assistance provided through WFP and other international organizations.
“While this assistance is absolutely critical, it is just one part of the overall United States assistance aimed at laying the foundations for a prosperous and stable future Palestinian State,” said Rudman. “We are also partnering with the Palestinian people on efforts to improve the living conditions of the population through projects in the areas of health, education, economic development, water, infrastructure and good governance sectors.”
WFP currently supports over 700,000 vulnerable people of the non-refugee population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip through a range of innovative food assistance mechanisms including emergency food distribution and electronic food vouchers that people redeem in shops to buy locally-available produce. Since 1994, USAID has provided more than US$3.5 billion economic assistance to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.