Recurring violence and a severe restriction on people’s livelihoods and movements have led to high levels of poverty in Palestine. Food is available in markets, but the prices are often too high for poor families to afford. This limits the ability of poor households to access adequate and nutritious food, with more than 27 percent (1.6 million people) suffering from food insecurity. Spending over half their income on food forces families to make sacrifices, such as eating less often and spending less on education and healthcare.
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. One in two people in Gaza are food insecure, and one in three are so food insecure that they need assistance to get enough food to eat each day. Unemployment in Gaza is among the highest in the world, at 42 percent, and peaking at 60 percent among youth. Incomes have stagnated and economic growth is slow as a result of the Gaza blockade and West Bank occupation.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been in Palestine since 1991, working in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza to bring food assistance to the most vulnerable non-refugee populations. In addition to running a food voucher programme and supporting the Government’s own food assistance activities, WFP also reaches thousands of men and women each year with a nutrition awareness programme. This is helping to combat the fact that 50 percent of the population suffers from at least one micronutrient deficiency.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Palestine
Food distribution and cash-based transfers
WFP provides assistance to 500,000 non-refugees using food distributions and electronic food vouchers. WFP provides over 200,000 people with e-vouchers each month, enabling families to buy their own choice of nutritious, locally produced food at selected local shops.
National emergency preparedness and response
WFP works with the Palestinian Civil Defence to strengthen its capacity to prepare for and respond to emergencies. WFP develops and hands over tools, systems and processes to aid decision-making, enhancing the capacity to anticipate and prepare for crises. Projects have included setting up Emergency Operation Centres in the West Bank and the development of technology to map out areas prone to or experiencing hazards.
Nutrition awareness and gender empowerment
WFP supports the empowerment of women, making it central to activities in Palestine. WFP ensures that food distribution points and voucher shops can be easily accessed by women, locating them in areas close to households headed by women. Vouchers and food cards are issued in women’s names where possible, and women take a leading role as project management members for community food and voucher committees.
Strengthening food secuirity analysis and response
WFP co-leads the Food Security Sector (FSS) with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in close coordination with government ministries. This strengthens food security analysis and response, linking 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, injecting over US$ 215 million into the local economy since 2011. WFP’s food vouchers have been shown to have a positive impact on participating shops, increasing sales, creating jobs and generating over US$ 1 million in VAT revenue each year. Shop owners have been able to invest in their businesses and hire new employees.