OPT: Food security and vulnerability analysis report - Dec 2009 (A synthesis of recent surveys and studies)

Originally published


Executive Summary


The occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) includes the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with a population of 2.38 million and 1.42 million people respectively. About half of the population are refugees.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been marked by periods of different intensities. Following the second Intifada (upsurge) initiated in 2000, the Israeli government has launched the construction of a Barrier around the West Bank and tightened the movement of Palestinians in and out the territory. Since the Hamas victory in the January 2006 elections, donors have focused on humanitarian assistance and budgetary support, which cover approximately 1/3 of the Palestinian National Authority budget. The Gaza Strip has been under a blockade since the Hamas Party took control in June 2007, with extremely severe restrictions on the entry of goods and virtual halt of exportations and movements of Gazan people in and out of the territory. Operation Cast Lead launched by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) against the Gaza Strip in December 2008/January 2009 marked the last outbreak of fighting and caused a large number of deaths and wounded as well as widespread destruction of housing and infrastructure. Violence in Gaza has not fully subsided despite the unilateral ceasefire declared by Israel on 18th January 2009.

Economic growth in the oPt has markedly decreased due to the conflict, through the following: controls imposed by Israel on the entry and exit of goods, services and people; impediments to construction and infrastructure investment in the oPt; the expansion of Israeli settlements and associated violence; and the direct destruction of houses, crops, animals, water and sanitation infrastructure by the IDF. In 2008, GDP per capita was just above US$1,000 per capita compared to US$1,610 in 1999. Early 2009, about 21% of West Bank households and 42% of Gaza households were unemployed. While the economy in the West Bank showed slight signs of recovery, it may simply reflect additional resources received in response to the last war episode in Gaza and thus not be sustained.

Repeated drought in the past few years - including 2009 - and limitations of access to cultivation and grazing lands, irrigation and inputs have also contributed to decrease local food production and affected agricultural livelihoods. The country is also prone to other disasters including industrial pollution and earthquake. Food and fuel prices have decreased compared to 2008 but remain at a higher level than their past 5-year average. In the absence of positive signs towards a resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, the already severe food insecurity and vulnerability situation in the oPt is not expected to improve in the coming few years.

How was the review done? The proportion and characteristics of food insecure households were derived from two comprehensive large-scale Socio-Economic and Food Security (SEFSec) household surveys conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics with support from WFP, FAO and other agencies in the West Bank (covering the 2nd semester of 2008) and the Gaza Strip (covering the 2nd trimester of 2009 and the effects of the conflict end 2008). A market study and an extensive review of recent literature on livelihoods, the economy and services in the oPt complemented the household data.