oPt

OPT: WFP Operational Response Food Security Crisis - Aug 2006

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BACKGROUND:

The humanitarian situation in oPt has shown a marked deterioration in the past 8 months. The combination of suspension of direct aid and tax re-payments to the PNA, increased closure measures on the land and sea and the destruction of land, property and essential infrastructure is resulting in a critical humanitarian situation. The direct impacts of the conditions in January 06 on food security have been the :

(i) Significant weakening of livelihoods - affecting farmers, fishermen and daily laborers particularly but also small shop owners and traders,

(ii) Grave decline in income coupled with an increased dependency ratio - the cut of PNA funding alone impacts the income of almost every sector of the population- now only 1/3 of Gazans are now bringing home a regular income and those that are must share it with their family and neighbors to support them

(iii) Decrease in purchasing power linked to market fluctuations affecting the poorest most heavily.

These factors are leading to widespread use of extreme and negative coping mechanisms - such as reducing the quantity and quality of daily meals, incurring heavy debts, reducing use ff health and education services and selling productive assets.(1) Thus increasing numbers of people are falling into a spiral of poverty, ill-health and mounting food insecurity.

An Emergency Food Security Needs Assessment (EFSNA) in May 06 found that foodinsecurity had increased by 14% over the past 6 months and in late June, 51% of the population were considered by WFP to be food insecure (70% in Gaza). Food insecurity will continue to rise whilst the trigger factors inflating these levels continue to exist.

WFP RESPONSE:

In August 2005, WFP started a two-year Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) to support 480,000 food insecure non refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The operation was targeted to ensure that the most vulnerable sector of the Palestinian society would receive a healthy and balanced diet despite the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian and security environment.

However by June 2006, the food security situation had shown such a marked change that WFP was compelled to implement its contingency planning and expand the PRRO, based on the recommendations of the EFSNA. WFP is thus expanding the PRRO by 25% as of July, to assist an additional 117,000 of the most vulnerable and food insecure non refugees. WFP is also changing the modality of all assistance in Gaza to emergency (free) distributions owing to the challenging security environment. The details of the changes in the PRRO are detailed below:

Assistance to the Gaza strip will be adapted as follows:

- Increase of 60,000 beneficiaries supported through (free) distributions2 implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs (MSA) in support of the chronically poor (so called "social hardship cases").

- Replace all food for work/training programmes with emergency (free) distributions (temporary measure for an initial period of 2 months). After two months, if the security situation has stabilized, WFP will reassess the feasibility of reinitiating the FFW/T activities.

- Increase food coverage by 3 months. Initially the FFW/T activities were supposed to cover only 16 of the 24 months total of the PRRO). The coverage of the New Poor population, now supported through emergency (free) distributions, will be extended from 16 to 19 months our of the 24 month project.

- Increase of 2,000 vulnerable cases reliant on social institutions (handicapped, elderly, sick).

West Bank: Assistance in the West Bank will be as follows:

- Increase of 10,000 chronically poor beneficiaries supported through (free) distributions.

- Increase the food for work/training project by 40,000 New Poor beneficiaries.

- Increase the duration of the food for work/training programme by 3 months (from 16 to 19 months) in order not to have a break in assistance during this critical period.

- Increase of 5,000 vulnerable cases reliant on social institutions (handicapped, elderly, sick).

Note:

(1) For more detailed information, please refer to recent OPT reports: Emergency Food Security Needs Review (May 2006), Market Assessment of the occupied Palestinian territory (May/June 2006), Needs Analysis Framework (June 2006) and monthly situation reports (OPT).