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Responsiveness of the Palestinian National Cash Programme to Shifting Vulnerabilities in the Gaza Strip

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SUMMARY

This study explores the shifting nature of vulnerabilities in the Gaza Strip and the operation of the Palestinian National Cash Transfer Programme (PNCTP). Gaza is experiencing a deep and long-running humanitarian crisis, and shapes and forms of vulnerability are now changing, though with no real prospect of improvement in the situation of families living there. While previous measurements of vulnerability focused on factors such as income, economic disparities, dynamics of poverty and specific shocks, Gaza is now witnessing changes in its socio-economic situation and the emergence of new vulnerable groups such as farmers, merchants, recent graduates and, increasingly, female-headed households. This study therefore concentrates on socio-political dimensions of life in Gaza, gendered considerations and new layers of vulnerability including disabilities, psychosocial problems, and people injured due to the Great March of Return protests, and finally an assessment of household realities between 2017 and 2020.

By collecting quantitative and qualitative data, the research has been able to illustrate that, for the communities and households surveyed, there are serious implications for the sustenance of life in Gaza, especially in light of deteriorating living standards. The research took a mixedmethods approach using a household survey, focus group discussions (FGDs), in-depth interviews with relevant actors and experts, a review of cash transfer data from the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) and a review of general literature on Gaza. The analysis is not limited to the survey results of the reality experienced by families in Gaza, but also takes into account their own perceptions and the social attitudes of households. It also explores the intersection between the individual, the household, the community and various organizations as well as different geographical locations across Gaza in order to capture a more accurate picture of reality on the ground.

Demographics of the Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip consists of 365 sq km of coastal land and is home to two million Palestinians, of whom 1.5 million – three-quarters – have been identified as being in need of humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian and economic crisis in Gaza is shaped by the ongoing Israeli occupation and illegal blockade, which has left the region facing serious structural problems, including high levels of unemployment, poverty and food insecurity. More than half of Gaza’s population – almost 1.01 million people, including 400,000 children – are living below the poverty line, and around 62% of households are severely or moderately food-insecure. Given the current situation, psychosocial distress and mental disorders are affecting both adults and children, with 22% of the population identified as being in need of mental health and psychosocial support. Furthermore, the deteriorating economy and the loss of social fabric have led to an increase in the risk of gender-based violence (GBV) and to families adopting negative coping strategies. Adolescent girls in particular face multifaceted vulnerabilities related to economic deterioration and lack of access to services, which lead to severe impacts such as early marriage.

Surveyed households

The research surveyed 600 households that were identified as being poor and vulnerable.
Participants were selected from the MoSD database and included households benefiting from the PNCTP, households on the programme’s waiting list and households that had either been removed from the programme’s list of beneficiaries or had applied but had had their application rejected. These families were identified as being among the categories most affected by the overall deterioration of the situation in Gaza and by the different shocks that have occurred in the past few years. They are also among the categories dependent on humanitarian assistance, or who have to seek support from their extended families or the community if they cannot access this, in addition to resorting to negative coping strategies, such as going into debt, in order to access basic needs such as food, water and healthcare.