WFP supports 566,940 of the most vulnerable, food insecure non-refugees in Palestine who have been affected by the ongoing conflict and occupation, a fiscal crisis and a steady decline in living standards. A new Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO), launched on 1 January 2015, combines operations in the West Bank and Gaza to coherently address urgent humanitarian needs in Palestine. In addition, WFP has a Special Operation (SO) supporting the Food Security Sector. WFP has been present in Palestine since 1991.
WFP addresses urgent food needs, supports resilient livelihoods, economic activity and emergency preparedness. Strengthening food security is a task shared by the Palestinian Authority, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) and WFP, with close links to activities of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other partners.
The PRRO targets 566,940 beneficiaries in Palestine through general food distributions (GFD), electronic vouchers, food-assistance-for-assets, food-for-training and schools meals. It has three main objectives: i) meeting food needs; ii) supporting the re-establishment of livelihoods and the food security of communities most affected by conflict through conditional vouchers and school meals; and iii) supporting the Palestinian Authority's national safety net by strengthening the Government's capacity using WFP purchasing power to expand local production and reinforce the Palestinian economy. The project ends in December 2016.
WFP's electronic vouchers are a platform for a range of interventions, including:
WFP co-leads, with UNRWA and FAO, the Food Security Sector, which improves information and data sharing, strengthens analysis and response and links humanitarian and developmental interventions for the Palestinian Authority. More than 40 organizations take part in the Food Security Sector.
WFP's assistance in Palestine is aligned with the National Development Plan, the Ministry of Social Affairs' Business Plan and the Social Protection Sector Strategic Plan. WFP's work contributes to five of the six pillars of the 2014-2016 UN Development Assistance Framework and the annual Humanitarian Programme Cycle.
Conflict affected households in Gaza are being reassessed through a retargeting exercise. Eligible households will be added to WFP’s regular programme by mid-2015.
WFP reached more than 160,000 people in the West Bank and Gaza with weekly allotments on WFP’s electronic voucher card.
In the West Bank and Gaza, WFP completed the January-March distribution cycles reaching approximately 233,000 beneficiaries. The Ministry of Social Affairs distribution cycle in Gaza, targeting 85,000 people, begins in the first week of April.
WFP designed and facilitated, with the support of the Italian Council of National Research, a four-day Simulation Exercise on Information Management (IM) to the Palestinian Civil Defense (PCD). This was the second simulation training provided by WFP on the use of IM tools provided for emergency response. The 42 PCD participants came from the Disaster Management, Public Safety and Operations Departments.
WFP continues with nutrition awareness sessions in Gaza, working to scale up to reach 2,000 women and 1,000 men in the first half of 2015. The sessions feature interactive discussions and presentations on diet, hygiene, cooking, purchasing healthy food on a budget and psychosocial support.
o The 2014 conflict in Gaza has left the economy devastated and an estimated 100,000 people are still in need of assistance to rebuild their homes;
o The financial crisis of the Palestinian Authority has impacted basic services and has delayed salaries. The IMF recently warned that the fiscal crisis “represents an
existential threat to the Palestinian Authority if left unchecked”;
o Delays in the cash transfer payments to the poorest families in the West Bank and Gaza have left families even more vulnerable.
o These factors exacerbate food insecurity, increase unemployment, and have resulted in a GDP reduction and an overall fiscal deficit for the Palestinian Authority. It has caused hardship in Palestinian households and threatens twenty years of state building by the international community.
o GFD in Gaza, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social
Affairs, will be suspended in July.
o The Greening Palestine conditional voucher programme and the Food for Training programme in the West Bank and Gaza are already on hold, impacting 15,000 beneficiaries.
o Starting late 2014, WFP was forced to stop school meals in the West Bank and Gaza due to a lack of funding. This impacts a total of 111,000 school children.
WFP Palestine continues to expand its partnerships. WFP and UNICEF use "one card" vouchers to enable conflict-affected families to buy school uniforms, shoes or clothes for which the stores network was expanded to include additional retailers that could provide these items. WFP and UNICEF target 42,000 school children in Gaza. WFP and UNRWA run a joint programme in the West Bank, providing food assistance to 30,000 Bedouin and herders each month, and have launched a voucher programme for 44,000 UNRWA beneficiaries in 11 governorates of the West Bank. WFP acts as a service provider to UNRWA using its existing electronic voucher system. WFP is upgrading its electronic voucher system together with partner PalPay, a subsidiary of the Bank of Palestine. The new system allows real time tracking not just of voucher redemption rates, but also of items purchased. The system increases the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of WFP's vouchers, reducing implementation costs of the programme. The new system is being rolled out in selected voucher shops across the West Bank and Gaza.
Palestine is a lower middle-income territory with significant income disparities. Average purchasing power per person in Palestine is USD 5,167, while in Israel it is USD 29,966 (2014 Human Development Index using the Purchasing Power Parity measure). The Palestinian economy is dependent on external aid and is closely linked to the Israeli economy, with Israel as the main market for exports and imports, and an important employer of Palestinian labour. In 2014, the Palestinian economy is likely to have contracted by nearly 1 percent, the first such contraction since 2006,according to the IMF. At the end of 2014, nearly one in five persons in the West Bank, or 19 percent, were unemployed, while unemployment levels reached 41 percent in Gaza.