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Source:
31 May 2009



UPDATE ON FOOD SECURITY ISSUES – May 2009



Highlights
· Availability of most basic food in Gaza is currently acceptable for both fresh and dry food; access to food by the population remains an issue.
· Gaza remains affected by a shortage in cooking gas; the total amount of imports through the crossings in April 2009 covered only 49% of the needs, while May imports covered approximately 64% of the needs.
· Fresh meat prices are stable, at NIS 60/Kg on all markets.
· The prices of sugar, rice and onion remain higher than before the war.
· Fruits and vegetables are available on the market, at lower price in May than in April 2009. This is due to the large quantities of vegetables that can be found on the market, due to the lack of cash by the population and the consequent low demand.
· As of 19 May, the total stock of wheat flour in Gaza mills amounts to 8,000mt, which is enough to cover the needs of the population for approximately 17 days (i.e., until 4 June).
· The April 2009 fishing catch has increased by 5.6 % compared to that of April 2008; however, this is still lower by 73% than in April 2007. The 3 nautical miles fishing restrictions imposed by the Government of Israel has strongly affected the April sardine season.
· A severe lack of cash continues to affect Gaza, where individuals can withdraw a maximum of NIS 2,000 per month. PNA salaries for April are now distributed from domestic deposits through the Banks since no cash is entering Gaza.

Availability of food
· The total mills stock in Gaza reached 11,000 mt on 8 April 2009, before decreasing to reach 7,400 mt on 7 May, and increasing again to 8,000 mt on 19 May. Stocks trend in the past months have affected the availability and accessibility of food in the Strip.

· Most bakeries in Gaza report to be currently working at 60-70% capacity only, due to the low demand given the shortage in cooking gas and the dependence of most people to humanitarian assistance.

· The total daily needs of wheat flour requirement in Gaza amount to 450mt/day; the total mill stock as of 19 May will cover Gazan needs for approximately 17 days, i.e., until 4 June 2009.

Figure 1: Total wheat flour stock for all mills in Gaza Strip (Sep08-May09) (in thousands)




Fishing
· The total fishing catch in April 2009 amounted to 79mt (Fig2), which represents one third of the amount in April 2007. This is due to restrictions by Israeli authorities to access the sea, whereby fishing activity remains limited to 3 nautical miles from the shore.

· The current quantity of sardine found on the market is estimated at 20-50 kg daily, instead of the usual 100-150 mt/day during this period, which follows the April sardine season.

· On 19 May, the sardine price ranged between NIS 23-25/Kg while it was last year at NIS 10- 12/Kg. This due to the reduction in the quantity of the sardine catch, since this type of fish is found after 6 nautical miles.

Figure 2: Variations of fishing catch in March 2007, 2008 and 2009



Market price analysis
· The price of basic commodities (wheat flour, cooking oil, salt, rice, pulses) decreased in May 2009 as compared to those of April, with the exception of the price of sugar, which increased by 4.9%, due to the exchange rate of the US dollar.

· The price of chicken is lower in May 2009 than before the war, and has decreased since April given the increment in production and the inability for the population to purchase, because of the lack of cash.

Table 1: Price of the basic commodities in Gaza Strip (Dec.08-May09)





· The price of fresh meat remains high (NIS 60/Kg), due to the fact that Israeli authorities bar the import of cattle and small ruminants into Gaza since November 2008. As a result, some cattle and small ruminants have been entering Gaza from Egypt through the tunnels. Given the low level of safety control, livestock entering through the Egyptian tunnels are often suffering from diseases, particularly from PPR (peste des petits ruminants), Enterotoxemia, Sheep Pox and Brucellosis. The vaccine shortage in the Gaza Strip has lead to an increase in the mortality rate of small ruminants. A recent import of vaccines1 into Gaza and the consequent vaccination of many cattle/ruminants has solved this problem temporarily, however, vaccines remain a priority import item if the potential for future disease outbreaks is to be avoided.

· The amount of cooking gas available in Gaza remains low: the total imports in April 2009 (approximately 3,543 t) covered only 49% of the needs. However, imports of cooking gas through the crossing points amounted to 5,138 mt, covering approximately 64% of the needs.

Figure 3: The trend of cooking Gas import in Gaza (Jan.08-Apr.09)



Figure4: Price fluctuation of basic food commodities between December 2008 and 19 May 2009



Food imports in Gaza

Total imports (basic commodities) in April 2009 amounted to approximately 28,000 mt; of which 62% were commercial commodities and 38% humanitarian commodities.


Gaza Strip employees’ salaries

· A severe lack of cash continues to affect Gaza, where individuals can withdraw a maximum of NIS 2,000 per month.

· Gazan PNA employees started to receive their April 2009 after the first week of May – all of them have received it by now, however only from the domestic deposits in banks, as no cash is entering Gaza.

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