Overview of WFP activities in oPt
WFP has been providing food assistance to the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) since 1991. The Country Office is located in Jerusalem, and is supported by an office in Gaza, two sub-offices (Nablus and Hebron) and one port office (Ashdod). WFP employs over 110 staff in the oPt, both national and international.
WFP currently meets the food needs of the most vulnerable non-refugees in the oPt through two operations:
1) A Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) in the West Bank (2011-2012);
2) An Emergency Operation (EMOP) in the Gaza Strip (2009-2011).
A new PRRO for the West Bank for the period 2011-2012 has been approved at the November 2010 session of the WFP Executive board. The PRRO will target a caseload of 454,500 beneficiaries, with a particular focus on priority areas such as Area C and the Seam Zone. Assistance is provided through (i) Emergency relief for the destitute; (ii) Livelihood support for
vulnerable households (general food distributions and vouchers); (iii) School Meals in the most food-insecure areas, and (iv) a new Voucher-for-Work and Voucher-for-Training component to contribute to and promote self-reliance by preserving agricultural assets to restore livelihoods. This activity is on hold due to a lack of funding.
Following its successful roll-out, the Urban Voucher EMOP has been integrated as part of the livelihood support for vulnerable groups component in urban and semi-urban areas. The caseload may be gradually expanded to 90,000 beneficiaries by the end of 2011, should the funding situation allow it.
The Gaza EMOP will be running until December 2011. The EMOP currently targets 313,000 non-refugee beneficiaries through general food distributions, vouchers and school feeding, i.e., 70 percent of the non-refugee population in Gaza, aiming at meeting the immediate needs of the population affected by the conflict as well as improving the food consumption of families and individuals in need. The pilot voucher enables 15,000 beneficiaries to access a range of various commodities including protein-rich food (dairy products and eggs) directly from small and medium-sized shop keepers while saving cash for other essential food and non-food commodities.
WFP thrives to maintain the enrolment of children and enhance concentration levels in schools through the daily distribution of snacks to 92,000 schoolchildren, included in the total caseload. However, this activity is currently suspended due to a lack of funding.
Wheat grain import to the Gaza Strip—update
Since September 2010, WFP and partners noted a significant reduction in the import of wheat grain to the Gaza Strip.
On average, the monthly import decreased by 10% compared to the average 12,000-13,000 mt during the first half of 2010, with imports falling to 55-60% of the required quantities during certain months (e.g. Sept 2010, Mar 2011).
The reduction between September 2010 and February 2011 can be attributed to the competition with the recently authorized import of gravel for UN construction projects. While the higher import levels in December and January have prevented a serious wheat flour crisis (WFP locally processes the grain into flour for distributions), the unsteady and unreliable import flow during the past months has been insufficient to replenish the usual 3-4 week wheat grain stock in the Gaza Strip, thereby increasing the population’s vulnerability to unexpected import shortages.
From Karni to Kerem Shalom KS
The traditional wheat grain import channel, Karni conveyor belt, was indefinitely closed on 1 March 2011, shifting to a new conveyor belt at the Kerem Shalom crossing. This decision resulted in increased transportation costs and in consequence, transportation companies organized a 2-week strike on the Gaza side of the crossing. The conveyor belt was finally re-opened for wheat grain on 19 March, resulting in a 3-week delay in the completion of the WFP distribution cycle.
The KS conveyor belt has a lower capacity than Karni, but will be operating 5 days a week for both wheat grain and animal feed, compared to the 2 days a week at Karni. The daily capacity of KS is currently estimated at 30 trucks/day (approx. 1,170 mt) and would be split between the grain and animal feed. Assuming that half the conveyor belt capacity would be dedicated to wheat grain, it is expected that 11,500 mt could enter the Gaza Strip each month, but insufficient to replenish stocks at the mills and further wheat flour shortages can be expected with sudden KS closures.
The shift from Karni to KS not only has implications for the imported quantities, but also for the associated costs. The increase in transport costs from Ashdod to KS and then again from KS to Gaza City is estimated at 20-25% per truck, to be borne by the private sector and/or humanitarian agencies.
Despite the ceiling price for bread and flour in Gaza, the increasing transportation costs may translate into higher consumer prices. This will have a negative effect on the food insecure population in the Gaza Strip who are already spending 63% of their cash expenditure on food, and have already suffered from a 50% flour increase since Aug 2010.
Other Assessments & Surveys
The results of the studies and assessments conducted in 2009 have been compiled into a Comprehensive Food security and Vulnerability analysis, which was published in December 2009.
A Food Security Atlas, prepared by WFP in collaboration with the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem, was launched in February 2010. A study on the access restricted area has been carried out in the Gaza Strip in partnership with OCHA in order to measure the impact of the Buffer Zone on the livelihoods of the populations living in and near the area, as well as quantify the damages and agricultural losses. The report was published in August 2010.
A Mid-Term Review for the voucher component of the Gaza EMOP will be carried out in January and February 2011, providing guidance for 2011 programme modalities. The report was finalized in March 2011.
In February 2011, WFP will carry out an assessment on the transfer of goods in the Gaza Strip. The assessment will analyze the effect on food security and socio-economic conditions at household and market levels, following the Israeli announcement of the "easing of the blockade" on 20 June 2010. The report is expected in May 2011.
All assessments and surveys are available on www.wfppal.org
If funds are not secured in the coming weeks, WFP will be forced to halt its most crucial operations starting from April 2011. In order to deal with the crisis, WFP oPt has already reduced food rations to destitute families, decreased of the value of the food voucher and suspended the planned expansion of the voucher programme in the West Bank.
Gaza Strip EMOP 10817.0 Operation “Lifeline Gaza”
The Gaza Operation was launched as an emergency response to the military conflict of January 2009 and is expected to run until December 2011. The EMOP provides 70-90 percent of the daily caloric needs of food insecure non-refugees in Gaza. The effects of several years of political, civil, and military conflict have been devastating on the Gazan population with food insecurity levels above 55 percent for non-refugees. Unemployment is among the highest anywhere in the world, at nearly 40 percent.
WFP oPt implements programmes that assist the most vulnerable households with traditional food distribution as well as innovative programmes like food vouchers. There is a strong focus on local purchase and promotion of local markets to stimulate economic activity.
Impact of the shortfall
Due to funding shortfalls, the "assistance to vulnerable groups" programme has already been reduced by 10,000 beneficiaries. Further cuts will have dramatic consequences for these food insecure non-refugee families living below the poverty line (i.e. less than NIS 1,870/month for a standard family of 2 adults and 4 children) who rely almost completely on emergency food assistance provided by WFP. Non-refugee food insecure families (55 percent in Gaza) rely on the food provided by WFP in order to secure their diet with acceptable diversity of food. Without food assistance, these households will inevitably resort to negative coping mechanisms, especially knowing that food insecure families in Gaza devote 63 percent of their cash expenditures to food.
If funding is not secured within the next two weeks for this programme, WFP will have to suspend the forthcoming July/August cycle, which will be a dramatic measure to take, especially considering that this would take place during Ramadan.
WFP has already cut the caseload of the “assistance to destitute” programme by 5,000 beneficiaries. This cut, if coupled with a reduction in the food ration, would significantly affect the food security for these families, many of whom have been affected by military conflict, long-term unemployment, or lack of access to lands and fishing areas. It may also produce social unrest in the highly charged political context of Gaza.
If funding is not secured for the second half of the year for the urban voucher pro-gramme, WFP will again have to reduce voucher rations for 15,000 beneficiaries. A closure of this activity will compromise efforts to introduce new modalities of assistance in Gaza.
Due to a lack of funding, school feeding programmes in Gaza are currently suspended. This programme, which serves 92,000 school children with a daily snack of fortified date bars is an essential food security safety net for many families in Gaza.
West Bank PRRO 200037
Targeted Food Assistance to Support Destitute and Marginalized Groups
The PRRO, approved by the Executive Board in November 2010, will run until December 2012 and has a budget of US$ 108.6 million. Carry-overs from the previous PRRO are covering some of the needs for the first half of 2011, however, some activities remain completely underfunded and face the prospect of suspension in 2011.
The PRRO activities meet the food needs of the most vulnerable and food insecure non-refugee Palestinians in the West Bank through a combination of food and cash voucher assistance. The PRRO supports the Palestinian Authority’s Social Safety Net by using tools aimed at reducing hunger, strengthening government capacity and expanding domestic production through local purchase. Among the West Bank activities, the following are most concerning: