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Source: World Food Programme (WFP)
30 November 2010









    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 100 staff in the oPt, both national and international.

    WFP currently meets the food needs of the most vulnerable non-refugees in the oPt through three operations:
    1) A Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) in the West Bank (2007-2010);

    2) An Urban Voucher Emergency Operation (EMOP) in the West Bank (2009-2010);

    3) An Emergency Operation (EMOP) in the Gaza Strip (2009-2011).

    A successor West Bank PRRO 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 benefici-aries, with a particular focus on priority areas such as Area C and the Seam Zone. Assistance will be provided through the following components: (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.

    Following its successful roll-out in the West Bank, the Urban Voucher EMOP will be integrated in the PRRO as of January 2011 as part of the livelihood support for vulnerable groups component in urban and semi-urban areas. The caseload will be gradually expanded to 90,000 beneficiaries by the end of 2011.

    The Gaza EMOP will be running until December 2011. The EMOP currently targets 313,000 non-refugee beneficiaries through general food distributions 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. 15,000 beneficiaries are receiving vouchers in urban and semi-urban areas of the North Gaza, Gaza and Khan Younis Governorates. This enables them 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.


    Roll-out of the E-voucher system

    In November 2010, WFP has started the roll-out of the electronic vouchers (E-vouchers), providing shopkeepers in the West Bank with terminals, while replacing the paper vouchers with swipe-cards (Sahtein card).

    The E-voucher system in oPt is the first of its kind in the Middle East, and is expected to ease and improve the overall control of the delivery of assistance. Not only will WFP save printing and distribution costs, but the system also ensures the collection of real-time and accurate transaction information as each credit machine is linked to a core system located in the WFP Country Office, thereby improving the data collection and monitoring capacity.

    The replacement of paper vouchers and installation of electronic credit machines in each shop is expected to be finalized in early 2011 in the West Bank.

    Wheat flour shortages in the Gaza Strip

    Since October 2010, the Gaza Strip is facing a general shortage of wheat flour.

    Most of Gaza’s flour is processed by local mills that rely on the import of wheat grain. In normal times, the wheat grain is shipped into the Strip via the conveyor belts at Karni crossing during two days a week.

    But since October, Karni is seeing an increase in the import of highly needed construction material, unfortunately at the expense of wheat grain, reduced to once a week. In November 2010, a total of 10,413 mt of wheat grain entered the Gaza Strip, representing a 45% increase compared to October, but still only 80 percent of the average import quantities between January and May 2010. WFP and other humanitarian partners rely on the local purchase of wheat flour from the few milling companies operational in the Gaza Strip. The wheat flour is thereafter distributed to the beneficiaries as a component of the food basket.
    With the current reduction of grain import, WFP’s December distribution plan will be seriously affected.

    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.

    WFP and FAO have carried out the 2010 Socio-Economic and Food Security Survey (SEFSec), results of which will be analyzed before the end of 2010. The final report is expected in February 2011.

    A Mid-Term Evaluation for the voucher component of the Gaza EMOP will be carried out in January 2011, providing guidance
    for 2011 programme modalities.

    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.

    All assessments and surveys are available on www.wfppal.org

FUNDING & SHORTFALLS
Humanitarian needs in the occupied Palestinian territory have dramatically risen since the outbreak of major military conflict in Gaza in 2009. Families in Gaza remain completely reliant on international assistance while the poorest populations of the West Bank are faced with stagnant economic growth and continually high unemployment. With meager resources, these populations are also dealing with increased food prices and minimal agricultural production.
In order to address these urgent needs, WFP oPt has increased its beneficiary portfolio in Gaza and the West Bank by expanding food voucher programmes, assistance to destitute families, and school feeding activities. Thanks to generous donor support in 2009 and 2010, WFP oPt was able to meet these urgent humanitarian needs, but in 2011, this funding will run out. As of the first quarter of 2011 there will be severe shortfalls of US$ 43 million in the West Bank and US$ 24 million in Gaza.

West Bank PRRO




The most imminent requirements are for the urban voucher project. WFP has already been forced to cut the urban beneficiary caseload by 19,000 people, all of whom live under the poverty line and suffer from poor food consumption. Those who remain in the activity will have their voucher ration reduced by 20 percent. Complete closure of the activities, a real possibility in 2011, would eradicate two years of success in reducing the level of “poor” protein consumption among poverty stricken families and the positive effect that this programme has had on the local economy.

Gaza EMOP



The funding shortfall for the Gaza EMOP remains cause for concern. Pipeline breaks will begin in May 2011.

The funding pipeline for WFP operations in the occupied Palestinian territory is now in full crisis. If funds are not secured within the next weeks, there will be severe implications for beneficiaries who are extremely vulnerable to food insecurity after decades of military and political conflict.

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