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Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
World Food Programme (WFP)
31 August 2013


Socio-Economic and Food Security Survey

West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestine

The designations employed and the representation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO, UNRWA, WFP or their donors, concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers and boundaries.

Executive Summary

1 Background

The 2012 edition of the Socio-Economic and Food Security (SEFSec) survey is the fourth in an annual series conducted by a consortium consisting of the Palestinian Authority via the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

Building on previous assessments, the SEFSec primarily estimates food security as a function of economic access to food. Food insecurity is therefore intrinsically correlated with poverty and its root economic causes in the State of Palestine, most of which stem from the continued constraints imposed on the local economy by the occupation and blockade.

The 2012 SEFSec data was collected over a total of 8,359 households between December 2012 and January 2013 (data collection was delayed in the Gaza Strip due to the November 2012 escalation of violence); the survey’s reference period corresponds to the second half of 2012.

2 Food Insecurity in the State of Palestine

The results of the 2012 survey depict a harsh situation. Overall, 34 percent of Palestinian households – approximately 1.57 million individuals – were found to be food insecure in 2012.1 This level is seven percentage points higher than the 2011 figures, this represents an almost complete reversal of the progressive improvements in food security reported since 2009.

Overall, the surge in food insecurity mainly reflects the deterioration of socio-economic conditions in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (increasing unemployment and contracting purchasing power), resulting from the combination of sustained economic constraints and of the shock generated by the PA fiscal crisis in late 2012.2 Indeed, even though all public wages delayed during the second half of 2012 were ultimately paid, the survey noted a strong correlation between the uncertainty around the payment schedule and a significant reduction in the consumption levels of many public servants, particularly in the Gaza Strip.

The 2012 trends differed significantly in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. While in both regions the SEFSec estimates show a sharp drop in the share of households categorized as food secure, the ‘absorption’ of these households into the lower categories diverges between the two regions. In the West Bank, the ‘marginally secure’ and ‘vulnerable’ groups expanded, thus limiting the increase of the ‘food insecure’ group to two percentage points. This pattern seems to be due to the ability of the West Bank population to further rely on various coping strategies (an assumption confirmed by the wider support provided by friends and relatives in 2012). By 2012, an estimated 19 percent of households were assessed as food insecure in the West Bank.

In the Gaza Strip, the collapse of the food secure group directly corresponded to an increase in the food insecure category which soared, from 44 percent of households in 2011, to an alarming 57 percent in 2012. As in the previous three years, the vast majority contrast, UNRWA was the most frequently reported source of assistance in the Gaza Strip, followed by relatives and friends and the Ministry of Social Affairs. Assistance providers struggled to maintain their ability to pull households out of the food insecure category; providers clearly could not keep pace with the rapidly increasing pre-assistance food insecurity rates and with the considerable deepening food insecurity gap – particularly in the Gaza Strip.

3. Recommendations

I. Methodology

The present report provides an analysis of the findings of the 2012 SEFSec survey with relevant comparisons to data available from the 2009, 2010 and 2011 SEFSec editions. Note that macroeconomic data are extracted from secondary data sources.3

As in the SEFSec 2011 report, the cost of living in East Jerusalem is significantly greater than in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and therefore cannot be accurately reflected using existing poverty methodologies. For this reason, PCBS is in the process of developing a new methodology to better reveal East Jerusalem’s poverty levels. Until this is finalised and unless noted otherwise, references made to the West Bank in this report exclude East Jerusalem.

1 An additional 16 percent of Palestinian households were found to be vulnerable to food insecurity, 26 percent marginally food secure and 25 percent food secure.
2 See IMF Recent Experience and Prospects of the Economy of the West Bank and Gaza; Staff Report Prepared for the Meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, Brussels, March 19, 2013. Unpaid wages to employees and accumulated debts to private vendors totalled USD 483 million at the end of 2012; the remaining portion of wages that were unpaid as of the end of 2012 were paid in the first quarter of 2013.

Complete document in PDF format (Requires Acrobat Reader)

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