WFP Food Security and Market Monitoring Report provides up-to-date information on access and availability of basic food commodities in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). This report examines food security and markets analysis determinants in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), addressing: (i) the market in terms of price fluctuations and differentials (ii) economic access to food by the poorest households and food availability in rural and urban areas; (iii) areas and populations most affected by food insecurity; and, (iv) recent food security studies.
This information, coupled with other socio-economic indicators, will enable WFP and other key actors to monitor trends and changes regarding the food security sector, and contribute in strengthening the targeting process of the most food insecure geographical areas and population.
The Food Security and Market Monitoring Report aims to support WFP and other key actors to monitor trends and changes in the food security sector, and to strengthen food assistance targeting to prioritize the most food insecure areas and target groups.
This report is prepared by oPt WFP’s Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping Unit (VAM) Caterina.Galluzzi@wfp.org and Salah.Lahham@wfp.org
1. Recent socio-political and economic events:
Despite some political progress in March 2007 with the formation of the National Unity Government; to date the socio economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territory remains stagnant and the humanitarian situation of the lowest income quintile is cause for grave concern.
The recent results of the joint WFP/FAO Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment highlighted decreasing purchasing power amongst Palestinian households coupled with high consumer prices for basic commodities. This forced many households to reduce the share of the total expenditures devoted to food (as documented by the report) indicating a decline in food consumption. Furthermore, continued movement restrictions reinforced the ‘islandisation’ of economic activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This was illustrated by “closure” induced food availability problems, price trends and markets’ fragmentation, as well as marketing constraints affecting small traders and producers.
In addition, the economic decline in 2006 worsened the terms of trade for most oPt traders and agricultural producers involved in food production, marketing or trade. With steadily increasing prices of commodities, traders and retailers are left absorbing the price increases in order to keep retail prices at affordable rates for consumers . Despite these efforts, market surveys’ analysis shows a decline in consumer purchases of food and other basic commodities both in terms of quantity and quality.
2. Relation between closure days and import/export of commodities at terminals in Gaza Strip:
There are 4 crossing points to exchange goods between Gaza Strip and Israel: Karni/Al montar terminal, Nahel Oz, Sufa and Karem Shalom. Karni is the largest commercial crossing point; nevertheless the export transit capacity remains well below the 400 trucks per day agreed in the November 2005 AMA, thus curbing the potential exchange of goods. For example, in February 2007 the average exports totaled only 56 trucks per day, in March the figure was even lower at 45 trucks per day (considering the average over the operational days only). Food, including basic commodities, contributes 7% of the total volume of imports at Karni, fruits and vegetables contribute 6%, dairy and frozen products 4% and live animals 2%(1).
While Karni remains the main transit point for basic commodities and food items; humanitarian aid has also been dispatched through Karem Shalom (from Egypt) since 21 March 2006 on an exceptional basis (no commercial transfers are permitted despite the AMA which made provisions for goods to pass through Rafah- due to the lack of International monitors and agreement between the parties). Sufa terminal has also been used in emergencies to transit live animals and basic commodities (this terminal has been closed for past months due to security problems ).
Gaza’s high dependency on one main terminal through which to bring essential staple food commodities and conduct trade, means that any disruption or delays at this crossing has major repercussions on transport and storage costs, final consume r costs, food availability and revenues for traders (especially in the case of perishable goods).
Furthermore, extended restrictions on the transit of commodities at Karni crossing has a significant impact on the livelihoods of farmers and workers. While the number of closure days of Karni has been greatly improved in 2007 (see table 1 below); this indicator is misleading to measure the economic and food security situation during this period as the opening hours per working day vary from 3 to 8.5 hours per day (affecting the actual number of trucks crossing), and the maximum load per truck also varies (according to security conditions). For example whilst the number of closure days in January 2007 was marked as zero, the wheat imports (see table 3 of availability section)in this month were the lowest in the past 6 months (according to Paltrade records).