Palestinians to benefit from first Mid-east UN food voucher operation

WFP beneficiary preparing food using vegetable oil provided by WFP in the West Bank

2 April 2009 – Around 30,000 Palestinians are set to benefit from a 12-month food voucher operation launched in the Middle East by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the first of its kind in the region.

“The recent fall in global food prices has not yet translated into lower prices in local markets,” noted Christine van Nieuwenhuyse, WFP Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“Palestinian families are now spending about 60 per cent of their income on food,” she stated, adding that the new project would improve people’s access to food, while also providing a financial stimulus to the local economy.

Under the programme, developed together with the Palestinian Authority, families will receive eight vouchers per month, with a monthly value of $50, which they can use to buy items such as bread, eggs and milk.

The operation began yesterday in the West Bank, where the price of staples such as wheat flour, sugar, rice, oil, pulses and milk rose by almost 70 per cent in 2008. WFP plans to start a similar scheme in Gaza for about 15,000 people.

A WFP study done in July 2008 found that people in the occupied Palestinian territories are “highly vulnerable” to the impact of global food prices on domestic markets due to their dependence on imports.

In February, the Rome-based agency launched its first food voucher programme in Africa, targeting 120,000 people in the capital of Burkina Faso who are suffering from the impact of high food prices in urban areas.


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