SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND FOOD SECURITY (SEFSEC)
SURVEY REPORT 1 — WEST BANK
Data collected by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
This publication has been produced with financial assistance of the donors of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The content of this publication can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the WFP, FAO or their donors. Furthermore, the designations employed and the representation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the WFP, FAO, or their donors, concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning of delimitation of its frontiers and boundaries.
A rapidly changing socio economic environment in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) creates a dire need for reliable, regularly updated socio-economic information to gauge changing living condition for Palestinian households. In the current circumstances the Palestinian Authority (PA), International and United Nations (UN) agencies have been forced to rely on macro-level indicators, outdated information, ad-hoc surveys and proxies, insufficient to provide a solid basis for programme and policy interventions.
The World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have worked on food security information and analysis since 2003 to improve the availability and detail of information relating to food security in the oPt. Over the past 3 years, improvements have been made with regard to the development of a methodology to measure changes in socioeconomic and food security indicators. After the final revisions undertaken this year, the same methodology will be applied for future surveys to allow for comparison and trends analysis over time.
The present survey report is based on data collected during January and February 2009 in the West Bank. The reference period for many questions on the survey questionnaire covers the last six months before the survey. The survey report therefore largely reflects the socio-economic and food security situation during the second half of 2008. Now that the methodology is finalized and is being institutionalized within the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics' (PCBS) regular statistical calendar, data analysis of future surveys will be conducted and published within a much shorter timeframe. The SEFSec was initially supposed to be conducted simultaneously in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, at the beginning of 2009. However, the data collection in the Gaza Strip was impeded by the Israeli military operation Cast Lead during 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009. The survey (with a slightly altered questionnaire, suitable to the post-conflict situation) was conducted in the Gaza Strip during May and June 2009. It is expected that results for the Gaza Strip will be available for publication in September 2009, after data entry and cleaning is completed.
The time lapse between the data collection and the publication of this report must be taken into consideration when examining the results. While the survey provides the reader with a good picture of the situation resulting from events taking place in the latter part of 2008, several factors have affected the socio-economic and political environment in the months following this period. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) and particularly the food CPI, which had skyrocketed during the initial months of 2008 and continued to increase steadily until October 2008, experienced a downturn since the latter months of 2008 (see figure 4, p. 16). Similarly, PCBS quarterly labour market reports indicate that the unemployment rate decreased consistently across most West Bank governorates during the last quarter of 20081and further during the first quarter of 20092 (see table 2, p. 14). The combination of stabilizing prices and higher aggregate income across the West Bank population suggests a possible increase in purchasing power and thus improved economic access to food during the first half of 2009. It is therefore likely, that the socio-economic and food security situation in the West Bank has improved since the circumstances described in this report.
Furthermore, the sample size used for the survey allows for the breakdown of data according to several variables. Besides describing the overall situation in the West Bank, one of the main findings of the report is that the prevailing socio-economic circumstances have had different impacts ondifferent groups within this region. As expected, the final results are diverse and multifaceted, suggesting that aggregate figures in such a complex and fragmented environment do not provide a good basis for drawing overall conclusions about the living conditions of Palestinians in the West Bank.
The global increase in food and fuel prices has severely affected the West Bank since the last WFP/FAO/UNRWA Rapid Food Security Survey3. While the prices of main staple food commodities decreased in Palestine over the last few months to reach the same trend as of May 2008, the prices are still significantly higher than their long term averages. With an average 49 percent of household total expenditure spent solely on food in the West Bank, this is an alarming level when compared to the threshold adapted by PCBS to classify households by their standards of living4.
While the oPt is a net food importer — with approximately 96 percent of grains imported — local production is directly impacted by the nature of the occupation and closure restrictions in accessing land in the West Bank, thus limiting the potential for increased West Bank food production in sectors that traditionally meet a large proportion of the local demand, e.g. poultry, red meat, fresh vegetables, olive oil, etc. As highlighted in the present Socio-Economic and Food Security survey report, close to 10 percent (i.e., around 10,000) of the households owning agricultural land considered it difficult, very difficult or almost impossible to tend their land during the second half of 2008. Among those owning and planting their land, 59 percent cited restrictions on movement within the West Bank as the main source of difficulty to properly attend to their land. Production wise, access to market have been hindered with duration and costs of transport. Moreover, the already limited agricultural production is being negatively affected by water scarcity, thus resulting in an additional strain on farmers and livestock herders.
The survey indicates that food insecurity in the West Bank is primarily a consequence of income poverty and livelihoods erosion, leading to increased difficulties of households to afford sufficient quantities of quality food. While greater efforts must be devoted to protecting livelihoods and creating sustainable employment opportunities in the West Bank, there is limited scope for improved food security and employment if systematic Israeli restrictions on freedom of movement, access to land and water, working permits continue to hamper the livelihood opportunities in the West Bank.
1. Socio-economic factors: prices, employment and income.
- International market prices have declined sharply between 2008 and the beginning of 2009. Nevertheless, a reduction in international market prices has not yet impacted the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the West Bank: between the first and the second half of 2008, the overall CPI in the West Bank increased by 2 percent, while the food CPI increased by 4 percent (the overall CPI increase during 2008 was 5.5 percent). A decrease of 3 percent can be noted in the food CPI between the second half of 2008 and the first half of 2009, hinting at an in improvement of the socio-economic situation after the survey was conducted. Prices of main staple food commodities decreased over the last few months to reach the same trend as of May 2008 but the prices are still significantly higher than their long term averages.
- Local production of food, as well as rural livelihoods dependent on agricultural production, have been hit by a major climatic shock in recent months: low rain precipitation, irregular distribution of rain water and rainfall delay caused failure of seed germination and very poor crop growth. These factors led to large fluctuations in the price of locally grown products. 55,000 rain-fed crop farmers and herder families have been affected by water scarcity during the winter season 2007/2008 and during the beginning of the winter season of 20095
- The unemployment rate in the West Bank increased by 2.6 percent between the first and the second half of 2008, and by 0.4 percent between the last quarter of 2007 and the last quarter of 2008. Unemployment rates are marginally higher among refugees than among non-refugees.
- The survey shows that 40 percent of households in the West Bank experienced a decrease in their total income during the same period. In general, the decrease of income is more prominent among camps households than among urban and rural households.
- 97 percent of households reported being affected by a rise in food prices during the second half of 2008. Only 13 percent of the population believes to be financially steadfast for several months.
2. Food Security.
- Food security exists when all people, at all time, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Food insecurity exists when this access is jeopardized. Food insecurity in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is a result of food price inflation, livelihoods deterioration and erosion of coping mechanisms.
- Overall, food insecurity affects 25 percent of households in the West Bank, while 11 percent are considered vulnerable to food insecurity, 29 percent fall within the category of marginally food secure and 35 percent of households are food secure.
- Food insecurity is higher among refugees (27.7 percent) compared to non refugees (23.9 percent). The food insecurity prevalence among camp dwellers and rural residents reaches similar levels, affecting 29 percent of households respectively, while urban areas have 23 percent of their households suffering from food insecurity.
- Jenin is the governorate most affected by food insecurity, with 34 percent of households suffering from food insecurity, followed by Tubas and Hebron, where 33 percent of households are affected respectively.
- Food insecurity levels are highest among households living in the Seam Zone as a direct impact with their location with respect to the West Bank Barrier. The prevalence of food insecurity among this group affects 28 percent of households, 3 percent more than the average remaining West Bank.
- In total, 31 percent of female headed households are food insecure compared to 24 percent of male headed households. Households with a bigger component of female members and/or of children members also tend to be more affected by food insecurity than the average household.
- In the West Bank, an average household spends 49 cents of every dollar earned on food. A poor household spends two thirds of its income on food.
- The share of food expenditure over the total household expenditure is as high as 52 percent in rural areas compared to 51 percent in refugee camps and 47 percent in the urban centres. The West Bank overall food expenditure ratio reaches 49 percent.
3. Erosive coping mechanisms
- There is excessive use of negative coping strategies by the population. Having already sold disposable assets, 49 percent of households are now relying on credit to buy food. However this coping mechanism is increasingly exhausted and only available to those with a reliable income.
- The majority of Palestinians in the West Bank have not paid their utility bills (water and electricity) for many months. 52 percent still rely on this strategy, however almost half of Palestinian households have already exhausted this possibility.
- Palestinians in the West Bank are reducing their food intake, especially parents, who reduce their ration to allow for their children to eat enough. 42 percent of the surveyed population has decreased its spending on food, 37 percent reduced the quality of food they buy and 34 percent reduced the quantity purchased. 49 percent of the Palestinians reduce their consumption of meat, and very few now eat fresh (red) meat. A PCBS market survey shows that there is an increase in the price of fresh meat by 11.23 percent between June 2008 and June 20096.
4. Humanitarian response
- Survey findings show that 31 percent of the West Bank households have received assistance7 in the 6 months prior to the survey. Most households (52.2 percent) receive assistance in the form of food parcels, followed by cash assistance (34.5 percent of households). Other forms of assistance include medical assistance, job creation and support towards education fees. It is worth mentioning that 60 percent of the female headed household families are receiving assistance compare to 27 percent of the male headed households.
- Assistance coverage is highest in refugee camps, where 68 percent of households have benefited of some form of assistance, compared to 33 percent of rural households and 27 percent of urban residents. Of the registered refugee families 44 percent received a form of assistance during the last 6 months of 2008, compared to 25 percent of nonrefugee families.
- The principal source of assistance continues to be the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), representing the first source of support for 35 percent of households receiving aid, and the second source of assistance for 22 percent. The second major source of assistance was the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), mainly through the Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA)8, with 21 percent of households declaring PNA support their main source of assistance and 29 percent mentioning it as their second source.
- The vast majority of households receiving aid declared themselves either very satisfied (24 percent) or satisfied (59 percent) with the benefits received, while 14 percent considered themselves not satisfied or not satisfied at all.
- Analysis of assistance distribution across different categories of food security suggests that there is a problem of assistance mistargeting. Many of the households classified as food insecure reported not to have received any type of assistance during the second half of 2008. On the other hand, a significant number of households falling within the food secure category were beneficiaries of some type of aid programme during the same period.
5. Recommendations for action
- The survey indicates that food insecurity in the West Bank is primarily a consequence of income poverty and livelihoods erosion, leading to increased difficulties of households to afford sufficient quantities of quality food. It is therefore suggested that greater efforts be devoted to protecting livelihoods and creating sustainable employment opportunities, particularly targeting those segments of the population that are slightly above the poverty threshold, and therefore vulnerable to shocks, or just below the poverty threshold and could therefore be lifted out of their current situation with relatively more ease. Such initiatives could include support to small businesses through micro-finance schemes and technical capacity building, interventions to promote food production targeting local food markets.
- While it is important to provide more sustainable options and to protect the livelihoods of people that have not yet fallen into the poverty trap, relief assistance and social safety net schemes in the form of food and cash distributions remain essential to assist households facing extreme hardship. For many households aid assistance represents a substantial income source that they rely on for their regular food consumption. It is recommended that this type of assistance is targeted more accurately at groups facing deep poverty.
- The survey findings suggest a relatively high degree of mistargeting when it comes to assistance, leading to needy families being excluded from aid programmes, while less needy households benefit from assistance. The main social safety net providers, including UNRWA, WFP and MoSA, are currently undergoing major efforts to reform their respective targeting mechanisms. It is therefore expected that the margin of mistargeted households will decrease substantially with the activated reforms. However, given the rapidly changing socio-economic circumstances affecting livelihoods in the West Bank, it is important that targeting mechanisms are rendered more flexible so as to ensure that newly vulnerable households are regularly integrated to social safety net programmes.
- Assist the newly needy with adequate levels of emergency and recovery assistance such as drought and conflict affected populations and other marginal rural communities (i.e., Bedouins in area C and people who live in the seam zone).
- Enhance the geographical targeting at locality level by linking the census 2007 data with the food security and socio economic survey data9.
- The survey shows that the most vulnerable groups in the West Bank can be found among camp residents. While camp residents figure most prominently among aid recipients, the current levels of assistance to this group should be sustained in order to offset their hardship. High food insecurity levels were also found among the rural population. Since the coverage of rural households in aid assistance programmes is relatively low, it is suggested to include needy rural households in the beneficiarycaseload. Agricultural related interventions are a possible entry point for targeting this group.
- In order to ensure that the needs of different target groups are addressed through appropriately tailored interventions, more collaboration across agencies specialized in different intervention areas is encouraged. Joint programme frameworks provide a good platform for integrating different agencies' approaches.
- Finally, close and regular monitoring of socio-economic and food security indicators is essential for adapting programme interventions to the rapidly changing socio-economic conditions impacting the living standards of Palestinian households. It is therefore recommended that such a monitoring system — one capable of producing timely and comprehensive data and capturing trends over time — be institutionalized within the regular Palestinian statistics information system.
The present Socio-Economic and Food Security survey report is part of the broader Socio-Economic and Food Security Monitoring System (SEFSec) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, an initiative supported by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). The SEFSec initiative emerges out of a need to capture rapidly changing socioeconomic and food security indicators in an extremely volatile socio-economic environment on a more regular basis, and on a scale that allows for the precise profiling of the vulnerable groups currently existing in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Due to the small sample size of the Palestinian Expenditure and Consumption Survey (PECS) in 2006 and 2007 and the timing of publication, the Palestinian Authority (PA) International organizations and United Nations (UN) agencies have had to rely on macro-level indicators, outdated information, ad-hoc surveys, proxies and telephone polls10. The SEFSec monitoring system is intended to fill this information gap by providing regular, timely and frequent updates on a series of fast moving indicators, according to the following criteria:
- food security (food acquisition, dietary diversity, households food insecurity access scale);
- income and consumption/expenditures patterns;
- coping mechanisms;
- assistance by type, value and source;
- socio-economic characteristics for households profiling and clustering;
- complementary information to compile Proxy Means Testing formula (which is used for beneficiary targeting by Deprived Families Economic Empowerment Programme (DEEP), the Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA) and the United Nations Work and Relief Agency (UNRWA));
- complementary information for the "resilience analysis module" designed by FAO (e.g., access to public services, asset base, resilience to shocks/change).
In order to make the collected data useful for programming purposes, the SEFSec was designed to be carried out on a relatively large sample size, so as to allow for data breakdowns by governorate, sex, age, refugee status, livelihood group and locality type. The sample size used for the SEFSec in the West Bank (4,791) is thus large enough to provide an accurate profile of the most vulnerable groups in the West Bank. By implementing the survey on a 6-monthly basis, it is hoped that the SEFSec monitoring system will be able to gauge the impact that the rapidly changing socio-economic factors have on these groups over time, so that response interventions can be reviewed and adjusted accordingly.
Furthermore, the report is published during a period in which several institutions, including the MoSA and UNRWA, are reforming their respective social safety net programmes to ensure better targeting and improved efficiency. The report intends to provide a solid evidence base to better inform these reform processes.
Improvements on the methodology
Over the past three years, WFP and FAO in collaboration with PCBS have worked consistently on developing and improving the methodology for this survey. The finalization of the methodology this year will allow for consistent monitoring of socio-economic and food security indicators in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and make it possible to capture trends over time. Major changes in the methodology over the past years include: the alignment of definitions with PCBS standard procedures; the possibility of creating linkages with the annual PCBS PECS data, which will enable linking the two data sets; changes in the food acquisition module, the assistance module and the income and expenditure modules, which enable more detailed data collection and deliver more accurate and reliable results. The introduction of the adult equivalence concept, which standardizes the estimate of the household's consumption needs according to the demographic structure of the various households against the standardized thresholds; and the update of the poverty line consistent with the national poverty line to reflect more recent socioeconomic circumstances affecting the Palestinian population. As a consequence of these new elements in the methodology, indicators collected under this survey round are not strictly comparable with those collected in past surveys. However, the finalization and institutionalization of the present methodology will allow for comparison with indicators collected during future survey rounds.
The methodology has been developed in close collaboration between WFP, FAO and PCBS. PCBS is officially mandated with collecting and disseminating statistics at national level and at present operates the annual PECS and the quarterly Labour Force Survey. All national and international agencies rely on PCBS data for their planning and monitoring, as no other official socioeconomic micro-level (household) monitoring system exists. Moreover, the combination of the well trained and experienced researchers and the wealth of information and data sets available have made PCBS the natural partner for the implementation of this survey and the provision of the type of analysis that is required to measure and assess the impact of recent developments on the socio-economic conditions of the Palestinians.
Besides working together to develop the methodology, WFP and FAO have over the past years developed a partnership with PCBS and invested in building the capacity of this institution with regard to food security data collection and analysis. While FAO and WFP are committed to providing technical and financial support in the initial implementation of the monitoring system, the medium term objective is to phase out external assistance and have the system fully institutionalized in PCBS as part of their core statistic system. In addition to the delivery of sound and timely statistics, there is a need to institutionalize PCBS's capacity to produce action-oriented data analysis aimed at informing national decision-making policy. The establishment of a national Food Security and Safety Council to monitor needs and guide response is key to ensuring the implementation of an appropriate and sustainable strategy that respond to food security issues in the oPt.
The SEFSec was initially supposed to be conducted simultaneously in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, at the beginning of 2009. However, the data collection in the Gaza Strip was impeded by the Israeli military operation Cast Lead during 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009. The offensive made access to households in the Gaza Strip extremely difficult during the first months of 2009. Furthermore, given the scale of destruction and losses experienced by the population in the Gaza Strip during Cast Lead, the questionnaire designed for the SEFSec survey was deemed inappropriate to the circumstances. Therefore, a slightly altered questionnaire, taking into consideration the situation in the immediate aftermath of the military operation, was developed by WFP, FAO and PCBS. The new questionnaire was employed in the Gaza Strip to conduct the survey in May and June 2009 on a sample size of 7,000 households (as opposed to the initially planned 2,500 households). The data collection has been completed and data entry and cleaning is underway. It is expected that results for the Gaza Strip will be available for publication in September 2009. Both West Bank and Gaza Strip will be included in the next round of data collection for the SEFSec monitoring system.
The present report is intended to provide readers with a general overview of the food security situation and trends affecting the West Bank during the second half of 2008. It is the first report out of a series of working papers and therefore only covers basic food security indicators. A number of in depth
analyses will follow the present publication, examining the issue of food security in the West Bank from different angles. The resulting findings are expected to complement the basic indicators described here and provide an additional basis for programme planning and policy making. Since the SEFSec monitoring system is intended to be user-driven, data users are strongly encouraged to provide us with their feedback and to submit specific queries regarding information gaps they might be facing within their respective intervention areas. Wherever the needed information can be extracted from the data, the WFP/FAO food security team would be happy to conduct the corresponding analysis.
The survey, conducted in January/February 2009 in the West Bank, was designed to meet following objectives:
1. Provide an overview of the socio-economic characteristics of households residing in the West Bank;
2. Differentiate among the socio-economic conditions of Palestinian households according to the criteria of geographic location, locality type, sex, refugee status, and livelihood group;
3. Assess the overall trends in income and expenditure of households in the West Bank over the past 6 months;
4. Assess the changes in food acquisition11 patterns and coping mechanisms (including the assistance);
5. Measure the assistance received by households and household's evaluation of this assistance; and
6. Provide evidence-based recommendations for food security policy and programming purposes.
The methodology used for this survey is largely consistent with the methodology used in the May 2008 Joint Rapid Food Security Survey in the Occupied Palestinian Territory conducted by WFP, FAO and UNRWA. Considering that the dataset is cross-sectional, the analysis is static, using only income and consumption. A third variable reflecting the changing socio-economic impact of Israeli measures was added to make the model more dynamic. These variables were used to cluster the data into three clusters of households that are homogeneous with respect to how they were impacted during the past 6 months by the Israeli measures. The households within the clusters were then classified according to their consumption and income levels (3 way crosstabs) based on which the food insecurity levels were determined (for detailed procedures and methodology please see annex I).
The results generated by the survey will be analyzed at four levels: governorate level; location with regard to the barrier; refugee status; and type of localities (urban, rural, and refugee camps). For this purpose, all 11 governorates of the West Bank where visited, including urban areas, rural areas and refugee camps.
Due to the fact that poverty thresholds for income and consumption should be set significantly higher in East Jerusalem — given the higher level of living standards and the difference in socioeconomic circumstances — including the East Jerusalem dataset would have distorted the overall findings for the West Bank. It was therefore decided that the East Jerusalem dataset would be excluded from the analysis. Thus, the analysis in the present report is limited to the remaining West Bank, which according to PCBS's definition refers to all of the West Bank except for those parts of Jerusalem annexed after the 1967 occupation by Israel. Any reference made to Jerusalem in this report refers to the area of Jerusalem not annexed to Israel in 196712. The report aligns all other definitions to PCBS standards and procedures. It is hoped that the current methodology will be fully institutionalized by PCBS in the framework of the SEFSec monitoring system. FAO and WFP have been supporting PCBS in this endeavor during the past three years.
3. SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONTEXT
3.1 Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
The following analysis of the socio–economic context in the West Bank is meant to provide background information on the main factors influencing its levels of food security during the second half of 2008. This section is based on secondary data and draws on studies conducted by specialized agencies — mainly the World Bank Economic Monitoring Report (June 2009), the UNRWA West Bank Labour Market Briefing Paper (2007-2008), as well as PCBS statistics. While the SEFSec survey questionnaire includes indicators relating to socio-economic variables, these are used solely to analyze their interrelations with food security levels, its causes and impacts and to profile vulnerable population groups.
The outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 and the consequent restrictions imposed by the Government of Israel on Palestinian movement of people and goods ever since have put a considerable strain on the Palestinian economy. High inflation contributed to the erosion of real wealth and incomes. Real GDP growth13 in the oPt in 2008 was estimated by the World Bank at approximately 2 percent, resulting in per capita income of just over USD 1,000 during the same period. Growth has been strongly curtailed by the continued blockade on the Gaza Strip since June 2007, and further exacerbated by the Israeli military operation in late December 2008 and early January 2009. Hence, positive growth rates can largely be attributed to the West Bank.
Goods and labour markets in the oPt are strongly affected by the stagnating economic environment. The unemployment rate (ILO standard), considerably high by international standards, experienced a substantial increase after the outbreak of the second intifada, reaching 31.3 percent in 2002. Since then the unemployment rate in the oPt gradually decreased until 2007, and increased again by 4.45 percent between 2007 and 2008.
As illustrated by the figure 2 below, the unemployment rate in the West Bank increased by 2.6 percent between the first and the second half of 2008, i.e., by 21,639 unemployed persons14. Non-refugees, among which the unemployment rate increased by 2.85 percent, were more affected than refugees whose unemployment rate increased by 1.64 percent.
In spite of the fact that 80 percent of all unemployed during the second half of 2008 were nonrefugees, overall unemployment remains slightly higher among refugees.
In the West Bank the unemployment rate differs considerably between governorates. In the first quarter of 2009, the highest level of unemployment was recorded in Tulkarem, with 26.3 percent, i.e., 15 percent higher than in the fourth quarter of 2008. As shown in table 2 below, the unemployment rate in Tulkarem between 2007 and 2009 was one of the highest in the West Bank. The lowest level of unemployment rate in 2009 was recorded in Jericho and Al-Aghwar, with only 6.2 percent.
Figure 3 below shows that the average daily nominal wage in the West Bank has consistentlybeen higher than the nominal wage in the Gaza Strip. In 2008, it measured NIS 85 in the West Bank and NIS 61 in the Gaza Strip. Daily wages increased in the West Bank in 2008 compared to 2007 by 8.6 percent, while in the Gaza Strip they decreased by 7 percent during the same period.
The CPI continued to increase in the Gaza Strip until October 2008, while it fluctuated in theWest Bank during the same period following an increasing trend. However, between December 2008 and May 2009, the Food CPI in Gaza experienced a more rapid increase than in the West Bank. This is mainly due to the tightened security restrictions and the recent military offensiveon Gaza, which affected the supplies of food commodities and caused a more severe soaring in the food prices in the Gaza Strip than in the West Bank.
In the West Bank CPI increased between the first and the second half of 200816: the overall CPI increased by 2 percent while the food CPI increased by 4 percent. A decrease of 3 percent can be noted in the food CPI between the second half of 2008 and the first half of 2009, hinting at an in improvement of the socio-economic situation after the survey was conducted.
The figures 6 and 7 below show the prices of three commodities, i.e., wheat flour, sugar andgreenhouse tomato. The price of wheat flour increased between April and May 2009, but decreased by 21 percent compared with May 2008 but still higher than the long term average. On the other hand, the price of sugar increased by 4 percent compared with April 2009 and also increased by 1 percent compared with May 2008. The price of wheat flour began to increase after February 2008 to reach the peak in May 2008 (NIS 221/50kg), while the sugar price increased after March 2008. The increment in prices during this period is a consequence of changes in the international prices, as flour and sugar are commodities imported from Israel. The tomato prices decreased in May 2009 compared with April 2009 (from 1.99/kg to NIS 1.91/kg) and with May 2008 by 4 percent and 21 percent respectively.
Besides the impact of international food price fluctuations, climatic circumstances have alsoimpacted the price of food. Local production of food as well as rural livelihoods depending on agricultural production have been hit hard in recent months: low rain precipitation, irregular distribution of rain water and rainfall delay caused failure of seed germination and very poor crop growth. These factors led to large fluctuations in the price of locally grown products. 55,000 rain-fed crop farmers and herder families have been affected by water scarcity during the winter season 2007/2008 and during the beginning of the winter season of 200917
4. ESTIMATES OF HOUSEHOLD FOOD INSECURITY
The following food security estimates are based on income and consumption poverty, as opposed to the food acquisition methodology (more precise but a too cumbersome data collection process for a rapid assessment) that was used in the Palestinian Public Perception 11th Survey in 2007. The table underneath provides a description of the four food security groups identified:
The findings show that 25 percent of the assessed West Bank population is food insecure, 11 percent is vulnerable to food insecurity, 29 percent is marginally food secure and 35 percent is food secure.
Given the revision of the methodology for the current survey, no conclusive comparison can be made between this year's findings and the results generated by the surveys conducted in 2006 and 2008. Nevertheless, it can be stated that during the past three years, food insecurity levels have fluctuated within the same range, i.e., around 25 percent prevalence among households in the remaining West Bank. Furthermore, the analysis breakdown shows that aggregate food insecurity levels tell us little about the dynamics affecting the Palestinian population. Rapidly changing socio-economic circumstances (e.g. PA salary suspension during almost 9 months in 2006, interruptions in the aid distribution cycles, climatic shocks, etc.) affect different groups in different ways. It is therefore important to look at the specific characteristics of the food insecure population and determine the specific factors that affect each group.
4.1 Food security levels by refugee status
Differences could be observed in the food security levels when comparing households with refugee and non-refugee status. Food insecurity is more prevalent among refugee families than non-refugee families by almost 4 percent. While the level of vulnerability to food insecurity is equal among refugees and non-refugees, the percentage of families with refugee status among marginally food secure and fully food secure households is lower than among non-refugee families. This indicates that overall, refugees are more food insecure than non-refugees.
4.2 Food security levels by locality type18
The survey shows that food security levels differ between population groups living in different types of localities. Food insecurity affects 29 percent of households in rural areas and camps. Households living in urban localities show to be better off compared to rural and camp dwellers, as a relatively high percentage of urban households (66 percent, compared to 60 percent among camp resident in rural households respectively) falls within the category of food secure or marginally food secure families. The trend seems opposed to findings from data collected during the first half of 2008, when urban dwellers resulted to be more vulnerable to food insecure, due to increasing food prices particularly in urban centers. However, both the overall CPI and the food CPI decreased in the West Bank during the second half of 2008, rendering food items more affordable to urban dwellers. Furthermore, it must be noted that employment has remained considerably more stable in urban areas, than in rural areas and camps: the unemployment rate in urban centers increased by 2.2 percent between the second and the fourth quarter of 2008, compared to a 6.1 percent increase in urban areas and a 3.5 percent increase in camps during the same period. This suggests that higher incomes and better employment opportunities lead to more stable livelihoods and more sustained access to food.
4.3 Food security levels by proximity to the separation barrier19
Looking at the food insecurity levels of households with regard to their location with respect to the Separation Barrier reveals that food insecurity levels are highest among households living in the Seam Zone (the area separated from the West Bank between the green line and the wall). The prevalence of food insecurity among this group affects 28 percent of households, 3 percent more than the average remaining West Bank. Households living near the West Bank Barrier on the Palestinian side do not seem to be particularly worse off than households not affected by the Barrier: both groups display equal levels of food insecurity (25 percent) and for both groups 64 percent of households are classified as either food secure or marginally food secure. The statistics indicate that the difficulties in access faced by families living in the Seam Zone quite significantly affect their livelihoods sustainability and as a consequence make them more vulnerable to food insecurity.
The implications of living in the Seam Zone on food security levels are further supported by the Figure 11 on the right. When comparing food insecurity among the refugee population only, food insecurity is higher among refugees living in the seam zone (33 percent, compared to 27.7 percent of the refugee average).
4.4 Food security at governorate level
The sample size used for the data collection allows for a breakdown of food insecurity levels in the different governorates in the West Bank. The geographical breakdown shows that food insecurity is highest among households living in the governorates of Jenin, Tubas and Hebron, where more than 30 percent of all households are estimated to be food insecure. Food insecurity affects more than 20 percent of all households in Jerusalem, Qalqilya and Tulkarem, while less that 20 percent of households in Ramallah and Al-Bireh, Nablus, Jericho, and Bethlehem are food insecure. The estimated food insecurity level is considerably lower in the governorate of Salfit, where only 9 percent of households suffer from food insecurity.
The data breakdown per governorate exemplifies that food insecurity is lowest in the central area of the West Bank (on average, 22 percent of the households are affected), reaches average levels in the North (25 percent of households) and the highest South (28 percent of households). It is likely that the Southern average is strongly affected by the high food insecurity levels recorded in the governorate of Hebron. This in turn could be explained by the fact that livelihoods in Hebron have suffered under increasing water scarcity over the past few years, undermining agricultural livelihoods, combined with settler violence and severe restrictions on movement, which have made it difficult for residents of the Southern governorates to pursue their professions in a sustainable way.
Food insecurity in Salfit
Due to the significantly lower food security levels in Salfit compared to all other governorates in the West Bank, some more in-depth information was extracted from the Salfit data during the analysis. It was found that even though the average income in Salfit compares unfavourably to the West Bank average (the average daily income per adult per day amounts to USD 5.5 in Salfit compared to the USD 6.7 West Bank average), average consumption levels in Salfit exceed average consumption levels in the overall West Bank: the average consumption level observed in Salfit is USD 7.7 per adult per day while it is USD 7.1 for the West Bank average. Similarly, the food consumption ratio in Salfit is lower compared to the remaining West Bank average by 2 percent. This surprising result can be explained through two factors.
Firstly, the contribution of own production towards household consumption in Salfit is much higher than in other governorates: 70 percent of Salfit households derive 50 NIS of their adult equivalent monthly consumption from the households own food production. This compares favorably to the West Bank average, where own household production contributed to the consumption of only 30 percent of households.
Secondly, aid recipients in Salfit received higher levels of assistance than in other governorates pertaining to the West Bank. The average monthly assistance received by a household in Salfit during the second half of 2008 amounted to as much as NIS 218, compared to only 180 NIS on average per household in the overall West Bank. Furthermore, out of the households receiving some form of aid support, 61 percent of recipient households in Salfit indicated that they would not have been able to manage without it, while only 31 percent of aid recipient household made the same claim for the remaining West Bank.
The example of Salfit raises two important issues. It shows that families who are able to rely on their own production for food intake are less vulnerable to price and supply shocks, and thus their food security levels are more stable. Furthermore, it suggests that higher value assistance packages are more likely to have a significant impact on poverty levels, as beneficiaries are more likely to be lifted above the poverty threshold.
4.5 Food security by household gender and age composition
The survey shows that the gender composition of a household also has an impact on the households’ food security outcome. While the prevalence of a fully acceptable food security level is equal between male and female headed households, with 35 percent, significant differences can be found when looking at prevalence of food insecurity. The survey found that 31 percent of female headed households are currently food insecure, compared to 24 percent of male headed households, and compared to the 25 percent remaining West Bank average. In 2006, food insecurity prevalence among female headed households was 22 percent, compared to 19 percent prevalence among male households and the 20 percent national average.
Similarly, a higher share of female members within the household increases the likelihood of the household to be food insecure: the food insecurity prevalence among households with more than 50 percent women is 29 percent, compared to the 25 percent remaining West Bank average. This is consistent with the fact that the prevalence of food insecurity among female adult individuals is higher than the prevalence among male adult individuals by 2 percent (27 percent compared to 25 percent).
A further element increasing the likelihood for a household to fall within the food insecure category is a high number of children20: among families with more than 50 percent of children members the food security prevalence was 29 percent, compared to the 25 percent remaining West Bank average. Furthermore, the child ratio among food insecure families is 45 percent compared to the national average of 41 percent, and 37 percent among food secure families. Finally, the percentage of food insecure children is higher than the percentage of food secure children by 6 percent: of all children in the West Bank, 48 percent are food insecure while 42 percent are food secure.
Finally, the household size also has an impact on the food security level of a family. The average household size among food insecure households is 6.3 family members, compared to the average household size of 4.7 family members among food security households.
5. LIVELIHOODS AND ACCESS TO FOOD
Rather than being a matter of unavailability of food items, the problem of food insecurity in the West Bank is mainly a consequence of inadequate economic access to food. As illustrated in the chapter on food expenditure (p.28), households in the remaining West Bank spend increasing shares of their overall expenditure on food items. Socio-economic factors such as employment, income levels and livelihood stability, combined with increasing prices, strongly influence the population's purchasing power, thus rendering food security a sub-set of consumption poverty.
As developed in chapter two, unemployment levels in the oPt are extremely high, mainly as a consequence of restrictive measures imposed by the Government of Israel hindering private sector abilities to create jobs. High unemployment rates combined with low wages affect people’s income, often leading them to reduce their expenditure and consumption. Increases in the overall CPI, and in the food CPI in particular, over the past year have exacerbated households’ ability to afford food in sufficient quality and quantity. Figure 12 below supports this argument, showing that the prevalence of food insecurity among households is consistent with the prevalence of unemployment of the household head.
Furthermore, in food insecure households, typically more people depend on the income earned for each employed family member: the average dependency ratio among food insecure population is 6.85, compared to 3.7 among food secure population.
5.1 Employment status, sources of income and food security
Among families whose household head is an unpaid family member food insecurity prevalence is 34 percent. The second group most affected by food insecurity are families whose household head has irregular wage labour status (27 percent of food insecurity prevalence), followed by self-employed head of households (25 percent). This can be explained by the fact that both irregular wage workers and self-employed laborers depend on unsteady incomes which undermine their regular access to sufficient quantity and quality foods. By contrast, families whose heads of household are employers or regular wage workers display high levels of food security, with 51 percent and 49 percent food security prevalence respectively, again suggesting that stable and secure incomes are conducive to appropriate economic access to food21.
As illustrated in table 4 below, the pattern of the different sources of incomes mentioned by households in the West Bank is different for food insecure and food secure households. For instance wage employment, income from private business, social insurance and pensions are more typically mentioned by food secure households. Conversely, income from cash assistance, transfers from family and friends and unemployment subsidies (including cash for work) were more frequently quoted by food insecure households, indicating that this latter group relies on formal or informal social benefits to greater degree.
In terms of type of occupation22, the highest share of food insecure households was found among low income occupations, including agricultural labour (33 percent), elementary occupations such as cleaners and garbage collectors (32 percent) and machine operators (25 percent). On the other hand, food insecurity was lowest among legislators and management personnel and specialists (4 percent respectively), professionals (9 percent) and clerks (13 percent), all types of occupations likely to rely on comparatively high and/or stable incomes, 21 In while food insecurity was slightly below the average among people working in crafts and related trade or services. This ranking reinforces the proposition that food security in the West Bank is strongly correlated to livelihoods stability and income levels.
When comparing income levels, it becomes evident, that the revenue is a crucial element in determining food security: the average income level earned among food secure households amounts to 1,537 NIS/adult equivalence/month, 5 times as much as the average income earned among food insecure households amounting to 303 NIS/adult equivalence/month. Differences in income level between food secure and food insecure households can also be observed where the sources of income are the same. For example, average income from wage employment among food insecure families is 300 NIS/adult equivalence/month, compared to 1,027 NIS/adult equivalence/month among food secure families (see Figure 18 below).
5.2 Place of work
With regard to the place of work, the highest food insecurity levels can be found among families whose head of household works within the same dwelling, community or governorate. Food insecurity prevalence among this group is 21 percent, while vulnerability to food insecurity amounts to 12 percent. In comparison, food insecurity levels among households with members employed in other governorates or Israel/settlements are lower, with food insecurity and vulnerability prevalence combined at 27 percent among families with members employed in Israel/settlements, and 19 percent among families with members employed in other governorates. By the same token, food security is more wide-spread among households with members working in other governorates (52 percent), followed by households with members working in Israel/settlements (41 percent). This can be explained by the fact that many public and private sector employees typically travel outside their governorates to assume their positions in Ramallah, while employees working in Israel or settlements are likely to earn higher wages than the average employee in the West Bank.
In total, 55 percent of the surveyed households reported that their total income has not changed in the second half of 2008, while 40 percent reported a decrease in their total income during the same period. Reductions in income were relatively higher among camp dwellers, where 42 percent reported an income decrease, compared to 39 percent in rural areas and 40 percent in urban centers. Changes in income have a strong impact on expenditure and consumption, as households are less able to afford goods in the same quantity and quality. As expected, as many as 48 percent of households reported a decrease in overall expenditure. Surprisingly, even though camp dwellers were among those who suffered most from decreases in family income, their level of expenditure seems to be more stable than expenditure levels among urban and rural residents: 39 percent of households in camps reported a sustained level of expenditure during the second half of 2008, compared to only 26 percent in urban centers and 22 percent in rural areas. This could indicate that assistance programs, of which camp residents are often the target groups, contribute to mitigating some of the negative impacts of decreases in income (See also food expenditure over total expenditure on p.28).
Agricultural land ownership in the West Bank
Out of the 398,873 households in the West Bank, 25 percent (i.e., 99,763 households) own agricultural land in the West Bank. Only 5 percent (21,923 households) are livestock owners. The majority of households owning agricultural land in the West Bank is concentrated in the governorates of Hebron (23 percent), Nablus (17 percent) and Ramallah and Al Bireh (15 percent), followed by Bethlehem (9 percent) and Tulkarem (9 percent). However, when comparing the distribution of households owning land within the governorates, it appears that the highest proportion of families owning agricultural land can be found in Salfit (37 percent), Tubas (32 percent), Tulkarem (29 percent), and Jenin (28 percent). The share of households owning agricultural land in the governorates of Jerusalem and Jericho is relatively low, with 8 percent and 16 percent respectively. In the remaining governorates land ownership gravitates around the average, with 27 percent of families in Nablus, Ramallah and Albireh owning agricultural land, 25 percent in Bethlehem and 21 percent Qalqilya. The average size of agricultural land is biggest in the central governorates with 16.5 dunums, followed by 13.3 dunums in the Northern governorates and 10.7 dunums in the South. However, the median size in all areas is relatively low, ranging from 2 dunums in the Southern area to 3 dunums in the Central area to 3.5 dunums in the North, confirming that the majority of agricultural land owners in the West Bank are small-holderfarmers.
Of all the households resident in rural areas, 39 percent claim ownership of agricultural land, compared to 21 percent in urban areas and 6 percent in refugee camps. Yet it is interesting to note that the majority (55 percent) of land owners across the West Bank are in urban centers, while 43 percent live in rural areas and only 1 percent in refugee camps.
The most frequent use made of agricultural land mentioned by households is fruit tree planting (76 percent), followed by field crop planting (19 percent) and vegetable planting (17 percent). 20 percent of households mentioned that they were currently not planting their land.
Land ownership and food security
Of all families owning agricultural land, 35 percent are food secure, 33 percent are marginally secure, 12 percent are vulnerable to food insecurity and 21 percent are food insecure, indicating that agricultural land ownership is more prevalent among food secure groups. Nevertheless, the most typically owned size of agricultural land by both food secure and food insecure groups is 1 dunum, confirming that the majority of agricultural land owners in the remaining West Bank are small-holder farmers.
The uses made of planted land differed slightly between food secure and food insecure households: 81 percent of food secure households use the land to plant fruit trees, compared to 68 percent of food insecure households, suggesting a high reliance on fruit trees (especially olive trees) across the entire population. However, food insecure families are more heavily involved in planting field crops (22 percent of families) and planted vegetables (17 percent of families) than food secure families (16 and 15 percent respectively). A larger share of food secure households (23 percent, compared to 16 percent among food insecure households) leaves its land unplanted. This can be explained by the fact that food secure families probably rely on other income sources.
Figure 20: Distribution of land ownership across food security levels
6. EXPENDITURE ON FOOD
6.1 Overall household expenditure and expenditure on food
When asked whether their expenditure had changed in the past six months, about 48 percent of the surveyed households report a decrease in total expenditure, and 42 percent a reduced expenditure on food. It is important to note that, due to increasing prices and diminishing incomes during the second half of 2008, the decrease in expenditure means that families were able to buy less food items and were forced to substitute normal foods with cheaper/less desirable items. If the expenditure increases, it means that these households were able to keep up with the food price inflation and managed to keep their consumption pattern. Finally, households who maintained the same food expenditure level purchased lower quantity and/or they shifted to cheaper substitute foods.
Households that reported a reduction in food consumption indicated that they did so by reducing the quality (37 percent) and quantity (34 percent) that they usually buy/consume. Among the households reporting a reduction in quantity of food purchased, 49 percent mentioned a reduction in quantity of meat, 43 percent talked about a reduction in quantity of fruits purchased and 35 percent stated a reduction in quantity of milk.
The survey could not cover the food utilization dimension related to nutrition and food intake, as this requires specific data collection mechanisms and in-depth analysis23.
6.2 Food expenditure out of total expenditure on the rise
The proportion of food expenditure over the total expenditure is also very high, with an average
49 percent of household total expenditure spent solely on food. This is an alarming level when compared to the threshold adapted by PCBS to classify households by their standards of living. PCBS defines the worse-off households to be those with food a consumption ratio exceeding 44 percent, which is the case for 35 percent of households during the second half of 2008. The rising proportion of expenditure devoted to food over the total is an effect of combined factors, such as: (i) higher food prices; (ii) less expenditure devoted to recreational and other items; and (iii) lower purchasing capacity and lower incomes which are raising the overall weight of the food component in the household economy. Households have to buy less food with the same or
higher amount spent on it.
6.3 Households' purchase of food on credit
On average, 49 percent of the Palestinian households purchase food on credit. However, of the households reporting purchasing food on credit, registered refugee households (50 percent in the WB) seem to rely on credit for their food purchase more than non-refugee households (48 percent). The share of families relying on credit for food purchase is highest in refugee camps, where it reaches to 57 percent. The respective survey results by locality type are shown in the Figure below.
As expected, the percentage of households purchasing food on credit among the households classified as food secure is lowest, with 33 percent, and second lowest among families classified as marginally secure (54 percent). Surprisingly, the prevalence of households purchasing food on credit is higher by 2 percent among households vulnerable to food security than among households classified as food insecure. This could be attributed to the fact that households vulnerable to food insecurity have a higher credit ceiling with food retailers than food insecure households.
Figure 23: Distribution of households who purchase/
do not purchase food on credit by food security level
7. CURRENT SHOCKS, RISKS AND COPING MECHANISMS
7.1 Difficulties faced by households
Data in Table 5 below shows that 97 percent of the households in the remaining West Bank were affected by the increase in the prices of the food products during the second half of 2008. Increases in food prices have affected different food security levels more or less equally. Furthermore, 54 percent of the households pointed out the existence of a sick member in the household during the same period. In addition 19 percent of the households stated that they faced difficulties or problems in accessing workplace or market or farmlands, while 14 percent reported losses in assistance and 10 percent the loss of the main bread winner’s job. There are no significant differences in difficulties faced across different food security groups, with the exception of reduction in aid assistance and loss of the main bread winners’ job, which were more prevalent among food insecure households.
Table 5: Percentage of households in the West Bank who faced
difficulties during the second half of 2008 by food security level
Close to 10 percent (i.e., around 10,000) of the households owning agricultural land considered it difficult, very difficult or almost impossible to tend their land during the second half of 2008. Among those owning and planting their land, 59 percent cited restrictions on movement within the West Bank as the main source of difficulty to properly attend to their land. The duration of transportation was mentioned as the second main source of difficulty (53 percent), followed by transportation costs (27 percent). Further impediments included difficulties in obtaining permits within the West Bank (9 percent), restrictions on movement to East Jerusalem (9 percent) and difficulties in obtaining permits to go to Israel (5 percent).
In order to absorb the shocks stemming from reduced incomes and eroding livelihoods, households in the West Bank resort to a series of mechanisms, which allow them to make ends meet. The most frequently used coping strategies are listed in section 7.2 below.
7.2 General coping strategies
Table 6 provides an overview of the strategies most frequently used during the survey recall period by different food security groups. The coping mechanism most frequently employed by all four food security groups was the non-payment of utility bills, with 52 percent of all households. 22 percent of all households in the West Bank resorted to their life savings during the second half of 2008, while 15 percent reduced expenditure on health and education during the same period. As expected, all types of coping mechanisms were most frequently employed by food insecure households, with the exception of using life savings, which was only mentioned by 18 percent of food insecure households compared to the 22 percent remaining West Bank average. This may be explained by the fact that food insecure households are typically relying on lower and less regular incomes, and thus may not have sufficient savings to resort to in times of hardship.
7.3 Coping strategies related to food consumption
Besides using general coping strategies, households in the West Bank also frequently resorted to food consumption related coping mechanisms to offset some of their difficulties. Again, concentration for these strategies was highest among food insecure families. Most commonly, households reduced their expenditure on food by decreasing either the quantity or the quality of food purchased or by purchasing food on credit (for details see section on food expenditure). 14 percent of households reduced the numbers of meals eaten in the week preceding the survey, with 22 percent of food insecure families employing this strategy compared to 15 percent of vulnerable families and marginally good secure families respectively, and 8 percent of food secure households. A further 14 percent of households reduced the adult food consumption in favour of their children, with 19 percent of food insecure households resorting to this mechanism, 17 percent among vulnerable households, 15 percent of marginally food secure households and 8 percent of food secure families.
8. HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE AND TARGETING
In total, 31 percent of households reported to have been the beneficiaries of aid interventions24 during the second half of 2008. The types of assistance covering most households in the West Bank during that period were food assistance and cash handouts, received by 52.2 percent and 35.4 percent of all households respectively, that were targeted with assistance during this period. Medical assistance in the form of medicines, treatment and/or medical insurance was provided to 4.8 percent of the households receiving support, followed by employment creation schemes (3.4 percent of households), support towards education fees (2.2 percent of households). Income generating activities were targeted at only 0.1 percent of the households receiving assistance between July 2008 and January 2009.
Figure 24: Types of assistance provided in the West Bank during the second half of 2008
The principal source of assistance continues to be UNRWA, representing the first source of support for 35 percent of households receiving aid, and the second source of assistance for 22 percent. The PNA, mainly through the MoSA25, represents a further major source of assistance, with 21 percent of households declaring PNA support as their main source of assistance and 29 percent mentioning it as their second source. Informal support networks (support from friends and family) are extremely important within the context of the West Bank, as they provide the third main source of assistance in the form of help received from family and friends. 27 percent of respondents listed family and friends as a source of second, and 36 percent as third source of support. Other sources of assistance include international organizations, national and international Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), local councils and religious institutions26. The below table provides an overview of the significance of each of the assistance sources.
When comparing the level of assistance received across different locality types, it can be noted that aid support covers the majority of families residing in refugee camps. 68 percent of camp dwellers reported to have received some type of assistance during the second half of 2008, compared to 33 percent of all rural households and 27 percent of urban residents. Of the registered refugee families 44 percent received a form of assistance during the last 6 months of 2008, compared to 25 percent of non-refugee families. Finally, assistance programmes included 60 percent of female headed households into their caseload, while the coverage of male headed households amounted to 27 percent.
The vast majority of households receiving aid declared themselves either very satisfied (24 percent) or satisfied (59 percent) with the benefits received, while 14 percent considered themselves not satisfied or not satisfied at all. The main reason given for non-satisfaction was the frequency of assistance received (given by 46 percent of unsatisfied households), followed by quantity received (36 percent of households) and quality (16 percent).
The figures described above show that international aid continues to be a paramount coping strategy for many Palestinian families living in the West Bank. Particularly in the environment of economic downturn characterizing 2008, many people struggle to sustain their livelihoods and earn an income sufficient to ensure an acceptable living standard, including the adequate access to sufficient quantities of nutritious foods. Of the households receiving some form of assistance, only 6 percent declared that it did not significantly affect their quality of life. 49 percent considered it a welcome additional source of income or that it contributed to alleviating their situation of hardship. As many as 31 percent of households receiving aid in the last six months of 2008 claim that they would not have been able to manage without it, while 11 percent found that the received assistance helped the household to carry on with some degree of difficulty.
This section refers to all type of assistance — not specifically targeted at food insecurity — including food aid, cash aid, medical assistance, job creation schemes, support towards education fees and assistance targeted at income generating activities. When comparing the level of assistance with the corresponding food insecurity levels in each governorate, it can be noted that assistance does not always target the most food insecure. The figure below
compares the number of households that have received assistance in the past six months to the number of food insecure households. It can be noted from the graph that assistance levels are not always consistent with food insecurity levels.
The figure shows that Qalqilya, Jenin and Jerusalem are among the governorates receiving relatively low levels of assistance, while at the same time displaying high levels of food insecurity. Similarly, the governorate of Hebron which is strongly affected by food insecurity, only benefits from average assistance levels. On the other hand, governorates like Nablus, Tulkarem, Jericho, Ramallah and Albireh, Bethlehem and Salfit, which display below average levels of food insecurity, are disproportionately targeted with assistance. The variation between the level of food insecurity and the degree of response/assistance is due to the lack of accurate information at locality level for the food security and socio-economic indicators. There is an
urgent need to link the census 2007 data with the SEFSec data to enhance the targeting at locality level27.
Analysis of assistance distribution across different categories of food security also suggests a degree of mistargeting. Many of the households classified as food insecure reported not to have received any type of assistance during the second half of 2008. On the other hand, a number of households falling within the food secure category were beneficiaries of some type of aid programme during the same period.
When asked why in their opinion they were not being targeted with assistance, 71 percent of households reported that they had not applied for any kind of assistance and thought that this was the main reason. Moreover, 4 percent thought that their living in a wealthy area precluded them from being considered as potential beneficiaries. Another 2 percent considered the fact that they were residing in a remote location an obstacle to receiving assistance.
The emerging problem of mistargeting is most likely influenced by several factors. Firstly, it is common for beneficiaries to underreport their received assistance. Nevertheless, the exclusion and inclusion error emerging from the analysis is significant enough to raise substantial concerns about the targeting mechanisms used for aid distribution during the period of the survey. Secondly, the regular food distribution of UNRWA, one of the main food assistance providers in the West Bank, was disrupted in 2008. This may have contributed to both the high percentage of people not receiving assistance in the last 6 months, and influenced the recall or perception that assistance was not received in a timely way. Third, even though the poverty rate has stayed stable around 24 percent between 2007 and 2008, the population of the West Bank has increased. As a consequence the absolute number of people under the poverty line has increased by 16,642 individuals (3,026 households) between 2007 and 2008, and it is likely that many of these families were not included in any of the aid organizations' caseloads. Finally, while many of the major social safety net providers, including UNRWA, MoSA, WFP28 and others, are currently in the process of updating their caseloads and reviewing their targeting mechanisms thus already addressing the issue of mistargeting, it must be noted that the targeting mechanisms have so far been too static to keep up with the extremely volatile socioeconomic environment affecting Palestinian households. While beneficiary lists are updated after long intervals, frequent livelihood shocks often change the profile of households in need of assistance. As a consequence, "newly vulnerable" groups are likely to fall through the cracks of aid programmes. Flexible targeting mechanisms with the capacity to capture frequent changes in the socio-economic status of beneficiary groups are urgently needed to avoid aid leakages and ensure improved inclusion of the needy.
A further issue that emerges from the data analysis relates to the quantities of distributed assistance. The data suggest that aid has a more visible impact where the value of assistance per household is higher (for example in the governorate of Salfit). This can be explained by the fact that a low value assistance package may prevent a household from falling deeper into poverty, it is not sufficient to lift a household above the poverty threshold. This is to some degree justified, given that humanitarian assistance (as opposed to development interventions) by definition aims at providing temporary relief rather than sustainable solutions. Nevertheless, further analysis on the impact of humanitarian aid packages with regard to the socio-economic status of beneficiaries could help informing discussions both around the appropriate quantity of humanitarian assistance provided, and the suitability of different kinds of interventions.
The below table describes the distribution of assistance by type of locality and refugee status. The second column shows that on average the value of assistance per household received is higher among non-refugees than among refugees. Beneficiaries residing in rural areas receive the highest average value of assistance, corresponding to 198 NIS/month, compared to 173 NIS/month in urban centers and 167 NIS/month in camps. The lowest value of assistance is received by refugees not resident in camps, with 157 NIS/month. While refugees receive lower value assistance packages, the overall coverage of the refugee population is considerably higher than the national average, with 68 percent of refugees residing in camps and 44 percent of the
overall refugee population receiving assistance. This is largely corresponding to the levels of food insecurity, which amount to 29 percent (4 percent above the national average) in refugee camps and to 28 percent (3 percent above the national average) among the overall refugee population29. Coverage in rural areas, where food security levels are similarly high, is much lower, with only 33 percent of households receiving some type of assistance. However, the best level of targeting seems to be achieved in rural areas, where 39 percent of those receiving assistance fall within the food insecure category, compared to 33 percent in urban areas and 34 percent in refugee camps.
Food insecurity in the oPt is the consequence of a deepening livelihoods crisis, in which more and more Palestinians are less able to rely on their habitual income sources. Enhancing and protecting livelihood opportunities is fundamental to halting the deterioration in food insecurity levels. Nevertheless, if systematic Israeli restrictions on movement of people and good, access to land and water and working permits31 persist, the development of local industries and the expansion of livelihood opportunities will remain limited in the West Bank. Bearing in mind the unresolved political dimension and its impact on employment, income and food security, the following technical recommendations should be considered to strengthen the food security of the West Bank population.
The survey indicates that food insecurity in the West Bank is primarily a consequence of income poverty and livelihoods erosion, leading to increased difficulties of households to afford sufficient quantities of quality food. It is therefore suggested that greater efforts be devoted to protecting livelihoods and creating sustainable employment opportunities, particularly targeting those segments of the population that are slightly above the poverty threshold, and therefore vulnerable to shocks, or just below the poverty threshold and could therefore be lifted out of their current situation with relatively more ease. Such initiatives could include support to small businesses through micro-finance schemes and technical capacity building, as well as interventions to promote food production and processing to increasingly target local food markets.
While it is important to provide more sustainable options and to protect the livelihoods of people that have not yet fallen into the poverty trap, relief assistance and social safety net schemes in the form of food and cash distributions remain essential to assist households facing extreme hardship. For many households aid assistance represents a substantial income source that they rely on for their regular food consumption. It is recommended that this type of assistance is targeted more accurately at groups facing deep poverty. These include households whose livelihoods are under threat as a consequence of the barrier and other restrictions on freedom of movement imposed by the Government of Israel.
The survey findings suggest a relatively high degree of mistargeting when it comes to assistance, leading to needy families being excluded from aid programmes, while less needy households benefit from assistance. The main social safety net providers, including UNRWA, WFP and MoSA, are currently undergoing major efforts to reform their respective targeting mechanisms. It is therefore expected that the margin of mistargeted households will decrease substantially with the activated reforms. However, given the rapidly changing socio-economic circumstances affecting livelihoods in the West Bank, it is important that targeting mechanisms are rendered more flexible so as to ensure that newly vulnerable households are regularly integrated to social safety net programmes.
- Assist the newly needy with adequate levels of emergency and recovery assistance such as drought and conflict affected populations and other marginal rural communities (i.e., Bedouins in area C and people who live in the seam zone).
- Enhance the geographical targeting at locality level by linking the census 2007 data with the food security and socio economic survey data32.
- The survey shows that the most vulnerable groups in the West Bank can be found among camp residents. While camp residents figure most prominently among aid recipients, the current levels of assistance to this group should be sustained in order to offset their hardship. High food insecurity levels were also found among the rural population. Since the coverage of rural households in aid assistance programmes is relatively low, it is suggested to include needy rural households in the beneficiary caseload. Agricultural related interventions are a possible entry point for targeting this group.
- In order to ensure that the needs of different target groups are addressed through appropriately tailored interventions, more collaboration across agencies specialized in different intervention areas is encouraged. Joint programme frameworks provide a good platform for integrating different agencies' mandates and approaches.
- Finally, close and regular monitoring of socio-economic and food security indicators is essential for adapting programme interventions to the rapidly changing socio-economic conditions impacting the living standards of Palestinian households. It is therefore recommended that such a monitoring system — one capable of producing timely and comprehensive data and capturing trends over time — be institutionalized within the regular Palestinian statistics information system.
- ANNEX – FOOD SECURITY ANALYSIS METHODOLOGY
The methodology was designed based on PCBS Impact of Israeli Measures dataset for April-June 2006. The survey consisted of 8,081 households. A total of 21 households were removed from the analysis due to missing data and 17 were removed for being outliers. The final analysis is
based on a sample of 8,043 households.
Selection of variables and methodological framework
The variables used to assess food security were chosen in three steps.
- First, review of the 2003 Comprehensive Food Security Assessment33 and qualitative information gathered for this study34 confirmed macro-level analysis of aggregate data suggesting that food security in the oPt is primarily a function of food access.
- Second, the variable most related to food access is income however, due to the fact that it is usually underestimated in the household surveys; consumption35 was also included in the analysis.
- Third, considering that the available datasets are a cross-section, the analysis is going to be static, using only income and consumption. A third variable reflecting the changing socioeconomic impact of Israeli measures was added to make the model more dynamic.
- Considering the multiplicity of indicators, several clustering techniques were run on the variables to identify the latent pattern of the data. The process generated three distinct clusters, with strong internal homogeneity. Characteristics of the three clusters are shown on the chart below.
Each cluster represents the extent to which the household was impacted in the past 12 months. The level of impact is defined by decreases in expenditure patterns and correlated to financial steadfastness and household size. Subsequently, a three-way cross-tabulation was performed on consumption, income (using both official thresholds: the "deep poverty rate" of USD 1.6/capita/day and the "relative poverty rate" of $2.2/capita/day) and the three clusters. This produced a decision matrix, which was subjected to a focus group discussion, through which local experts generated the four food security groupings.
1Compared 4th quarter of 2008 with 3rd quarter of same year the unemployment rate deceased except for Tulkarem and Jerusalem.
2 Compared 1st quarter of 2009 with 4th quarter of 2008 the unemployment rate deceased except for Salfit, Bethlehem and Hebron.
3FAO, UNRWA, WFP, Joint Rapid Food Security Survey in the oPT, May 2008.
4PCBS defines the worse-off households to be those with food a consumption ratio exceeding 44 percent
5Source: MoA appeal to alleviate the impact of drought conditions and soaring prices on the livelihoods of vulnerable farmers in the oPT, August 2008.
6 PCBS prices database.
7Assistance comprises food, cash and other type of assistance.
8 MoSA programmes include cash and food for the social hardship cases. Food assistance is implemented through WFP while cash assistance is provided through the PEGASE funding mechanism.
9 There is a need to produce a poverty map at locality level to enhance the targeting at locality level.
10 This does not fully apply to UNRWA, who is recently rolling out its targeting mechanism and in the process has gained access to detailed information on the living levels of its beneficiary caseload.
11Food acquisition: from purchase, self-production and gifts (both formal and informal assistance). In the oPt food acquisition mainly depends on household purchasing power, which in turn mainly depends on income (hence employment) and price levels. However, assistance plays a major role in food security and should be regularly monitored to infer impact on household socio-economic status.
12 The analysis of socio-economic and food security indicators for the area of Jerusalem annexed by Israel in 1967 can be published in a separate report.
13 This growth rate is less than what was before the second Intifada; i.e. the real GDP grew in 1999 by 9%.
14 Unemployment also increased in the West Bank by 0.4 percent between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the PCBS quarterly labour surveys.
15 Since the data in this table relies on secondary sources, unemployment rates for Jerusalem include boththe area of Jerusalem annexed by Israel in 1967 and the area of Jerusalem currently pertaining to the remaining West Bank.
16 The second half of 2008 is the reference period of the present household survey.
17 Source: MoA appeal to alleviate the impact of drought conditions and soaring prices on the livelihoods
of vulnerable farmers in the oPT, August 2008.
18 Out of the total number of households in the West Bank, 70 percent live in urban areas, 25 percent live in rural areas and 5 percent in refugee camps.
19 No comparison to previous years is possible for the breakdown by proximity to the Separation Barrier, as this variable was introduced in 2009 for the first time.
20 According to PCBS standard procedure, children are defined as people below the age of 18 years.
21 In 2006 the suspension of PA salaries had adverse effects on PA employee families.
22 The occupation categories mentioned in this paragraph are in accordance with the occupation classifications used by PCBS (International Standard Classification of Occupation).
23 It is hoped that PCBS will run a food consumption survey in the future to fill an important gap in the linkage between socio-economic indicators and actual food intake.
24Aid intervention include cash, food assistance, health assistance, furniture, clothes, job creation (cash for work), education equipment and inputs, tools and equipments for income generating activities.
25 MoSA programmes include cash and food for the social hardship cases. Food assistance is implemented through WFP while cash assistance is provided through the PEGASE funding mechanism.
26 After June 2007 administrative measures affected local charities’ capacity to raise funds and deliver services to needy households. Further research is necessary to ensure that beneficiaries of these charities continue to have access to services.
27 There is a need to produce a poverty map at locality level to enhance the targeting at locality level.
28 In August 2009, WFP is finalizing a “Review of Targeting under WFP’s Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation 10387.1 in the West Bank”. The reviewhas been elaborated by Al Sahel based on qualitative and quantitative assessment of all WFP programme modalities (Assistance to Destitute, Assistance to Vulnerable Groups, Food for Work, Food for Training, Life Skills and School Feeding).
29 Some cost-free services to refugees are not considered in these statistics, e.g. health and education services.
30 The average estimated monthly value of the food assistance is 130 NIS and 300 NIS for cash assistance.
31 For further information on livelihood in the oPT and impact of the Barrier in the West Bank: OCHA, "Five Years after the international Court of Justice Advisory Opinion . A summary of the humanitarian impact of the Barrier", July 09 / ODI . HPG Working Paper, "Losing ground : Protection and livelihoods in the oPT", July 09.
32 There is a need to produce a poverty map at locality level to enhance the targeting at locality level.
33Executive Report of the Food Security Assessment, West Bank and Gaza Strip, FAO with WFP, Rome, 2003.
34Al-Sahel Company for Institutional Development and Communication. (2006). Rapid Qualitative Verification Assessment in the oPt. Commissioned by WFP.
35 Consumption (expenditure) is often considered as a proxy for income as a more reliable variable.
36 The fourth column gives the proportions of the households that can steadfast for at least 4 months.