WFP Palestine Country Brief, December 2016 – WFP update


• Thanks to cooperating partners, in December, WFP assisted more than 480,000 food insecure non-refugees in Gaza and the West Bank through both cash-based r. transfers (CBT), using an electronic voucher redeemable in local shops, and direct food assistance. Of those assisted, more than 35,000 were vulnerable Bedouins and herders in Area C of the West Bank.

• Funding constraints forced WFP to reduce its voucher value by 20 percent during December. This affected the food security of 180,000 people in both Gaza and the West Bank, and halve the in-kind food entitlements of 89,000 people in Gaza. Under its current operation, in 2017, WFP require USD 21.1 million to provide food assistance to 500,000 non-refugees in the next six months.

WFP Assistance

Under its Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) 200709, with an approved budget of USD 210 million over 2015-2017, WFP has three objectives: 1) meeting urgent food needs and enhancing the food consumption and dietary diversity of the most vulnerable non-refugee populations; 2) supporting livelihoods, fostering early recovery and enhancing the resilience and coping mechanisms of fragile communities in the face of socio­economic hardships; 3) supporting the Palestinian Authority's capacity to deliver cost-effective and protective national safety nets, and strengthening its readiness to respond to external shocks, in collaboration with United Nations agencies.

WFP links its food assistance to local production and uses its purchasing power to foster agricultural development and connect small-scale producers, food-processors, retailers and consumers. Since 2011, WFP has invested more than USD 215 million in the Palestinian economy, including USD 135 million through CBTs. Approximately 96 percent of WFP food items available through CBTs are produced and/or processed locally.

In 2009, WFP Palestine pioneered the first CBT assistance modality in the Middle-East. The platform has since been upgraded, taking advantage of new technologically-advanced systems and processes to allow for rapid scale­up, real-time payment and monitoring. WFP's CBT platform allows for a flexible, rapidly-scalable and multi-stakeholder humanitarian response in times of crisis, fostering aid complementarity, cost-effectiveness and impact. Use of an "electronic wallet" made it possible for other organizations to deliver assistance through the same card. During the 2014 Gaza war, WFP was able to reach more than 300,000 people in less than two weeks with CBTs, including 84,000 who received complementary water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance from UNICEF through the same CBT platform and WFP One Card. CBTs are also effectively used in recovery contexts: since the war, WFP continued to partner with UNICEF and teamed-up and/or lent its CBT technology to Oxfam, Help Age and Medecins du Monde. In the West Bank, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has been using WFP's voucher platform to deliver its food assistance to 47,000 refugees since 2015.

WFP's activities in Palestine promote and support women's empowerment and gender equality in all its interventions. Food distribution points and partner retailers are easily accessible for women and are located in areas close to households led by women. To strengthen the nutritional impact of its CBTs, WFP together with OXFAM, UNICEF and local NGO Ard El-Insan run a nutrition awareness sessions aimed at 5,700 voucher recipients, including 3,200 women, 1,500 men and 1,000 primary school kids in Gaza. Interactive sessions have been instrumental to strengthen women's role as autonomous decision-makers and promote a common understanding of the importance of a healthy diet. The programme is critical as 50 percent of the population suffers from more than one micronutrient deficiency. The situation is particularly alarming for female adolescents in Gaza, where 72 and 64 percent of them suffer from Vitamin D and Vitamin A deficiencies respectively. The sessions have a long-term positive impact on levels of nutritional and dietary knowledge and healthy cooking habits among participants. They give women the opportunity to interact and socialize with each other outside their normal domestic sphere, leading to strengthened informal women's networks. Since 2011, 4,850 women and their families have benefitted. from the training.

Operational Updates

•  In December, WFP assisted 480,770 poor and food insecure people: 244,890 people in Gaza and 235,880 people in the West Bank with food and CBTs. Approximately 214,000 (45 percent) were assisted in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development under the Palestinian Authority's social protection system.

•  WFP's November Executive Board approved the one-year extension of the Palestine PRRO in support to 500,000 poor and food insecure Palestinians, for an additional cost of USD 58 million. The extension focuses on expanding nutrition education and CBTs, prioritising people with high vulnerability, including households led by women, Palestinians in Gaza and Area C of the West Bank, whilst contributing to government-level sustainable strategies and institutional development.

•  WFP is conducting a beneficiary needs assessment in the West Bank to review the eligibility of current food assistance recipients and reach additional vulnerable poor and food insecure people. The results, which are expected during the first quarter of 2017, will help WFP shape its 2018-2022 Country Strategic Plan.

•  Recognising the multi-layered effect of its voucher assistance, as of 01 December 2016, WFP has provided voucher assistance to an additional 10,000 people. Through the voucher platform, the number of people receiving CBTs has increased from the project's initial 50,000 recipients in 2009, to close to 190,000 in late 2016. This increase (280 percent) is in line with WFP' s strategy of transitioning from in-kind food assistance to CBTs to maximize impact. It is also in keeping with WFP' s objective of supporting the National Social Safety Nets and the local economy.

•  To further strengthen the impact of CBTs on the assisted people, in early 2017 WFP will be scaling-up early 2017 its family nutrition education to reach 5,700 recipients of CBTs in Gaza, including 3,200 women, 1,500 men and 1,000 primary school children. In 2016, the number of participants in these sessions stood at 3,500, including 2,500 women and 1,000 men.

•  In Gaza, WFP continues the implementation of joint emergency preparedness activities with other agencies such as UNDP, OCHA, and local partners that, among other objectives, will set up an inter-agency emergency operations centre and train public shelter managers on nutrition and vulnerability data collection/food security assessment in emergencies.


• Deterioration of the security and socio-economic situation in Palestine, and potential sudden onset of natural disasters, such as an earthquake or floods, continues to pose major risks that could increase food insecurity and the number of people requiring assistance.

• Reduced funding continues to limit WFP's ability to fully operate and meet the immediate food needs of those people targeted for assistance. WFP needs USD 21.1 million to provide full food entitlement to a 500,000 non-refugees in the next six motnhs. Additional funding is essential to build on achievements, and avoid interruption in assistance which could result in deterioration in the food security and nutrition status of the poorest Palestinian people.

Country Background & Strategy 

Decades of occupation coupled with severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods have undermined the living conditions and reduced access to livelihoods for Palestinians. Food insecurity is mostly due to a lack of economic access: food prices are mainly driven by Israel and out of reach for many poor households – the GDP per capita in Palestine (USD 4,700) is six times less than that of Israel (USD 30,000).

The impact of the 2014 conflict in Gaza continues to be devastating to the Palestinian people and economy. Against this backdrop, more than 27 percent of the population – or 1.6 million people – suffers from food insecurity. In Gaza, one in two is food insecure, and one in three is severely affected. As poor and vulnerable Palestinians spend more than half of their income on food, WFP’s assistance is critical to meet their food needs. This prevents further deteriorations in food security and livelihood status, and prevents negative coping mechanisms.

WFP targets 500,000 of the most vulnerable, food insecure non-refugees in Palestine who have been affected by the ongoing conflict and occupation, a fiscal crisis and a steady decline in living standards. PRRO 200709 combines ongoing operations in the West Bank and Gaza to coherently address urgent humanitarian needs in Palestine, while supporting early recovery and sustainable, long term food security for non-refugees.

WFP has been present in Palestine since 1991.



WFP is grateful for the unwavering support of its longstanding partners, namely: Belgium, Canada, ECHO, France, Italy, Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Norway, OCHA, Russian Federation, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, USA, multilateral donors and private sector donors.


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