JERUSALEM – A contribution of €900,000 from France has enabled the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide much-needed food assistance and nutrition support to more than 20,000 people in Gaza for three months
The French contribution helped WFP to provide electronic food vouchers to vulnerable families across Gaza in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development and Global Communities, an international nongovernmental organization (NGO).
“WFP is grateful to France for its continued and unfailing support to our work and to the people of Palestine over the years,” said WFP Representative and Country Director in Palestine Daniela Owen. “Our strong partnership has been and will continue to be instrumental in meeting the food needs of the most vulnerable, and preventing socio-economic deterioration as the hardships that people face here show no sign of abating.”
The Sahtein e-card is used like a debit card in participating stores and is credited with fresh funds each week. The card gives families the freedom to purchase a wide range of nutritious food, including fresh local produce such as dairy products, eggs and olive oil. These items provide essential vitamins or minerals that are necessary for growth, development and healthy living, which is particularly critical for vulnerable people such as pregnant and nursing women, children and the elderly.
France’s support has also enabled WFP and local NGO partner Ard El Insan to train 5,700 people receiving vouchers (including 3,200 women) on best nutritional practices. The programme has had a long-term positive impact by improving participants’ nutritional and dietary knowledge while encouraging healthy cooking habits.
“As part of France’s efforts to improve the food security of the most vulnerable Palestinians, especially in Gaza, we are delighted to have WFP as our partner,” said Pierre Cochard, Consul General of France in Jerusalem. “Through its innovative model, WFP’s voucher assistance has a real impact on the local economy and safeguards the dignity of the assisted populations.”
Since April, daily electricity outages that last up to 20 hours have severely affected the availability of essential services such as health, water and sanitation, and have undermined Gaza’s fragile economy. The outages have also had a negative impact on the employment and livelihoods of Gaza’s two million people. This further deepens an already deteriorating socio-economic context amid soaring unemployment – 46 percent – and follows the reduction of salaries for tens of thousands of civil servants and their families.
WFP voucher assistance also boosts the Palestinian economy and recovery of Gaza, as local retail shops are used for purchasing and distributing locally-produced food commodities. Since 2011, thanks to the support of France and other partners, WFP has injected more than US$70 million in the Gazan economy using this transfer mechanism.
Since the beginning of the year, WFP provided essential food assistance to nearly 250,000 poor Palestinians in Gaza, including 90,000 through food vouchers. All people receiving this support live below the national deep poverty line and live on less than US$3.20 per person per day.
Eight years ago, WFP first used the voucher system in the Middle East in Palestine. Since then, vouchers have been used by WFP in several different countries across the region to provide food assistance to hundreds of thousands of people while simultaneously giving a boost to local economies.
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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
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For more information on WFP activities in Palestine, visit http://www.wfp.org/countries/palestine
For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org):
Raphael du Boispean, WFP/Jerusalem, Mob. +972 546773160
Yasmine Abuelassal, WFP/Jerusalem, Mob. +972 546773170