In the West Bank, the humanitarian situation is greatly affected by the construction of the Separation Wall and the impediments of population movement. The governorates of Qalqilya, Tulkarm and Jenin are chosen as the project locations because 37 percent of all the agricultural land in the West Bank is located in these areas. A study was conducted by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture detailing effects on agriculture caused by the Separation Wall between 2000 and 2003. Amongst its findings, the estimated damage to the agricultural sector in Qalqilya, Tulkarm and Jenin includes the destruction of 83,000 olive and other fruit trees, 615 dunums of irrigated land (including greenhouses). In addition, 238,350 dunums of land have been isolated in the Seam Zone which is, "All land in the West Bank East of the Green Line & West of Israel's separation barrier”, of which 57 percent was cultivated.
Food insecurity is directly linked to the on-going political and economic crisis faced by Palestinians. Approximately 34% of Palestinians are food insure, with an additional 12% at risk of becoming food insure. The WFP/FAO released the latest comprehensive food security and vulnerability assessment in February 2007, and considers these figures to be conservative, as they do not capture those who are affected by the most recent phase of the crisis.
Palestinians coping mechanisms have been resilient despite the obstacles they face under the current occupation. Many of them relied on remittances from abroad, and sometimes engage in distress coping strategies such as sale of land and relocation. Significant international aid is helping to manage the humanitarian crisis. In the long term, this may exacerbate dependency of external aid. Based on WFP and FAO estimates, 60% of West Bankers have reduced their spending. Other coping mechanisms include reducing food portions; eating lower-quality and fewer types of food (fruit, fresh meat, etc.).
For many the first coping strategy was to cut expenditures on food, health, key social events and utility bills. Reducing the quality and quantity of food intake is by far the most widespread mechanism followed by reduced spending on clothes, health and education expenses, household maintenance, children’s’ pocket money and social activities. Living with extended family members to save rent and pooling resources is another common strategy. Men try to postpone marriage while women try to marry earlier to reduce family’s expenses.
Home gardens are used as a source of food by half of the West Bank households. Men take on the more labor intensive actions like fencing and reclaiming the land, while women tend to the farming, feeding and animal care. However cost of inputs and lack of access to water means that many are not able to use the home gardens to their full potential. Animal husbandry is considered a key element of agricultural production, but this is often a challenge due to the high costs of feed as well as mobility restrictions imposed on the Palestinians.
Despite the setbacks, these three governorates have the potential to increase their production output, which can help alleviate the level of food insecurity for the targeted farming households. These governorates are also known to be the traditional agricultural hub, and many of the markets in the West Bank depend on their products. Accordingly, our program aims to Improving food security by investing in agricultural productivity, infrastructure, and social protection. ICC approach to food security is through domestic farms, which increases the poor’s ability to access food by lifting agricultural productivity and development in a sustainable way.
Domestic farms target vulnerable communities living below the poverty line, who became AID dependant and deprived from their sole source of income represented by either employment within Israel proper as skilled farmers, or access to their agriculture land, confiscated for the sake of the separation barrier. Targeted households are engaged in domestic farming in a sustainable way with their capacities and agriculture knowledge enhanced towards increasing their productivity.
Our main Goal is to contribute to the improvement of human rights (including right to adequate and appropriate food) and basic living conditions of Palestinian refugees and vulnerable groups, so that they can live in harmony within their communities.