JERUSALEM/MADRID – A contribution of €300, 000 from Spain has enabled the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide much-needed food and nutrition assistance to nearly 23,000 vulnerable Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, most of them women and children.
The support has improved their dietary diversity and helped them cope with one of the worst energy crises there of the past decade.
Since April, daily electricity outages of 18 to 20 hours have severely affected the availability of essential services such as health, water and sanitation, and undermined Gaza’s fragile economy. They have also impacted employment opportunities and the livelihoods of Gaza’s two million residents.
The contribution has also enabled WFP to hold nutrition and health awareness sessions for 5,700 people, including 3,200 women, who have been taught best cooking and hygiene practices.
“Thanks to our longstanding partnership with Spain, we can help tens of thousands of poor families facing acute hardships every year,” says WFP Country Director in Palestine Daniela Owen. “At a time when challenges are at their greatest, continued food assistance is a fundamental safety net for people who have exhausted all of their resources in trying to cope with a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation.”
Since 2009, WFP has been using local retail shops in Gaza for the purchase and distribution of a wide range of foodstuffs, most of them locally produced or processed. These include protein-rich dairy products, eggs, bread, frozen vegetables, cereals, olive oil and tahini.
WFP ’s assistance programme, which is based on food vouchers, covers approximately 60 percent of peoples’ daily calorie needs and 30 percent of their daily micronutrient needs. Poor families living in urban or semi-urban settings receive credit worth on average €9.30 onto their cards every month. They can use the cards in shops in their neighbourhood that are participating in the scheme.
WFP provides food assistance to food-insecure, non-refugee households in Palestine while the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provides food assistance to Palestinians classified as refugees.
WFP’s use of electronic food vouchers injects money into the local economy at various levels, providing a market for food processing businesses whose products are included in the voucher basket. Since 2011, WFP has brought more than €63 million into the Gazan economy through this innovative mode of assistance.
“Spanish society is firmly committed to the Palestinian people and is very aware of the dire need to support food requirements for the people in Gaza, many of whom are women and children,” explained Fernando García Casas, Secretary of State for International Cooperation and for Iberoamerica and the Caribbean (SECIPIC). “This contribution to WFP is part of the Spanish solidarity effort in compliance with what was promised in the Cairo Conference in October 2014, at which Spain committed to contribute 36 million euros from 2014-2017 to the international effort in support of Palestine.”
Thanks to Spain and other donors, WFP has been providing food assistance to nearly 250,000 poor Palestinians in Gaza, including 90,000 through food vouchers since the beginning of the year. The beneficiaries all live below the official national poverty line of US$3.2 per person per day.
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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’s activities in Palestine, visit http://www.wfp.org/countries/palestine
For more information please contact (email address: [email protected]):
Raphael Duboispean, WFP/Jerusalem, Mob. +972 546773160
Yasmine Abuelassal, WFP/Jerusalem, Mob. +972 546773170
Lucía Fernández, WFP/Madrid, +34 672 068 169