For nearly 80 years, Palestine has faced a complex humanitarian crisis connected to both internal and external political conflict that has caused unrest, instability and the loss of many lives. The exacerbation of the already dire situation — especially in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip — has led to economic instability, the loss of homes, restricted trade and access to essential resources and high unemployment rates, all of which have resulted in rising poverty rates. Currently, achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 regarding food security is the greatest challenge, giving rise to initiatives that focus on fighting food insecurity in Palestine.
Food Insecurity in Palestine in Numbers
As it stands, 33.6% of the population (about 1.8 million people) are moderately or severely food-insecure. However, this national average does not highlight the significant differences within the country, with 24% of the 1.8 million people residing on the West Bank and 75% in the Gaza Strip.
An overwhelming 51% of food-insecure people are children, while 49% are adults and 1% are elderly. An important fact to note is that 76% of food-insecure people are refugees, while 24% are non-refugees.
The Main Causes
While several factors are contributing to food insecurity in Palestine, here are some of the primary causes:
- Prolonged conflict
- Economic stagnation
- Restriction on trade and access to resources
- High unemployment rate
- High poverty rate
After decades of turbulence and violence, there are, fortunately, several organizations dedicated to fighting food insecurity in Palestine. Here is some information about them.
Action Against Hunger
Founded in 2002, Action Against Hunger is a global humanitarian organization taking action against the causes and effects of hunger. Currently, it is aiding Palestinian families by supporting small businesses as well as promoting economic empowerment for women and young people. This is primarily achieved through providing food, money and mental health services, whilst also improving access to clean water, good hygiene and safe sanitation. In 2022, the organization was able to help 525,314 people – 519,000 people were reached by the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Programs and 6,000 people’s lives were improved due to the Food Security and Livelihoods Programs.
SKT Welfare, which provides urgent aid and sustainable relief to millions of disadvantaged people around the world, has been aiding Gaza in Palestine since the conflict in Gaza erupted in 2014. The Muslim charity is fighting food insecurity in Palestine through hand-delivering food packages to families in need. Each food parcel provides a family with enough food for an entire month and contains basmati rice, groats, red lentils, brown lentils, cooking oil, white bean, salt, salsa, jam, sugar; dates, olive oil, tea, feta cheese and soap. The majority of the food distributions are carried out in Khuza’a, a beautiful Palestinian community that the surrounding conflict has unfortunately hit very hard.
Originating in Nottingham, Muslim Hands is another Muslim international aid organization that has been running since 1993 and helping Palestine since 2007. It provides food, medical care and education to families and over the past 10 years, has raised more than £1 million for children in Gaza and reached 2,500 orphans in the region. Additionally, last year Muslim Hands provided Qurbani (the religious sacrifice of an animal during the Eid Al Adha) that fed nearly 315 Palestinian families. Also addressing the root of poverty in the region, Muslim Hands helped create 25 sustainable jobs and its agricultural production helped 100 families.
World Food Program USA
An American organization dedicated to tackling global hunger, World Food Program USA (WFP) has been fighting food insecurity in Palestine by providing life-saving food assistance to the most vulnerable and food-insecure non-refugee Palestinians. The organization places a large focus on starting projects that, in time, offer people some financial stability during turbulent times. For example, WFP carries out a range of resilience-building activities, such as vegetable farms, greenhouses, poultry and sheep, alongside technical and vocational training for young people and people with disabilities. In turn, these activities not only provide food sources, but they also generate an income for several people.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
Finally, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is also fighting food insecurity in Palestine during a crucial time of need. The UNRWA zakat program provides both food and money to Palestinian refugees, helping them get a meal on the table. In this time of crisis, access to not only food but also psychological and medical care and support are urgently needed and provided by UNRWA.
For as long as the conflict is prevalent in Palestine, hopefully, the innocent people affected continue to receive the help they so desperately need, and in turn, over time, the poverty rates will decrease.
– Sheherazade Al Shahry