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reliefweb - 28 days ago

oPt: Palestine Revised humanitarian response Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) May–December 2020

Country: occupied Palestinian territory Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Impact of COVID-19 on food security and agriculture The humanitarian situation in Palestine is characterized by persistent restrictions on access to natural resources, as well as on the movement of goods and people. This is exacerbated by natural and environmental hazards, such as winter storms, and the longer-term effects of climate change. In the Gaza Strip, recurrent conflict spikes and restricted access to markets for inputs and exports have deepened the vulnerability of livelihoods, causing unemployment and poverty rates to soar. The situation in the West Bank remains tense amidst threats of annexation, restrictions on access to land and natural resources, as well as displacements due to demolitions. These issues continue to erode the resilience of vulnerable households.
The protracted crisis poses a range of protection strains on the livelihoods of Palestinians, including the destruction of productive assets and lack of access to essential inputs, services and livelihood opportunities. The nutrition situation is characterized by the double burden of malnutrition driven by poverty, food insecurity, poor dietary habits and sedentary lifestyles. Micronutrient deficiencies and the prevalence of overweight and obesity pose significant challenges to health and well-being. On the other hand, the prevalence of undernutrition, stunting and wasting in particular, at the national level, is lower than the global and regional average. After the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Bethlehem city on 5 March, the Palestinian prime minister declared a state of emergency across Palestine and imposed a lockdown that was eased on 25 May 2020. On 2 July 2020, the West Bank returned to a complete lockdown following a record number of new infections. The pandemic is currently causing a major negative shock to Palestinian socioeconomic development, putting public welfare, employment and livelihoods at risk, threatening a further deterioration in poverty and food insecurity levels, social cohesion, and financial and fiscal stability. Specifically, in addition to the public health and humanitarian implications of COVID-19, the measures restricting the movement of people, and the associated economic slowdown, negatively affect poor and vulnerable populations that were already facing a protracted conflict/insecurity condition. Challenges have emerged for food logistics and marketing as well as for the production of high-value commodities (such as dairy, fruits and vegetables). In addition, restrictions on movement and fear of contagion, as well as the implementation of physical distancing and heath and sanitary measures are broadly affecting farming and processing. Traditional credit arrangements have been disrupted by the risk and uncertainty generated by the pandemic. As a result, producers access to fertilizers, pesticides, seedlings, veterinary medicines and other inputs (including fodder and feed) has been disrupted with foreseeable adverse impacts on agricultural production. For the first time, Palestinian food security can be significantly affected by reduced availability of food. Closures of restaurants and less frequent grocery shopping diminished demand for fresh produce and fisheries products, affecting producers and suppliers. Smallholder farmers are particularly affected by the decreasing demand for their produce, combined with reduced access to inputs and credit. Additionally, delays in the payment of government salaries by the Palestinian Authority has reduced consumers capacity to cope with food insecurity and nutrition threats. In order to examine some of the disruptions to the food system, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) surveys a panel of key informants weekly, composed of small and marginal farmers, herders, fishers, traders and cooperatives. These surveys point out that despite a recent easing of movement restrictions, farmers have not been able to resume production at full capacity yet. Availability and access to inputs, including fodder, is improving but prices are rising.


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