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Cablegate: Wfp/Fao Reports On Palestinian Food Security

VZCZCXRO9717
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #0459/01 0671337
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 081337Z MAR 07
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6908
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 000459

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE; NEA/IPA FOR
WILLIAMS/SHAMPAINE/BELGRADE; PRM FOR PDAS GREENE AND
PRM/ANE; NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/WATERS; TREASURY FOR
SZUBIN/LOEFFLER/NUGENT/HIRSON; BRUSSELS FOR LERNER; PLEASE
PASS TO USAID FOR KUNDER/MCCLOUD/BORODIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM EAID ECON EAGR KWBG
SUBJECT: WFP/FAO REPORTS ON PALESTINIAN FOOD SECURITY

1. (SBU) Summary: The latest WFP/FAO food security report
states that one-third of Palestinian households are highly
dependent on food assistance, as financial hardship greatly
reduced Palestinian access to food in 2006. Forty-six
percent of Palestinians fell below the USD 2.20 per capita
per day local poverty line, despite large-scale humanitarian
assistance in 2006. Food insecurity levels have remained
relatively steady over the last five years, yet would have
increased substantially in 2006 without the major increase in
food aid, according to WFP. The report cited poor
harmonization between actual Palestinian needs and
international assistance programs, as only 29.4 percent of
food insecure Palestinians received food aid in 2006. End
summary.

LESS THAN ONE-THIRD OF FOOD INSECURE
RECEIVED ASSISTANCE
-------------------

2. (SBU) The 2006 WFP/FAO Comprehensive Food Security and
Vulnerability Analysis Report (CFSVA), released February 21,
concluded that 54 percent of Palestinians are relatively food
secure (defined as households with income and/or consumption
above USD 2.20 per capita per day), while 46 percent as
relatively insecure (income and/or consumption below USD 2.20
per capita per day). Of the poorest Palestinian households,
those with income and consumption levels less than USD 1.60
per capita per day, only 29.4 percent received international
food aid in 2006.

3. (SBU) WFP representatives told Econoff March 6 that
during the last five years, an estimated 35-37 percent of the
WB/G population has been food insecure on average. Jacques
Higgins, WFP Deputy Country Director, said that without the
increased food assistance in 2006, specifically the USD 80
million jump in food aid in mid-2006, levels of food
insecurity would have been significantly higher.

MUST IMPORT STAPLES
-------------------

4. (SBU) The report stated that local food production in the
WB/G does not and will not provide sufficient staple food
commodities and that the food supply will always rely on
imports and commercial channels. (Note: The WB/G does not
have a comparative advantage in cereals, and some donor
projects are promoting small-scale agriculture production for
local consumption, including two from USAID. End note.)
Palestinian areas that have rich agricultural potential, such
as Qalqilya, Tulkarm, and the Jordan Valley, are affected by
closures and are isolated from urban Palestinian markets.
Israeli food products continue to fill the shelves in
Palestinian markets.

SOME INCREASE IN FOOD PRICES
----------------------------

5. (SBU) Food prices increased in the WB/G during 2006,
despite drastic reductions of livelihoods. According to the
report, for the first time in the ten years of WFP/FAO food
security mapping in the WB/G, food prices in Gaza exceeded
those in the West Bank in May 2006. (Note: Gaza prices have
traditionally been lower than those in the West Bank due to
Gaza's higher rate of unemployment and generally weaker
economic situation. End note.) The report stated that
rising prices in Gaza were caused, in part, by higher
transportation costs brought about by the Israeli closure
regime. Rising prices were also caused by the inflow of more
expensive Israeli products into Palestinian markets. The
effect of the prevalence of food aid on food prices in the
WB/G is not clear from the study - it seemed to be fairly
insignificant, however.

6. (SBU) Note: USAID's Private Enterprise Development (PED)
program's December 2006 household survey concluded that 73
percent of Palestinians reduced expenditures on food in 2006
and that food prices did not increase markedly in 2006, but
varied by commodity. End note.

NO ACUTE FOOD CRISIS
--------------------

7. (SBU) According to the report, acute food crises have not

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materialized in the WB/G, as strong social ties tended to
prevent acute household hunger. The report indicated that
chronic malnutrition is on a steady, although slowly rising
trend, and micro-nutrient deficiencies are of concern,
particularly iron, iodine and Vitamins A and D, in both the
West Bank and Gaza.

REPORT'S RECOMMENDATIONS
------------------------

8. (SBU) The report underlined the need to improve
agriculture in WB/G as a way to improve food availability.
Closures, the destruction of agricultural lands, and the lack
of water, all hinder the already minimal agriculture
production from reaching local consumers. Other
recommendations include the need to protect livelihoods,
create jobs, mitigate poverty, and improve the environment
for food trade in the WB/G.

9. (SBU) The report highlighted the poor harmonization
between actual needs and international assistance programs.
The report also suggests that the USD 127 million in food
assistance under the UN's Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP)
for WB/G in 2006 could have been better targeted to feed the
neediest Palestinian households. (Note: WFP handled USD 79
million of the USD 127 million for food raised under the CAP
in 2006. End note.) The report recommends that donors adopt
standard criteria and methods to determine eligibility for
food aid packages and that humanitarian efforts be reviewed
in light of social equity.
WALLES

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