Memorandum submitted by Action Against
THE EFFECTS OF THE INTIFADAH ON THE CONDITIONS
OF THE PALESTINIAN POPULATION: CASE STUDY OF THE TUBAS DISTRICT
Based on our field experience and knowledge
of the area, Action Against Hunger calls for the immediate attention
of the international community on the situation in the Tubas district.
Out of the explicit violence present in the
area, implicit violence in terms of movement restrictions and
violation of essential rights such as food security and access
to health and water requires the intervention of the international
A large number of the Tubas population (43,000
in total) now suffers from food insecurity and is at risk of a
serious deterioration in the nutritional status.
This report attempts to describe the vulnerability
of the Palestinian people in the Tubas district from figures collected
in the study carried out by Action Against Hunger in March-July
2003. AAH has been working in the area on food security, water
and sanitation programmes since 2002.
Since the beginning of the Second Intifadah
(September 2002) the political attention and the focus of the
international mass media have been on those areas with high rates
of violence and military actions.
The Tubas district (Northeast West Bank) can
be "classified" as one of those areas that is not in
explicit conflict but is directly affected by the impact of the
closure of borders and restrictions on the freedom of movement.
The Tubas district is situated between two "hot spots"
of conflict: Nablus and Jenin, and is becoming a strategic area
for the Israeli army.
Furthermore, the provisional path of the Wall
"delimiting" Israel (against the will of the international
community) will exclude the Tubas district from most of the Jordan
Valley, which covers 70% of the fertile lands in the area, where
agriculture is the main economic sector and the main source of
income and employment for the population.
2. CAUSES OF
Palestinian structural vulnerability (due to
their economic dependency on Israel, the fragility of their Administration
and their military inferiority in the conflict) is increasing
since September 2002 for two main reasons:
For reasons of security and protection of the
Israeli civil population the Israeli Defence Forces hold positions
with a number of preventive measures that drastically restrict
the movement of populations such as:
Permanent checkpoints: 120 permanent
checkpoints along the Gaza strip
Non-permanent checkpoint controls
Curfews in major towns: around 500,000
Palestinians are living under military curfew for around 70% of
the time. At the peak of recent military actions, nearly 900,000
were under curfew 90% of the time.
Limited effectiveness from the Palestinian Authority
to meet population needs:
The Palestinian Authority has been denounced
for low levels of transparency and little will be done to change
the current situation. Humanitarian organisations like Action
Against Hunger have faced situations of "clientelism"
or distortion in the allocation of resources. Exerting pressure
during the process of electing beneficiaries is common practice
among Palestinian authorities. The huge difference between the
Palestinian Authority's administration costs and its results is
currently far from being solved in the area. Humanitarian organisations
in the Tubas district have to struggle not only with restricted
movements because of Israeli preventive measures but also with
the obstacles set up by the Palestinian Authority.
The increasing violence from both sides and
the existing economic dependency on Israel are both causes and
consequences of food insecurity among the civil population. Before
September 2000 the Gaza Strip and the West Bank might have been
regarded as "mid-developing economies". The recent collapse
has run into a rise in unemployment that is beyond control: 50%
in the West Bank and Gaza. Most production activities have ceased
(accounting for 75% of the goods and services produced in the
Current unemployment rates and the rupture of
external trade are the economic factors with the greatest impact
The active population in Tubas is
around 19,000 peopleof these, around 15,000 live in areas
A and B (as per defined by the Oslo agreement) and are the most
affected by the blockade.
40% of the population is unemployed,
compared with 10% before the beginning of the blockade. An important
part of the newly unemployed workers consists of those previously
working in Israel (23% of the active population at that timeonly
5% of these remain employed there).
20-25% of the population keeps on
working but in much more precarious conditions.
Interruption of local trade:
Agricultural trade has suffered the most in
terms of commercial and marketing side-effects of the blockade,
in terms of:
prices: increases in agriculture
milk production: delivery of milk
to its destinations is not possible due to lack of access, livestock
farmers therefore cannot send their product.
Currently most of production finds its way only
in the local market (see Annex A).
3. IMPACT ON
The direct economic impact (interruption of
local trade and unemploymentsee table below) of the conflict
is already having consequences on food security. Moreover the
construction of the wall is directly undermining access to water
and to fertile lands for Palestinians.
Food security, health and water are the main
areas affected by the increase in vulnerability.
Large parts of the Tubas population face severe
food insecurity and risk of falling into serious nutritional degradation
Impact on agriculture
Agriculture is a significant activity in the
Tubas region. Previously, very advanced agricultural practices
had been in place, with an intensive use of high-technology inputs.
After the beginning of the Intifadah and the subsequent blockade,
the effects on agricultural production have been the following:
Important economic impact of border
closure on the production of cash crops: increase in prices of
production inputs (even 40 to 100%more difficult access,
increase in transportation costs, even 200%), decrease in market
prices of agricultural products (50 to 500%, as a result of the
excess supply in local markets).
Difficulties in access to cultivation
fields, due to confiscations (the village of Al Aqaba stands out,
80% of the land has been confiscated), and the existence of check-points.
Problems for nomadic livestock production40%
loss in grazing land, and lack of access to water points.
The whole agricultural potential
of Jordan Valley will be lost after the building of the Wall.
Different factors related to decreasing employment
opportunities, reduction of fertile lands and changes in the basic
basket are the main threats to food security today.
Decreased access to food means an access to only
52% of the food basket per family
In terms of food security, the impact of the
blockade has had an important effect on the families' economic
access to food. This has led to a change in the composition of
the basic household basket. Before the Intifadah, the basic basket
was based on a Mediterranean diet, well balanced with vegetables,
wheat, milk, olive oil, red meat, eggs, coffee and sugar. As a
result of this, families have had to resort to a change in food
habits such as:
60% decrease in meat consumption
Substitution of flour for bread.
Suppression of fruit consumption.
Near suppression of humus consumption.
50% decrease in processed products
such as sugar, tea and coffee.
The families have been coping with the aforementioned
situation by selling their main assets such as household assets,
tools and livestock. This leads to a loss of capital that will
undermine their capacity to recover their basic standards of life
and will demand additional assistance activities.
Severe degradation in access to basic health services
and increase in diseases linked with malnutrition
Lack of public health services: there
are no appropriate health services in Tubas. There is no hospital,
and only two private clinics without the possibility to carry
out surgical procedures.
Impossibility of access to hospitals:
the conditions of the blockade have caused a sharp increase in
the health vulnerability because the civil population do not have
access to hospitals.
Illness due to malnutrition: the
change in the diet has increased the prevalence of certain pathologies,
like anaemia and infectious diseases.
To maintain access to water means less access
to other essential needs
Increase in the price of water: water
is already one of the most important problems in the district.
The population must buy water at £0.9-1.8 per cubic metres,
which has increased since the beginning of the Intifadah.
Lack of water networks: only seven
out of 23 communities have a water network, but are not working
at its full capacity due to lack of maintenance. The majority
of communities depend upon commercial services of water trucking
to fill private small tanks, wells, rainwater harvesting or sources.
We highlight that the current crisis in the
Tubas district is an access problem, given the impossibility to
access markets, fertile land, water, freedom of movement, employment,
or even to arrive at a hospital. It is a crisis due to the impossibility
of movement, the same impossibility that prevents the access of
humanitarian aid. This situation seems to continue in the short
term, and the construction of the wall may extend its effects
to the medium and long term.
AAH advocates for:
1. Pressure on the Israeli authorities to
respect the Geneva Convention principles (especially freedom of
movement and access to markets, health and water; coverage of
basic food security, water and health rights of Palestinian population
in the Occupied Territories).
2. Increased accountability in the Palestinian
Authority regarding the distribution of humanitarian aid and financial
resources by setting up mechanisms guaranteeing the correct targeting
and transparent use of funds.
3. Promotion of intercommunity initiatives
in order to re-establish confidence and synergies between both
civil populations by peace-building initiatives such as cultural
exchanges or joint activities in order to build up a reciprocal
knowledge of each other aimed at mutual tolerance.
4. Sufficient resource allocation to support
the basic needs of the Palestinian population in order to guarantee
a minimum standard of living without depending on external assistance
in the medium and short term and decreasing the economic dependence
Distribution of products in local market
|West Bank||10%|| 2%
Vulnerable Groups of Population before and after the
The new rate of unemployment has seen the inclusion of two
new groups of vulnerability: labourers and workers previously
working in Israel. At the same time small farmers have suffered
directly from the closure of borders. Before the Intifadah, the
three groups had reached a certain level of improvement. Female-led
households continue to be very vulnerable (they were already highly
dependent on external assistance before 2002). The following tables
show some figures describing the situation of the four groups
in comparison to their situation before the Intifadah (left column):
|Previous workers in Israel||2,500 individuals
| Workers used to have a rather high living level (340-675 £/month of incomes, 270-475 £/month of expenditures)|
| 95% are unemployed currently|
Change in habits: expenditure reduced to 40-80
£/month (84% decrease)
These last years have survived thanks to the loss of capital of assets. This capacity to cope is currently almost exhausted
Many people have to look for alternative economic activities as labourers or part-time farmers
Increase in the number of family members searching for a job (women, students, children, etc)
| Low-level education|
On average, 10 members per family
Previous incomes of 200 £/month, expenditures around £95 per month
| 30% decrease in income (£140 per month), 35% decrease in expenditure (£55-70 per month)|
Significantly reduced strategies currently available to cope with the situation, as their saving capacity in the past was limited
Fewer job opportunities and worse pay as a consequence of the excess supply of available workforce
They rely on the loss of capital, changes in food consumption and expenditure patterns, the incorporation of women into the labour market, and marriages of daughters
|Small farmers||1,000 families
| Low-level education|
On average, more than 10 members per family
They usually are associated with big farmers
Certain but limited self-production capacity
Limited capitalisation and saving capacity
Before the Intifadah, yearly incomes of £4,800-7,200
| Very affected by the border closure and trade opportunities have been reduced|
Very affected in economic terms80% decrease in income and 50% decrease in expenditure
They still have certain economic capacity in terms of cash and food sources
Current yearly income of £1,200-2,400
Search of new sources of employment in summer, when there are no argicultural work
Changes in food consumption patterns
|Female-led households||10% of total households
| Very low-level education, high rate of illiteracy|
Socioeconomic group with higher vulnerability
Those who are able to work, receive salaries 50% less than men
| Only 16% work|
50% make their living out from solidarity networks