Livelihoods Under Attack in Gaza

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Part of a series on the impact of the war on all sectors of economic life within Gaza, Anera’s immediate response and plans for the future. Other posts cover housing, educationWASHhealth and food production systems.

  • World Bank: “The observed level of fixed asset damage and destruction in Gaza is catastrophic.”
  • UNCTAD: It will take decades and substantial foreign aid to restore pre-conflict conditions in Gaza.
  • Oxfam: “Gaza farmers’ two-month-long “golden time” of agricultural production has been destroyed by Israel’s military bombing and sealing of northern Gaza, ruining the enclave’s richest farmlands, which are one of its biggest sources of fruit and vegetables.”
  • PCBS: The value of losses incurred over four months of the Israeli army’s aggression in Palestine amounts to approximately USD 2.3 billion due to the near-total suspension of production in the Gaza Strip, equating to nearly USD 19 million per day, without accounting for direct losses in properties and assets.

Livelihood Recovery

In Gaza, 57 years of occupation and 17 years of blockade have substantially affected the population’s economic well-being. In 2022 and the first half of 2023, over two million Gazans endured dire conditions, with inadequate access to water and electricity. Two-thirds lived in poverty, and unemployment stood at 45%. By December 2023, unemployment soared to 79%.

The Palestinian economy has suffered a historic shock since the start of the war. In Gaza, GDP dropped over 80% in the last quarter of 2023, from around $670M to roughly $90M. Economic activity nearly halted. Private sector losses totaled approximately $1.5B in the conflict’s first two months. This downturn surpasses the impacts of bombardments in 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2021.

As of the end of January 2024, approximately 507,000 jobs have been eliminated across Palestine due to the ongoing war on Gaza. Around 201,000 jobs were lost in the Gaza Strip alone by January 31, constituting roughly two-thirds of Gaza’s total employment. In the fourth quarter of 2023, inflation surged by 33% compared to the previous quarter.

Gaza’s infrastructure has suffered significant impact, with more than 62% of all roads damaged or demolished. Some 60% of main roads are entirely destroyed and the majority of secondary roads are unusable. Almost 84% of health facilities have incurred damage or destruction. Nearly 62% of Gaza’s electricity feeder lines are either damaged or destroyed. Damage to Gaza’s electricity infrastructure alone is estimated at nearly $280M. And at least 57% of water and sanitation facilities have suffered damage or destruction.

The near-total halt in private sector production in Gaza, coupled with an unprecedented decline in the West Bank, has resulted in the Palestinian economy incurring losses of $2.3B over a four-month period as of January. In 2023, Gaza had an estimated 56,000 private sector establishments, the majority of which have since ceased production.

A major area of employment in Gaza before the war was related to food production. Farmers, fishermen, retailers and others have been badly affected by the war. Before October, agriculture constituted 53% of Gaza’s land use. Now, more than one-fifth of Gaza’s greenhouses and one-third of irrigation infrastructure have been destroyed. Gaza’s fleet of fishing boats has been decimated, with 70% destroyed. Bakeries have faced frequent air attacks, leaving only 15 operational out of 97. Reduced local food supplies, loss of import capacity, and rising transportation, energy, and water costs have led to endemic inflation in food prices.

Anera’s Response to Livelihoods in Gaza

Since the hostilities started in October, Anera has established 11 tekias, or community kitchens, in locations across Rafah, Deir Al Balah, Khan Younis and Jabalia. These tekias, essential for supplying hot meals to displaced families, depend on the support of many cooks and helpers to function effectively and cater to the significant numbers of people impacted by the conflict. Anera’s kitchens employ hundreds of individuals as cooks and others who earn daily wages to meet their families’ needs and offset the loss of their livelihoods.

Anera has distributed enough fresh produce to make many millions of meals, purchasing the food from local Gaza farmers who have been able to keep their operations going.

Since the fall of 2023, Anera has been coordinating psychosocial support activities for displaced children in shelters as well as counseling sessions for their parents. Anera employs psychologists, social workers, and activity leaders to ensure comprehensive support for those affected by the hostilities.

Finally, Anera’s non-food aid distributions and field health clinics employ field coordinators and medical professionals.

Anera’s Longer-term Response in Gaza’s Livelihood Sector

Anera plans to allocate $6M to support the revival of economic activity and restoration of livelihoods in Gaza following the cessation of hostilities, detailed as follows:

  • Animal husbandry entails caring for working animals such as donkeys and horses, which are essential for supporting their owners’ livelihoods. These animals’ roles become increasingly significant following the end of hostilities.
  • Manufacturing new carts tailored for farmers and other individuals engaged in transporting various items is a crucial initiative. Anera will partner with manufacturers to build these carts, ensuring they meet the specific needs of users and enhance efficiency in moving goods.
  • Implementing a cash-for-work program and employing 250 workers; wages will be set at pre-war rates but adjusted to accommodate inflation and the increased cost of living, amounting to $20 per day. These workers engage in various activities including supporting farmers, leveling lands, and clearing rubble, among other tasks.
  • Expanding Anera’s economic empowerment initiative for small businesses, mainly focusing on women and youth. Anera will consider providing women and youth who were small-business owners before the hostilities with financial support to restart their operations and establish new businesses. On average, Anera will allocate approximately $3,000 to resume or initiate operations for each small business.
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