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Karama Supports Food Security

Improving Refugees Access to Food
The Situation in Palestine

Food Insecurity in Palestine

In the present situation, life in the refugee camps is highly influenced by the Israeli occupation and economic underdevelopment; many families suffer from malnutrition, which in combination with the detrimental environment of the camps leads to both physiological and physical health problems for adults and children. Malnutrition develops when the families with a small budget cut regularly on their expenses of fresh fruits and vegetables, which is a common as a coping strategy of refugee families when facing food insecurity.

What the Data Shows

In 2018, the World Food Programme reported that 68.7% of urban Palestinian territories and 67.4% of refugee camps experienced food insecurities (The Borgen Project, 2021).
Check the link here: https://borgenproject.org/food-insecurity-in-palestinian-territories/

What We've Found

Our Food Security Study During the Pandemic

The pandemic has also created more food insecurity. Karama’s study from 2020 showed that 92% of the households stated that their income was less stable, and less in quantity than before Covid19, and 56.6% of our respondents stated that they worry “very often” about putting food on the table.

Agriculture

When it comes to agriculture, the Israeli occupation has devastated rural and agricultural spaces. Israeli settlements take land and resources away from Palestinian communities. Every year, settlements expand, and they mostly take fertile agricultural lands and deprive the Palestinian owners from using their lands and harvesting their produce. Right now, many agricultural areas in Palestine are marked as Area C, which means they are controlled by Israeli administration and under threat of confiscation at any time, not to mention the lack of water, Israeli control over the land, and destroying or taking over water resources such as springs and water networks. In this way, agriculture lost its central place in the families’ lives, affecting the regular availability of fresh produce and causing spikes in the prices of fruits and vegetables. This forces Palestinians to reduce the quality of their food and settle for an inadequate diet, which doesn’t meet dietary or health requirements.

Water Shortage

Water is a crucial natural resource in the world, and especially in the Middle East; and the occupying power knows this. Under the Oslo Accords and the military occupation, water is given a very special treatment, where Palestinians cannot access any water sources without the clear approval of the military authorities. They have the power to put the Palestinian communities on a very restricted supply. Because of this insecure supply and underdeveloped water networks, Palestinians in general and the inhabitants of refugee camps specifically need to store their water supply on their roofs, which will be refilled almost every 28 days. When a family cannot store enough water tanks on their roof, water can become scarce, especially in the summer period. Some families use wells but of course those are not found frequently in every house, and they depend on winter rain which might also not serve them for more than a couple of times. Therefore, Palestinians and refugee communities might not find enough water for their own needs, which hinders them from using water for agricultural purposes.

What We Do

Our Approach and Activities

Karama is committed to solving food insecurity and improving Palestinian agriculture. We have worked with women, farmers, and others from 5 refugee camps in the Hebron and Bethlehem region to implement several projects and initiatives in the goal of increasing food security especially among Palestinian refugees.

Broadly, Karama has use two types of approaches. On the one hand, Karama sometimes refers to distributions to support the most vulnerable during emergency situations. While this is recognized as not being the most sustainable approach, this is generally only done on unique occasions or emergency situations when it is clear many households in the refugee camps can not make ends meet for a healthy food intake.

On the other hand, our preferred approach is to grow local production capacities, invest in innovative agricultural activities so women and men can grow healthy, low-chemical food that feeds their communities and meets not only their own household demands but also a wider market demand. By thinking in this full-cycle approach, Karama hopes to contribute to sustainable solutions, not just aid bandages.

1. Food Package Distributions

With the help of its partners, Karama arranged for the distribution of over 2100 food and hygiene packages in the Bethlehem and Hebron area, and also seedlings to promote home production of high value crops

3. Makken Store and Bakery Unit

Karama has enabled the start-up of a women-led social enterprise called “Makken,” meaning “empower.” This social business consists of a food production unit, bakery and store, where women from the refugee camp produce daily fresh meals, pastries, sweets and other products. Some of our participants use their greenhouse harvest to make products and healthy Palestinian foods and sell them in Makken store. In our store, women sell their jams (strawberry, orange) as well as pickles (cauliflower, turnip), dried yogurt, dried raisins, dried zaatar, dibs and more.

2. Rooftop Greenhouse Project

Karama Organization together with its local partners and international donors has invested in rooftop greenhouses initiatives involving 250 women and their households in 5 refugee camps (Dheisheh, Al-Azzeh, Aida, Al-Arroub, Al-Fawwar). The project helped them increase their food security by receiving trainings and establishing rooftop greenhouses for them to plant and harvest their own crops with the guiding of agricultural engineers and the support of social workers. We have been investing in our rooftop greenhouses projects since 2011 and so far we’ve built over 250 greenhouses in the 5 refugee camps that we support.

To address the risk of water shortage in our greenhouse project, we provided the families with an extra water tank to collect more water. Additional techniques and materials were provided for the gardens, which will minimize the need for water.

Even during Covid19, over 90% of the women were able to continue working in their greenhouses and had a successful harvest season, ranging from 40 to 240 kilos of produce.

“I had two of the most successful seasons during COVID 19. I was very happy to stay connected with the engineer through continuous video calls, she guided me through the entire planting seasons. It is true that I did not sell harvest this year, but I planted a variety of crops… which I shared with my family and neighbors.”

A 34-year old participant in our greenhouse project from Al-Arroub camp

How we Affected Women and Families

We have distributed food packages to families on several occasions.

We have helped around 250 women and their families by establishing rooftop greenhouses, which allowed them to produce and consume fresh and healthy products and make a living out of selling them.

This project has also reduced household expenditure on fruit and vegetables, therefore allowing families to spend their money better.

Healthy Food and Environment

Addressing food insecurity problem through rooftop gardens has directly upgraded the availability of fresh produce, thus improving food quality, and positively impacting the environment in the camp.

Green Spaces

Our aim is also to develop a ‘green space’ in an area of rapid urbanization that faces the decrease of rural environment, which was damaged by years and decades of occupation. We want agriculture to regain its place in the families’ lives again.

2,100 Food Packages

For the most vulnerable families in the refugee camps; covering essential food items, such as rice, flour, chicken and oil.

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