Food Security & Livelihoods: Gaza Olive Trees Plantation Project
Updated: May 25, 2021
Osman Consulting (OC) and the Salam Charity have been working together since November 2019 on the Olive Trees Plantation Project. A project aimed at supporting farmers and five families in Eastern Gaza, all of whom have been affected by the political unrest, climate change and resulting food insecurity.
The Palestinian enclave of Gaza lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world’s most densely populated areas, as well as a particularly hot, arid and water-scarce region of the territory.
The inhabitants of the Gaza Strip have been facing major shortages due to a crippling blockade, resulting in a deterioration in environmental, economic and food security.
Over the last fifty years, the occupied Palestinian territory has experienced a rise in temperature and precipitation events. This has led to an increase in weather-related hazards, such as droughts, flooding and sandstorms.
One sector that is particularly vulnerable to these weather events is agriculture. The effects of climate change have led to issues such as soil erosion and a scarcity of water for irrigation, which have negatively impacted crop yield for farmers.
The Olive Trees Plantation Project has aimed to combat the effects of climate change and the subsequent poor crop yield by teaching farmers about best practices when it comes to using fertilisers and pesticides. This has not only helped increase crop yield but has also led to a decrease in the number of farming-related illnesses and hazards.
Olive trees have long been a source of food and income for the Palestinian people. They are often grown and cared for by generations of the same family. The tree itself has also proved to be resilient towards the changing weather conditions, adapting to combat the water shortages. Furthermore, tree planting projects will also serve the long-term goal of tackling climate change issues and contributing to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13, combating climate change.
For the last decade, the socio-economic situation in Gaza has been in steady decline. This is due to the blockade, which has had a devastating effect on people's movement, the flow of humanitarian assistance and economic capacity, resulting in widespread impoverishment and unemployment.
One of the features of the blockade is a 500-meter buffer zone between Israel and the Gaza Strip. This zone is driving Palestinians away from the border with Israel, thus reducing farmers’ access to already scarce fertile land. This is of particular concern as the Gaza Strip not only accounts for 14.4% of Palestinian agriculture, it also accounts for 6% of employment .
The project has helped create jobs and income for five farming families and communities in the local area, providing them with a source of reliable income. Capacity building and training workshops were held for the beneficiaries to educate them on agricultural best practices. Now that the project is complete, these sustainable farming methods can be used to safeguard the long-term benefits of the project.
Farming is an essential to the food security of Gaza, where 68.5% of the population are food insecure. This is because nearly one-third of the population does not have the means to afford nutritious food or access humanitarian aid, both of which are being hindered by the blockade.
Not only has the employment and income generated from the Olive Tree Plantation Project contributed towards improving food security in Gaza, but the olive trees themselves have also been beneficial.
Olive trees have long been tied to the Palestinian cultural heritage and have many uses. The olives and olive oil they produce provide a source of nutrition for both the farming families and the local community. The dry pulp of the seed can also be used as animal fodder or burned for fuel, as electricity and fuel are scarce.
OC has worked tirelessly towards the implementation and successful completion of the Olive Trees Plantation Project in Gaza, in order to improve the environmental, economic and food security of the local community. However, it goes without saying that the ultimate success of this project must be credited to the local farmers and families involved, whose endless support was the main driver behind the successful completion of the project.