Oxfam media briefing “Hung out to Dry” re conditions on farms July 2011 August 30, 2011

Israel’s continued occupation prevents Palestinian farming and herding communities from accessing the water they need, especially during times of reduced rain fall, and forces them into further impoverishment.

Climatic changes across the Middle East and north and eastern parts of Africa are threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people who depend on farming and herding to survive. However, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, irregular and inadequate rain fall is only part of the farmers’ and herders’ problem.

Israeli policies and actions in the West Bank which limit Palestinian access to water have left farming and herding communities in an increasingly desperate situation. On 13 July 2011, the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) announced the allocation of more than US$5.5 million in emergency aid to Palestinian communities struggling with water scarcity. But the recent announcement by the Israeli government that it will double the size of illegal agricultural settlements in Area C and the Jordan Valley will only increase settlement control over natural resources, leaving Palestinians who depend on water to make a living fighting for survival.

Oxfam is one of the organisations who will work with ECHO to deliver emergency aid to farming and herding communities suffering from water scarcity in Area C and the Jordan Valley. Currently, Oxfam is providing 2,700 tons of animal feed to 1,843 herders who have been restricted from accessing grazing land and cannot afford the high cost of animal feed. In order to increase their productivity and protect land through cultivation, Oxfam is also distributing 170 tons of seeds to 681 farmers and herders who have not been planting rain fed crops because they cannot afford to replenish their seed stock.

While such assistance is vital to the survival of vulnerable communities, livelihoods would not come under such critical pressure if Israel was to change its policies and the practices limiting access to the natural resources farmers and herders need to earn an income. In order to bring lasting relief to thousands of families who depend on farming and herding to survive, the international community should challenge Israel to ensure Palestinians have access to adequate quantities of water for domestic use, growing crops and farming and herding and control over water infrastructure development such as well development, the construction of networks and rehabilitation of cisterns.

***To schedule a field trip to a community facing water scarcity or for more information about Oxfam’s work in Area C, please contact:

Willow Heske
Oxfam Media Lead, OPTI
willow.heske@oxfamnovib.nl or +972 (0) 59 7133646 or +972 (0) 54 6395002


Hung out to dry, Oxfam media background briefing

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