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Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Gaza loses half its poultry population due to fighting
About half of Gaza’s poultry population has been lost as a result of the fighting in Gaza, the United NationsFood and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said. The lost poultry includes both layers and broilers.
Some of the Gaza poultry deaths are a result of direct hits on their shelters. Other birds have died from a lack of water, feed or care.
The fighting in Gaza has forced farmers to abandon their lands, bringing local food production to a halt and severely affecting livelihoods, FAO warned. Recovery in the agriculture sector, once hostilities cease, will require significant external assistance over the long term.
Around 64,000 head of small ruminants are in need of animal feed and water in order to avoid further animal deaths and the additional erosion of herders' productive assets.
"Up to now, ongoing military operations have prevented detailed assessments of damages to agriculture from being completed," said Ciro Fiorillo, head of FAO's office in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "With the latest ceasefire holding, however, a series of field visits to agriculture sites has been initiated under the leadership of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and with FAO and other FSS partners participating, as part of a broader Multi-Cluster Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) process. That activity will continue, security conditions permitting, and will lead to a detailed report on damage to agriculture and recovery needs," he added.
The Gaza Strip imports most of what it eats -- however locally produced food represents an important source of nutritious and affordable food, and some 28,600 people in Gaza rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.
"Under the most recent ceasefire many farmers and herders are now able to access their lands, however resumption of food production faces serious obstacles given the damages sustained and shortages of water, electricity, inputs and financial resources, as well as ongoing uncertainty regarding the possible resumption of military activities", said Fiorillo.
Emergency fodder distribution planned
As soon as a permanent ceasefire is established FAO, with support from Canada, will distribute fodder to feed 55,000 small ruminants throughout Gaza for 45 days. The FAO is also positioned to distribute 4 000, 1-cubic meter water tanks to help herders water their animals.
"We have a program that supports the resilience of agriculture-based livelihoods of Gaza fishermen, herders and farmers," said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO regional representative for the Near East and North Africa. "We need to get this back on track as soon as hostilities cease, to promote not just survival of Gaza's people but their self-reliant development."