Helping Food Security Partners Gain Insight into Gaza's Response Amid Famine Concerns

As famine looms in Gaza, iMMAP Inc. Global Surge has deployed Maureen Wangari to the Food Security Sector in Palestine to contribute to gain a better understanding and addressing the gaps in the food security response.

As the Israel-Gaza Crisis enters its fifth month, the entire population of the Gaza Strip faces catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity, with the looming threat of famine.  

Even before the crisis that started with the October 7 attack by Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Israel, which resulted in over 1,200 casualties, over half the population in Gaza was already deemed food insecure. With ongoing hostilities that have wreaked havoc on the fragile agriculture and food production sectors, humanitarian aid is essential as 2.3 million Gaza residents now rely on it to feed themselves (IPC). 

Yet, humanitarian access into Gaza continues to deteriorate (OCHA) as needs mount. According to the latest Food Security Sector Gaza Update (as of January 18th, 2024), only 17% of the usual aid trucks have entered the Strip since the conflict began, exacerbating the food crisis. 

Maureen Wangari, an experienced Information Management Officer deployed by iMMAP Inc. Global Surge with the Food Security Sector in Palestine, describes the unprecedented challenges: "This crisis is not comparable to any other crises I have been involved in. The scale is truly immense, and the situation is collapsing at a really fast pace.” 

After four months of ongoing hostilities, the situation in Gaza has escalated to a critical point where every resident is now classified at or above Phase 3 (Crisis level) of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). This represents the highest proportion of individuals facing severe acute food insecurity ever recorded by the IPC for any given area or country. 

All households across the Strip are forced to skip meals daily, and the risk of famine increases as intense hostilities and limited humanitarian access persist or worsen, reveals the latest IPC report. Such levels of food insecurity are usually the outcomes of prolonged and extreme food consumption gaps. 

Other major concerns highlighted by the Food Security Sector in Palestine are the scarcity of flour and fuel – leading to shortages of bread, a crucial food item in Gaza – and skyrocketing prices for essential products. With increases such as 680% for table salt, 199.66% for sugar substitutes, 179.71% for solid fuel, and 136.36% for potatoes (according to the Food Security Sector) local populations saw their purchasing power drastically decline.  

Deployed to the Food Security Sector since early January, Maureen quickly optimized the 5Ws process for collecting and visualizing weekly trends in the food security response. "When I started, partners were using Excel to upload their data,” explains Maureen. “Now, we've transitioned to a Kobo form that I designed, and I created an interactive dashboard that is now widely shared."  

Working closely with colleagues on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank, Maureen underscores the fast-paced nature and singularity of a crisis with over 28,340 casualties reported in just four months (OCHA). The scale and rapid deterioration of the situation are unprecedented, requiring flexibility and prioritization of tasks.  

Recognizing the importance of clear data for advocacy and funding efforts, Maureen is also committed to strengthening the capacity of her national colleagues in Information Management, ensuring the continuity of tools and methods implemented during her assignment. 

With the long-standing support of the USAID - Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), our Global Surge Team has been providing surge capacity support in emergency operations since 2012 through the Standby Partnership Programme.