• * The Study

Study Executive Summary

The occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) which are composed of the West Bank and Gaza Strip have an area of about 6,209 km2.It is populated by about 3,825,512 people of whom 2,385,180 are in the West Bank and 1,440,332 are in Gaza Strip. The average family size in the oPt is 5.8 with 5.5 and 6.5 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip respectively. The deterioration of the economic situation in the oPt between 1997-2007 is reflected in the drop of 2.9% in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. The Gross National Income (GNI) per capita in 2007 is 1230 US$. The unemployment in the oPt is reported to be 31.5% with 23.2% and 49.1% in the West Bank and Gaza Strip respectively. The percentage of Palestinians below the poverty line according to real consumption mode is 34.5. It is 23.6% and 55.7% in the West Bank and Gaza Strip respectively. Furthermore, Palestinians with income below the poverty line is 57.3% with 47.2% and 76.9% in the West Bank and Gaza Strip respectively. Related to food security, households with income below 1.9 US$ per capita per day are considered food insecure in the oPt. It is reported that 38% of the Palestinian households are considered food insecure, 25% in the West Bank and 56% in Gaza Strip. Also, 14% of Palestinian households are considered vulnerable to be food insecure of whom 16% in the West Bank and 11% in Gaza Strip. The contribution of the agricultural sector in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was approximately 5.6% of the GDP in 2007. This contribution is about one fifth the contribution of this sector in the seventies; therefore, it is of great importance to optimize the utilization of the natural resources in a sustainable way by responding to the human and natural induced factors (i.e. land degradation, poverty, inappropriate practices, etc.) that impede the agricultural productivity. Land Reclamation is one of the most important responses that tackle the negative impacts of land degradation. Many land reclamation projects in the form of de-rocking or hill farming has been taking place since early 1990s. Non-agricultural land in the WB has a high proportion of rocks that has both limited the planted area and dictated the techniques of cultivation. This has been one of the most difficult constraints facing small farmers. Therefore, the agricultural development strategy of the MOA, UNDP-Land Development Unit and Palestinian NGOs embraced large-scale de-rocking as a mechanism for expanding cultivable land and increasing agricultural productivity. These bodies were the main stakeholders in the implementation of these projects. As a result, and for the purpose of promoting this process, UNDP-Land Development Unit, Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture and LRC took the initiative of conducting this milestone study entitled: Land Suitability for Reclamation and Development in the West Bank. The final goal of this study is to enhance the mechanism of decision making with relevance to the development of land not utilized for agricultural use in the WB through providing the required data and information to the decision makers and technicians to reach the most proper decisions for the most appropriate utilization of this land.