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URBAN FOOD ECONOMY/MARKET STUDY IN THE WEST BANK Alexandra King The Food Economy Group For ICRC & British Red Cross

Final report: 17 June 2002

Disclaimer: This document is a mission report only. It does not commit the ICRC to undertake any specific activity, nor to comply with any of the suggestions or findings stated herein. Enquiries about the contents of this report should be directed only to the ICRC delegation in Jerusalem, Tel: 02-582 8845


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The urban voucher programme intends to provide economic assistance to 20% of the population in nine urban centres in the West Bank for six months (July – December 2002). The current plan is that selected families will receive a voucher each month that entitles them to a small fixed parcel of goods plus a choice of goods from a defined list up to a certain shekel value. The total value of the voucher will be close to US$90 per family per month. Beneficiaries will be selected by the Ministry of Social Affairs in collaboration with local emergency committees and NGOs. The programme will be operated through a small number of grocery shops in each town and the list of allowed items will include locally produced items.

• The purpose of this study was to outline the current functioning of, and constraints to, the market system in the West Bank and how this will interact with a voucher assistance programme in selected urban areas, in order to facilitate the best possible design for an effective programme. Objectives included: to identify current income and expenditure patterns among the most vulnerable groups; to identify the ability of the market to respond to the distribution of vouchers; to identify any potentially adverse effects on supply and price; and to identify the core elements of a market monitoring system. •

Current income sources vary from one poor family to the next and include: welfare payments from the Social Affairs Department and from other Palestinian Authority Ministries; borrowing from relatives and friends/neighbours; gifts from relatives and friends/neighbours locally; cash and goods from Zakat committees and other donors; remittances from relatives abroad; sale of assets (particularly gold); low paid work (salaried and daily); and municipality job schemes.

• The poor include families without an adult who is capable of working (social cases) and families in which the breadwinner has been unemployed for a long time or was unemployed recently but was previously on low wages. They have usually exhausted their savings, do not have relatives or friends locally or abroad who can assist in any major way, and often comprise large families. • The expenditure pattern outlined in the report illustrates the poorer end of the range of families interviewed, for a family of six members living on approximately 1000 – 1100 NIS per month. Approximately 60-65% of expenditure is on basic food items, 20% on hygiene items and 15-20% on other items (school costs, gas cylinders and cigarettes). Basic food items include bread, flour, rice, lentils, chickpeas, beans, sugar, oil, and vegetables. Families also purchase small quantities of chicken and milk powder (if there is a small child). Such families cannot afford to pay their rent, electricity or water bills and they find it difficult to afford medicines or expensive foods such as meat, fruit, fresh milk and cheese. •

The maximum value of the voucher ($90) represents roughly 40-45% of overall household expenditure and roughly 65-70% of expenditure on food for poor families. The first priority for additional ‘cash’ varied from family to family, but included: repaying debts, buying better quality food (meat, fruit and dairy products), stocking basic foods (very important in the current climate of on and off incursions and curfews), paying for health care, and buying clothes and other items for their children.

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• Ability of the market to respond: With numerous checkpoints to be crossed on any journey from Israel, traders obviously are facing difficulties in transporting goods. Trucks can be held up at checkpoints for hours, and goods often have to be unloaded from a truck with Israeli yellow plates and then reloaded onto a truck with Palestinian green plates. In general, goods from Israel cross checkpoints more easily than goods produced in the West Bank, and food items cross more easily than non-food items. Every trader we spoke with, however, said that goods do finally get through. In addition to having various supply channels, traders (especially the larger wholesalers and retailers) hold large stocks of food and non-food items (well over one month of demand), which act as a buffer during periods when the enforcement of closure is particularly strict. •

All the traders interviewed stated that their overriding constraint is a lack of purchasing power (consumer demand). They stated that are currently operating at a level of turnover that is 40-60% lower than before the Intifada. They have the capacity to expand and everyone (including the Ministry of Supply) assured the team that traders could meet whatever extra demand the programme might introduce.

• Regarding prices and the risk of inflation to poor families that are not included in the programme, there is little concern amongst key informants that a programme of this size will result in inflation and this seems to be supported by secondary source information. On the supply side, traders have their ways of ensuring that goods for which there is a demand get through, as outlined above. On the demand side, although the programme is large, it is not large in comparison to the size of the economy. We were repeatedly told by traders that increased transportation costs as a result of closure have already been incorporated into their prices, and that any price increases that occur in future are likely to be caused by changes in the dollar-shekel exchange rate. •

Regarding traders that are not selected to participate in the programme, there is no doubt that some traders may lose business if the voucher programme is run through a small number of shops. But operating the programme through the market, even if there are some shops that lose out, is better than a traditional relief programme that distributes parcels of goods that have been procured outside the economy, where all businesses lose out. Similarly, with regard to the decision on the number of shops to include in the programme, there are pros and cons on both sides. If just a few shops are chosen, then the benefits (profits) are concentrated in fewer hands but the monitoring and administration of the programme will be easier. If all shops in a town were allowed to participate, then the benefits would be spread more evenly, but monitoring would become difficult and this is a concern in the current political climate.

Market monitoring: The most important things to monitor regularly (at least monthly) are prices (including the exchange rate) and the situation regarding closure. In addition, periodic monitoring of the impact of the programme on local traders and local producers is recommended (perhaps after two months of programme operation and then again after another two to three months). In order to understand the contribution of the voucher programme to the standard of living of beneficiaries, it will be important to periodically conduct semi-structured interviews with beneficiaries exploring their expenditure patterns and how these have changed (or not changed) since the introduction of the programme.

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INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY Following the escalation of conflict in the West Bank in March – April 2002, ICRC undertook a rapid assessment of immediate and medium-term relief needs in both rural and urban areas. One of the recommendations emerging from the assessment was for a voucher programme to assist households in urban areas. In brief, the proposed urban voucher programme intends to provide economic assistance to 20% of the population, or 20,000 families, in nine urban centres in the West Bank for six months (July – December 2002). Selected households will receive a voucher each month that entitles them to a small fixed parcel of goods plus a choice of goods from a defined list up to a certain shekel value. The value of the voucher (both fixed and flexible items) will be close to US$90 per family per month. Beneficiaries will be selected by the Ministry of Social Affairs in collaboration with local emergency committees and NGOs. The programme will be operated through a small number of grocery shops in each town and the list of allowed items will include as many locally produced items as possible. The aims are to 1) assist poor families to meet their essential daily requirements; 2) support local traders in a limited way rather than undermining them (as many programmes do by bringing in free goods to distribute from outside); and 3) support local producers, who have faced a sharp decline in sales since late 2000. During the proposal review process, some questions and concerns were raised regarding the ability of the market to respond to such a large programme and the potentially adverse effects it might have on the market system. The result was this rapid study of markets and selected aspects of the food economy in urban areas of the West Bank. The full terms of reference for the study are contained in Annex 1, but the following goal and objectives 1 reflect the main concerns that were raised. Goal: To outline the current functioning of, and constraints to, the market system in the West Bank and how this will interact with a voucher assistance programme in selected urban areas, in order to facilitate the best possible design for an effective programme. Objectives: • to identify current income and expenditure patterns among the most vulnerable groups, in order to determine the proposed value of the voucher as a proportion of this expenditure and to identify the likely pattern of additional expenditure • to identify the ability of the market to respond to the distribution of vouchers in order to meet beneficiary needs • to identify any potentially adverse effects on supply and price (particularly with regard to a negative impact on poor households who are not eligible to receive the vouchers, or traders not selected to participate) • to identify the core elements of a market monitoring system to support the voucher programme during implementation

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It should be emphasised that this was not a needs assessment, as that had already been completed by ICRC prior to the study; nor was it meant to design the main practical aspects of the programme (e.g. voucher value), which had already been decided prior to the study.

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The following report, after outlining the methods used and providing a brief background on the current economic situation in the West Bank, is structured around these four objectives.

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METHODOLOGY Following a review of available documentation (ICRC internal documents), the consultant 2 and an ICRC Relief Field Officer visited four cities in the West Bank in the period 21 - 30 May 2002. Nablus, Bethlehem and Hebron were selected by the ICRC office for their varying experiences of incursion and curfew during March – April 2002. Jericho was selected as an example of a smaller town by default because the office’s first choice, Qalqilya, was off limits due to curfew. In order to answer questions regarding the beneficiary profile, the team met with the head of the Social Affairs Department (SAD) and, with the help of SAD social workers, interviewed poor households in each town. The Ministry of Social Affairs provides cash welfare payments to social cases, which are poor families that do not have an adult male capable of working. Due to budgetary constraints, the number of registered social cases has a fixed maximum in each town, and payments are not made on a monthly basis. The SAD has additional applications on a waiting list, together with lists of poor unemployed families that have applied for assistance despite the fact that they do not meet the ‘social case’ criteria (i.e. they are capable of working but currently cannot find work). Families from the unofficial categories are provided assistance on an irregular basis when the SAD receives additional resources from donors (usually food items). As the timeframe for this study was short, the team relied heavily on the SAD social workers to identify poor families for interview. In total, 24 families from both the official social case and unemployed categories were interviewed. This was never meant to represent a statistical sample of poor families, but did provide a good basis for profiling current income and expenditure patterns (keeping in mind that the poorer a family is, the fewer options it has regarding how to spend its money). There was a lot of consistency between interviews in terms of the types of items and quantities that families were purchasing. This was not a full household food economy assessment, in that wealth breakdowns were not conducted and households from other wealth groups were not interviewed. In order to answer questions regarding the market system, the team met with officials from the Chambers of Commerce, the head of the Ministry of Supply, wholesalers (small, medium and large), and retailers (small, medium and large) in each town. ICRC Field Officers and members of the National Emergency Committee were also consulted. Annex 3 contains a list of the types of questions that were asked of key informants in each town. ECONOMIC BACKGROUND A number of the documents listed (ICRC internal, not for public use) contain detailed descriptions of the economic situation prior to and during the current Intifada (which began in October 2000). This report will provide only a brief summary and readers who need more information are referred to other documents and reports from eg. the World Bank, Swiss Development Cooperation, Econonist Intelligence Unit, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, etc.

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Many thanks go to Anis Touma for all his help during this study.

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Prior to the current Intifada, the Israeli and Palestinian economies were closely linked. Many Palestinians worked in Israel, particularly in the construction and agricultural sectors, and large quantities of goods were traded in both directions. Israeli exports into 3 the West Bank and Gaza were $1.7 billion per year in 1999. The main Palestinian export, of labour, reached a level of $1.1 billion in the same year, with close to 120,000 official workers (and many more unofficial ones). The Palestinian Authority operated a 4 budget of US$107 million monthly , a large part of which was collected and transferred by Israel as VAT revenue for goods and services it received. Much of this has changed since the start of the Intifada, with Israel implementing a strict policy of closure, citing security grounds. ‘Closure’ restricts the movement of persons or goods between the West Bank and Israel, between towns in the West Bank, and between towns and their surrounding villages. Checkpoints manned by Israeli soldiers on all major routes within the West Bank enforce this policy, more or less strictly depending on the political and security situation. The result of the closure policies has been to gradually strangle the Palestinian economy. Most of the Palestinians who worked in Israel and in Israeli settlements are now officially unemployed. The export of goods from Palestinian Territories has become difficult and tourism has completely ceased to be a source of income. The Israeli government is no longer transferring VAT to the Palestinian Authority, which has reduced its monthly spending to $90 million per month, and is running a deficit of $20 million per month 5 despite significant budgetary support from Arab states and the EU. 6

By mid-2001, median monthly household income was down to 1700 NIS from 3000 NIS pre-Intifada, and 172,000 people were officially unemployed, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. The World Bank estimated that 45-50% of the Palestinian population was living below its poverty level defined as US$2 per person per day before 7 the recent incursions and curfews. The situation has undoubtedly worsened in recent months, with the IDF targeting PA infrastructure, and curfews halting all economic activity for weeks on end in some areas. INCOME AND EXPENDITURE PATTERNS OF THE POOR As mentioned above, the team met representatives of 24 families that were described as poor by social workers of the Ministry of Social Affairs. A few were official social cases, but the majority was unemployed. Their situations varied but fell largely into a few main types. The families that were social cases well before the start of the current Intifada are now finding it even more difficult to make ends meet. In some cases this was because they 3 4 5 6 7

Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, May 2001. Economist Intelligence Unit, January 2002. Economist Intelligence Unit, January 2002. US$1 = 4.2 NIS in late 2001; the current rate is US$1 = 4.9 NIS. World Bank, March 2002.

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had part-time, low-wage work before the recent incursions and have now lost their jobs or seen their incomes fall. In other cases it was because it is now more difficult for their relatives to assist them. (Note: the financial assistance provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs is at times irregular, and even if regular it is not enough money for an urban family 8 to live on , so families must have other income sources.) Amongst the unemployed, the team met families in which the men were employed in the construction or agricultural sectors in Israel or in settlements before the Intifada. Some of these men turned to working within their own towns after October 2000, usually finding a maximum of half the work they had previously done in Israel. Others managed to return to Israel to work illegally for a period. Since the recent incursions, however, some reported not working at all, others that they are currently doing about 5 days of work per month locally. Families that relied on the tourism sector before the Intifada, working in souvenir shops or in restaurants, are similarly affected. For many families, the slide into current poverty has been a gradual one, starting with the loss of employment in Israel or in a sector that has collapsed at the start of the Intifada; continuing for over a year when working locally and part-time in the informal sector while also selling assets and switching expenditure to cheaper goods; and now ending in unemployment and reliance on relatives, neighbours and relief. Assistance within the Palestinian community is strong and the team was repeatedly told that no one would ever go hungry while a neighbour has something to share. There has been a lot of relief assistance provided to urban areas since the incursions, mainly in the form of basic food items from international organisations, Arab states, and local relief committees. Indeed, there were some complaints that families had received too much of certain items while they were lacking other needed items, which was causing them to sell assistance (often at low prices). This is an argument in favour of giving beneficiaries some choice in terms of the assistance that they receive. Current income sources vary from family to family and include: • welfare payments from SAD and from other Palestinian Authority Ministries • borrowing from relatives and friends/neighbours • gifts from relatives and friends/neighbours locally • cash and goods from Zakat committees and other donors • remittances from relatives abroad • sale of assets (particularly gold) • low paid work (salaried and daily) • municipality job schemes (at 30 NIS per day) Some of the households that the team interviewed were poorer than others. The expenditure pattern outlined in Annex 4 illustrates the poorer end of the spectrum, for a 9 family of six members living on approximately 1000 – 1100 NIS per month. Many households stated that this has been their standard of living for the last 4 – 6 months. Approximately 60-65% of expenditure is on basic food items, 20% on hygiene items and 8 9

A family of six receives just under 400 NIS per month.

The exchange rate at the time of interviews was US$1 = 4.85 NIS, therefore the budget illustrated is roughly $205 – 225.:

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15-20% on other items (school costs, gas cylinders and cigarettes). Basic food items include bread, flour, rice, lentils, chickpeas, beans, sugar, oil, and vegetables. Families also purchase small quantities of chicken and milk powder (if there is a small child in the 10 family, as in the example given). Such families cannot afford to pay their rent, electricity or water bills and they find it difficult to afford medicines or expensive foods such as meat, fruit, fresh milk and cheese. Traders confirmed the changes in the consumer basket that beneficiaries described, stating that most families now only purchase ‘necessary’ items and forego luxuries. Consumers have also been switching expenditure to cheaper brands. The maximum value of the voucher ($90 minus administrative costs) represents roughly 40-45% of overall household expenditure and roughly 65-70% of expenditure on food. This is not inconsistent with initial estimates that the voucher would represent half of an average family’s expenditure on food. Poor families, by definition, have lower expenditure on food and other items than the average. When relief items are provided, as they have been in large quantities in recent weeks, poor families are able to reduce their expenditure on certain items, but this does not always mean that there is left over money to spend on other items. Often, it just means that they ‘borrow’ less. Many of the families we interviewed have large amounts of debt (up to thousands of dollars), owed both to the electricity and water companies and to relatives and friends. The extent to which the lenders expect to ever be repaid is an interesting question. The first priority for additional ‘cash’ varied from family to family, but included: repaying debts, buying better quality food (meat, fruit and dairy products), stocking basic foods (very important in the current climate of on and off incursions and curfews), paying for health care, and buying clothes and other items for their children. The need for cash is highest at three times during the year: just before the start of the school year (which begins in late August), the beginning of winter (when clothes especially are needed) and during Ramadan. In some towns, lengthy periods of curfew were experienced during March and April (the worst case was 40 days in Bethlehem). The vast majority of families, even poor families, had stocked basic foods in preparation for just this type of event. Assistance between neighbours and some relief also helped families to get through the curfew periods. In some towns, people were given short breaks in the curfew (a couple of hours) for shopping and stocking up on additional goods, including fresh foods. In some cases, the voucher could be an important means to allow families to stock up on basic items in preparation for future events. In terms of defining what to include on the list of items that can be purchased with the voucher, Annex 4 provides a list of items that poor households purchase on a monthly basis. One of the main aspects of the voucher programme that was welcomed by key informants was that it would allow beneficiaries a degree of flexibility in selecting items. Therefore, when another donor has distributed basic food items (e.g. flour, rice, and pulses), beneficiaries will not be forced to ‘purchase’ these same items with the voucher but can instead select other things that they need. However, this does not mean that 10

Some families have been cut off but many pay a small amount of their bill when they are threatened with being cut off and this placates the electricity company for a time.

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other donors (particularly Arab States) will not distribute relief food on an ad hoc basis, so the flexibility of the voucher remains an important feature of the programme. In terms of beneficiaries, the process of selecting families for a voucher programme is no different or more complicated than for a more traditional relief programme. The possible categories to choose amongst are the official social cases, unofficial social cases (i.e. would be registered as social cases but for the fact that the number is limited), and the unemployed. Whether or not to include the official social cases is an interesting question since they are essentially a chronic caseload and the exit strategy for this programme must be kept in mind. In ICRC’s rural programme, social cases were initially excluded for this reason, the thinking being that they were not directly affected by the current economic crisis. But it was later concluded that they do represent some of the poorest families and that they are having a more difficult time as a result of the current economic crisis. The latter manifests itself in irregular cash welfare payments from the Ministry of Social Affairs and a reduction in support from relatives and neighbours. Consequently, the criteria were changed and the social cases were included in the rural relief programme. A similar conclusion might be reached in urban areas, but it should be kept in mind that officials from the Ministry of Social Affairs said that they would only recommend including some social cases (particularly those with large families) and would prefer to concentrate on the unemployed, a group that currently is only irregularly assisted. One problem is that the number of families that fall into the officially unemployed category is huge. Key informants recommended having very strict criteria, and warned that selection for assistance is often made on political grounds (e.g. to families with members who are detained, underground or martyred regardless of whether they are genuinely poor). Amongst the unemployed, those who have been unemployed for a long time, and those who are recently unemployed but who were previously on low wages, are currently having a difficult time. Families that fall into these categories and without relatives locally or abroad that can assist them in any major way and with large numbers of children could be given priority. Excluding the families of unemployed men who are engaged in municipality job schemes should be considered, provided these schemes are scheduled to continue for several months. If refugees are to be excluded in order to avoid duplication with UNRWA programmes, then this needs to be made very clear to the Ministry of Social Affairs and other bodies involved in the selection process. ABILITY OF THE MARKET TO RESPOND The organisation of the market system in each urban centre is slightly different, but there are broad similarities. Each of the cities in the West Bank has a number of large wholesalers who import almost everything that is found in the market (excluding fresh foods). They own trucks on both sides of the ‘border’, with both Israeli and Palestinian licence plates, and have permits to transport goods from the Israeli authorities. They have to inform these authorities of every truck that is expected at a checkpoint (including its cargo, license plate and driver’s name) and have more or less difficulty on a given day depending on the security situation. These wholesalers distribute to grocery shops throughout their towns (and the largest wholesalers distribute to other towns as well). The market system from wholesalers to retailers used to operate on a credit system, but this broke down to some extent during the incursions and curfews, when almost everyone had

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trouble obtaining cash due to bank closures. The credit system is gradually being restored as weeks of partial stability go by, but this seems to vary somewhat from city to city. In the smaller towns, the wholesalers tend to be smaller and they often procure goods from the large wholesalers in other towns within the West Bank, rather than importing themselves from Israel. For example, the six main grocery stores in the centre of Jericho procure most of their goods from large wholesalers in Ramallah, and then themselves act as small wholesalers to smaller grocery shops within Jericho town and surrounding areas. Because the vast majority of the food and non-food items consumed within the Palestinian Territories originates in or is transported through Israel, the population is particularly vulnerable to restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities. Traders have adjusted their marketing systems to take account of this fact. They hold large stocks and are constantly looking for new ways to import and export goods. With numerous checkpoints to be crossed on any journey from Israel, traders obviously are facing difficulties in transporting goods. Trucks can be held up at checkpoints for hours, and goods often have to be unloaded from a truck with Israeli yellow plates and then reloaded onto a truck with Palestinian green plates. In general, goods from Israel cross checkpoints more easily than goods produced in the West Bank, and food items cross more easily than non-food items. Every trader we spoke with, however, said that the goods do finally get through. If one channel proves difficult, there is usually a possibility to find another one. Despite these transport problems, all the wholesalers interviewed stated that their overriding constraint is a lack of purchasing power (consumer demand). They stated that are currently operating at a level of turnover that is 40-60% lower than before the Intifada. They have the capacity to expand and everyone (including the Ministry of Supply) assured the team that traders could meet whatever extra demand the programme might introduce. Obviously an important factor to monitor in this regard, and a risk to the success of the programme, is the extent to which closure is imposed by the Israeli authorities over the coming months. In addition to having various supply channels, traders (especially the larger wholesalers and retailers) hold large stocks of food and non-food items (well over one month of demand). This acts as a buffer when transport routes become blocked, as they were during the curfews earlier this year. The only shortages that were reported to the team during the long curfews were of fresh vegetables and medicines. There were no shortages of basic food and hygiene items. The problem for consumers was rather one of obtaining physical access to the shops. Traders repeatedly stated that the distributions of relief items brought in from outside the West Bank were negatively affecting business and gave numerous examples of this. The head of the Ministry of Supply in one town went so far as to say that ‘gifts of food and other items are destroying the local economy’. In terms of their ability to respond to a programme that would operate through the local economy rather than competing with it, the large and medium-sized wholesalers gave many examples of meeting tenders for organisations, both local and international. Several wholesalers have filled tenders for

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thousands of parcels of food items in recent months, and the concept of vouchers or 11 coupons is not unknown. The ability of the market to respond in terms of locally produced goods is more constrained than for Israeli goods, but provided a few factors are kept in mind it should be possible to include some of them. The term ‘locally-produced’ can have different meanings – local to a specific town, local to its surrounding rural areas, and local to the West Bank as a whole. Each town has a different list of goods that are produced within the town itself and in surrounding rural areas (with small towns obviously producing less locally than larger towns). This may complicate the process of choosing ‘allowed’ items in each town. In terms of goods produced in the West Bank as a whole, those that are not perishable (e.g. soap and detergent) are much more likely to be transported from town to town than those that are perishable or require special treatment (e.g. dairy products). This is because of the often-lengthy transport times and the difficulties of unloading and reloading items. Key informants stated that factories have a large capacity to expand production. For example, the Hebron Chamber of Commerce stated that many factories are currently operating at 20-25% of pre-Intifada capacity, with many employees fired or working only part-time. They stated that production could be increased quickly, and that the factories hold large stocks in case of any delays in importing raw materials. Lastly, most grocery shops do not sell fruit, vegetables or fresh meat, so including such items on the list may cause problems (assuming that each voucher is to be used at one shop per beneficiary, as originally proposed). Two things should be kept in mind in this regard. First, purchasing fruit and vegetables from the market (where local farmers often sell direct) is always going to be cheaper for beneficiaries than purchasing in a grocery shop. And second, the money that families save by using vouchers for basic items in one shop can be used to purchase fruit and vegetables elsewhere, should the family so choose. A number of practical issues for the programme emerged during discussions with wholesalers, retailers, Chambers of Commerce and other key informants. On the question of whether to work directly with wholesalers or retailers, unfortunately, the advice varied. In Nablus, the recommendation was to work with the three very large wholesalers and through them to a number of shops geographically spread around the town. The argument was that this would simplify ICRC’s dealings with the trader sector and that the large wholesalers have the capacity to manage a large programme of this sort. One complication to this, however, might occur if ICRC wanted to choose the participating grocery shops (with the advice of the NECs), as wholesalers are likely to want to work with shop owners they know well and trust. On balance, the most practical approach may be to work directly with retailers rather than introducing another layer of complexity into the programme.

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In one of the larger grocery shops in Jericho, when the team started to explain the idea behind the urban voucher programme, the owner of the shop opened up his cash till, pulled out a voucher, and said ‘you mean one of these?’ A local NGO was implementing a voucher system for a small number of beneficiaries in the town. One difference with the proposed ICRC system was that the voucher was for a fixed parcel of goods, but the owner stated that he would be able to operate a more flexible system. In Nablus, a short-term coupon system for bread was being implemented throughout the town during the team’s visit, funded by the Saudi Government. Previous coupon schemes for dairy products have also been implemented in the town, through the Zakat Committee.

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In Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jericho, key informants favoured working directly with large grocery shops and supermarkets rather than with large wholesalers. The argument in these towns was that the largest wholesalers tend to concentrate on a small number of goods (they are agents for particular Israeli companies) rather than supplying everything that an individual grocery shop might need. It was emphasized that the large grocery shops and supermarkets have the capacity to implement the programme. Many of them act as small wholesalers to smaller retailers in any case. At no point was it suggested that the programme work through small grocery shops because of their lack of capacity to organise parcels and cope with large numbers of beneficiaries. Indeed, the owners of small shops that the team visited themselves stated that they would not be interested in participating due to lack of personnel and capital. The Chambers of Commerce in Hebron and Jericho were very willing to help ICRC in identifying large shops and were happy to call a meeting of shop owners at their offices for an initial discussion of the programme. The Chambers of Commerce in Nablus and Bethlehem were not contacted due to time constraints but would be a useful starting point for the process of identifying shops. The team was informed that all large shops in each town are members of the Chamber of Commerce. The Ministry of Supply could also be consulted during the process of selecting shops because they monitor shops and have records of those that have been caught selling expired goods in the past. The question of the number of shops to include in the programme will be dealt with in the next section (relating to potentially adverse effects). In sum, a decision has to be made comparing how far to spread the benefits (profits) from the programme versus the ability of ICRC to monitor and administer the programme. It will be important to accommodate the current security situation and the constraints of shop owners into the voucher programme. The original idea was that individual beneficiaries would be given a voucher that they could use on a specific day or within a specific short period. In the current climate of on and off curfews in some cities, ICRC will have to think ahead to what flexibility will be allowed when the allotted days for a group of beneficiaries coincides with a curfew period when they cannot physically get to their assigned shop. At the same time, it must be remembered that even the larger shops are not that large and can only process a certain number of beneficiaries per day. POTENTIALLY ADVERSE EFFECTS The terms of reference refer to two specific concerns: that prices will rise and negatively affect poor families that are not included in the programme; and that traders who are not selected to participate in the programme will lose business. Regarding prices, there is little concern amongst key informants that a programme of this size will result in inflation. On the supply side, traders have their ways of ensuring that goods for which there is a demand get through, as outlined above. On the demand side, although the programme is large, it is not large in comparison to the size of the economy. We were repeatedly told by traders that increased transportation costs as a result of closure have already been incorporated into their prices, and that any price increases that occur in future are likely to be caused by changes in the dollar-shekel exchange rate.

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Some of the documents used as background to this paper (ICRC internal) back up these views from people on the ground. Prices have increased slightly more in the West Bank than in Israel since the start of the Intifada, but this is attributed to the additional transport costs as a result of Israel’s closure policies. Inflation in the West Bank in 2001 was roughly 3%, while in Israel it was close to zero. The cost of transportation in the West 12 Bank increased by roughly 10% during the first three months of the Intifada. The programme will introduce a maximum of $1.8 million into the West Bank economy per month for six months (20,000 families times $90 per family). To put this into context, the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce estimated in early May 2002 that the export of Israeli merchandise to the Palestinian Territories is $1.2 billion per year, or $100 million 13 per month. The Palestinian Authority spent $57 million per month in 2001 on employee wages alone, and key informants did not mention any PA employees having been fired this year. Admittedly, these two figures ($100 million per month and $57 million per month) apply to both the West Bank and Gaza, whereas the programme will only be in the urban West Bank, but the West Bank economy is stronger than that in Gaza and serves a larger population. The conclusion is that, while the vouchers should be significant at household level, they do not represent a large percentage of overall demand. Combined with the reported ability of traders to respond (and the fact that they are currently operating well below their pre-Intifada capacity), there should be no increase in prices as a result of the programme. However, other factors may cause prices to increase, particularly changes in the dollarshekel exchange rate. And one risk, which has already been mentioned and which must be monitored, is that the Israeli authorities further tighten the movement of people and goods. It is important to understand these other factors when interpreting the impact of the programme. Regarding traders that are not selected to participate in the programme, there is no doubt that some traders may lose business if the voucher programme is run through a small number of shops. But again it is important to keep things in perspective. ICRC decided in early May 2002 that the economic security situation at household level warranted a relief intervention. Put in very simple terms, the choice of options ranges from traditional distributions of parcels of goods, usually procured outside the country, to cash. The former gives no choice to beneficiaries and competes with local business, while the latter is fully flexible and would potentially benefit all businesses. Cash was never an option for the relief programme in the West Bank, mainly for political reasons and because of the requirement to monitor the programme closely. Vouchers were seen as lying somewhere in between, a compromise in some senses regarding beneficiary choice and benefits to the local economy, but better than distributing parcels of goods that were purchased outside the local economy. PARCELS ----------------------------------VOUCHERS------------------------------------ CASH less choice compromise more choice worst for local economy best for local economy 12 13

Economist Intelligence Unit, January 2002.

It is not entirely clear if this reflects any decrease in demand that resulted from the March – April 2002 events, so this figure may actually be lower at present. This was the latest information available, however.

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Similarly, with regard to the decision on the number of shops to include in the programme, there are pros and cons on both sides. If just a few shops are chosen, then the benefits (profits) are concentrated in a few hands but the monitoring and administration of the programme will be easier. If all shops in a town were allowed to participate, then the benefits would be spread more evenly, but monitoring would become difficult and this is a concern in the current political climate. FEW SHOPS --------------------------------------------------------------------LOTS OF SHOPS concentrates benefits spreads benefits monitoring/admin easier monitoring/admin difficult Choices have to be made and there will be winners and losers under any scenario selected. The important thing is to be aware of the implications of any choice. MARKET MONITORING This section refers to market monitoring rather than monitoring the implementation of the programme itself. Please see Annex 6 for more details. The ICRC staff assigned to each town can conduct most of the information gathering. However, it would be advisable to identify a focal point for this monitoring task as a whole, and this should be someone who can coordinate the information gathering exercise in the various towns, and compile and analyse the information produced. If it is felt that it is not possible for someone to incorporate this into their daily workload, then external assistance should be scheduled as soon as possible. The most important things to monitor regularly (at least monthly) are prices (including the exchange rate) and the situation regarding closure (the restrictiveness of Israeli controls over the movement of goods). Price changes can provide a useful indicator of what is happening in the economy, and should also be monitored because of concerns that the programme might affect non-beneficiaries through price changes. Closure should be monitored since it is currently the main factor influencing the state of the economy. The situation regarding closure will influence both the ability of the voucher programme to function and ICRC’s eventual withdrawal strategy from the programme. Monitoring prices should not involve much additional work. The Ministry of Supply already monitors the prices of food and a few non-food items (petrol, diesel and gas) on a weekly basis. Reports are available from them, and, in some towns, ICRC Field Officers already collect these. There is no need to duplicate these efforts, although ICRC will have to decide whether to collect the prices of hygiene items themselves (possibly important since these items are more tightly controlled than food items). In terms of interpreting price changes, understanding what is happening regarding closure and the exchange rate are important, as are periodic visits to large wholesalers and Ministry of Supply officials to discuss the reasons for any observed changes. It is important that price changes that are caused by other factors are not attributed to the programme by mistake. Two aims of the voucher programme are to support local traders in a limited way rather than competing with them and to support local producers. And one worry related to the programme is the impact on traders who are not selected. It is important that these things are monitored periodically (perhaps after two months of programme operation and then

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again after another two to three months). Visits to local factories that produce goods on the list (and perhaps to those that do not, as a way of understanding what is happening generally in the economy), to farmers, and to grocery shops both included and not included in the programme will be important for gaining an understanding of the impact of 14 the programme. In order to understand the contribution of the voucher programme to the standard of living of beneficiaries, it will be important to periodically conduct semi-structured interviews with beneficiaries exploring their expenditure patterns and how these have changed (or not 15 changed) since the introduction of the programme. Any trends that emerge can then be cross-checked with the relevant sectors of the local economy. For example, if beneficiaries report that they are purchasing more meat or fruit, then butchers or fruit stall owners should be interviewed regarding their turnover. If beneficiaries report that they are paying their electricity bills, then the electricity company should be contacted regarding general trends in bill payments. Information from the interviews with grocery shops should be examined to see if any changes in the consumer basket are evident and if they correspond with the information provided by beneficiaries. While monitoring these things, however, it is important to keep in mind that beneficiary expenditure patterns may not change very much as a result of the voucher programme – they may just borrow less or receive less gifts from relatives and friends. Finally, collecting information in itself is pointless unless someone is given the task of compiling the information and interpreting changes and what they mean in terms of the programme, its impact and its eventual withdrawal. Since a voucher programme on this scale is new to ICRC – and indeed new to most organisations – it is important that all aspects of the programme are well documented. Many lessons will be learned for future programmes from the entire process of setting up the voucher system (both its successes and failures) and from monitoring its impact on beneficiaries and the market.

14 15

Annex 6 includes some suggested questions to pose to businesses.

Annex 6 includes some suggested questions for these interviews. In general, the less consistent the replies, the more interviews that should be conducted.

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ANNEX 1: Terms of reference Goal To outline the current functioning of, and constraints to, the market system in the West Bank and how this will interact with a voucher assistance programme in selected urban areas, in order to facilitate the best possible design for an effective programme. Objectives •To identify current income and expenditure patterns among the most vulnerable groups (to be defined within the current context of high unemployment, decapitalisation, loss of purchasing power), in order to determine the proposed value of the voucher as a proportion of this expenditure and to identify the likely pattern of additional expenditure •To identify the ability of the market to respond to the distribution of vouchers in order to meet beneficiary needs •To identify any potentially adverse effects on supply and price (particularly with regard to a negative impact on poor households who are not eligible to receive the vouchers, or traders not selected to participate). Specific areas to cover in 2 or 3 towns Analysis of markets, traders and economic framework •Determine the limiting factors in the functioning of the markets for food and household non-food items, i.e. to what extent purchase is limited by purchasing power, supply or price. •Determine the availability and source of those items bought by the poorest. Assess the constraints (including security constraints) to the trading of those items and the impact that an intensification of these constraints would have on the programme. Identify current trends in supply and price and assess the possible impact on the value of the voucher if such trends continue. •Assess the possible impact of a monthly voucher distribution on traders' activities, the markets, and on the local economy. What will be the likely effect on prices and on the availability of food and non-food items? (of particular concern for vulnerable groups and traders not included in the programme). •Identify the core elements of a market monitoring system to support the voucher program during implementation. Stakeholder analysis of needs and potential impact •Assess current income and expenditure patterns among the poorest (which must include the bottom 20%) and not-quite-so-poor groups, and assess how income

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and expenditure patterns have changed over the past year. Identify the difficulties they currently face in meeting basic needs. •Assess the possible effect on household expenditure of a monthly voucher of the value proposed; determine the proportion of current income and expenditure that it represents, and the nature of the additional expenditure (i.e. what would potential beneficiaries be likely to spend the extra money on?) •To identify the options for having locally purchased food items on the list of items beneficiaries can access with their vouchers. (At a later date it may be possible to provide some idea on the value of this in supporting the local economy). Outputs •A definition of the most vulnerable in the current context. •A first draft of the list of items either to be in the package or on the "selection list", or both. •Economic monitoring tools relevant to this program. Ideally also transferable to more general EcoSec programs/monitoring. •A brief analysis of the positive impacts of the program on local economy and beneficiary purchasing power. •A brief analysis of potential problem areas, especially with regard to negative impact on supply and price. •A mission report which will be made available publicly.

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ANNEX 2:

excluded from this version

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ANNEX 3: Key questions and issues discussed General questions - explain idea behind voucher programme and ask: - can traders bring in additional goods? (do not want to introduce demand that cannot be met thus risking price increase) - how to avoid duplication with other relief programmes? - how to select grocery shops? - what problems could it create for traders who are not included? - previous experiences of coupon/voucher systems? how did they work? - what local goods (locally produced or packaged) are available in large quantities and could be included in the programme? Ministry of Social Affairs number of official social cases – breakdown by urban/rural/refugee breakdown of official urban social cases – by family size and by category of social case (elderly, widows, chronically ill, etc) - other categories of poor – unofficial social cases, unemployed, etc - additional number of applications received – by urban/rural/refugee – how may applications per month? - any differences between social cases here and in other towns - regularity of financial assistance to social cases - regularity of food assistance to social cases - some of the general questions listed above

-

Ministry of Supply what are recent price trends? what factors influence price changes? system for monitoring prices – could your weekly reports be provided to ICRC? how did prices change when closure was introduced in late 2000? what impact do you think the voucher programme might have on prices? on the economy? on traders who are not included? - how many grocery shops are there in your city? - some of the general questions listed above

-

Chambers of Commerce - generally want to know how the market system operates in the West Bank - explain idea behind voucher programme and ask: - can traders bring in additional goods? (do not want to introduce demand that cannot be met thus risking price increase) - how to organise the programme with traders? - do traders in this area operate on a credit system? - what problems could it create for traders who are not included? - previous experiences of coupon/voucher systems? how did they work? - what local goods (locally produced or packaged) are available in large quantities and could be included in the programme?

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Wholesalers - generally want to know how the market system operates in the West Bank - volume of business now compared to one year ago? two years ago? (or % decrease) - what constrains business now: lack of demand? or problems obtaining supply of goods? - given the current problems, how do you bring items (food and non-food) in from outside? - what impact did the start of closure in late 2000 have on prices of basic goods? - what changes have you noticed in the types of goods that people purchase over the last two years? - what local goods (locally produced or packaged) are available in large quantities and could be included in the programme? how difficult will it be to transport goods produced in e.g. Nablus to your town? - would you be able to work with a small number of grocery shops spread around town on this programme (not necessarily your own shop)? - how would you organise the ‘soft’ part of the voucher package with grocery shops? - do you provide goods to grocery shops on credit? - would you be able to guarantee prices for a number of months? (in dollars or NIS?) - do you have any previous experience of coupon/voucher systems? Retailers/grocery shops explain idea behind voucher programme and ask: would you be interested to participate? how many beneficiaries could you cater to? over how many days? - how would you organise the ‘soft’ part of the voucher package with wholesalers? - do you normally obtain goods from one wholesaler or more than one? - do wholesalers normally give you credit on items they deliver to you? - do you think wholesalers can meet the extra demand this programme might generate? what impact will this have on prices?

-

Local industries volume of business now compared to one year ago? two years ago? (or % decrease) have you fired staff? have you reduced staff wages? are staff who before were full time now part time? - how quickly could you respond to an increase in demand for your products? - from where do you get your inputs? do you have any problems importing items?

-

Casual labour market daily rate of pay – now, one year ago, two years ago average number of days per week they find work – now, one year ago, two years ago from urban or rural areas

-

Social cases/unemployed families core information: current expenditure (items, quantities per week/month, prices) and sources of income (including quantities) - how has your pattern of expenditure changed compared to one year ago? compared to two years ago?

-

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-

how has your income changed compared to one year ago? compared to two years ago? - if borrowing is important: who do you borrow from? where do they get money to lend? how long will you be able to continue borrowing? what is your total level of debt now? - for social cases: how long have you been registered with the Ministry of Social Affairs? how have events since the start of the Intifada changed your situation? what about since the recent incursions? - if you had a little more money, what would you do with it? - are there ever shortages of items you want to purchase in the shops?

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ANNEX 4: Illustrative budget for a poor family with six members Poor family monthly budget Notes:

6 members (2 adults and 4 children) 3 children at school 1 child in diapers Annual school costs are divided by 12 months Kcals from food = 2100 per person per day Prices used are averages

Item FOOD bread* sugar rice pulses** spaghetti cheese - white milk (fresh) milk powder corn oil olive oil vegetables meat chicken eggs fruit tea coffee salt spices biscuits/sweets Sub-Total HYGIENE soap shampoo detergent washing liquid clore diapers sanitary toothpaste toilet paper other Sub-Total

Quantity

across 4 towns

Price/kg or unit

Cost per month

2.5 2.5 3 5 1.5

113 25 60 40 8

16 15 17.5

69 45 35 100

10 10

43 30

18 32 1.5

18 32 2 10 20 650

1.5 18 28 7 5 25

8 27 28 7 5 50 30 10 20 25 210

1-2 kg pd 10 kg pm 20 kg pm 8 kg pm 5 packs x 350g rare rare small tin pw 3 bottles pm (x3l) 2 litres pm per month rare 1 pw 3 trays pm rare 1 kg pm 1 kg pm 1-2 kg pm per month per month

5 pcs Nablus pm 1-2 bottles 1 large box 1 bottle 1 bottle 2 packs (x24 pcs) per month 1 tube 24 rolls per month

West Bank Urban Food Economy/Market Study

10 20

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OTHER rent 0 if own; 20-30JD rent don't pay electricity/water 200-250 NIS per don't pay month gas 1-2 cylinders pm school fees 3 kids pa x school uniforms 3 kids pa x school estimated per year materials clothes mostly gifts these days medicine insurance or rare cigarettes per day - rolling own Sub-Total GRAND TOTAL

35 50 150 350

52 12 37 29

2

60 190 1050

* Some families in urban areas purchase wheat flour and bake their own bread, but the majority purchase ready-made bread (except during curfews when everyone is forced to bake). ** This includes lentils, chickpeas and beans. Lentils are the most important for poor families and are consumed with rice. Chickpeas are next in importance and are consumed with bread.

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ANNEX 5: Acronyms ICRC = International Committee of the Red Cross IDF = Israeli Defence Forces MoS = Ministry of Supply NEC = National Emergency Committee NIS = New Israeli Shekel PA = Palestinian Authority MoSA = Ministry of Social Affairs SAD = Social Affairs Department (of the Ministry of Social Affairs) UNRWA = United Nations Relief and Works Agency WFP = (UN) World Food Programme

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ANNEX 6: Market monitoring in West Bank urban centres What Prices of basic goods (including exchange rate)

When Monthly

Why - concern for nonbeneficiaries - general indicator of what is happening in economy

Who - relief team in each town to collect information - focal point to coordinate, compile and analyse

Closure

Monthly

-

Beneficiary standard of living

Every 2-3 months

- this is the main factor influencing the state of the economy and will influence both ability of programme to function and withdrawal strategy - if closure is tightened significantly and this causes problems for traders, may need to rethink voucher programme - understanding impact of programme on standard of living of beneficiaries - to provide indicators of potential impact on local economy for cross checking

16

focal point

- relief team in each town to collect information in collaboration with focal point - focal point to coordinate, compile and analyse

In general, the less consistent the replies, the more interviews that should be conducted.

How - gather weekly price surveys from Ministry of Supply in each town at the end of each month - exchange rates are published in newspapers - compile and analyse - consult MoS and wholesalers regarding analysis if there are problems explaining changes (see suggested questions below) - discussions with ICRC delegates, field staff and wholesalers who transport goods (and any other key informants) - monitoring newspapers

-

semi-structured interviews with roughly 10-20 16 beneficiaries per town (see questions below) - focus of interviews is to understand what has changed (if anything) since the start of the voucher programme in terms of standard of living and expenditure pattern using expenditure checklist below - once a picture emerges of what has changed (if anything), then it will be possible to cross check


Grocery shops, local factories, farmers

Every 2-3 months

- understanding the impact of the programme on local traders and producers (it is an aim of the programme to positively affect them)

West Bank Urban Food Economy/Market Study

- relief team in each town to collect information in collaboration with focal point - focal point to coordinate, compile and analyse

27

information provided by beneficiaries‌ - for example, if beneficiaries say they have increased consumption of meat, then team should talk to butchers about changes they have noticed in turnover, using suggested questions below - if beneficiaries say they have started paying their electricity bills, then team should check with electricity company on general trends regarding payments, and so on - semi-structured interviews with shop/factory owners and farmers around suggested questions below - suggest interviewing roughly 5 grocery shops included in the programme and 10 grocery shops not included in the programme (at varying distances from shops that are selected) per town - suggest interviewing 10-20 small groups of farmers (3-5 farmers per group) of different types (olive, fruit, vegetable farmers) in villages surrounding urban centres - suggest interviewing factory owners producing goods included on the list of items from which beneficiaries can select

May 2002


Suggested questions (Note that this is not meant to be a questionnaire, but rather a starting point for semistructured discussions with various key informants. The answers to these questions should themselves lead to further questions.) For discussion on price changes with Ministry or Supply or large wholesalers: •what are recent price trends? •what factors have influenced price changes? •do you think the voucher programme has had an impact on prices? on the economy? on traders who are not included? Questions to grocery shops that are selected for the programme (in addition to monitoring implementation aspects of the programme): • has your turnover changed since the start of the voucher programme? how? • have you had any difficulties obtaining goods? • what types of goods are people buying with the voucher? • have there been any recent price changes? why? Questions to grocery shops that are not selected (and possibly butchers and fruit stalls): • has your turnover changed since the start of the voucher programme? how? • how has demand for particular goods changed? • have there been any recent price changes? why? • do you think the voucher programme is responsible for any changes noted? • what other factors are influencing any changes noted? Questions to local factories selling products on the list might include: • has your turnover changed since the start of the voucher programme? how? • has the number of employees (or use of existing part-time employees) changed? • what about salary levels? • what about prices? why? • do you think the voucher programme is responsible for any changes noted? • what other factors are influencing any changes noted? Questions to local factories not selling products on the list (as a ‘control’ to see what is happening in the economy generally): • has your turnover changed since the start of the voucher programme? how? • has the number of employees (or use of existing part-time employees) changed? • what about salary levels? • what about prices? why? • what factors are influencing any changes noted? Questions to farmers producing olive oil, fruit and vegetables: •how has your income changed since the start of the intifada in October 2000? (quantify as much as possible and remember that there will be normal seasonal changes in addition to any changes as a result of the intifada) •have you noticed any changes in income in recent months? (quantify) •what are the main factors affecting your income? Questions to casual labourers:


• •

what is the daily wage rate and how has this changed in the last few months? how many days of work are you currently finding per week and how has this changed in the last few months? • if there is a change, do you know why? Questions to beneficiaries (in addition to monitoring implementation aspects of the programme): •what items have you purchased with the voucher and in what quantities? (see expenditure checklist to prod if replies are unforthcoming) •did you purchase these same items in the same quantities before the start of the voucher programme? •if you are using the voucher to purchase things that you used to purchase yourself previously, what are you using your own income for now? •is there anything that you can afford now that you couldn’t afford before the start of the voucher programme? (or vice versa depending on what has happened to other income sources) •how did you obtain income before the start of the voucher programme? (see income source checklist to prod if replies are unforthcoming and try to quantify income sources) •have you noticed any changes in your income sources since the start of the voucher programme? (quantify)

Income source checklist •welfare payments from the Social Affairs Department or another PA ministry •salary for full or part-time work (of any member of household, including children) •daily casual work (e.g. construction) – to quantify need to ask average number of days per week and daily rate of pay •municipality job schemes •borrowing from relatives, friends and neighbours •credit from shops •gifts from relatives, friends and neighbours locally •remittances from relatives abroad •cash and goods from Zakat committees •relief items from any other organisations •sale of assets Expenditure checklist Food: bread, rice, wheat flour, sugar, oil (olive & vegetable), pulses (lentils, chickpeas, beans), spaghetti, cheese (white & yellow), potatoes, spices, meat (fresh & processed) , eggs, fish (fresh & frozen), chicken, milk (fresh & powdered), tomato paste, tomatoes, onions, green vegetables, fruit, salt, tea & coffee, biscuits & sweets, soft drinks, tinned vegetables, prepared meals Hygiene: bathing soap, hygiene/cleaning items, washing powder, toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sanitary items, diapers Education: fees, uniform, notebooks, etc Health: fees, medication Accommodation and other: rent, phone, water, gas cylinders, electricity Transport: local public transport (cost per day, number of days), car (fuel, servicing, repairs) Clothes Entertainment Durable household goods West Bank Urban Food Economy/Market Study

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Cigarettes OTHER?

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http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/wb_economic_study  

http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/wb_economic_study.pdf

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