THE GAZA STRIP is a disputed territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the most densely populated place on earth: approximately 1,657,155 people in a total area of 365 square kilometers. Conflict, water scarcity, unemployment and environmental pollution from bombs further increase the difficulty of life here and survival, rather than flourishing, appears to be the goal of most of the inhabitants. The FRB/MCC program provides rabbits and training for food and income. An average income for an employed person in Gaza is around $274-$410 USD a month. Rabbits can be sold at 3-4 months of age and can bring in approximately $13-$16 per rabbit. With no place for the animals to burrow or shelter, an unusually cold winter killed many, and fear and stress from a November 2012 bombing killed or affected reproduction in many more of these sensitive animals. FRB staff recently visited the program and spoke with participants.
Farmer #1 supports her family of 8 solely from rabbit sales. She’d been doing well until 30 of her 32 animals died of extreme cold and fright during the bombing. She has received a new male rabbit and is again moving forward, showing a strong will to survive.
Farmer #2’s family was able to make enough profit from their rabbit operations to buy chickens, geese, and pigeons. They even started a garden to balance the family’s diet and provide animal feed. All 20 of their rabbits died in the bombing but most of the poultry survived. Even after the loss the family is able to eat one or two ducks a month for protein. They hope to restart the rabbits soon.
Farmer #3’s rabbit operation has been very successful, allowing her to buy a few chickens and geese. She has mostly used the rabbits for income and the birds for a steady source of eggs for her children.
The rabbits owned by Farmer #4 and her family of 9 allow for a steady income, help pay household bills and occasionally provide meat for the family. She averages 24 new rabbits a month. Because she kept her rabbits in an indoor structure they fared better during the cold winter and the excessive noise from the bombings. Because her structure protected her animals so well, the program is now looking at the possibility of providing building materials for stronger structures.
Income from Farmer #5’s 40 rabbits and a good number of very healthy chickens pays tuition and household expenses for her family of ten. She says chicken are easier to raise than rabbits but there is much more profit in the rabbits.
Palestine Gaza encompasses 7 communities, 60 households and 300 individuals.
*The names of the local partner and program participants have been intentionally left out to assure their safety