Posted on 31 August 2020

Strengthening female-headed households in Gaza

An oPt Humanitarian Fund success story

Rasha Abu Tuaima is a 39-year-old farmer from Ash Shouka area of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, where she lives with her husband and 11 children in a tin-roofed, two-bedroom house. Their youngest daughter has Down syndrome. Work opportunities have always been limited for her and her husband due to the poor situation in the blockaded enclave and made all the more difficult because neither of them completed their primary education. Moreover, in 2010, Rasha’s husband was severely injured in a traffic accident and couldn’t move his legs for two years. Following treatment, he can walk again but his injuries have left him with permanent disability, forcing him to stop working.

Rasha cultivates a plot of land allocated to the family by a charity. But as the only breadwinner, resources are limited and, like most families in Gaza, they must also rely on UNRWA’s food provision and other aid.

In 2019, Rasha heard about a humanitarian project that helps more than 2,000 people in female-headed households across Gaza. Funded through the Humanitarian Fund for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt HF), the project is implemented by Mercy Corps, in partnership with Al Fukhari Association for Rural Development. She applied.

“When I received the phone call,” she said, “it was a new hope for me and my family. I prayed a lot for my children. It’s a miracle!”

With cash assistance received through the project, she could better till the land: she dug an irrigation pond, started using fertilizers and installed devices that protect her plants from the frost during the winter. Upon receiving the next cash instalment, she will complete an extension of the irrigation network. 

“The best thing” she added, “is that I received excellent [farming] assets … I hope that support to female farmers, especially female breadwinners, will continue … so that all women in need can stand on their feet and live their lives with dignity.”

“Now,” she concludes, "I will save some money so that my 18-year-old daughter can go to university. I hope she will have better opportunities than we did. I will also try to spare some money to help cover for my little child’s medical expenses.”