On 28th February 2018, Forward Thinking held a conference in Gaza exploring the socio-economic challenges and the growing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. The conference brought together diverse political, business, civil society and youth figures to ensure a range of perspectives were heard and the challenges were discussed holistically. The conference built upon the foundations laid by an earlier conference, ‘Moving Forward Together’,  that was held on 12th-13th December 2017.

Participants agreed that the humanitarian situation within Gaza was deteriorating rapidly. Continued electricity shortages are exacerbating challenges at every level, creating fears that Gaza is on the brink of a disaster.

Growing socio-economic problems threaten the very fabric of society in Gaza. Unemployment continues to rise, with an estimated 46% of Gazans without a regular source of income. Amongst youth, unemployment has reached 60%.  As a result, poverty rates have exceeded 65% and the rate of food insecurity for Gazan households has reached 50%. Long-term structural challenges – such as a falling water supplies – continue to deepen, with the UN warning that Gaza could be uninhabitable by 2020.

Participants sought to explore how some of these issues could be alleviated in the current context and re-emphasised the need to ensure there was awareness of how the dire the situation has become. The implications of the deteriorating situation were also explored, with warnings that the current conditions could eventually result in a social explosion.