A PCBS report shows that poverty rates in the Palestinian Occupied Territories fell by 1.6 per cent overall in 2007. However, in Gaza poverty rose by 8.1 per cent, against a fall of 13.2 per cent in the West Bank.

The report is based on results from the Palestinian Expenditure and Consumption Survey, which was conducted between January 2007 and January this year. On a monthly basis, detailed information was collected on household expenditure, along with further analysis of individual spending.

In the West Bank, the data showed an increase in annual per capita spending of 8.4 per cent, to JD116.3 ($164.3) in 2007, from JD107.1 in 2006. However in Gaza, spending fell by 13.6 per cent.

As a further measure of the decline in living standards in the Gaza Strip, per capita expenditure on food as a percentage of total consumption was 38.5 per cent in Gaza, compared with 33.3 per cent in the West Bank.

The survey also uncovered a widening gap between rich and poor across the Occupied Territories. In 2007, the proportion of total monthly household consumption by the poorest 10 per cent of the population fell to 3.4 per cent from 4.4 per cent. The proportion consumed by the richest 10 per cent rose to 26.6 per cent, compared with 21.6 per cent in 2006.