The Impact of a Livelihood Intervention on Psychosocial Wellbeing and Economic Empowerment in an Ongoing Conflict Setting : The Gaza Strip

The literature indicates that poverty and unemployment in conflict-affected areas are major stressors that negatively affect civilian wellbeing and mental health. Restoring livelihoods is expected to have a positive impact on wellbeing (Inter-Agency Standing Committee, 2007). There is a lack of research evaluating livelihood interventions in ongoing conflict settings.


This study evaluated an economic empowerment programme (EEP) for seven young Palestinian university graduates experiencing poverty and unemployment (as per the selection criteria for the EEP), living in the Gaza Strip, occupied Palestinian territories. Semi-structured interviews were conducted. Thematic analysis was used. Three themes were identified: (1) economic empowerment, (2) psychological benefits (e.g. hope, confidence and improved morale) and (3) income generation fosters psychosocial empowerment.


The evaluation findings indicated that despite the difficult economic conditions in Gaza, the EEP was found to help address psychosocial issues and reduced poverty and unemployment. It enabled participants to meet their own and their family’s basic and crucial needs, thus enabling financial survival and facilitating greater economic security. For some participants, income generation was found to increase agency, independence, social mobility, selfsufficiency and decision-making ability. The findings indicated that economic and psychological benefits were maintained 2 years 5 months after the EPP completion, including 8 months postwar.


The analysis revealed that participants conceptualised empowerment as being able to work and having a livelihood and that income generation led to empowerment. The implications of this study and the relevance of the findings to mental health and disaster relief are considered, and further areas of exploration are discussed.


Key implications for practice

A stand-alone livelihood intervention promotes psychosocial wellbeing and empowerment.

A local livelihood intervention appears to be viable and sustainable in reducing poverty and unemployment in an ongoing conflict setting including postwar.

Local Palestinian conceptualisations and experiences of empowerment are newly identified.

Jeyda Hammad & Rachel Tribe | 2020
In: Intervention ; ISSN : 1571-8883 | 18 | 2 | 108-118
Open Access
Case Management, Economic Impact, Interventions, Mental Health Consequences of War, Palestinians, Psychosocial impact, Psychosocial support, Refugees, Research, Students, War, Young Adults