UNDP in the occupied Palestinian territory

04 Nov 2009

Since 1978, UNDP's Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People has been implementing projects in the occupied Palestinian territory worth over US$600 million.

UNDP’s assistance to the Palestinian people in all sectors, in both the West Bank and Gaza and in times of emergency and of peace, is aimed towards reducing poverty and rebuilding livelihoods. Since 1978, our Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People has been implementing projects in the occupied Palestinian territory worth over US$600 million, focusing on the areas vital to the Palestinian well-being and socio-economic development, such as water, health and education facilities, social services, infrastructure and rural and agricultural development. Our activities are developed based on input from the communities who stand to benefit from them.

UNDP’s current strategy in Gaza is one that focuses on the restoration of access and movement, the restitution and reconstruction of basic services and infrastructure and the reduction of additional risks and vulnerabilities. We are also making additional investments in shelter, governance systems, rule of law and environmental sustainability.

Early Recovery

Immediately following the December 2008 military operations in Gaza, UNDP worked with the Palestinian Authority, in addition to national and international partners, in the assessment of damages and immediate needs as well as the development of rebuilding plans. These assessments have formed the basis of the Authority’s own early recovery and reconstruction plan and helped spur $4.48 billion in donor pledges.

By the numbers: Immediate actions post military intervention

  • Distribution of food packages to over 30,000 Palestinians
  • Dispersal of emergency cash assistance packages to 8,700 families as of August 2009
  • Initiation of a $270 million programme to fund compensations to 14,000 farmers whose farms sustained serious damage during the military operation
  • Removal of more than 80,000 tonnes of concrete rubble from 300 houses, sites and public buildings

In addition, UNDP assisted the Palestinian Authority in the commissioning and completion of an extensive household survey of people and their needs in Gaza. Among other things, the survey revealed that two-thirds of Gazans are currently living below the poverty line.

Poverty Reduction

Two years ago, UNDP began a pilot programme targeting chronically poor West Bank and Gaza families called the Deprived Families Economic Empowerment Programme. UNDP has continued to administer this programme, which aims to help families achieve economic independence and self-reliance, in spite of the crisis situation, reflecting our firm belief that economic and human development are key elements of any recovery situation. The project became especially crucial following the widespread destruction of infrastructure and livelihoods during the fighting in Gaza in December of last year. UNDP has stepped up its response.

By the numbers: Reducing poverty

  • 12,000 families now have access to financial services offered by micro-finance institutions
  • Interventions, in the form of one-time grants, have been made to 2,210 poor entrepreneurs (48 percent women) empowering them to start or expand small businesses or receive training to improve their current livelihoods

UNDP’s Land Reclamation and Development Programme has resulted in:

  • Creation of 4,400 permanent employment opportunities and temporary employment for 33,000 farmers in the West Bank
  • 20 percent increase in olive oil production and 15 percent increase in fruit production, resulting from the development and cultivation of 25,000 dunams (6,200 acres) of land and the construction of 3,000 cisterns to help with irrigation
  • Establishment of a Planning and Management Unit within the Ministry of Agriculture
  • Comprehensive assessment of land use and suitability for agricultural production using Geographic Information Systems tools and applications, in addition to socio-economic assessments

Investing in the Future

UNDP continues rebuilding and improving the infrastructure that is crucial to a functioning government and economy. These projects do not just give Palestinians access to vital services: they also give them much-needed jobs.

By the numbers: UNDP’s Infrastructure and Employment Generation programme

  • Funding of 529 projects, including the construction and rehabilitation of hospitals, schools, courthouses, youth centres and water and sanitation systems
  • Generation over 700,000 workdays
  • Creation of 356 permanent jobs, half of which went to women; additionally, more than half of all materials were purchased through local agents
  • Construction over 100 common service buildings to house local authorities and to provide public space for women’s associations, libraries, computer laboratories and clinics
  • Access to water supply for 11,000 residences

UNDP places gender equality and women’s empowerment at the centre of all its work in the occupied Palestinian territory. Since 1999, UNDP has supported the Rural Women’s Credit and Savings Association. The project began as a savings and credit programme to provide economic assistance to members of a women’s cooperative in the West Bank; today that cooperative oversees the project’s funds and the project itself is ongoing in 132 locations in the West Bank and Gaza, benefitting over 5,600 rural women.