The volatile political and economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), especially in the Gaza Strip, confronts UNDP’s Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (PAPP) with a number of challenges that hinder essential development assistance.
UNDP/PAPP places empowerment, resilience and sustainability at the centre of its operation and focuses on three priority areas: the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and Area C, where the needs are the greatest. In strengthening its focus on particularly affected geographic areas and vulnerable populations, UNDP/PAPP key areas of assistance include democratic governance and the rule of law, economic empowerment and private sector development, environment and management of natural resources, as well as public and social infrastructure.
The Gaza Strip has been deprived of development since the imposition by Israel of a comprehensive blockade in 2007. As a result, development and reconstruction needs in the Strip are enormous: from governance and livelihoods to environment and infrastructure.
In East Jerusalem, Palestinians face restrictive construction policies and, as a result, experience a growing housing and property crisis. Basic services and access to land are unequally distributed by the Jerusalem municipality and are insufficient to cater to Palestinians’ natural development needs, including housing, education and health.
Development in Area C too is subjected to restrictive policies and practices, hampering any socio-economic development or access to natural resources for the Palestinians. Area C is, however, pivotal for the realization of a Palestinian State. It constitutes 62% of the West Bank and contains the bulk of Palestinian agricultural and grazing land, water sources and underground reservoirs. It is also the only space available for the expansion of Palestinian population centres and infrastructure, and thus forms the backbone of territorial contiguity in the West Bank.
In the Infrastructure sector, UNDP/PAPP addresses the growing challenges for the Palestinian population in accessing their rights to basic services. Focus is on:
- Enhancing energy security and access; promoting energy diversification and improving energy efficiency through the use of alternative sources of solar energy like PV cells.
- Enhancing safer transport and efficient mobility of people and goods through the construction and rehabilitation of urban, rural, road networks and border crossings.
- Increasing access to adequate, affordable/social and sustainable housing sector by supporting new housing initiatives and house rehabilitation interventions. Actively supporting early recovery and reconstruction plans for the housing sector in Gaza and provision of sustainable and innovative schemes to increase access to social, affordable and eco-sustainable housing and provide rehabilitation interventions for dilapidated homes to improve living conditions of the most vulnerable.
- Improving quality and affordable access to comprehensive primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare services: construction of hospitals, clinics for the most vulnerable groups, as well as the provision of adequate support services.
- Reinforcing the education system: provision of new schools, including early childhood education facilities, and cater for access to children with special needs as part of national efforts for enhancing quality education.
- Revitalizing, rehabilitating, reconstructing of archaeological and cultural sites and unleashing their economic potential.
- Providing continuous equitable access to public and economic facilities, and business opportunities: industrial parks, private public partnerships, local economic development, etc.
- Increasing access to secure and safe water supply and sanitation: provision of water supply and distribution networks, water and wastewater collection, disposal and effluent recycling systems.
- Developing social infrastructure to serve marginalized communities and enabling civil society to provide quality social development interventions.
UNDP/PAPP infrastructure interventions are focused on disadvantaged people in Area C of West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, with over 387,500 jobs generated in 2016. A large part of UNDP/PAPP’s portfolio is built on its recovery work in the Gaza Strip. These include, among others, providing adequate housing for 82,290 Palestinians in Gaza through the rehabilitation of 12,660 damaged housing units, with a priority on female headed households. UNDP/PAPP also provided cash assistance to 1075 non-refugee families, a total of more than 7000 individuals, for access to adequate housing.
UNDP/PAPP also improved health services to more than 650,000 Palestinians in Gaza through the rehabilitation of cardiac operation theatres, recovery rooms, maternities and a medical Centre. It also improved access to safe water for 57,000 persons in Gaza through the rehabilitation of water networks, water tanks and wells, as well as improved access to education for 35,900 students in Gaza through the rehabilitation of 37 basic and higher education institutions. In East Jerusalem, access to housing conditions for 500 disadvantaged people with focus on women headed-households was improved.