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Report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
1 July 2004-30 June 2005
Programme budget 2006-2007
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1.28 UNRWA operates in a turbulent region buffeted by the Arab-Israeli conflict and its consequences in terms of episodes of violence and a worsening socio-economic situation. Emergency situations, especially in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, impose heavy operational and financial burdens on the Agency, threatening the sustainability and quality of UNRWA services and necessitating emergency appeals, which compete with fundraising for the regular budget.
1.29 Following the planned Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and some parts of the West Bank, uncertainty exists as to the economic impact of the action. At least two scenarios for the Gaza Strip have been put forward by political and economic analysts. One scenario holds that, under the full control of Palestinians, local economic activity will be revived and diversified. This in turn would generate employment opportunities. The other possibility, based on Israel’s declared intention to ban the construction of a port and the reopening of the Gaza airport as well as to move the border terminal with Egypt from Rafah to a new location inside Israel would have catastrophic consequences for the Gaza economy. Furthermore, Israel has also announced that by 2008 no Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip would be allowed to enter Israel.
1.30 Contingency planning for the ‘disengagement’ includes the pre-positioning of food and other supplies for distribution, and preparation for medical emergencies that might arise during the disengagement process. UNRWA, in close co-operation with the Palestinian Authority, is preparing for major activities in the fields of education and infrastructure development, to be implemented upon completion of disengagement and once supplementary funding to that effect is secured.
1.31 In the West Bank, the communities affected by the wall/fence have increasing needs as access to basic services is more and more restricted. By adapting its services, UNRWA has been working to meet the growing needs of these communities. The wall/fence around Jerusalem is having a particular impact on UNRWA operations, as even access to duty stations for staff has become a serious problem. The completion of the wall/fence, scheduled for the summer of 2005, will necessitate the relocation of a significant part of UNRWA operations from East Jerusalem to outlying areas. This has financial, as well as political implications.
1.32 The conflict in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank has also disrupted the Agency’s ability to deliver its services, has adversely affected the safety and security of UNRWA staff and has resulted in significant additional expenditure to counteract obstacles imposed by the Israeli authorities.
1.33 Staff living and working under conditions of extreme stress in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank frequently suffer from fatigue and burnout, making it increasingly difficult to produce quality results.
1.34 Obstacles to UNRWA operations include the imposition of closures and restrictions on humanitarian access in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where some 48 per cent of the Agency’s regular budget is spent. In addition, the Agency has incurred $4.5 million in excess storage, demurrage and transport charges due to delays in moving goods containers through the Karni crossing into and out of the Gaza Strip in the year ending 30 June 2005.
1.35 Increases in staff compensation or the cost of services and supplies promulgated by host authorities place unforeseen burdens on the Agency, affect staff morale and require redeployment of scarce resources.
1.36 Introduction or expansion of new courses such as English and French language and Information Technology into school curricula, change of textbooks and introduction of expensive vaccines into the national immunisation programmes place an additional burden on UNRWA’s scarce resources that must accommodate these unplanned activities. In addition, decrees promulgated by host authorities for increases in the cost of services such as medical care, port charges or the cost of supplies such as fuel and utilities, result in additional unforeseen expenditure.
1.37 In spite of the heavy investment in staff training and development, programmes are finding it increasingly difficult to find staff for senior and mid-level managerial positions due to uncompetitive salaries and conditions of service.
1.38 In some localities it is difficult to attract specialised staff as the field is relatively new and local colleges and universities do not offer training programmes which adequately qualify candidates.
1.39 UNRWA’s budget, funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions (cash and in-kind), is subject to uncertainties in the timing and value of funding receipts. This limits the ability of the Agency to plan and implement programmes and project activities.
1.40 Although UNRWA's expenditure is incurred mainly in US dollars, 63 per cent of the income is received in non-US dollar currencies, thus exposing the Agency to the risks of currency fluctuations.
1.41 Support for the Agency and increased coordination among the Agency and host authorities, other UN agencies, NGOs and the refugees themselves; contribute to the effective delivery of services by UNRWA.
1.42 Worsening socio-economic conditions and increased rates of unemployment in some of the Agency’s areas of operation result, inter alia, in larger numbers of school drop outs and increased demand on medical care services, compromising community participation and causing a breakdown in cost-sharing systems.
1.43 The Agency's continued inability to build up a provision for termination indemnities means that it will be severely constrained financially when operations eventually wind down. The Agency however, cannot afford to reduce staff as a deficit-reduction measure, not only because the current level of staffing is below acceptable standards, but also because of the short-term financial implications of paying termination indemnities.
1.44 The Agency is continually seeking ways to stretch limited resources to meet the demands of a growing refugee population. Toward this goal, UNRWA aims to achieve a series of efficiency gains and savings. Amongst others, recent initiatives include a reduction in the school work week from six to five working days resulting in savings in logistical and utility costs, implementation of video-conferencing and Satellite Wide Area Network (SWAN) resulting in savings in travel costs, staff time and telephone charges.
1.45 Insufficient project funding for school construction and upgrading of camp infrastructure contributes to overcrowded schoolrooms, poor environmental health conditions and dilapidation of refugee shelters. All call for substantial capital investment.
1.62 The overall growth of the 2006-2007 biennium budget over that of 2004-2005 is $245 million. This increase is basically in respect of addressing unmet needs that were previously not provided for due to the financial constraints on the level of funding made available to the Agency. The following table summarizes these increases with the respective explanations:
* includes 1001 teaching posts that will be established in September 2005.
(In thousands of United States dollars)
1.63 Figure 2 shows the 2006-2007 regular budget broken down into categories of expenditure. Staff costs account for 64 per cent of the regular budget, of which 60 per cent represents the cost of area staff and four per cent represents the cost of international staff. Supplies account for 10 per cent, four per cent of which are donated to the Agency in-kind, and services account for six per cent. Equipment and construction account for nine per cent while grants and subsidies, premises and other requirements account for 11 per cent of the budget.
1.69 Figure 4 shows the 2006-2007 regular budget by programme activity. Direct allocations to the Education Programme account for 54 per cent of the regular budget, followed by the Health Programme at 18 per cent and the Relief and Social Services at nine per cent. The remaining portion represents support costs and items budgeted centrally, including working capital and area staff salary increase requirements.
(a) School Development
Elementary and Preparatory Education
Secondary Education (Lebanon)
(b) Technical and Vocational Education and Training
Placement and Career Guidance
Vocational and Technical Education
(c) Institute of Education
(d) Education Planning and Management
1.140 To alleviate poverty among the most vulnerable within the Palestine refugee community by linking short-term relief to longer term development needs, through a needs-based approach which addresses actual needs while emphasizing equality of opportunity and the right to basic human development.
1.141 To ease the immediate plight of the poorest eligible refugee families through basic subsistence support with a gradual closing of the gap in safety net provisions between those of the host authorities and UNRWA.
1.142 To promote and facilitate community-based action through community-based organizations (CBOs) which create social, cultural, economic or educational opportunities and provide services for women, the aged, children, youth and persons with disabilities, and their families.
1.143 To promote the institutional capacity of community-based organizations through training and technical assistance to enhance refugee participation in the formulation and implementation of social services for vulnerable groups in their communities.
1.144 To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery to Special Hardship Case (SHC) families through reduction in social worker case loads, systematic in-service training and the improvement of overall working conditions.
1.145 To improve the quality of the Microcredit Community Support Programme, and enhance opportunities for economic inclusion through skills training and increased access to diversified loan products.
1.146 To provide shelter to families who have lost their homes or who live in sub-standard housing as a result of chronic poverty, as assessed by each field.
1.147 To assist families with small-scale emergency needs during a family-specific economic or humanitarian crisis through selective cash assistance based on actual needs.
1.148. To computerize the records of 4.8 million registered refugees on new web-based information technology and create integrated refugee data from all Agency programmes.
1.149 Special hardship assistance for 281,000 persons will have been implemented, using a generalist social work approach and a needs-based policy orientation. Monitoring will have been conducted through regular home visits by 350 social workers and ongoing supervision of senior field management.
1.150 2,000,000 food packages will have been distributed.
1.151 The management skills of 791 committee members managing refugee-administered community based centres will have been upgraded to improve the efficacy of credit operations thereby promoting self-reliance among refugees.
1.152 Emergency measures will have been implemented, as required, including food distribution, post-injury assistance to the disabled, shelter reconstruction, repair or adaptation of shelters including access for the disabled, counselling/referral services, emergency cash assistance for temporary housing of homeless families and other household needs.
1.153 Families faced with sudden emergency or crisis situations will have been provided with one-time selective cash assistance directed at meeting their basic humanitarian needs.
1.154 Registration procedures will have been improved as UNRWA will track individual as well as family records and integrate 16 million family file documents from Agency programmes.
1.155 25 per cent of shelters identified as being in need of rehabilitation will have been reconstructed or repaired.
1.156 102 facilities which encourage self-reliance amongst the most vulnerable in the community will have been provided with technical support.
1.157 A new data system will have been introduced jointly with CBOs to enhance planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all centres’ activities/operations.
1.158 Gender and disability mainstreaming policies will have been implemented.
1.159 90,000 refugee women will have been empowered through awareness raising, skills training, legal counseling activities and credit provision.
1.160 25,000 refugees with disabilities will have been served by Community Rehabilitation Centres utilizing the Community Based Rehabilitation approach.
1.161 60,000 children and youth will have participated in activities organized by CBOs and which are consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
1.162 20,000 individuals and their families will have benefited from microcredit loan products.
1.163 350 RSSP staff will have been certified in generalist social work methodologies by an internationally recognized university.
1.164 10 technical training workshops will have been provided to Relief and Social Services management staff.
1.165 The structure of the Relief and Social Services Programme is as follows:
(a) Relief Services
Selective Cash Assistance
(b) Eligibility and Registration
(c) Social Services
Children and Youth Programme
Micro-credit Community Support Programme
(d) Programme Management
Table 16: Relief and Social Services Programme Resource Requirements by Activity
(Cash and In-Kind, in thousands of United States dollars)
Microfinance and microenterprise programme
1.168 To provide enterprise, consumer and housing credit on a scale that is large enough to have significant and measurable impact on the lives of the poorest.
1.169 To provide operationally self-sufficient and sustainable credit in a cost-effective manner through targeting financial services in poorer urban areas with a high concentration of commercial, service and industrial businesses. Areas will be selected primarily on the basis of having highly localised density of Palestine refugees.
1.170 To develop and expand the programme through adhering to international standards of outreach and efficiency so that the programme can be benchmarked and assessed against other practitioner institutions. The programme strives to achieve the best practices of the emerging microfinance industry through its participation in local and regional microfinance networks by adopting the standards and practices established for the industry by such institutions as the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest, the United States Agency for International Development, the Microfinance Network, Sanabel, Calmeadow Foundation and Accion International.
1.171 To meet the emerging standards for business training and business development services (BDS), where all the direct costs of training are met from participation fees and only the overhead and administrative costs are subsidised from donor contributions.
1.172 Six additional branch offices will have been opened during the biennium, two each in West Bank, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic; to expand product outreach and development.
1.173 124,000 loans worth US$150 million will have been disbursed during the 2006-2007 biennium.
1.174 A pilot scheme of the new housing loans product will have been implemented in the Gaza Strip in 2005. Housing loans will also have been introduced in the West Bank in 2006 followed by Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic in 2007.
1.175 The regional outreach of the consumer lending in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will have been extended to Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic in 2007.
1.176 Capacity building and human resource development will have been increased in Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic through the extension of the in-house training programme developed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into these fields.
1.177 Centralised on-line loan management information system will have been developed to international standards and customised to meet the different product methodologies, and financial and operational reporting requirements of the programme. This will result in improved and real-time information flow, better internal controls, streamlined business processes and improved management reporting.
1.178 The small business and microenterprise training programme will have been maintained at the same level of activity achieved during previous years.
1.179 The structure of the Microfinance and Microenterprise Programme is as follows:
(a) Microenterprise Credit (MEC)
(b) Solidarity Group Lending (SGL)
(c) Small-Scale Enterprise (SSE)
(d) Consumer Lending (CLP)
(e) Housing Loan
(f) Small and Microenterprise Training (SMET) (Gaza Strip only)
(g) Programme Management
Table 17: MMP Programme Resource Requirements by Activity
(In thousands of United States dollars)
1.181 The goal of the Operational Technical Services Department (OTSD) is to support the Agency’s main programmes through the provision of integrated operational support services in procurement and logistics, information and communications technology (ICT), engineering and construction guided by comprehensive policies and overall strategy to achieve optimal quality and best value for money in providing humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees.
1.182 To establish a quality assurance function aimed at enhancing customer satisfaction through effective communication, reliability, timeliness and cost effectiveness of the operational and support services in ICT, procurement and engineering.
1.183 To contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of refugees living in camps by initiating a comprehensive camp development programme.
1.184 To implement further reforms in the areas of procurement and logistics, ICT, construction and engineering to ensure that the provision of services achieves best value for money.
1.185 Departmental reforms and improvements will have been consolidated into clear policies and strategies.
1.186 A quality assurance unit and appropriate mechanisms will have been established in OTSD and improvements, reform activities and corrective/preventative action plans will have been measured and evaluated.
1.187 All OTSD staff members will have participated in a professional staff development programme and 27 staff members will have obtained international certificates in procurement practices.
1.188 All tender and contract document templates will have been revised to take into account current technical and legal issues.
1.189 A corporate relations strategy will have been established to maximize benefits to the Agency.
1.190 A comprehensive camp development plan encompassing all relevant Agency activities will have been drawn up.
1.191 Appropriate shelter policies and a re-housing strategy will have been developed articulating a comprehensive approach to camp development.
1.192 Three comprehensive questionnaires will have been developed to measure customer satisfaction with the various services provided by the department.
1.193 All requests for procurement will have been fulfilled according to the required specifications, on-time and within established procurement schedules.
1.194 All insurance services, including contracting for insurance, will have been centralized.
1.195 A system for procurement of goods, services and inventory which is fully integrated with the Agency’s existing Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) will have been implemented Agency-wide.
1.196 All ICT services will have been enhanced through implementation of a clearly defined strategy and implementation plan.
1.197 ICT infrastructure support will have been expanded to cover all programmes’ and departments’ needs.
1.199 Common Services provide the appropriate supervision and support required by the Agency and its Programmes.
1.200 Common Services comprises: Commissioner-General’s Office, Legal Services, Audit and Inspection, External Relations, Public Information, Policy Analysis, New York and Geneva Liaison Offices, Administration and Human Resources, and Financial Services.
1.202 To provide policy advice to the Commissioner-General and ensure smooth implementation of policy decisions and general cohesion of Agency operations.
1.203 To provide legal advice and support concerning matters of international law, particularly issues involving the privileges and immunities of the Agency and its staff.
1.204 To ensure Agency-wide accountability and transparency.
1.205 To maintain positive and productive relationships with donors and to enhance project management throughout the project cycle.
1.206 To increase awareness and support of the Agency among citizens, governments and non-governmental organizations of donor and host nations as well as the refugee population and Agency staff.
1.207 To provide programme and policy analysis that allows the Agency to respond to changing operational, political and social circumstances.
1.208 To liaise and strengthen cooperation with other UN agencies and participate in intergovernmental fora.
1.209 To maintain and improve human resources services to international and area staff members.
1.210 To effectively manage the Agency’s financial resources.
1.211 The structure of the Agency’s Common Services is as follows:
(a) Commissioner-General’s Office
(b) Legal Services
(c) Audit and Inspection
(d) External Relations
(e) Public Information
(f) Policy Analysis
(g) Administration and Human Resources
(h) Financial Services
Table 19: Common Services Resource Requirements by Activity
(Cash and In-kind, in thousands of United States dollars)
1.213 Through Resolution 3331 B (XXIX) of 17 December 1974, the General Assembly decided that the expenses relating to the emoluments of international staff in the service of UNRWA, which would otherwise have been charged to voluntary contributions, should be provided for under the UN’s regular budget with effect from 1 January 1975 for the duration of the Agency’s mandate.
1.214 In compliance with the above General Assembly resolution, there will be no recruitment against the 18 additional posts referred to in paragraph 1.212 above unless adequate UN or donor funding is received specifically for them. These are included in the 2006-2007 budget in order to reflect the Agency’s total staffing requirements for the biennium.
Figure 9: Estimated Number of Area Staff at 31 December 2007, by Field
1.219 For further details relating to UNRWA’s activities and programmes reference should be made to UNRWA’s Programme Budget Document for the Biennium 2006-2007.