Jerusalem, March 1, 2009 -- Ahead of his participation the International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza in Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday, World Bank Managing Director Juan Jose Daboub will conduct a fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip today. This is the most senior visit by a World Bank executive to the territory since 2005. After touring devastated urban and agricultural areas and meeting local residents, Dr. Daboub will assess the damage to the World Bank supported North Gaza sewage treatment plant. He will conclude his visit with a series of meetings with civil servants, NGO officials and business leaders to discuss recovery and reconstruction needs and modalities, including access issues.
Also this morning, the World Bank published its report to the Sharm el-Sheikh conference. Entitled Fund Channeling Options for Early Recovery and Beyond: the World Bank Perspective, the report aims to assist donors in choosing the most effective instruments for providing financial support to Gaza recovery and reconstruction.
While encouraging donors to channel funds through the Palestinian Authority (PA) budget and the Central Treasury Account, the report points to other efficient mechanisms -- such as the EU-PEGASE, the World Bank administered PRDP-Trust Fund, the Municipal Development and Lending Fund (MDLF) and the NGO Development Center (NDC) -- available to those seeking alternatives.
The report notes that a number of PA institutions functioning in Gaza -- such as the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), the Palestinian Energy Authority (PEA), and the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) -- have the proven capacity to implement donor-financed recovery and reconstruction projects. The authors emphasize, however, that implementation will only be possible if the restrictions blocking the predictable entry of basic materials into Gaza -- including cement, steel, glass, equipment, and spare parts -- are lifted, along with those preventing the steady flow of cash into the territory’s banking system.
A central recommendation is that the recovery and reconstruction effort be closely linked to ongoing development efforts in the Gaza Strip. In practice, this would mean continued funding and scaling-up of a range of existing successful donor-financed projects in several key areas -- water and sanitation, electricity, social safety nets, municipal development and NGO support.
“The World Bank is committed to helping the people of Gaza rebuild their home,” said Dr. Daboub. “We are confident that a wide range of efficient financing instruments and reliable implementation agencies are available to absorb donor funding. This means that recovery can begin quickly, provided that sufficient materials and cash are allowed into Gaza in an efficient and predictable manner. It also means that the reconstruction effort provides an opportunity to re-start and accelerate the long term economic development required for Gaza to assume its central role in the establishment of a viable and prosperous Palestinian State. We look forward to working closely with the PA and the donor community to realize this potential.”