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1 January 2005

2005 - 2009

a better future for palestine refugees

Executive Summary

Strategic framework

In pursuing its mandate,UNRWA has become a principal agent for the human development of Palestine refugees. In the face of declining performance and service delivery indicators, the Agency devised this Medium Term Plan (MTP) to restore the living conditions of Palestine refugees to acceptable international standards and set them on the road to self reliance and sustainable human development. The MTP should also help prepare Palestine refugees to contribute to any positive changes that may be realized in the region over the coming years.

Declining indicators

2.1. Indicators that once documented the Agency's successes in health, education, relief, social services and other sectors are now in decline. In many areas these indicators compare unfavourably with host authority services as well as with international standards. Education and health facilities are often overcrowded and under-equipped; refugee homes and infrastructure are in dilapidated condition and refugees are increasingly falling through the gaps in service provision. Any further deterioration could threaten the long term human security of Palestine refugees and adversely affect stability in the Agency's areas of operation.

2.2. The Geneva Conference of June 2004 broadly acknowledged the general decline in conditions for Palestine refugees and the need for a planning framework to redress the situation. UNRWA is committed to reflecting the Geneva recommendations throughout its programmes.

Objectives of the medium term plan

3.1 This planning framework centres on four mutually reinforcing and flexible objectives: to achieve parity of UNRWA services with host authority and international standards; to address the needs of the most vulnerable refugees; to maximize the economic potential of refugees; and to build capacity within UNRWA. The total cost of meeting the four objectives is currently estimated at US$1.1 billion. These objectives are broadly in accord with the Palestinian Authority's three-year Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP). The MTP does not supersede the Agency's existing planning mechanisms; rather, it complements the biennium budget. Over the course of the five year period, the MTP's objectives should evolve to accommodate new realities and to address freshly assessed refugee needs. In this regard, important information should emerge from surveys on refugee living conditions to be conducted under UNRWA's partnership with the Graduate Institute of Development Studies (IUED), Geneva, and the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL), Belgium.

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and relevant international instruments will serve as benchmarks for planning and performance evaluation.”

Objective I: To ensure parity of UNRWA services with host authority and international standards

3.2. In the education sector, priorities include matching host authority curricula and improving the infrastructure for learning in order to reduce classroom occupancy rates, the use of rented schools, and pupil teacher ratios. In the health sector, emphasis will placed on reducing excessive workloads of medical staff; improving refugee access to basic health care; introducing equitable hospitalization policies; and focusing on unmet needs in the areas of psycho-social support and early detection of disabilities for children. In relief and social services, the delivery of social safety-net services will be enhanced by bringing down the social worker-client ratio. As the condition of service infrastructure affects refugees' quality of life, the MTP also seeks to upgrade facilities and ensure their proper maintenance for the long term.

3.3. Total estimated costs under Objective I: $777.2m. Education: $385.4m; Health: $71.1m; Camp development: $314.6m; Relief and social services: $6.1m. This objective represents approximately 70%of the MTP budget.

Objective II: To address the needs of vulnerable refugees

3.4. To strengthen support for the most vulnerable children Special Education Needs Support Centres would be established, while environmental conditions in camps will be improved to address primary health needs. Community-based social services will be reinforced to better serve women, youth and people with disabilities, and subsidized credit will be made more easily available to the poor. Shelter rehabilitation and the upgrading of infrastructure would also be pursued. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and relevant international instruments will serve as benchmarks for planning and performance evaluation.

3.5. Total estimated costs under Objective II: $228.7m. Education: $8.0m; Health: $85.5m; Camp development: $103.2m; Relief and social services: $32.0m. This represents approximately 21%of the MTP budget.

Objective III: To maximize the economic potential of refugees

3.6. Providing refugees with the means to become self reliant is a primary goal for the Agency's Microfinance and Microenterprise Programme (MMP) and its Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme. By expanding the coverage of its products, the MMP will enable more people to emerge from poverty and contribute to economic growth.

3.7. Total estimated costs under Objective III: US$89.9m. Education: $44.1m; Microfinance and Microenterprise: $45.8m.This represents approximately 8 % of the MTP budget.

Objective IV: To build capacity within UNRWA

3.8. Capacity-building and staff development activities are means towards improving service delivery, addressing human resource and career development needs, fortifying management performance and strengthening capacity for research and analysis.

3.9. Total estimated costs under Objective IV: US$11.9m. Education:$3.5m; Health: $2.1m; Relief and social services:$4.1m; UNRWA - IUED/UCL project:$ 2.2m. This represents approximately 1%of the MTP budget.

Performance indicators

The performance indicators adopted to measure the implementation of the MTP would be defined and refined by reference to three frames: expected accomplishments of the programmes, survey results and international standards.

Management Priorities

A strengthened management framework is required to achieve improved conditions for Palestine refugees. Key management priorities, as identified internally and through the Geneva conference process, include: improved capacity for collection, analysis, management and use of data; improved inter-sectoral linkages; strengthened partnerships; and reinvigorated governance and stakeholder relations. These management issues are subject to a different set of implementation processes and are not directly addressed in the MTP.

MTP planning scenarios and assumptions

Given the political and security context of UNRWA's operations, various planning scenarios have been envisioned. These range from a status quo emergency situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where the Agency’s basic operational realities remain as they have been since September 2000; through to a unilateral "disengagement" by Israel from the Gaza Strip and the Northern West Bank, to a scenario where there is substantive political progress on all fronts. In each of these scenarios, it is assumed that funding would be available for MTP programmes; that the political and security climate would allow for UNRWA's operations to continue; and that disengagement would be completed by the end of 2005. It is also expected that the MTP's goal - to create conditions for the human development and sustainable self reliance for Palestine refugees - remains valid for all scenarios.


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