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United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
28 May 2010
Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People
From Crisis Recovery to State Building
The Special Representative’s Introduction
The Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People was first set up by the United Nations Development Programme to help improve the social and economic condition of a people without a state and then switched its focus in 1993 to supporting the Palestinians’ efforts at limited self-government and state-building in anticipation of the creation of a state.
Since then UNDP has made an indelible mark on the West Bank and Gaza. From Jenin in the north to Rafah in the south, there is not a single Palestinian community that does not benefit from a UNDP project.
The projects have included ministries, courts, hospitals, schools, power plants, roads, water and sanitation installations and homes, as well as employment generation and capacity development projects. In the absence of a national state, UNDP, in association with the Palestinian Authority and other agencies, has helped build up services that have maintained and improved Palestinian living conditions in spite of Israel’s occupation and Palestinian population growth.
Support for the needs of the Palestinian people and their institutions has been combined with a focus on UNDP’s global priorities. Issues such as climate change, the global recession, gender equality, youth issues and support for people with disabilities, are as important in the occupied Palestinian territory as anywhere else.
UNDP is working with its fellow UN agencies and the Palestinian Authority to create a framework for climate change adaptation. Poverty reduction and helping women play a larger role in the society and economy are central to UNDP’s programmes.
An important scorecard for UNDP in the occupied Palestinian territory is the Millennium Development Goals, global targets set by the world’s leaders in 2000 to improve health, education, the economy and the environment for the whole world by 2015. Testimony to the success of the international community’s support for the Palestinian Authority and civil society is the high levels of adult literacy of 92 per cent and life expectancy of 72 years in the Palestinian territory. Further evidence of success is that the Palestinian territory is on course to attain six out of eight of the Millennium Development Goals in reduction of child mortality, improvement in maternal health, promotion of gender equality, achievement of universal primary education, progress on communicable diseases and focus on development.
While health and education indicators are similar to the developed world, poverty figures resemble those of the developing world. In the Palestinian territory the poverty rate is 68 per cent and the unemployment rate is 25 per cent.
The economy shrank by 1 per cent in 2008 while the population increased by 3.2 per cent. Eliminating extreme poverty and the proper management of the environment, two of the UN’s Millennium
Development Goals, will remain a major challenge to be overcome by 2015.
According to the International Monetary Fund’s report to the Sharm al Sheikh conference in March 2009, the economic outlook for Palestinians was
“bleak” in both the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank, settlement expansion and checkpoints restricted movement while Gaza continued to be cut off from all but the most basic of supplies by Israel.
In Gaza, restrictions on access have strangled the economy and brought misery to the area. The misery was compounded in December 27, 2008, when Israel launched the 23 day military operation which left around 1,380 dead and more than 5,000 wounded.
For eighteen months prior to the military incursion, Gazans were deprived of many of the rights which are universally taken for granted including access to healthcare, education, transport, work, fuel and freedom of movement. Services and infrastructure deteriorated to such an extent that commentators speak of a state of “de-development”.
After the violence, UNDP assumed the role of leading the international community and partners through its chairmanship of the Early Recovery Group, with the aim of re-building Gaza and restoring livelihoods in the face of political uncertainty and military closure.
This report has chapters on each of our main focus areas, crisis response, governance, poverty reduction and environment as well a chapter
on some of the achievements made since 1978, when the Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People was established.
UNDP is engaged in more than 100 projects in the Palestinian territory so it would be impossible to do justice to all of them in under 50 pages
but this report is designed to give an insight into UNDP’s activities here. Further information is available on our website, www.undp.ps
Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Labour Force Survey October-December 2009.
Complete document in PDF format