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Source: USAID West Bank & Gaza
31 March 2005



Jericho Inaugurates School Building, New Library in the Works
This was originally published as a press release on April 1, 2005.


JERICHO, West Bank - Palestinian government officials and American visitors inaugurated a new building for the Fatima Az-Zahra Primary School for Girls Thursday and then toured the construction site of Jericho's new state-of-the-art library.

One year ago, the Fatima Az-Zahra Primary School for Girls suffered serious overcrowding and five of its classrooms were in such bad shape that they were considered unsafe. During the hot summer months, the classrooms were unbearably hot and the atmosphere not very conducive to study.

To remedy the situation, the American people donated $307,500 through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Municipality of Jericho made an in-kind contribution of $70,000 -- providing the designs, tender documents, site supervision and project management.

Today, the school's 500 students boast an additional 1,200 square meters of space including eight new classrooms, a library, a laboratory, a home economics room, a computer room and two rest rooms.

Palestinian Authority Chief Negotiator Dr. Saeb Erekat, Jericho Governor Sami Musallam and Jericho Mayor Hassan Saleh attended the festivities on behalf of the Palestinian authorities. USAID Mission Director James Bever and two staff members of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Operations Subcommittee, Robert Blair and Rodney Bent, represented the American people.

The project was part of USAID's Job Opportunities through Basic Services (JOBS) program, implemented by American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA). The project generated 2,500 person days of employment for local workers through the Al-Zeer Contracting Company.

USAID is currently undertaking the renovation of an old building at the Fatima Az-Zahra Primary School for girls, under the Palestinian Infrastructure for Needed Employment (PINE) program. The Americans are donating $90,000 to the renovation and the municipality of Jericho is making an in-kind contribution of $22,500.

Eight classrooms and two administration offices will get new plaster, paint and electrical installations during the renovation. In addition, a canteen will be built and the playground upgraded.

Another program USAID supports is the construction of the Jericho Public Library. The work began in 2003 when Jericho's municipal leaders announced a contest for the best design. The winning proposal came from a young Ramallah firm and incorporated the features of a book with open pages.

USAID contributed $258,500 to the $323,500 project, with the Municipality of Jericho covering the remainder.

Construction will create an estimated 3,000 work days under the JOBS program implemented by ANERA.

The new 600-square-meter library will give the 27,000 inhabitants of Jericho and surrounding villages a landmark library that will promote reading in a pleasant environment.

USAID administers the U.S. foreign assistance program and provides economic and humanitarian aid in more than 100 countries worldwide. Since 1993, Palestinians have received more than $1.5 billion in U.S. economic assistance via USAID projects - more than from any other donor country.


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