2. Process. The MTR was conducted through a participatory process that included key counterparts from the Government, United Nations agencies, donors, civil society, and national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The MTR was enriched by the participation of children in its preparation and implementation. Consultations involving line Ministries and the project team contributed to the MTR meeting organized by the Ministry of Planning, in which all implementing partners, including NGOs and children, participated to sum up overall achievements, constraints and lessons learned.
3. Update on the situation of children and women. The infant and under-five mortality rates in Occupied Palestinian Territory, estimated at 25.2 per 1,000 live births and 29.1 per 1,000 live births, respectively, are relatively low and close to the levels found in the middle-income countries in the region. However, mortality rates have remained at this level for some years and, under the current circumstances, reducing them is a challenge. Achievement of the Millennium Development Goal on child survival is not certain. A recent survey reported a rise in the unemployment rate to 40 per cent, and 67 per cent of households are living below the poverty line. Moreover, recent World Food Programme (WFP) assessments indicate that 51 per cent of Palestinians are food-insecure, a 14-per-cent increase in the past year. Child nutrition has been affected, with micronutrient deficiencies recognized as a significant problem. Addressing anaemia in girls and women also remains a serious challenge.
4. Education suffered considerably due to the open-ended strikes of teachers. Dropout rates increased, particularly in older male children. In 2005/2006, the net enrolment rate was 86.7 per cent for boys and 88.3 per cent for girls, a drop of 1.5 per cent compared to 2004/2005. Levels of violence rose in schools. The closures, curfews and military operations frequently constrained the mobility of teachers and students. Several studies have indicated that the psychosocial status of a majority of children has been negatively affected by the ongoing conflict. The deterioration in the quality of health services and decreased access to the services due to closures, compounded by the economic crisis, had a negative impact on the overall situation of children and women.
5. Progress and key results. Through the Child Survival and Development Programme, more children under five continue to benefit from the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) package “plus”, including immunization, improved health services and community and family care practices. The immunization coverage rate was sustained at above 90 per cent largely as a result of the reliable availability of vaccines. An effective emergency response was launched for all primary health-care centres both in the West Bank and Gaza with the provision of essential supplies. Awareness campaigns on potential Avian and pandemic influenzas were also held. In the areas targeted by the programme, malnutrition, caused by inadequate breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices along with micronutrient deficiencies, is also being addressed. Consumption of iodized salt is now at 86 per cent, and children and women of childbearing age receive appropriate micronutrient supplementation. More newborns continue to benefit from the integrated neonatal package.
6. Through the education programme, a child-friendly school environment that encourages children to enrol in and complete school has been established in 90 schools, moved forward by the training of 2,000 teachers. To complement this, a nationwide back-to-school campaign to increase community awareness on the importance of primary education was undertaken in addition to the provision of supplies (stationery, school bags, uniforms, etc.), which reached approximately 110,000 of the most disadvantaged children, especially girls, in the West Bank and Gaza. More teachers and managers (360) were trained on Early Childhood Development (ECD) to strengthen pre-school education and increase access of under-fives to ECD. A school-support system for dropout prevention was set up in 50 schools that have the highest dropout rates.
7. The child protection programme contributes to the improvement of mechanisms and services to detect, support and refer child victims of abuse, exploitation and violence. A child protection monitoring system is being established through five socio-legal defence centres, and 1,800 cases of abuse and violence were received. The legal environment to protect children was strengthened through amendments to the Palestinian Child Rights Law and a review of the Juvenile Justice Law. Children (60,000) and caregivers (20,000) have received psychosocial support services through the work of the 12 psychosocial support teams. Children (45,000) also received training on dangers of mines, and a victim database has been set up.
8. The adolescent development and participation programme has contributed to increasing opportunities for 1,200 adolescents who can participate in decision-making through eight Child Municipal Councils. More children (12,000) are able to recreate safely, and adolescents (18,432) have access to life-skills-based education and after-school sports activities in 256 schools. Through the provision of adolescent-friendly learning spaces, more adolescents (1,200) have received life skills-based education and skills in IT, literacy, math, drama and other areas.
9. As part of the emergency response, the water and environmental sanitation (WES) programme, has ensured that an estimated 2,200 households now have access to safe drinking water, and 343 schools and 35 hospitals/primary health care (PHC) centres have access to safe water and sanitation facilities. The water supply to unserved or poorly served urban and refugee populations was improved, as was the coordination of emergency WES activities and the monitoring of the humanitarian situation.
10. Through the cross-sectoral programme, comprehensive data and information to close information gaps on children and women and support situation monitoring and assessment are now available with the establishment of the first Millennium Development Goal database, PalInfo (a customized version of DevInfo).
11. Resources used. For 2006, $4.2 million was allocated as regular resources, of which $3.8 million (90 per cent) was spent. Under other resources, $3.9 million was allocated, of which $2.5 million (64 per cent) was spent. Under emergency other resources, $14.1million was allocated, of which $13.1million (93 per cent) was spent. All funding sources give a cumulative budget of $22.3million, of which $19.4 million (87 per cent) was spent. A high-level budget in 2006 reflects the success of fund mobilization efforts by the Occupied Palestinian Territory office with the support of the regional office and the headquarters, especially in response to the Gaza crisis.
12. Main constraints and opportunities affecting progress. The main constraint is the deterioration of the conflict situation in Occupied Palestinian Territory, which caused a shift in focus from development to emergency. The civil servants’ strike that lasted for over six months (due to the inability of the Palestinian National Authorities to pay salaries) also affected progress, as did the freezing of donor funds as a result of the coming-to-power of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. Nevertheless, good progress was made in programme delivery because of two main factors: first, the willingness of implementing partners to continue working for children and to implement some activities despite the strike; and second, the provision of $1.2million from the Emergency Programme Fund that facilitated emergency responses, especially in the Gaza crisis.
13. Adjustments made to the programme. The MTR led to significant adjustments. In health, changes relate to increased intra- and inter-Ministerial coordination, the strengthening of the newborn and postnatal care interventions, annual planning for what is achievable, and early preparation of supply plans, especially in Gaza.
14. In education, support for back-to-school campaign activities with timely delivery of supplies, the development of pre- and in-service teacher training strategies, and support for teacher-training is crucial. It was noted that Child Protection requires more and closer coordination between the West Bank and Gaza, a better mix between development and emergency preparedness/response activities, and improved monitoring of the implementation/enforcement of child rights laws.
15. Adjustments in the adolescent programme include the need to create more adolescent-friendly learning spaces, and safe play areas for children, and to provide summer activities. In WES, there is a need to provide services to more unserved or poorly served rural communities, and emergency safe water and adequate sanitation services to more crisis-affected schools, health facilities and local communities.
16. In the cross-sectoral programme, more resources were allocated, the media outreach was increased, capacities of programme partners began to be developed more systematically, and more support was given for resuscitation and effective functioning of the monitoring unit in the Ministry of Planning.
75. MTR of the area programme for Palestinian children and women. Although it covered only one year, the MTR was valuable in light of the changes in the situation in Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly the escalation of the conflict in Gaza. The programme will need to maintain its vigilance and flexibility to respond to the changing situation. The review led to significant adjustments in the programme, which in addition, will undergo a gradual shift to focus more on social policy issues and partnerships to influence broader decisions and resources for children and women.