Palestine ranks 113th (in 2014) in terms of the HDI (Human Development Index) developed by the UNDP to monitor the social and economic development of the world’s countries each year. The Palestinian Authority – covering part of the West Bank of Jordan (A and B zones making up 40% of the land) and the Gaza Strip with an area close to 6 thousand square kilometres – is inhabited by approximately 4 million people (including a group of about 500,000 Israeli settlers).
The Palestinian economy is dependent on the Israeli market and its main trading partners, besides Israel, are the United States and the European Union. Financial assistance from international donors makes up a significant part of the state budget. The largest donors of development assistance to Palestine are the EU, the UN, the USA, Japan and Arab countries of Persian Gulf. The Palestinian Authority operates pursuant to the Oslo agreements (1993) and the Washington agreements (1995). On 30 November 2012 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution granting Palestine non-member state status. Pursuant to the presidential decree issued in January 2013, all Palestinian offices and institutions, including diplomatic agencies, were obligated to use the name “State of Palestine” in place of the former “Palestinian National Authority.”
In February 2009, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Radosław Sikorski, and Foreign Affairs Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, Riad Al-Malki, signed a three-year framework agreement on development cooperation between the MFA of the Republic of Poland and the FAM of the Palestinian National Authority. The agreement provided, among others, for the following forms of cooperation: technical assistance and scholarships, supply of goods, equipment, materials and services, contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the financing of development and/or humanitarian projects included in Palestinian National Strategic Plans. This was the first document of this type signed by Poland with a development cooperation partner and a beneficiary of Polish aid.
“Multi-annual development cooperation programme for 2016-2010” adopted by the Council of Ministers on 6 October 2015 defines the strategic objectives and the directions of Polish development assistance in the medium term. According to the principle of strengthening effectiveness and efficiency of development assistance, the Programme specifies the areas of Polish assistance, making a significant geographic concentration. Palestine, which has been the beneficiary of Polish development assistance continuously since 2005, is among 10 priority partner countries. The total value of development assistance provided by Poland to Palestine between 2005 and 2016 exceeded PLN 25 million.
Guided by the principle of coherence of policy for development and the need to ensure compliance of the objectives of national policies with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Programme specifies the areas of development assistance. In the case of Palestine, Polish development cooperation will focus on three thematic areas:
- human capital – in particular improvement of health care quality, inclusive education and universal access to quality education, civic education, social integration of people from groups at risk of exclusion;
- agriculture and rural development – in particular food security, efficiency and competitiveness of agricultural production, access to outlets, use of modern technologies in agriculture, modernisation of local infrastructure;
- entrepreneurship and private sector – in particular competitiveness and innovation of micro and small enterprises, social economy, entrepreneurship, especially of women and youth, vocational education and training.
Actions in 2016
Pursuant to the Multiannual Programme and the Development Cooperation Plan 2016, as part of the human capital strategic priority, development cooperation for Palestine serves implementation of the following objectives: “improving access to quality education at all levels of education, especially pre-school education” and “supporting social integration of people from groups at risk of exclusion.” Achievement of the following results will be crucial for this area:
- improving infrastructure and equipment of educational centres, teaching at all levels of education and increase in professional competence of the teaching stuff;
- improving the state of infrastructure and access to pre-school education;
- increasing access to social services (health care, education) of people from groups at risk of social exclusion.
The lack of infrastructure is one of the main barriers to development of education in Palestine. In 2013, only four public kindergartens were functioning in the sector of education for the youngest, while 1,132 institutions were privately managed (source). Due to the limited access to the institutions, especially in hard to reach areas, the percentage of children attending kindergartens is very low. While among the pupils of primary schools the net enrolment rate in 2014 was almost 91%, at the stage of pre-school education only slightly more than 45% of children were covered by formal education (source).
According to the National Development Plan 2014-2016, the priorities within the education sector include, among others, ensuring access to education for all, with particular emphasis on persons with disabilities and children living in remote and marginalised communities, increasing enrolment at the early stages of education, improving the quality of secondary education and the qualifications of teaching staff, as well as development of school and educational infrastructure.
As part of the agriculture and rural development strategic priority, development cooperation for Palestine serves implementation the objectives of “improving food security in rural areas” and “increasing efficiency and competitiveness of the agribusiness sector.” Achievement of the following results will be crucial for this area:
- growth of income and raised levels of food security of homesteads;
- increasing competitiveness, efficiency and innovation of producer groups, cooperatives and agricultural cooperatives;
- improving access of agri-food products to outlets, achieving higher quality of agricultural production.
Currently (data of 2014), agriculture has a relatively small share in the economy of Palestine – 3.5% in the West Bank and 4.7% of GDP in the Gaza Strip, respectively. According to data from 2013, 11% of the total labour force is employed in this sector (source).
The National Development Plan 2014-2016 indicates the need for development of the agricultural sector, allocating 43% of funds earmarked for investments in the economic sector for this goal. Pursuant to this document, actions taken by the Palestinian authorities are aimed at achieving growth and diversification of production and increasing the share of the sector in relation to GDP. The result sought is also increasing the quality of agricultural production and increase in competitiveness on the local and foreign market.
As part of the entrepreneurship and private sector strategic priority, development cooperation for Palestine serves implementation the objectives of “strengthening local private sector” and “development of entrepreneurship.” Achievement of the following results will be crucial for this area:
- increase in labour force participation and employment of women and young people;
- increasing access of women and young people (including graduates) to technical education, training and counselling, and improving the quality of infrastructure for the improvement of professional skills;
- strengthening non-profit organisations supporting professional education and employment opportunities for women and youth in East Jerusalem.
From the point of view of proper social development, support for groups which are at the biggest risk of exclusion is particularly needed. This applies in particular to women and young people. In 2015 the labour force participation rate in Palestine was 49%, while among women only 19%. In the same year, the unemployment rate was 26%, while among women this rate reached 39% (compared to men – 22%), and among young people – as much as 41% (source).
Activation of these highly disadvantaged groups is in line with the implementation of the priority of entrepreneurship and private sector, and is consistent with the Palestinian Development Plan.
In 2016, ten development projects for Palestine are carried out, of which:
- seven projects are carried out by the Office of the Representative of Poland in Ramallah in the framework of the Small Grants System, totalling EUR 170 thousand, i.e. PLN 747 thousand (average exchange rate of NBP of 1 July 2016);
Examples of activities undertaken by the Office of the Representative of Poland in Ramallah in 2016 are related to improving educational opportunities for children from the Gaza Strip by improving the infrastructure of Al Zaytoun schools in Gaza as well as improving access to sports activities for children from the Al Amari refugee camp.
- one project carried out as part of the “Polish Aid Volunteering Programme 2016” call for proposals in the amount of subsidy of about PLN 40 thousand;
The objective of the project entitled Medical and artistic activities among the Palestinian community in three places: Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Beit Jala, carried out by one volunteer sent on behalf of Caritas Polska, is to support and activate socially disadvantaged groups among the Palestinian community. Specifically, the activities will involve provision of support to the staff of a maternity hospital; conducting workshops on writing icons addressed to the youth of three Roman Catholic parishes in Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Beit; and conducting interdisciplinary art classes for children in the age of 2-6 in the kindergarten run at the Crèche orphanage in Bethlehem.
- two projects carried out as part of the “Polish Development Assistance 2016” call for proposals by NGOs for the total amount of PLN 2.06 million;
Development project carried out by the PCPM entitled Using hydroponic cultivation to increase food security, income and competitiveness of the cooperative sector in Palestine, which involves a two-year implementation cycle, aims to increase the level of food security of small farmers and strengthen entrepreneurship of agricultural cooperatives. As part of the first module of the project, in 3 agricultural cooperatives and one centre for disabled in the regions of Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah 300 square meters of hydroponic and reservoir cultivations will be established, making cultivation possible for people who do not have land, within which individual beneficiaries gathered in them will learn to cultivate fresh vegetables and get them for their own needs. At the same time, promotional and material support for the group of agricultural sales and production cooperatives under the MAWASEM brand (including 3 units in the area of Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah) established under the project carried out from the funds of the Polish development assistance in 2015 and a small support for souvenir shops for tourists offering their products will be continued.
Project entitled Prevention of isolation and social exclusion of people with disabilities in the Palestinian Authority carried out by Caritas Polska aims at the provision of support to the disabled. The actions consist in equipping 10 centres in the region of Bethlehem taking care of people with various types and degrees of disability; conducting courses and training raising qualifications of staff; organising an information campaign on disability, aimed at raising public awareness of the Palestinians about disability.
Actions in 2015
In 2015, a total of ten development projects for the Palestinian Authority were carried out, of which:
- seven projects were carried out by the Office of the Representative of Poland in Ramallah in the framework of the Small Grants System, totalling PLN 700 thousand;
Examples of actions performed by the Office of the Representative of Poland in Ramallah in 2015 were related to improving educational opportunities for girls in East Jerusalem through the creation of technology laboratory in St. John's School and improving access to prenatal care for mothers and children at the NECC Mobile Clinics in Darraj and Rafah in the Gaza Strip.
- One project carried out in the framework of the “Polish Development Assistance 2015” call for proposal by the Polish Centre for International Aid in the amount of nearly PLN 916 thousand;
Development project carried out by PCPM was aimed at strengthening entrepreneurship of agricultural cooperatives through the implementation of an effective production and marketing model. Specifically, the actions involved launching sales channels for four agricultural production cooperatives, with the participation of two sales cooperatives and three supermarkets. The objective of the project was also to make people aware of the benefits of mutual cooperation and the creation of business relationships between these entities.
- One project of Caritas Polska as part of the Polish Aid Volunteering Programme 2015 call for proposals subsidised with more than PLN 36 thousand;
Actions taken as part of the volunteering programme involved, among others, conducting workshops to promote preventive health care in the field of prevention of diabetes, sclerosis, hypertension and recognising disturbing symptoms (such as stroke or heart attack), and to provide support and activate older people from the territories of the Palestinian Authority, inmates of the Elderly Day Care Centre.
- One project carried out by the Ministry of the Interior and Administration with the amount of subsidy of PLN 430 thousand. It was related to strengthening the capacity of border guard of Palestine as regards comprehensive safety inspection and verification of the authenticity of documents.
Moreover, Poland supported activities of the UNRWA with payment in the amount of EUR 120 thousand. Support provided by Poland to Palestine in 2015 totalled approx. PLN 2.7 million.
Actions in 2014
In 2014, eleven development projects in total were carried out for the Palestinian Authority, of which nine by the Office of the Representative of Poland in Ramallah under the Small Grants System for the amount of EUR 204,700 and tow by Polish NGOs as part of the “Polish Development Assistance 2014” call for proposals – for the amount of funding of PLN 1.4 million.
Polish development assistance for Palestine in 2014 was provided in the following thematic areas: education and SMEs and job creation. The MFA awarded funding for two projects related to levelling out educational opportunities and professional activation of women. One of the projects involved the creation of a cooperative model of agribusiness in the village of Al-Jalama, in the Jenin District. As part of the second action addressed to women from poor families, families with many children and single mothers vocational courses were conducted in the fields of administrative and office education, beauty treatments, hairdressing and techniques of Palestinian embroidery and handicrafts.
Examples of actions carried out in the framework of the Small Grants System by the Office of the Representative of Poland in Ramallah in 2014 were related to improving the living conditions of women through small agricultural projects in six rural communities in the districts of Ramallah and Jenin; strengthening the social position of women through development of administrative and production skills of the Idna cooperative in Hebron; and renovation of the Armenian Door in the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Moreover, in response to the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip in 2014 payment was made for the UNRWA in the amount of PLN 850 thousand.
Actions in 2013
In 2013, ten development projects in total were carried out for the Palestinian Authority, of which seven by the Office of the Representative of Poland in Ramallah under the Small Grants System, two by Polish NGOs as part of the “Polish Development Assistance 2013” call for proposals and one in the framework the Polish Aid Volunteering Programme 2013.
Total funds provided to the Palestinian Authority in 2013 as part of the bilateral development cooperation amounted to PLN 1,6 million, of which a project of voluntary service received support in the amount of almost PLN 38 thousand, two projects implemented by NGOs as part of the “2013 Polish Development Assistance” call for proposals were granted a total of PLN 892 thousand, while the Polish diplomatic mission in Ramallah received funds totalling EUR 164,055 for small grants implemented in cooperation with local organisations.
Polish development support for the Palestinian Authority focused on two priority areas. The project of the Polish Humanitarian Action entitled Improving water and sanitary conditions in educational institutions through the construction of water tanks in schools and an orphanage in the West Bank’s Districts of Hebron and Bethlehem concerned the water supply and sanitation priority. The action carried out by the PCPM entitled Development of rural entrepreneurship in the West Bank's Districts of Hebron and Bethlehem was to strengthen the economic potential and was in line with the SMEs and job creation priority.
Examples of actions carried out as part of the Small Grants System by the Office of the Representative of Poland to the Palestinian National Authority in 2013 were aimed at improving access to water for agricultural purposes for 50 families in Ain Areek; increasing employment opportunities for the youth of Palestine through the establishment of ties with the Polish private sector; and increasing food security of 10 families in Az Zubeidat in the Jericho District through the construction of greenhouses.
One project was carried out in the framework of the Polish Aid Volunteering Programme 2013 involving a renovation of 4 tanks to collect rainwater in order to increase water security of pastoral and farming societies in South Hebron.
In addition, as part of the humanitarian aid of the MFA, in 2013 payments for the UNRWA were made in the amount of PLN 500 thousand.
Actions in 2012
In 2012, actions of the Polish development cooperation were related to the following priority areas of support: education; water supply and sanitation; SMEs and job creation.
A total of eight development projects were carried out for the Palestinian Authority (see full list), including five by the Office of the Representative of Poland to the PNA in the framework of the Small Grants System, and three by Polish NGOs as part of the “2012 Polish Development Assistance” call for proposals.
Development assistance funds provided to the Palestinian Authority in 2012 as part of the bilateral development cooperation totalled around PLN 1.4 million, of which three projects were implemented by NGOs – amounting to PLN 892 thousand, while the Polish diplomatic mission in Ramallah received EUR 113,920 for small grants implemented in cooperation with local organisations.
The Polish MFA co-financed actions supporting small agricultural enterprises in the West Bank’s Bethlehem District by the introduction of new farming methods based on organic recycling and aquaponic gardening – a PCPM project; social and cultural development of the excluded region of Masafer Yatta in the Hebron District – a NOMADA project; as well as actions aimed at improvement of access to water by reconstruction of agricultural water tanks for the Bedouins living in the South Hebron District – a PAH project.
In the framework of the Small Grants System, some of the projects implemented in 2012 by the Office of the Representative of Poland to the PNA were related, among others, to the improvement of water and sanitary conditions for 9 homesteads in the Jenin District; levelling out educational opportunities for young people from difficult backgrounds in Eastern Jerusalem; and levelling out educational opportunities for girls in the Al Amarii Camp by providing equipment to the Fencing Club.
In 2012, Poland supported Palestinian refugees in the Near East through the UNRWA, providing the amount of PLN 650 thousand.
Actions in 2011
In accordance with the priorities of the 2011 Polish development cooperation programme, public administration bodies, NGOs, public higher education institutions, research institutes, the Polish Academy of Sciences and its organizational entities could apply for financing towards projects to aid the Palestinian Autonomy in the following sectors:
- supporting good governance, in particular raising skills among public sector workers;
- developing the rural and agricultural sectors, in particular by raising the level of quality of local products, water management, rural governance and support for the local community;
- supporting youth development and activation in education;
- streamlining border management through trainings for border guards.
As a result of the concluded competition, in 2011 the following projects were implemented, with the total co-financing amounting to PLN 800,000.
Development of agricultural areas through the renovation of agricultural water tanks in southern Hebron district; project operated by the Polish Humanitarian Action. The goal of the project was to improve Hebron inhabitants’ access to water for household and agricultural purposes. In the framework of the project – with the help of local inhabitants – 20 water tanks for rainwater collection and storage were renovated. The users were also trained in water tank maintenance and hygiene, as well as in effective ways of collecting water.
On the milky way to South Hebron – II: Strengthening the cooperation network between Bedouin sheep farmers in Masafer Yatta and the local dairy production cooperative in Hebron district, West Bank; project operated by the Polish Center for International Aid Foundation. The project is a continuation of the Foundation’s actions implemented in the West Bank in previous years. The goal of the project was to expand the local market for dairy products and raise dairy quality. Sheep farmers participated in trainings devoted to modern technologies. 48 farms were modernized to include new equipment.
Training in support of modernisation of PNA border services - continuation; operated by the International Cooperation Bureau of the National Border Guard Headquarters. Measures under this project were focused on strengthening the PNA’s border protection system and boosting the level of border security by training border officials. Trainings methods to be applied at future workshops were also developed as part of the project.
Moreover, the Office of the Representative of Poland to the Palestinian National Authority in Ramallah – in cooperation with local organizations – implemented small grants projects with a total co-financing component of PLN 500,000. The projects included:
- Finishing, equipping and staffing the day care room in orphanage in East Jerusalem. The goal of the project was to create a safe education and recreation room on the unused top floor of the orphanage. Thanks to the project, 21 children – as well as those who will live at the orphanage over the following years, will have the ability to study and play in a room equipped with the necessary instruments (desks, computers) and learning materials.
- Activating youth in East Jerusalem by organizing an anti-drug campaign. The project consisted of trainings for youth leaders selected from among the local population. During the workshops, the leaders received knowledge and organizational skills which they will use to increase local awareness of the problem of drug abuse among children, adolescents and adults living in the camp.
- Creating jobs by building water tanks in Aboud village. The project has contributed to facilitating the local community’s access to water through the construction of 5 water tanks for collecting and storing rainwater. 10 local inhabitants were employed to build the tanks and local youths participated in awareness-raising activities dealing with effective and economical water use.
Actions in 2010
In 2010, over PLN 1.34 milion was channelled into the co-financing of aid projects for the Palestinian National Authority. The following projects were implemented:
Polish Centre for International Aid: "On the Milky Way to South Hebron: Linking Small Goat and Sheep Farmers from Bedouin Communities and the Local Dairy Production Cooperative in the Massafer Yatta, Hebron District, West Bank";
Together Polska Foundation: "Youth Media Centre";
Polish Humanitarian Organisation: "Development of Human Resources Through Social Activation of Children and Youth from Hebron District - Extra-Curricular Activities";
Representative Office of Poland, Ramallah: "Promoting Cultural Diversity in Jerusalem by Supporting Activities Depicting Palestinian Culture", "Implementation and Purchase of Sports Equipment for the Qadura Fitness Park in Ramallah" and "Implementing, Equipping and Staffing of the Day-Care Room in the Bethlehem Children's Home";
International Cooperation Offices of the National Border Guard Headquarters: "Trainings to Aid the Modernisation of the Palestinian Autonomy's Border Guard".
Actions in 2009
In 2009, aid was provided in the following areas:
developing human resources,
developing rural areas and local communities,
access to potable water.
In 2009, 8 projects were implemented with partial financing of over PLN 866 000. These include:
"Fencers for Palestine" - a project implemented by the Tischner European University in cooperation with the Palestinian Fencing Federation (PFF), aimed at raising the qualifications of Palestinian fencers and fencing instructors, with whom the University has been cooperating since 2007. In the framework of the project, a Polish coach was in charge of the Palestinian national team, a sports camp was organised in Jordan, and equipment was purchased for sports clubs. One important element of this project was the popularisation of fencing by organising tournaments.
In 2010, a documentary film entitled "Fencers for Palestine" (directed by Urszula Laskowska and Mateusz Mularski) was produced. The movie depicts the project's implementation in the Al-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah, West Bank.
"Inaugurating Drama Classes in Schools and Youth Clubs in East Jerusalem" - the Representative Office of Poland in Ramallah implemented this project in districts in East Jerusalem inhabited by Palestinian communities, which are extremely affected by their economic, cultural and social isolation from other areas inhabited by Palestinians (the West Bank and Gaza Strip). The aim of the project was to create youth drama groups to facilitate the process of self-identification and constitute a form of group therapy. The project's initiator and main implementing party was the Sanabel Theatre.
"Repair and Installation of Window Protection Systems in Wadi Al Hassin" - the Representative Office of Poland in Ramallah implemented a project to install window protection systems in several dozen houses in the Hebron area inhabited by Palestinians who were victims of acts of vandalism perpetrated by radical Israeli settlers.
"Trainings to Aid the Modernisation of the Palestinian Autonomy's Border Guard" - in response to Palestinian needs, the National Border Guard Headquarters implemented a project aimed at supporting Palestinian law enforcement agencies in preparing and implementing modern methods for building a national border protection system.
Additional aid for the Palestinian National Authority (over PLN 1 milion) was provided in response to the appeal made by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA).
Actions in 2008
Polish development aid covered the following areas:
increased access to potable water;
In 2008, 3 projects were co-financed with over PLN 1 milion.
"Civil Palestine" - a joint undertaking of theTischner European University and the Palestinian Vision partner organisation, aimed at activating youth, making creative use of youth potential, and implementing civil initiatives. The project culminated in the organisation of a Polish Day in Ramallah, which included a Polish-Palestinian friendship tournament in men's and women's épée fencing, and a festival in Bethlehem presenting the implemented activities.
"Improving Water Supply for Three Palestinian Schools in Bethlehem District, 2008" - a Polish Humanitarian Organisation Foundation project aimed at improving sanitary conditions and access to potable water in selected schools. In cooperation with the Environmental Education Centre - a local organisation - the project implemented trainings and workshops for pupils, staff, parents and representatives of local communities, devoted to environmental protection, agriculture, water economy and usage and maintenance of water purification stations.
"Developing Entrepreneurship Among Women - Small Animals, Big Value: Rearing of Animals and Production of Dairy Products by Women in the Palestinian Autonomy, 2008" - a Polish Humanitarian Organisation Foundation project aimed at developing a dairy production cooperative operated by impoverished women from rural areas around Hebron. Apart from professional consultations and trainings, the initiative consisted of the purchase of professional dairy processing equipment, which enabled mass production. During the term of the project, its beneficiaries were helped by staff from the local partner, the Palestinian organisation Shorouq. Additional aid was provided to the Palestinian Autonomy by transferring funds towards multilateral initiatives: the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan Trust Fund PRDP-TF (USD 500 000) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East - UNWRA (USD 150 000).