Local Initiatives and Community Development
In Cooperation with The United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
The project has been
carried out in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP),
and with funding from the government of Japan. It is for one year from 3/1/1999
The basic idea for this project is to support local Palestinian groups in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by promoting local initiatives and small local projects. Local groups are provided with necessary training and some funding to carry out their serious initiatives relating to a development field. In this way, their self-confidence is boosted since they are in a position to determine their needs and priorities and are capable of working to meet these pressing local needs.
What distinguishes this project from others is that the local community itself develops the concept of the projects, implements and evaluates them.
Based on the above, the project aims to achieve the following objectives:
- To implement 14 local projects in distant and marginalized locations in the West Bank and Gaza.
- To develop the role of local institutions in serving the local community and to reinforce people’s support for these institutions and improve their attitude to them. To train a sustainable cadre of institutional workers with practical experience and adequate training to play an effective role in local development.
- To attract large numbers of local residents to participate in the development process and to integrate the concept of sustainable human development in local development thinking through local initiatives.
- To encourage local initiatives in the local Palestinian society by highlighting these initiatives and publicizing the successful ones.
- Organize an information campaign about the 14 sites.
Mechanism Applied for Choosing Sites
The fourteen sites to be covered by the project were chosen according to the following criteria:
- An advisory committee was established made up of fifteen persons, widely knowledgeable in the field of local development, and representing a number of governmental and non-governmental organizations.
- In May 1999, the advisory committee held its first meeting and established a set of criteria for choosing the sites to be included in the project. A checklist was drawn up covering these criteria.
- 75 sites were chosen in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and information was gathered from these sites through the checklist. On average, five sites were chosen as candidates from each region.
- The advisory committee met again to choose 15 sites out of the 75 recommended sites, with an average of one site per region.
Criteria Applied for Choosing Sites
- The focus was on neglected and marginalized sites, away from main population centres.
- Sites that have not been targeted by governmental or non-governmental institutions.
- Sites that suffer from a severe shortage in basic services.
- Sites where implementation of a project could be of benefit to other neighboring locations.
- The presence of a degree of initiative-taking and cooperative spirit within the local community, acceptance of the project, and enthusiasm for this kind of work.
- Availability of reasonable resources for the sustainability of the project.
Training workshops were organized in each of the 14 locations, attended by representatives of institutions and local activities, in addition to young people willing to do volunteer work, and other notable personalities in the location. Discussions focused on priorities, capabilities, initiatives and other relevant issues. In light of the discussions a special programme of action was drawn up for each project, in the following way:
Five Projects in the Gaza Strip:
The Bedouin Village of Um al-Nasr/Northern Governorate: Establish and provide equipment for the Bedouin Village Family Development Centre. This Centre is currently hosting various vocational and educational training courses for women. In practical terms, the centre is a means to draw in other institutions to implement cultural, social and health activities.
Mawasi the Sea of Rafah/Rafah Governorate: Contribution to placing the cornerstone for a building hosting a kindergarten and a meeting hall. Out of a total estimated cost of $71,000, the contribution by CDS was only $8,000. However, it provided the incentive for other institutions to provide sufficient support for completing the project, such as Save the Children. But due to increased Israeli restrictions on this region, work on this project has not been completed.
Hikr al-Jami’ Neighbourhood/Central Governorate: Establish a youth centre for the neighbourhood youth. The centre became the headquarters for the neighbourhood committee, and the only centre where cultural, educational and sports activities are held in this community for 9,000 people, where basic services are lacking. A woman’s unit was established at the centre to carry out different activities, such as training courses in sewing.
Al-Fukhari Village/Khan Yunis: Completing the building and providing equipment for a cultural centre that includes a library, and a classroom for extra classes for students in the afternoons. In the mornings, the centre serves as a kindergarten providing much needed services, being the only kindergarten in the village.
Al-Mughraqa Village/Gaza City Governorate: Provide furniture and equipment for the premises of the Society for Developing al-Mughraqa, which is regarded as the first and sole NGO in al-Mughraqa. Currently, these premises are used to host meetings, seminars and workshops that the community was deprived of in the past, due to lack of suitable grounds.
Nine Projects in the West Bank
Al-Khass and al-Nu’man Village: Provide furniture and equipment for the “Center for Rural Development,” which serves today as a meeting place for the youth of the village. An administrative board has been elected to run the centre, which includes a folklore group for young men and women. The group takes part in popular folkloric activities at the local and national levels.
Al-Samou’/Hebron: Establish and provide equipment for the Centre for the Disabled, that provides services for 230 disabled persons from the Samou’ and neighbouring hamlets, in addition to a physical therapy unit that provides services to the disabled in the region.
Beit Daqqou Village/Jerusalem: Establish and provide equipment for the village women’s centre, with a small nursery to serve the working women. Women have started to make use of the centre for different activities, including proposals to different institutions for projects to serve the sector of women in the village.
Kafr Ain Village/Ramallah: Establish and provide equipment for a kindergarten, which is the first project providing services to children in Kafr Ain. CDS also completed the works on the clinic building.
Nour Shams Camp/Tulkarem: Construct and provide equipment for the premises serving 300 disabled children and youths from the camp, who elected an administrative board to run the centre, in addition to setting up a computer centre to help provide a regular source of income for the centre. UNRWA undertook supervision of the computer centre.
Beit Hassan Village/Nablus: Establish a women’s centre and a kindergarten. The latter is currently providing services to four residential communities in the Central Aghwar region. The premises are also used to host meetings of the administrative board, seminars, and educational and training courses for the women of Beit Hassan.
Kfairat Village/Jenin: Provide the furniture and equipment for a clinic to cover any urgent needed service. The closest clinic is 6 kms away from the village, which creates major problems in emergency cases.
Amatin Village/Qalqilya: Contribute about 11% of the total cost of a project to construct 3 classrooms at the girls’ school, which will partially help address the problem of the secondary stage female students in Amatin.
Skaka Village/ Salfit: Renovate the premises, and provide equipment for the “old monastery building,” to use as a cultural and sports club for youth, which is the first centre of its kind in Skaka. Elections were held for an administrative board for the centre, and currently numerous cultural and sports activities are organized for Skaka youth, who use the centre in the evenings, while the women of the village use it during morning hours.
- The Community Outreach Unit at CDS
convened 4 training courses, in collaboration with Panorama Institute, on
“Institution-building and Developing Methods for Effective
Participation.” The courses started in February 2000, and ended in May
2000. The target group was the staff working for the above institutions. The
courses covered training in administration, finance, advocacy, networking,
gender, democracy, institutional work and development of communications
CDS also organized 14 training workshops for mothers on methods of dealing with children under critical situations. This was a concluding activity for CDS, in cooperation with the Palestinian Counseling Centre, Union of Palestinian Youth and Association of Psychologists.
- Fourteen workshops were held to identify priorities, initiatives and capacities, according to developmental concepts and mechanisms.
- No less than 400 community activists were drawn to work, directly or indirectly, in the activities initiated by the project.
- Thousands of copies of “Al-Baydar” (The Harvest) and other CDS publications were distributed in all the locations.
- The two NGO guidebooks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip published by the Office of the UN Special Coordinator (UNSCO) were distributed, to encourage the people to communicate with these institutions and draw them to operate in their areas.
- Numerous workshops and discussion group meetings were held, to encourage women to participate and contribute to development and local government.
Ongoing efforts were made by CDS, in collaboration with field coordinators and the media coordinator, to network the sites with governmental institutions and NGOs to assist these sites in the effort to overcome their marginalized status. The results were extremely positive as centres for women, youth, the disabled and cultural centres were networked with institutions active in these fields, such as the Working Women’s Society, UNRWA, YMCA, Save the Children, UNDP, ANERA, Panorama, Canada Fund and others.
Some positive outcomes included:
1- ANERA completed the construction work for the bridge in Beit Hassan Village, and paved the road under it, at an estimated cost of $20,000. It also agreed to fund the extension of a water canal at an estimated cost of $40,000, and the construction of four classrooms for the village’s school to help solve the problem of mixed education in the village that had the result of depriving the majority of girls from completing their secondary level education.
2- Save the Children provided the fund of ($40,000) to purchase a plot of land, and construct a kindergarten in Al-Mawasi in Rafah.
3- UNDP set up greenhouses in Beit Daqqou at a cost of $25,000. It also supported the carpet-weaving project at Al-Samou’ Charitable Society with the amount of $15,000.
4- The Water Authority restored the village well in Kfeirat which has a chronic problem of water shortage due to its proximity from an Israeli settlement where most of the water is channeled by the Israeli authorities.
5- PECDAR, in cooperation with the Bethlehem 2000 Project, constructed a road linking Al-Khass and Al-Nu’man villages in the Bethlehem area, to help alleviate the plight of the schoolchildren who previously had to walk through 6 kms on their way to and back from school.
6- The Energy Authority issued a tender for an electricity generator for Amatin Village.
7- Dozens of workshops were held to discuss different issues as a result of the networks established.
The Media Campaign Highlighting Needs
1- In the printed media: “Al-Baydar” (The Harvest) published by CDS as an annex to the two main daily newspapers, “Al-Quds” and “Al-Ayyam,” in which fourteen reports were published about the marginalized sites involved in the project, with a focus on the conditions and needs of the residents.
2- Radio coverage: A 14-part radio series, entitled “Development Initiatives,” was produced in cooperation with the Voice of Palestine. Each part introduced one of the sites, focusing on the main problems and conducting interviews with officials in positions of responsibility with the aim of solving the problems. Each part was broadcasted twice.
3- Television coverage: A 14-part television series, entitled “Development Initiatives,” was produced in cooperation with the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation. The coverage of each site included interviews with the people, who discussed conditions in their region and their problems and needs. Ministers and other officials were also interviewed to respond to the issues raised.
The outcome of the media coverage was to introduce these villages and their different problems through national media coverage. Among the ministers who took part in these programmes were:- the Minister of Health, Public Works and Housing, the Projects Director at PECDAR, the Director of the Energy Authority, and others. The campaign highlighted the problems of these marginalized villages, drawing the attention of different responsibles and officials to the problems, and helping speed up the processing of different transactions and requests. Some of the problems raised were solved as a result.
The Community Outreach Programme left a clear impact on the sites where it carried out its initiatives:
1- By completing badly needed projects, such as clinics, and centres for women, youth, the disabled and others.
2- It highlighted conditions in these villages through media coverage, urging official institutions and responsibles to address needs.
3- Through establishing networks, most of the regions benefited from additional projects and training courses.
4- Through the different training courses, the cadres in the various centres became better equipped to run these centres successfully.
5- The spirit and objectives of the programme promoted volunteerism in the community, and most of the people in the different locations were ready to contribute with time and money to ensure the success of the projects.
6- The people were encouraged to present their requests and needs to those in responsible positions, to follow-up on them and to hold them to account.
7- In all sites, special attention was given to marginalized groups, such as children, women, youth and the disabled.