Overview of Australia’s aid program to Palestinian Territories
2013/14 Estimated Outcome: $54.2 million
2014/15 Budget Estimate: $56.5 million
Australia is a long-standing supporter of a negotiated, two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian issue. While the parties search for a solution, our aid is helping to build the capacity of Palestinian individuals and institutions to take on the responsibilities of a separate state, maintaining enablers of economic growth, and keeping many Palestinians out of poverty through social protection and the promotion of business opportunities. Since 2010-2011 Australia has provided more than $200 million in development assistance to the Palestinian Territories. The main pillars of our aid are five-year funding commitments (2011-2016) to the Palestinian Authority and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and a longstanding civil society program valued at $37m from 2009 to 2015.
The Palestinian Territories experience high levels of unemployment, food insecurity and aid dependency. Around 26 per cent of Palestinians were out of work in 2013 (up from 23 per cent in 2012) and over a third of Palestinians,1.57 million people, cannot meet basic food needs. Without aid, an additional 185,000 people, half of them children, would be food insecure. Humanitarian and economic conditions are particularly dire in the Gaza strip, where unemployment has reached 40 per cent and well over half of Gaza’s youth are out of work. Australian aid has two objectives:
- Supporting sustainable economic growth including helping rural communities and vulnerable groups
Our funding and policy engagement with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) helps it meet the basic health, education and social protection needs of almost five million Palestinian refugees—thereby maintaining the enablers of economic growth. Through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) we are providing safe drinking water and toilet facilities to over 200 schools in poor areas.
Through Australian and local non-government organisations we are helping to introduce more efficient practices into the much-neglected agricultural sector and link small scale farmers to domestic and international markets. Through a focus on the role of women, our civil society and education activities are helping to raise the average income and the socio-economic status of women and girls.
- Supporting state building and the peace process
Through governance support to the Palestinian Authority, delivered through the World Bank, Australia is helping to influence policy and regulatory reform—particularly in financial management—that helps create jobs, encourage investment and maintain basic services. Scholarships to Australian universities are helping future leaders from the Palestinian Authority and emerging legal academics from Palestinian universities acquire key skills for state-building.
- Since 2011 Australia has helped improve water and sanitation facilities in 75 schools, benefiting over 50,000 students. Over 35,000 people have also increased their knowledge of hygiene practices.
- In 2013-14 Australia enabled an additional 21,784 Palestinian children to attend school in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Syria and Jordan, with girls making up half of all enrolments.
- Since 2009 Australia has promoted economic growth by working with Australian and local NGOs to raise incomes for over 53,000 people in poor farming communities.
- Since 2011 Australia has been contributing to the Palestinian Authority’s economic reforms including through measures such as broadening its tax base and transparency of public procurement and delivering efficient services.
Supporting state building and the peace process in the Palestinian Territories
Under this objective the Palestinian program manages a five-year, $120 million funding agreement with the Palestinian Authority (which we pay through the World Banks’s Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP) Trust Fund). Australian Awards Scholarships targeted to the Palestinian Territories’ needs for public financial management and legal skills, also contribute to this objective.
Palestinian Authority Partnership Arrangement
$120 million, 2011-2016
Through the World Bank, Australia is funding the Palestinian Authority’s reform program to build the Authority’s public financial management capacity and to fund social protection services that keep thousands of Palestinians out of poverty. The Authority has made gains in tackling corruption, re-establishing security and law and order, improving fiscal management and delivering efficient basic services. By pooling our resources with major donors (the US, EU, UK and others) we have been able to put significant weight behind reformers within the Authority. The Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP) Trust Fund—to which Australia contributed $22.5 million in 2013-14—is a vehicle for Australia and like-minded donors to engage with the Authority on policy. Our tranche payments go towards the Authority’s budget and are contingent on the Authority implementing fiscal and management reform agreed in policy dialogue with the World Bank and donors.
Australia, with likeminded partners, has focussed our engagement with the Authority and the World Bank on encouraging reforms to the private sector enabling environment, increasing domestic revenue collection and robust results monitoring to ensure reform translates into better service delivery for the Palestinian people. The Authority has increased domestic revenue collection, which increased 17 per cent in 2013 from the previous year.
Australia Award Scholarships
$8.6 million, 2011-2016
Through the Australia Awards program, Australia is providing 50 scholarships over five years to help contribute to the state building objective. The program is building the Palestinian Authority’s capacity in social and economic policy and training legal academics from Palestinian universities. As of September 2014, 39 awards have been made and six scholars have successfully completed their studies and returned to their home Palestinian Authority ministries. Returned scholars have played an active role in public diplomacy initiatives, helping us to plan our aid and building networks between academic institutions in Australia and the Palestinian Territories. An alumni association is being established.
Supporting sustainable economic growth including helping rural communities and vulnerable groups overcome poverty in the Palestinian Territories
Under this objective, we work with: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the near East (UNRWA) (through a five-year, $90 million partnership arrangement) to provide basic services to vulnerable refugees; the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) ($12.4 million, 2012-2014) to provide safe water and sanitation to under-serviced schools; and four Australian NGOs ($37 million, 2009-2015) to bring economic opportunities to disadvantaged rural communities, particularly women. Our support to the Palestinian Authority, which includes social protection to vulnerable groups, also contributes to this objective.
Partnership with United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
$90 million, 2011-2016
UNRWA is the UN agency mandated to assist the 5 million Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. It provides education, health, relief services, livelihood and employment opportunities and protection. Through our support to UNRWA we are helping to protect these refugees and provide broader and better quality development opportunities for the younger age cohorts. In 2013-14 our aid helped UNRWA provide health services for over three million refugees and vaccinate 120,000 children (97 per cent coverage).
In education, on which UNRWA spends 57 per cent of its General Fund, it slightly exceeded its 2013-14 target for children enrolled in basic education (the target was 487,982 and it recorded 491,641). Our assistance directly enabled over 17,200 additional children to enroll in school. Education reforms have the potential to lift teaching quality in UNRWA’s 703 schools. UNRWA is also building stronger private sector partnerships in its technical and vocational training centres, resulting in high levels of employment for graduates (excluding graduates in Syria, 83 per cent of males and 76 per cent of female graduates were employed or went on to higher studies in 2013).
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Water and Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Palestinian Schools
$12.4 million, 2012-2014
Australia is the sole funder of a UNICEF water and sanitation activity which is promoting healthier learning environments for children, particularly girls, in disadvantaged schools. In 2012 and 2013, UNICEF rehabilitated water and sanitation facilities in 75 schools (39 in Gaza), benefitting 32,652 pupils (half girls) and work is underway on others. This number is expected to rise to 173 schools (114 in Gaza), benefitting 85,508 children by the end of 2014. All new facilities include units for the disabled. During the period covered by this APPR, UNICEF provided 56,000 school students (59 per cent girls) with at least a litre of safe drinking water per day in Gaza which suffers from a chronic water shortage. UNICEF has worked with the relevant PA Ministry to systematically track girls’ attendance in targeted schools and gender equality is a factor in determining the number of toilet blocks to be built or refurbished for girls and their location.
Australia Middle-East NGOs Cooperation Agreement (AMENCA), Phase 2
$37 million, 2009-2015
The Australia Middle-East NGOs Cooperation Agreement (AMENCA), Phase 2 aims to improve livelihoods to reduce the social-economic vulnerability of the Palestinian people with a priority focus on women, youth and farmers. Since 2009, the program has helped over 15,000 poor farmers increase their incomes by an average of 42.5 per cent. In 2013, the program directly assisted over 23,500 people (nearly half the total number of beneficiaries targeted over the six-year duration of the program). Over the past five years the program has moved away from household investments towards community level infrastructure, rural roads and community-scale water infrastructure that delivered greater impact. Over 70 per cent of all beneficiaries over the last five years have expanded their business as a result of Australian support. AMENCA is also connecting producers to markets and helping to improve marketing for women entrepreneurs in rural areas. There is strong potential to build on this base in any successor program to AMENCA and focus more overtly on economies of scale and market opportunities.