SEATTLE — West Bank and Gaza is situated in Middle East surrounded by Israel, Jordan and Dead Sea. It is the most controversial place in regard to sovereignty, and the West Bank and Gaza together constitute Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) — a territory that has been under the Israeli Military Occupation since 1967.
Due to political unrest and increased security restrictions, the economy of this area is increasingly unstable with an unemployment rate of 26.9 percent in 2016. Currently the World Bank has committed to almost $135 million for different development projects in West Bank and Gaza.
The five major development projects in West Bank and Gaza are the following:
1. Electricity Sector Performance Improvement Project (Started in July 2017)
The energy (Electrical) sector holds significant potential for economic growth and development in Palestine. Currently, West Bank and Gaza import electricity predominantly from Israel in order to meet the nation’s energy deficiency. The above project has invested almost $11 million for enhancing the electrical sector, and the objective of the project comes in four different components:
- To strengthen the capacity of domestic power plants and reduce operating costs by running power plants on natural gas available in the neighboring region.
- To improve the project’s operational performance by preventing electrical theft, instiling revenue protection and managing the information system.
- To design and implement a pilot rooftop solar system model that can be easily replicated to meet basic electrical needs. It will help to generate energy in a cost-effective way as both West Bank and Gaza has substantial solar potential.
- To finance all the operational costs attached with the project for next two years.
2. Finance for Jobs Project (Started in July 2017)
The project measures the impact of investing money in the private sector for job creation and its estimated cost is $9.5 million. The project will finance four different sector of job market to reduce unemployment:
- The first part — known as the Development Impact Bond (DIB) — will finance the training of the Palestinian workforce in developing skills that will meet private sector job requirements. The DIB will select a group of 2000 people from age 18 to 29 — with 30 percent being women — for work-based training program and will help them in achieving job placement.
- The project will invest in a co-financing facility, which will invite different private sector investors to submit proposals for creating jobs.
- The project will also fund small projects to encourage community and advisory practices for business development.
- Finally, it will try to allocate funds in the current project for potential recipients of other projects.
3. Municipal Development Project (Started in July 2017)
The Municipal Development Project is a phased development program which aims in improving the liability and service delivery of municipal systems in the West Bank and Gaza area. The project will provide funds to improve infrastructure for eligible municipalities based on population, need and performance. It will also help to achieve development objectives by providing technical assistance and education, so that the workforce can operate more effectively with the private sector and enhance service delivery.
4. Education to Work Transition Project (Started in December 2016)
This project helps to reform tertiary education institutions for young Palestinians so that they can meet the demand for labor in the job market. It also aims to engage companies from private sector to develop study programs relevant for the job market.
5. Integrated Cities and Urban Development Project (Started in September 2016)
The objective of this project is to enhance the capacity of five major Palestinian urban areas – Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem, Ramallah-Al Bireh, and Gaza City – for sustainable urban growth. With a budget of $5 million, the project aims to enhance resource management, increase efficiency in service delivery and implement a comprehensive urban planning that includes traffic management, zoning, economic development and environmental protection.
West Bank and Gaza after passing through war, treaties, and several discussions is still a land of dispute. Through access to electricity, planned urbanization, proper education and employment, the development projects in West Bank and Gaza serve as hopes for the improvement of the living conditions of its people.
– Mahua Mitra