More efficient local governments for inclusive and peaceful development
Title: Local Governance Reform Programme in Palestine II
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Country: Palestinian territories
Lead executing agency: Palestinian Ministry of Local Government
Overall term: 2019 to 2022
Government services in the Palestinian territories have largely been shaped by the Israeli occupation that has been ongoing since 1967 and the limited sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority. The annexation of East Jerusalem and the intra-Palestinian division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which has existed since 2007, also have an impact.
Strengthening social cohesion is one of the key conditions required for long-term peaceful development. It is equally important to prevent further divergence regarding economic, political, institutional and social development in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
Against this background, the local governments are particularly important in securing the livelihood of the population. However, the vast majority of local authorities are not able to provide municipal services effectively or to ensure the systematic and structural participation for citizens. This particularly applies to women, young people and people with disabilities.
The services provided by selected local governments have improved, especially in the areas of development and spatial planning, financial management and accountability.
The project cooperates with several Palestinian partner organisations, including the Ministry of Local Government, the Palestinian Municipal Development and Lending Fund, the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities and selected municipalities and civil society organisations.
The project is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). It also works together with Engagement Global. This is the central hub for development policy engagement by individuals, groups and municipalities in order to enhance partnerships between German and Palestinian towns.
In line with the needs for peace and security in the Palestinian territories, the project supports the partner municipalities in modernising their administrations, improving their strategic development planning, introducing transparent financial management and improving the quality of their services. A further priority is increasing public accountability and institutionalising effective citizen participation – especially of frequently overlooked groups such as young people, women and those with disabilities. The project also trains local elected officials and staff of civil society organisations to cooperate in local political planning and decision-making, and to implement joint initiatives. In this way, the project supports local reform processes and strengthens confidence in the government.
Furthermore, the project contributes to improving the framework conditions for efficient local governments. The focus is on shaping relations between the central government and the local governments, systematic exchange between the local governments and constructive representation of municipal interests thanks to an active association of local authorities.
- Municipal development and public investment are based on a reformed guideline for strategic municipal development and investment plans. With support from the project, participatory strategic community development plans have been developed in all Palestinian town and city communities and the majority of village communities. Local non-governmental organisations, private sector associations and other civil organisations – in particular, representatives of women’s and youth organisations – were involved in the discussion and definition of development priorities and measures.
- The number of Palestinian towns and cities that meet the standards of the Municipal Development and Loan Fund (MDLF) has increased significantly. This gives them access to investment funds from the Municipal Development Programme.
- Approximately half of the eligible village councils have qualified for financial assistance from the MDLF programme, which improves the services provided by local authorities.
- In cooperation with the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities (APLA), professional learning, exchanges of lessons learned and the bodies representing the joint interests between the local governments were strengthened. They were arranged formally within the framework of ‘technical hubs’.
- In addition, partnerships between Palestinian and German towns and cities were developed in cooperation with Engagement Global and the Association of German Cities.
- The project also helped successfully establish the local internet platform Dooz, which informs citizens about relevant topics in the Nablus region, involves them in political discussions and thus promotes political participation.