Strengthening Palestinian civil society

Programme description

Title: Strengthening civil society organisations in the Palestinian territories
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Palestinian territories
Overall term: 2016 to 2022

Members of self-advocacy organisations planning their activities; photo: QADER for Community Development


Civil society in the Palestinian territories faces a wide range of challenges. Its scope for action is increasingly limited. This is due in part to restrictions imposed by the Israeli military administration and the Palestinian authorities. On top of this, the conditions laid down by international donors are leading to further constraints. Nevertheless, civil society is making important social and political contributions, especially for disadvantaged demographic groups. These groups have little influence within Palestinian society, experience exclusion and discrimination, and face various barriers. This makes it difficult for them to participate in society. Children and young people, people with disabilities, women and girls are particularly affected.


In line with the 2030 Agenda demand to ‘leave no one behind’, civil society organisations are in a better position to contribute towards political participation among the general public.



The Civil Society Programme acts as a capacity-building partner for local organisations, and complements the funding for projects and programmes provided by a range of donors. It advises and supports its partners with regard to their organisational processes, thus contributing to the systematic expansion of their knowledge base. Building on a holistic analysis of each partner’s current strengths, the two sides agree an organisational development plan specifying the programme’s support in each case. Development workers, local experts and external consultants conduct this work. In addition, the project provides training courses and advisory services. With project support, the partners are developing and implementing strategies, building up expertise and introducing new practices.

People with disabilities face the most severe kinds of discrimination and marginalisation. The project therefore supports self-advocacy organisations for disabled people and promotes inclusion in further projects.


  • Offerings from civil society organisations are now having more impact. The project has drawn up and implemented development plans in cooperation with the partner organisations. To facilitate this process, it has developed an ‘Organisational Capacity Self Assessment Tool’. The organisation ‘Nawa for Culture and Arts Foundation’, established in 2014 in Deir Al Balah (Gaza Strip), is one of the partners that have used it to enhance their services. The organisation provides educational assistance and psychosocial support for children and young people in the Gaza Strip. It now reaches significantly more children and young people who are suffering under the sustained crisis.
  • Self-advocates for disabled people now have a stronger position in the Palestinian territories. They have been integrated to a greater extent into the process for monitoring implementation of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The project has provided training courses to this end. In particular, people with learning difficulties are now increasingly perceived as equal partners in the self-advocacy movement representing disabled people.
  • A further result is the emergence of an informal coalition of disabled people’s self-advocacy organisations and civil society organisations. It initiates dialogue with representatives of ministries, local authorities and the private sector to advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities and the improvement of their lives.
  • The partner organisation ‘QADER for Community Development’ in Bethlehem has developed the first plain-language Arabic version of the UN Disability Rights Convention. It is used not only by persons with disabilities, but also by governmental organisations, the private sector and civil society.