Civil Society Programme
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 2019
In the Palestinian Territories, civil society faces many challenges, including the ongoing occupation, political divisions and restrictions put in place by the Israeli military, as well as a long-term humanitarian crisis and recurrent armed conflicts. Nevertheless, civil society organisations make important social and political inputs, above all on behalf of marginalised groups such as women, youth and people with disabilities.
Palestinian civil society has existed for longer than the autonomous Palestinian Authority. It performs an important role in places where the Authority is not active or has no reach, such as East Jerusalem and the Israeli-administered ‘Area C’ of the West Bank. In many cases, civil society actors pursue alternative visions for development. In the absence of elections, civil society organisations form one of the few channels through which people can make themselves heard by the decision makers.
Selected partner organisations of Palestinian civil society are fulfilling their mandates with increased effectiveness.
The Civil Society Programme acts as a capacity-building partner for local societies and associations, and complements the funding for projects and programmes provided by a range of donors. It advises its partners on their organisational development, supports their processes and contributes to the systematic expansion of their knowledge base. Building on a holistic analysis of each partner’s current strengths, it devises organisational development plans accordingly, which also specify the nature of the programme’s support in each case. That support takes the shape of training and advisory activities provided by development workers, local experts and international consultants. It leads to the development and implementation of strategies, and the introduction of new skills and practices.
The programme responds to its partners’ needs, but also sets its own priorities for advocacy and network building. Since people with disabilities face the most severe kinds of discrimination and marginalisation, the programme gives special support to disabled people’s organisations and encourages their inclusion in other GIZ programmes in the Palestinian Territories.
Several networks, including the Disability Representative Bodies Network in the Gaza Strip, have received support for their coordination and advocacy roles. They have analysed their respective policy areas, developed advocacy strategies and issued policy briefs on youth rights, employment and emigration. Their internal accountability systems have improved as a result of training activities on governance and risk management. As such, the networks can work with greater transparency and better mobilise their members. The programme has devised organisational development plans with ten partners. These are now being implemented.
Other partner organisations have benefited from inclusiveness training. The Society of Women Graduates is now better placed to assist the professional integration of women university graduates with disabilities. The civil society association WESSAL has intensified its cooperation with disabled people’s organisations, and now puts its training materials into practice as part of its public awareness work for the inclusion of people with disabilities.
The programme has supported activities marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, thereby making the issues visible to a much wider public. It has also contributed to the partner associations’ ability to raise funds, to their data collection and evaluation capacities, and to their use of new methods for results orientation and HR management. These measures have improved the partners’ capacities to fulfil their respective mandates and carry out projects.