Tom C. works at a Palestinian NGO in Ramallah.
There are over 100 International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt), including the numerous different UN agencies. Major donors also have offices in the oPt as well, including multilateral organisations such as the World Bank and EU ECHO as well as national donors such as USAID.
Their presence here is due to the continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem which has created conditions of poverty, denied the population their basic human rights, blocked access to sustainable livelihoods and created a dire humanitarian and development crisis. Although there is a government of sorts in the form of the Palestinian Authority, it provides only limited social welfare to citizens nor can it work in Area C or East Jerusalem which is still fully controlled by Israel. Therefore it falls on the duty of NGOs, both national and international to provide essential aid and assistance to people most in need.
[tweetmeme] The oPt’s problems with poverty and access to basic rights are caused by the Israeli occupation and the apparatus and restrictive policies that come with it. Since the Oslo Accords, standards of living have declined for Palestinians despite an increase in foreign aid. According to a recent report by the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS), between 1999 and 2008 aid to the OPT increased by 600%. This huge increase in aid money though has not been met with an end, or even a nearing end to the occupation. In fact, during these years the second intifada occurred and Israel stepped up their control in the OPT with their so-called ‘security’ measures of the separation wall, checkpoints, and Israeli only roads, in addition to siege on Gaza.
So why have living conditions in the OPT steadily declined despite an increase in external donations?
In this series of blog posts I will examine the multitude of reasons why aid to the oPt has failed including how donor pressure effects its direction and application in humanitarian and development projects, pressure from Israel, management of funding to Palestinian NGOs and INGO culture all of which (among others) render much aid to the oPt ineffectual and self-perpetuating.
Photo from USAID