PNGOs’ Perspective
" Publish Date : 2012/10/02 "



His Excellency Dr. Ali Jarbawi, Mr. Max Gaylard, representatives from UN agencies, international & national NGOs,  esteemed colleagues and guests: it is an honor to have this opportunity to speak as a representative of Palestinian NGOs that work tirelessly to contribute to the national struggle, to sustainable development, to protecting our social fabric, and to relief and emergency support for our needy communities.


The Palestinian NGOS appreciate the good work of OCHA in organizing this conference, and also the work of the UN agencies and all of the many international partners  -- including the PNGOs and PNA -- who participated this year to identify the needs and priorities for 2012-2013 in food security, access to services, and enhanced protection for the Palestinian people, especially in Area C, the seam zones, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Also, the Palestinian NGOs value the role of UN agencies and international NGOs in supporting our people in our struggle for liberation, independence, establishing our own democratic state, and development of our communities.


This conference is taking place at a critical time for the Palestinian cause. Not only is the world’s attention focused on the bid for statehood and recognition at the UN this month, but there has also been increased attention and acknowledgement of political, economic, and humanitarian challenges affecting Palestinians. On the ground, there have been more violations of human rights, more violations of international law, and crimes and  aggression on a daily basis against our people in all spheres of life, including the unethical, illegal siege on the people of Gaza for the last four years. In addition, there have been increasing external economic and political pressures from many governments on the Palestinian leadership – as well as on Palestinian NGOs and on the PNA – which could result in a number of dire scenarios that are yet to be seen.


During this time, we are pleased to see significant increase in political support for our national struggle from other governments, including widespread support for our bid for UN membership.


For many years, Palestinian and international NGOs, together with UN agencies and the Palestinian government, created a model of partnership based on a mutually respectful and understanding relationship to ensure that the needs of poor and marginalized communities were addressed and supported in an efficient manner.


PNGOs would like to continue enhancing this model to ensure that the partnership is based on cooperation rather than competition. The role of international and UN agencies should be to complement, support, and strengthen the work of PNGOs and the PNA, not to replace them. We are keen to see the full participation from all the stakeholders throughout the entire project cycle, based on needs and priorities of Palestinian communities.


In recent years, we have witnessed more participation by PNGOs and the government in the CAP process, and we appreciate that there has been progress on the inclusion of Palestinian roles in relief and development efforts. That said, the level of participation until now is not satisfactory. PNGOs are keen to seriously discuss strategies to effectively integrate Palestinian NGOs and communities in the identification of needs and priorities, implementation of programs, and monitoring and evaluation of projects.


PNGOs have been active in Palestinian society for many decades and have had numerous successes. PNGOs have the networking, staff, respect, and capacity to enable successful and beneficial projects to the Palestinian people. Most international agencies and organizations respect this and incorporate Palestinian perspectives into their work. But in recent years, it seems from our perspective that a few international organizations have been competing with Palestinian organizations for funding and projects, rather than cooperating.


By working separately from PNGOs, a few international NGOs’ initiatives can be ineffective and harmful for the Palestinian people, and can actually undermine the PNGOs who have built effective, trusted networks to provide services to their own communities. This behavior is unsustainable and can weaken any capacity building we have done within our local communities.


The CAP mechanism is currently structured to summarize humanitarian needs and identify subsequent interventions. We believe some organizations remain distanced from many realities facing Palestinian communities. Sometimes, projects focus on providing services and addressing needs, rather than using existing assets and empowering the resilience of local residents. Additionally, many projects are evaluated independently from the targeted communities, and the results are not always communicated. In order to increase the involvement of the different partners, we have to shift the emphasis of some of the international agencies from working on behalf of the Palestinian people, to working alongside the Palestinian people. We would like for the CAP process to better represent all stakeholders and to develop a transparent and efficient monitoring system.


Which brings us to a primary issue: Palestinian needs are NOT just humanitarian that require relief and emergency interventions. Rather, our problems directly result from the prolonged occupation and its systematic destruction. Therefore, our problem is political, and requires solutions that emphasize community development, resilience, and capacity building.


We are keen to work together to change the political situation that creates and sustains the ongoing humanitarian crisis. In addition to providing protection and advocacy, international agencies can play a crucial role on pressuring Israel to stop violations from occurring and recurring, and should work to hold Israel accountable for its crimes and aggressions. Ultimately, we all should work to make the occupation costly to the occupier, such that the costs outweigh any benefits that Israel might obtain.


I would like to share with you recommendations for the future:


First, we would like to develop a healthy environment conducive to working together as equal partners among all stakeholders: Palestinian NGOs, international NGOs, UN agencies, the PNA, and the targeted communities. These relationships should be based on equality, partnership, and respect.


Second, we would like to develop a Code of Ethics and Conduct about the working relationships among Palestinian NGOs, international NGOs, and the PNA.


Third, we would like for all international projects to be consistent with the Palestinian National Strategy and based on the needs and priorities of the community. Even humanitarian projects should have a developmental and sustainable aspect.


Fourth,  we would like to see more effective participation from Palestinian NGO networks, CBOs, and representatives of Palestinian communities and target groups in the whole CAP process. Then we would like to develop a bottom-up approach that promotes access to funding and participation for Palestinians in all areas, especially Gaza, Area C, East Jerusalem, and the seam areas.


For example, based on data from of November 2010, the appeals totaled over $575-and-a-half million dollars. Of this, only 11 million dollars -- less than 2% were appeals from Palestinian NGOs. This statistic is one example of the limited inclusion of Palestinian organizations and communities in their own development.


Another example of limited participation is the HRF program, where there have been 13 projects approved for HRF funding in 2011. Only one of these projects was implemented by a Palestinian NGO. If we look at the total number of applications for this year, international NGOs had a 55% success rate. Contrast this with funding for PNGOs, for which eleven PNGOs applied for HRF funding, yet only one was granted funds. This is a success rate of less than 10%. Sadly, this rate has decreased from funding in 2010, which was a decrease from 2009.


This is a challenge for all of us: to increase participation of Palestinian NGOs in the whole CAP process, from the identification of problems, needs, and priorities, to implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.


Fifth, we would like the procedures to be simplified to make the process more accessible to Palestinian NGOs and CBOs, and to address the barriers to access, such as language.


Sixth, we’d like for Palestinian media to play more of a role in the CAP process and in humanitarian interventions. All forms of media can play an important role in informing the public about needs, projects, outcomes, and the impact of CAP projects.


Finally, we recommend that Palestinian NGO networks work together with their international NGO and UN partners and PNA representatives, to have a greater, more effective role in the vetting committees of the clusters for all sectors. We would like to give more access for targeted Palestinian communities to monitor and evaluate projects implemented through CAP. Then, the results can be disseminated to these communities to increase awareness and also to solicit feedback for future initiatives.

All in all, we are looking to enhance the relationships among international NGOs, Palestinian NGOs, the UN, and the PNA in order to better serve the needs of Palestinians. By including the input of Palestinian organizations and communities throughout the entire process, we can create an environment based on equality, partnership, and mutual respect that is conducive to working together as equal partners to achieve our shared goals for Palestine.



Sami Khader