Occupied Palestinian Territory (2)
Introductory Paragraph on Aid Coordination in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)
Subsequent to the signing of the Declaration of Principles between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in September 1993 the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was established in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. This political process was accompanied by the influx of donor funding to support the nascent Palestinian proto-state institutions and to deliver a so-called “peace dividend” to the Palestinian people.
At the same time an Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) was formed under Norwegian chairmanship to provide overall guidance and coordination for ODA flows to the OPT. Aid coordination at the local level remained largely ad hoc although several Sector Working Groups (SWGs) were established over the following years, which were co-chaired by donors and the PNA.
The outbreak of the second Intifada (uprising) in September 2000 led to a dramatic decline in living conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Aid flows were largely shifted towards humanitarian aid at that time.
In 2002 and 2003 donors began again to focus on reforms within the set-up of the Palestinian National Authority. To support the largely donor driven reform program at the time a reform coordination structure was set up. So called reform task forces and reform support groups were set up. Membership was largely restricted to donors only. Thus Sector Working Groups worked alongside reform task forces and reform support groups. It soon became obvious that this structure was not sustainable, as it created confusion and overlap and as the reform agenda itself had little Palestinian ownership.
Donors and the Palestinian government thus agreed upon a new aid coordination structure in December 2005 (see attached aid coordination structure). The new set up merges Sector Working Groups and the reform oriented groups into one structure under the Local Development Forum and its’ four Strategy Groups (Governance SG, Economic SG, Social Development SG, and Infrastructure SG). Moreover the aid coordination structure at the local level is now fully co-chaired by government and donor representatives. The AHLC still continues to meet twice a year at the capital level (ministerial or senior level representatives) in order to take stock and guide development engagement at the country level.
Soon after its endorsement the new aid coordination was confronted with huge challenges. As most donors were not able to engage with the Palestinian government formed in the aftermath of the January 2006 elections, donor engagement with the government came largely to a halt and thus the newly designed aid coordination structure could not be implemented until mid-2007 (when after a quasi civil war in the Gaza Strip the Palestinian President installed a care-taker government headed by Prime Minister Fayyad).
While aid coordination within the Sector Working Groups functions relatively smoothly (depending on the sectors), the Strategy Groups as an umbrella forum for SWGs have not yet sufficiently defined their role. As donor engagement is being pursued with the West Bank based care-taker government of PM Fayyad, donor engagement in the Gaza Strip (controlled by the de-facto authority under Hamas) is very limited. The Gaza Strip does thus not feature prominently in the aid coordination structure. Furthermore involvement of civil society in the coordination forums is still marginal.
After more than two years of operation the aid coordination structure in the OPT has, however, developed into the accepted forum for strategic dialogue and the coordination of programmes and projects and thus serves the Palestinian government and donors alike.
Local aid coordination structure in the oPT
The currently existing aid coordination structure in the oPT was set up following the decision made at the meeting of the AHLC on 14 December 2005 in London to improve the effectiveness of aid coordination structures in providing coherent technical assistance and financial support based on national priorities to the Palestinian people in line with the OECD-DAC Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.
1. A Local Development Forum (LDF) which is open to PA representatives and all donor and aid agencies as well as to the representative of Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA). The LDF is co-chaired by the Ministry of Planning and Administrative Development (MoPAD), together with Norway, the World Bank and the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO). LDF meetings are planned and prepared through meetings of the LDF co-chairs and Friends of the Co-Chairs. Since October 2007 LDF meetings have been chaired by the Palestinian Prime Minister.
2. Four Strategy Groups (SGs) which deal with the main clusters of economic policy, governance, infrastructure development and social development and humanitarian issues. The SGs focus on policy formulation and programmatic coordination, and pursue better design of donor projects to support the PA’s sector priorities as well as a higher degree of harmonization of donor procedures. Membership is limited and based on clearly added financial or analytical value of the respective agency.
These four SGs are co-chaired as follows:
The Governance Strategy Group is co-chaired by the Ministry of Planning and Administrative Development and the European Commission (EC); the Economic Strategy Group is co-chaired by the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank; the Social Development Strategy Group is co-chaired by the Ministry of Social Affairs and UNSCO. The Infrastructure Strategy Group is co-chaired by the Ministry of Housing and Public Works and USAID.
3. The SGs are supported by the work of thirteen main sub-groups - namely twelve Sector Working Groups (SWGs) and one working group - that report to the SGs. These are functional groups which are the main instrument of coordination between the PA and the donor community at the technical level. The following SWGs currently exist: Agriculture, Fiscal, Private Sector Development and Trade, Water and Sanitation, Environmental, Municipal Development and Local Governance, Environment, Health, Education, Social Protection, Judiciary, Public Administration and Civil Service, and Security. In addition, the Working Group on Elections also reports to the Governance SG.
4. A Task Force on Project Implementation (TFPI) which liaises with the GoI on issues of project implementation and comprises USAID, UNSCO, EC, the World Bank. The TFPI has a rotating Chairmanship with each member taking on the position of Chair for a six-month period. The last meeting of the TFPI was held in May 2007.
5. The LDF, SGs, SWGs and TFPI are supported by the Local Aid Coordination Secretariat (LACS). LACS and its seven staff are sponsored/funded by Norway, World Bank, UNSCO, USAID and Germany. The work of these groups is further supported by four Strategy Group Coordinators provided by the World Bank, EC, UNSCO and USAID.
 Please refer to graph on local aid coordination structures
 Please refer to matrix on membership in aid coordination structures in the oPT (LDF, SGs and SWGs)
Published in Occupied Palestinian Territory
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