Infrastructure and Construction
Under the current Local Government and Infrastructure Program (LGI), funded by USAID, Global Communities has constructed 80 infrastructure projects throughout the West Bank, including 18 schools, 32 km of roads, and 16 youth or community centers.
Building Communities First
What makes these infrastructure projects different? Projects are based on infrastructure priorities identified by citizens through a participatory process. They are centered on the theme of service improvement, aiming to facilitate relationships between citizens, civil society organizations and LGUs, and to ensure a steady improvement in
Primary and Secondary School Construction: Finalized in April 2013, work on the Az Zeer Secondary School for Boys (
"I used to go to Al Asakreh village to study. Now we have our own new school! It's closer to my house, and I like it so much. We have everything in the school - clean water, and toilets. I like to attend the sports class because we have a big playground where we can play football and basketball." -Khalil, age 7
Youth and Community Centers: Completed in December 2012, the Jaba youth center in East Jerusalem serves as a recreational and educational center for more than 400 youth. To create the youth center, Global Communities built a third floor of 235 additional square
"My two nephews are members of the karate team. They are extremely happy now that they have a place where they can practice. Their team has won several championships. Most importantly, now they can utilize their free time in something beneficial and productive."
Roads and Internal Infrastructure:
Land-owner Zuhdiye Mohammad, 65, remembers the days before October 2011, when Global Communities completed construction of 2.2 km roads, 350 meters of retaining walls and fences, and more than 11,272 square meters of asphalting works in Raba, Jenin.
"It (used to take) me three hours each day during the harvest season to reach my land walking on foot because it was impossible for cars to use this road, and we faced many problems in transferring the crops using donkeys. This often caused damage to crops while waiting or transferring crops and was very costly. Now, any taxi will be happy to take me to my land or transport my crops
Completed in October 2013, the Al Jalazun steel-structure pedestrian bridge spans one of the busiest and formerly most congested sections of a primary road between the cities of Ramallah and Nablus. Students used to wait for up to an hour to cross the street to attend school, wreaking havoc on traffic congestion, the educational schedule for the day and safety conditions for teachers, students
Below: Al Jalazun Bridge
Global Communities works with many communities in the West Bank & Gaza affected by rapid population growth, urbanization and increased demands for energy, water scarcity, desertification, deforestation
As in other parts of the world, the West Bank & Gaza has seen great resistance to green initiatives and continuing misconceptions about the cost of green building, despite numerous demonstrated projects that show there is no major difference in cost of green building, compared with traditional building methods. Environmentally friendly structures can be – and are increasingly being – built with minimal or even no added costs and within the budget range of conventional buildings.
Prospects for Green Building in the West Bank & Gaza
Estimates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggest that the Middle East in the coming decades will be more affected by climate change than any other region in the world. Even though the region contributes a relatively small amount to global greenhouse gas emissions, its percentage of total emissions is expected to double by 2050. The complex political situation complicates development further.
Fortunately, green building offers a new and innovative approach for infrastructure planning and implementation. This new approach to infrastructure is especially needed in the territories, where many forms of new construction, operations and maintenance strategies result in negative impacts on the local environment, while lax enforcement of environmental laws have resulted in sporadic, often shoddy construction. Often, green spaces are replaced by residential and commercial structures with poor environmental performance, while drainage and solid waste management systems and inadequate sanitation further exacerbate the problems.
During summer 2013, at the same time President Obama launched new climate policies for the U.S., Global Communities gathered 300 community leaders, investors, engineering professionals, academics and representatives of the Palestinian Authority in Al-Bireh, West Bank, to roll out the first Green Building Guidelines for the West Bank (originally funded by UNDP). This achievement grew out of a partnership between the Palestinian Engineers Association and the Palestinian Higher Green Building Council.
The guidelines represent the culmination of many years of partnership and three years of Global Communities' ongoing engagement of engineers, government, civil society organizations, and academics to promote green building in Palestinian communities. The first of this series of Green Building Conferences was endorsed by former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as a means of ensuring that our “economic vitality and environmental responsibility go hand in hand.”
Key Innovation - Green Engineering Fellowships
To further support green building efforts, Global Communities partners with Khatib & Alami, a well-known regional engineering firm to provide up to 10 green fellowships to young engineers over five years of the Local Government & Infrastructure program. During the two-month internships, fellows work with Khatib & Alami’s sustainability unit in the U.A.E., learning about the LEED building and certification process developed in the United States, and the ISTIDAMA building and certification process adopted as building code in the U.A.E. Exposure to these regional and international systems enable fellows to apply green building principles and approaches upon their return to the West Bank.
Global Communities has developed a suite of construction supervision and quality assurance tools to help our local partners keep construction projects on track and comply with environmental, health and international building safety standards.
Every project includes steps to ensure high levels of quality control at all stages of infrastructure construction, maximizing transparency and accountability and improving the likelihood of superior construction upon completion. Typical quality control measures include:
Assessment of Feasibility: Assessment, design review, and construction management engineering and planning teams work together to ensure that each project is feasible and sustainable and will continue to be useful once completed. This assessment stage is thorough, focusing on the justification and scope of each project and ensuring the engagement of local partners.
Quality Assurance and Safety Testing: All required tests are completed at the appropriate points before, during, or after construction works.
Review of Environmental Aspects: Initial designs and each construction stage of a project must adhere to environmental protection and impact mitigation measures, including minimum disturbance to the natural environment; no disturbance of archeological sites or
Compliance with Safety Requirements: Global Communities ensures that all project work sites and implementation methodologies meet the highest safety standards, requiring and enforcing detailed site safety and security plans to maintain the highest level of safety during construction. Contractors are carefully monitored to ensure that all projects meet these standards.
Key Innovation - the Construction Management Practices Manual (CMP)
Global Communities recently created a “Construction Management Practices Manual” (CMP) to standardize procedures and ensure that project implementation is in line with internationally adopted guidelines and with Global Communities’ mission and values. The CMP manual summarizes approved implementation and construction procedures and provides a set of standard templates, as well as flow charts outlining different aspects of the construction management cycle and the methodology adopted by Global Communities.
Previous Infrastructure and Construction Projects in the West Bank & Gaza
I. Emergency Jobs Program The Emergency Jobs Program (EJP; 2007 - 2011) provided Palestinians with safe, accessible, environmentally friendly recreation areas in communities adversely affected by the ongoing political and economic situation. The EJP relied on effective partnerships to ensure that buildings were constructed efficiently and safely, to serve the community in positive, effective, lasting ways. EJP successfully partnered with local and international NGOs and other USAID-funded programs in the West Bank & Gaza to maximize impact in areas such as education, vocational training, health, local governance and youth programming. The projects provided tangible benefits to these citizens through strengthened civil society and community ties. A few of these projects included:
Such facilities are essential for community members to assemble away from their homes, take classes and provide social and employment networking opportunities. EJP employed more than 60 workers to construct a women’s wing for a center in Bido, a community of over 6,000 people. The center became the meeting place of the Bido Women’s Association which, since its formation in 2005, had never had a formal meeting place. The Association supports numerous activities (including hairdressing, sewing and crafts production) and provides technical courses in computers, media and literacy.
The additional space in the community center has also proved helpful in bringing women's groups in
Another center was constructed in Bedouin, home to the largely isolated Ar Rashayida community. Though the community has some access to electricity and water, services are extremely limited, and transportation to the nearest city of Bethlehem is prohibitively expensive. Droughts in recent years have disproportionately affected livelihoods for this shepherding community. The village lacked a space where the community could meet and strategize to solve their shared problems, so EJP constructed an addition to the Ar Rashayida Community Center. Here, citizens can share employment prospects, take continuing education, first aid and CPR classes, and attend leadership workshops for men, women and children.
The community of Atara holds the Al Qattrawani shrine, constructed around 900 AD after the original shrine was destroyed by an earthquake. However, centuries of use and neglect had nearly destroyed this public monument. With no public park but beautiful views and an historic site, the community asked the EJP to construct renovate the shrine and construct a park around it, creating nearly 2,500 days of employment for local laborers. The park now houses the rehabilitated shrine as well as a playground, tables and benches, a canteen and restrooms.
The tenuous political and security situation in Gaza, along with barriers to accessing construction and other materials, created significant programmatic challenges. Despite these challenges, Global Communities worked with communities to implement a rubble removal and recycling project that resulted in the removal of more than 1,450 tons of rubble from 13 damaged homes in Abasan El Jadida and Abasan El Kabera, clearing the areas for safe residential and agricultural use. Recyclable rubble was then sorted out for future use. This project helped improve the quality of life for Gaza residents, and Global Communities continues to explore viable options for providing additional development and relief activities for the people of Gaza.
II. Palestinian-American Recreation and Conservation Services (PARCS; 2005-2008)
Palestinian communities face a number of growing threats to their economy, security
Architectural students from local universities were also heavily involved in the parks’ design and construction, providing practical training and exposure to participatory and professional design approaches, while promoting a sense of civic responsibility and pride. The projects developed under PARCS continue to better the lives of nearly one million Palestinians and help counter the detrimental effects of living in conflict, while also restoring some of the area’s historical beauty.
PARCS has achieved a number of important goals including:
• Providing safe, accessible, environmentally friendly recreational areas in communities that are especially affected by the economic and security consequences of the ongoing conflict.
• Ensuring that the parks – 21 when the program ended in 2008 – are designed in a way that involves all community stakeholders, particularly those from minority groups such as women, children, the elderly and citizens with disabilities.
• Using efficient yet labor-intensive construction methods to provide work opportunities for communities