Palestinian Community Assistance Program
The socio-economic conditions in Gaza prior to Operation Cast Lead were quite difficult for much of the population. The onset of military operations in December 2008, however, created even more desperate conditions for large sections of the Gazan population. Many families took refuge in U.N. shelters and sought assistance from various international donors to provide the most basic items needed for existence – food, water, and healthcare. Upon the cessation of Operation Cast Lead and in the ensuing months, international donors provided a wide range of humanitarian assistance, coordinated by the U.N. Logistics Cluster. The ramifications of the continuing economic restrictions of Gaza are considerable. Much of Gaza’s once thriving agricultural production has been lost. This adversely affects local food production, market prices, agricultural incomes and general nutrition. Housing, business, and infrastructure rehabilitation and/or reconstruction have been impeded by restrictions on import of construction materials, spare parts, trained technicians, and industrial inputs.
The Palestinian Community Assistance Program seeks to address these issues. The Palestinian Community Assistance Program is a three-year, $100 million program funded by USAID and implemented in all five governorates of the Gaza Strip. With Mercy Corps as the prime agency, the Palestinian Community Assistance Program has two additional core partners, with CHF International being one of them. The program began work in October 2010, with CHF International allocated a budget of $15 million.
The Palestinian Community Assistance Program has the following objectives:
The Palestinian Community Assistance Program through CHF International has succeeded in undertaking rehabilitation of houses in Gaza despite the challenges imposed by the Israeli blockade of construction material into Gaza. CHF International was responsible for the rehabilitation of 400 houses that had families living with walls broken (in parts), basic concrete flooring, no windows, and in some cases they were living in unsafe structures. So far, the program has identified 300 of the 400 families that will benefit from the rehabilitation. In the interim, the program provided windows and doors to families living in homes that were damaged by the conflict or families that were too poor to do any repair work themselves. The 1,512 families, as a result of the windows and doors provided by the Palestinian Community Assistance Program, are now protected from the harsh, rainy winters of Gaza, as well as stray and wild animals that might have entered their unprotected houses. In addition, CHF International was responsible for the construction or rehabilitation of 20 community infrastructure projects identified in consultation with Gazan communities.
The Palestinian Community Assistance Program built on the successes of the previously implemented Gaza Urban Agriculture Revitalization and Redevelopment program implemented by CHF International, by continuing to work at increasing the availability of fresh foods, revitalizing the Gazan agricultural economy and reducing dependency of Gazan families on international food aid. This is being done through the provision of urban gardens to Gazan families along with animal production kits (namely chicken and rabbit husbandry). The program not only provides the families with the materials to develop the gardens and produce the animals for their food needs and possible economic purposes in the future if there is a surplus but also provides them much needed trainings on how to sustain their activities. CHF International staff regularly visit and work closely with each family to ensure they are successful in their ability to provide for their own families.
So far the program has achieved the following: