Rawa, a philanthropic fund rooted in participatory community decision-making, has been launched in Palestine to promote community development and the mobilisation of local resources. Following an exploration period, supported by Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Open Society Foundations, The Middle East Children’s Alliance, Global Fund for Community Foundations, Al-Maamal Foundation and the Ford Foundation, Rawa will support initiatives enabling local people to set funding priorities and allocate resources for innovative community development. At the same time, it will seek to leverage and amplify the impact of international philanthropy and the work of community groups in Palestine.
The fund has been formed in response to the shrinking of resources for grassroots initiatives. Since the 1990s, international aid in Palestine has largely prioritised emergency and humanitarian relief. Its increasingly bureaucratic profile has shifted resources away from alternative, community-owned solutions to managing the symptoms of problems caused by occupation and structural discrimination.
As other regional priorities have surfaced, foundation resources allocated to Palestine have shrunk and donor fatigue has worsened in the face of a seemingly intractable situation. Rawa, therefore, will seek to reinvigorate grassroots groups by providing simple, flexible support to initiatives arising out of the local community.
Andrew Milner is associate editor of Alliance magazine