World Bank supports Palestinian NGOs

Victor Kashkoush

Since 1990 funding to the Palestinian NGO sector has fallen sharply. The World Bank-designed Palestinian NGO Project is intended to open up a new source of funds. The project is unique in that funding will go direct to an NGO consortium led by the Welfare Association — until now World Bank funding has always gone to governments and government entities.

NGOs are deeply rooted in the culture of the Palestinian people.  Under Israeli occupation, in the absence of any proper civil administration, UN agencies and NGOs, both indigenous and international, were the major service providers in key social and economic areas.

Declining funds for NGO activities

In 1995 the World Bank estimated that there were over 1,200 Palestinian and 200 international service-providing NGOs active in the West Bank and Gaza, collectively providing about 60 per cent by value of all primary health care services and up to half of secondary and tertiary health care — as well as all disability and pre-school programmes and most agricultural services, low-cost housing programmes and micro-enterprise credit schemes.  Since 1990, however, funding for NGO activities has declined steeply; Bank estimates suggest that from the early 1990s until 1996 external support for NGOs contracted from between $140 and $220 million a year to $60 million.

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