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Palestine – Housing and Slum Upgrading
Following the development of the Strategic Framework for the Housing Sector in the occupied Palestinian territory that was developed by UN-Habitat in 2009 in partnership with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing (MoPWH) and the development of a National Housing strategy paper by the MoPWH, there was an urgent need to further the development of an overarching Palestinian National Housing Policy. UN-Habitat, based on its previous work in the sector, has been asked by the World Bank to contribute to further assessments in the housing sector and
key housing policy issues. Two main components were at the focus of UN-Habitats contribution: the development of Housing Sector Profiles, and the drafting of a National Housing Policy. The main goal of the project was to ensure that the Ministry of Public Works and Housing has a clear housing strategy and policy for the occupied Palestinian territory, developed through a broad-based inclusive process and prioritizing key issues, including a policy framework for public-private partnerships, large scale housing initiatives and pro-poor housing solutions. This work on the Housing Sector Profile benefited from a number of pilot efforts led by UN-Habitat (e.g. Nepal, Uganda) to develop comprehensive Housing Sector Profiles. The intent was to focus on those elements identified as priorities in the Strategic Framework for the Housing Sector (2009) and the National Housing Sector Strategy (2010), bringing together all relevant studies and surveys done so far and filling gaps where needed. The work on the draft Housing Policy drew lessons from supporting Housing Policy development in other countries. Specific attention was paid on ensuring a participatory and inclusive process, involving also as much as possible the key private sector actors, civil society and municipalities. The focus was on those elements that will further enable the private sector in housing production within a clearly defined framework, and on promoting more pro-poor and inclusive housing developments.
UN-Habitat in close collaboration with the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian Housing Council (PHC) recently completed the implementation of “The Urgent Housing Rehabilitation for the Poor and Marginalized Palestinian Families in East Jerusalem” project. The overall aim of the programme was to improve the living conditions of low-income families and disabled people who live in deteriorated housing conditions in need of immediate maintenance, through the rehabilitation of their houses and the improvement of their livelihood conditions. It is estimated that over 2,000 poor families in Jerusalem governorate are in need of immediate assistance. In response to this, an initial phase of the programme was originated by a 500,000 EUR contribution from the French government. It involved a selection process of beneficiaries based upon a number of field surveys which assessed the physical conditions of houses, poverty and income levels of the most vulnerable families residing in East Jerusalem. Accordingly, 56 families (319 beneficiaries) were selected and received financial assistance as well as technical and management support through this initiative. It is noteworthy to point out that 27% of the selected beneficiaries are female headed households and 16% of the beneficiaries are people suffering from chronic diseases or disability. The targeted housing units were suffering from many technical problems such as: leaking roofs, lack of ventilation, unhygienic kitchens and bathrooms, faulty electricity etc. Basic green building principles were applied to improve the overall situation. Better insulation and ventilation, rainwater harvesting and solar energy system for hot water were used. In addition, the lay-out and landscape of the housing units and its surrounding were improved. The project has adopted a consultative approach with community leaders and relevant stakeholders, including direct community participationA second phase of the programme has been completed with an additional 400,000 EUR fund from the French government. The second stage entailed on the rehabilitation of 45 selected houses. This new phase adopted the same principles of self-help construction, capacity building and livelihood support, where on the job training in rehabilitation work for the benefiting families and local labour workers. In addition, technical and financial assistance were provided to selected women headed households to set up small home based businesses.
Since 2011, UN-Habitat with its partner, the Palestinian Housing Council, is implementing a project which supports self-help reconstruction of 100 new housing units for affected non-refugee families in the Gaza Strip whose houses where completely destroyed during the December 2008-January 2009 conflict. These housing units are reconstructed on the same private lands where the destroyed buildings were located. This provides the affected families with shelter and prevents them from being displaced from their home area. Beneficiaries are trained to organize the reconstruction works by themselves directly (procure building materials and use own labour) or sub-contract them to a local contractor through the use of a self-help reconstruction booklet that contains methods in which families affected by demolitions can reconstruct and rebuild their houses based on the available resources and based on their needs as well and “green measures20” previously produced by UN-Habitat and Palestinian Housing Council and beneficiaries. This way, families are empowered to reconstruct their houses according to their own ideas, possibilities and needs. Cash is transferred to the beneficiaries in instalments that are bound to the actual construction progress. The outcomes were establishing a Technical Support Centre and Mobile Units to support families targeted by the project, and to provide (i) practical technical advice for the use of cash grants, (ii) technical support and guidance in the preparation and supervision of the plans and implementation of the works, (iii) assistance with obtaining the required permits, and (iv) to raise general awareness on good practices and relevant norms and standards.
In 2007 UN-Habitat, in partnership with the Hebron municipality and the ministry of social affairs, initiated a social housing and economic empowerment project for urban poor women-headed households in Hebron city in the West Bank. Contributing to the alleviation of urban poverty among women in Hebron through improving their livelihoods and social conditions has been the overall objective. The project has the following main streams: 1) construction of 100 housing units; 2) empowering those families through providing training and income generating projects (small-scale enterprises and cooperatives); and 3) promoting neighbourhood development planning and local economic development practices and green initiatives. This has been enhanced with the establishment and strengthening of a Women’s Cooperative that manages the housing complex, and the income generating initiatives within the housing complex.
In February 2013, one hundred marginalized women-headed households from Hebron city were publicly selected as project beneficiaries. Construction works have been completed in May 2014. In September, 100 marginalized women-headed households (about 700 individuals) moved to their new apartments constructed under the project. Since then, training and income generating and cooperative activities have been ongoing.
Combining shelter and municipal land with economic empowerment tools to alleviate urban poverty and promote local economic development has been a pioneering initiative in Hebron city. The lessons learnt under this approach are being reviewed and considered by mayors of other major cities in the West Bank such as Nablus and Ramallah/Al Bireh. UN-Habitat’s partnership and development intervention helped alleviating urban poverty among women in Hebron city. In 2015 the selected families were removed from the income-assistance list of the Ministry of Social Affairs and the number of poor women-headed households in Hebron city will be reduced.
A major impact is that 100 poor women and their families – who used to have no property at all and had been totally dependent on the monthly welfare support within the Ministry of Social Affairs – have now their own housing units and title deeds. Their livelihoods have also improved as they are now shareholders in the cooperative which owns and runs income generating activities. These marginalized families are now gradually integrating into the local economic development process in Hebron city.