In terms of planning, UN-Habitat is not only aiming at improving the planning standards and quality of the statutory local outline planning – often referred to as masterplans – but also aims at broadening and deepening the planning agenda, by drafting pilot planning schemes for hinterland areas, for clusters of villages, for more regional sections of Area C, as well by developing design schemes for capital investment projects – all with substantial participation of the affected communities.
UN-Habitat also supports the Palestinian Authority initiative to draft a comprehensive National Spatial Plan (NSP), which will integrate the previously drafted regional plans for the West Bank and Gaza (back in the nineties). Meanwhile UN-Habitat pledged its own contribution from its Trust Fund to provide seed funding to the start-up of the project, e.g. by recruiting consultants to draft sectorial territorial forecast for the long term. A part of this seed-funding is specifically allocated to develop an urbanization Strategy, capitalizing upon the conclusions of the First Palestinian Urban Forum (March 2012), also supported by UN-Habitat Palestine or occupied Palestinian territories, while additional funds are made available to compile the first Palestinian Cities Report.
Urban Planning Support Programme for Palestinian Communities in East Jerusalem:
UN-Habitat together with the International Peace and Cooperation Centre (IPCC), Bimkom (Planners for Planning Rights) and the Centre for Advancement of Peace Initiatives (CAPI) with funding from the European Union are currently implementing a 3-year “Urban Planning Support Programme for Palestinian Communities in East Jerusalem” which effectively aims to facilitate the immediate improvement of the living conditions and easing displacement pressures, while securing growth opportunities for Palestinian communities. More specifically, the programme is designed to assist Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem in terms of securing tangible development and building opportunities as well as obtaining planning rights. In addition, the programme is intended to generate planning solutions in order to address the various urban challenges faced by Palestinians and moreover, to increase their awareness in terms of their planning and building rights with the hope to find a collective planning solution which addresses their immediate needs and aspirations. Thus, the Urban Planning Support Programme encourages a participatory planning approach, giving Palestinian communities a voice in the planning process.
The key focus of the programme is on preparing the ground to legalize the maximum number of buildings, to create public space and to create opportunities for investment in housing and services. Currently, more than 210 hectares in six communities in East Jerusalem are being planned by the programme. The plans cater for extra space to allow for expansion and growth of the concerned neighbourhoods. In addition, planning is helping to freeze the demolitions of more than 750 buildings constructed without a permit. It will also enable permit issuance and will facilitate the possible legalization of these buildings. In addition, demolition orders were frozen for more than 44 buildings in the neighbourhoods where planning is taking place since the beginning of the programme. In addition, surveys in 28 Palestinian sub-neighbourhoods are being carried out, coupled with continuous close monitoring of plans affecting Palestinians neighbourhoods.
Scaling Up and Deepening Planning Support to Palestinian Communities in East Jerusalem:
Funded by the Government of Belgium, UN-Habitat along with its partners - the International Peace and Cooperation Centre (IPCC), Bimkom and the Centre for Advancement of Peace Initiatives (CAPI) - is implementing a 2-year project to deepen and scale up the activities of the “Urban planning support to Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem” programme mentioned above. The project aims at supporting the Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem in securing concrete development and building opportunities and rights through planning. Moreover it looks for advanced solutions to address critical dysfunctionalities in the planning and development of Palestinian neighbourhoods, and works on enhancing urban awareness and integration among the residents and professionals as well as on increasing the Palestinian capacity to plan. The main focus of this action is to strengthen the management and technical support capacity, to substantially increase the amount of plans developed and to expand the capacity development component, including other key areas like housing and land, and ensure long term sustainability of training modules developed.
Planning Support Programme for Palestinian Communities in Area C of the West Bank:
Funded by multiple donors, UN-Habitat together with the International Peace and Cooperation Centre (IPCC), the Ministry of Local Government, and Local Councils is implementing a set of projects in Area C of the West Bank that aim to improve the housing and human settlement conditions of Palestinians, address the urbanization challenges and support the building of a Palestinian State. The projects aim also to improve the resilience of Palestinian communities in Area C through sustainable local development, building rights and access to basic services. More specifically the projects aim to make planning in Area C more effective by ensuring that the planning system applied is technically coherent and in line with Palestinian needs, enhancing Palestinian capacity for planning in Area C and by ensuring coordinated advocacy for changes in the restrictive planning system of Area C based on comprehensive information and monitoring system.
The project’s strategy has four aspects: (i) scaling up planning support to Palestinian communities in Area C by providing a framework for investments in basic infrastructure and services and reducing the risk of demolitions; (ii) ensuring that Palestinian Village Councils in Area C have the capacity to engage their inhabitants in the elaboration of the plan and to follow up on its implementation by recreating, amongst others, de-facto local planning committees where appropriate; (iii) supporting all initiatives aimed at making planning more effective in Area C by ensuring that the planning system applied is in line with the Palestinian needs and the reality on the ground; (iv) facilitate Palestinian Authority coordination in Area C planning procedures with existing line ministries.
Building Blocks - Supporting State Building through Neighbourhood Planning in Gaza:
UN-Habitat, together with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, the Ministry of Local Government, the Municipal Development and Lending Fund, Gaza municipality technical staff, community members and representatives, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Palestinian Housing Council and the Shelter Cluster in Gaza is currently implementing the 8-month project ‘Building Blocks – Supporting State Building through Neighbourhood Planning in Gaza’. The project is under the umbrella of an existing project being implemented by UN-Habitat together with the DFID “Support to Palestinians at Risk of Displacement in Israeli Controlled Area C of the West Bank” which has the overall objective to improve resilience of Palestinian communities in Area C through sustainable local development, greater building rights and access to basic services.
Gaza Participatory Spatial Planning Support Programme:
UN-Habitat, together with the Palestinian Housing Council and the Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution, is currently implementing a project entitled “Gaza Participatory Spatial Planning Support Programme” funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The project aims at strengthening the participatory governance in Gaza through the utilization of municipality and neighbourhood participatory spatial planning processes in at least five municipalities. It also aims to enhance the capacity of planners working at the municipality through the provision of individual technical training on one hand, and on the other hand to strengthen the municipality’s institutional level for it to be able to internally develop and enforce a plan through a cross-departmental business process.
Grassroots Mobilization towards Improved Emergency Responsiveness and Slum Upgrading in East Jerusalem:
UN-Habitat together with Arab Thought Forum are currently implementing a 15 months project
in the four targeted areas, Al Ram, Kufur Aqab, Anata and Al Zaiem that were cut out from the borders of Jerusalem Municipality after the construction of the Separation Wall in 2002. Currently these areas are left outside the legal responsibility of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which has no mandate over these areas and the Municipality of Jerusalem has neglected these neighbourhoods, although they are located within its municipal borders resulting in a huge gap between supply and demand. These neighbourhoods are currently suffering from increased informality, poor infrastructure, lack of services, random urban development, and high built up density. The available data about the urban conditions in these areas are neither sufficient nor accurate, therefore, this project is aiming at collecting and establishing a data base which will enable the local communities in these areas to use factual data as an advocacy tool to proactively engage decision makers and donors towards responsive action to the identified emergency and developmental community.