UN-Habitat’s new project targets Palestinian Communities in East Jerusalem2Ramallah, 16 December 2015 – The Special Human Settlements Programme for the Palestinian People along with its partner the Arab Thought Forum (ATF), and in collaboration with Jerusalem Governorate and the Ministry of Local Government last week launched a new project entitled "Grassroots Mobilization towards Improved Emergency Responsiveness and Slum Upgrading in East Jerusalem".

The main goal of this project is to enhance the quality of the living environment of Palestinian communities living in the emerging neighborhoods behind the Separation Wall around East Jerusalem; more specifically, the project will provide more accurate and reliable data that will help in advocating for better provision of social and physical infrastructure. The project is targeting four pilot areas, Al Ram, Kufur Aqab, Anata and Al Zaiem, which were cut off from the broader Jerusalem Municipality since the construction of the Separation Wall in 2002.

Currently, more than 100,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem find themselves on the ‘West Bank’ side of the Separation Wall, physically separated from the urban center, with poor living conditions, lack of basic infrastructure, and complete detachment from the city. These communities are left outside the legal responsibility of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank that has no sovereignty over them, and at the same time are left with no access to health, education and other services to which they are entitled as residents living within the borders of Jerusalem Municipality.

As a result they suffer from increased informality, poor infrastructure, lack of urban services, random urban development, and high built up density. Implementing such projects in these areas is highly important for what they offer from deep analysis and reliable information and diagnosis of the problem, which are essential in providing innovative solutions to enhance the living environment in these areas” said Hamdi Al Rajabi, the General Director of Public Affairs at Jerusalem Governorate.

Through an active participatory approach that engages the different groups in the community, needs will be identified and an upgrading framework for the selected informal neighborhoods will be developed. “This project works on empowering the local residents, in particular youth, through their active participation and involvement throughout the project, which will eventually open new horizons for development in these communities” said Lubna Shaheen, the Project Manager at UN-Habitat. This is a 15 month project and falls under the Urban Planning and Design Focus Area of the United Nations Human Settlement Programme in Palestine funded by Cities Alliance.