Photos courtesy of A. Beinier and G.L. Portacolone
Views from the field: SOCIEUX+ cooperation in Palestine
Palestine is a familiar name that has been heard in the media, in political declarations, and in the work of hundreds of cooperation agencies and institutions for decades. Despite this constant presence, there is often confusion and ambiguity surrounding the term, and most of us know very little about the people and their reality. Palestine is a land of religions, but also a land of politics. And it is an all-too-human land where beliefs, passion, and anger mix to give life to an extraordinary place, at the crossroads of despair and hope, and melancholy and frenetic joy.
This year, SOCIEUX+ was honoured to receive a request from the Ministry of Social Development (MOSD) of the Palestinian National Authority to provide cooperation assistance for the improvement of their social assistance system. The request to SOCIEUX+ had two parts: to evaluate the ten-year programme of cash transfers to the poorest families in the country (about 110,000 families, 70% of whom live in Gaza); and, to support the administration’s efforts to establish a system and tools for the monitoring and evaluation of social policies and programmes.
Given the complexity of these tasks, it was important to organise an initial exploratory mission to precisely identify the ways, times, and tools for our interventions, and how to be useful and complement local efforts through peer-to-peer technical assistance delivered by European public experts. This ongoing mission is bearing fruits, and will allow SOCIEUX+ to act effectively in the months to come.
This mission also allows us to observe the country context, and we would like to humbly share how this mission has moved us. Given the complex political situation in Palestine, and especially in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the country is in a constant humanitarian emergency. This situation marks the minds, as well as the economies, of the most vulnerable families. For this reason, it is not surprising to hear the phrase, “Money is not important,” followed by, “What matters is freedom and dignity.” That is, the freedom to pursue its own development, to invest in its own abilities, and to use the many resources of this extraordinary country in an effective and beneficial way for all its inhabitants.
Our support for an improvement of the cash transfer programme for the most needy families will be useful, as it focuses on the living conditions of beneficiary families; especially those who live in vulnerable situations, such as the elderly and the disabled.
The process of strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Social Development to monitor and evaluate its policies and programmes will also be useful. It will allow the Ministry, in certain and specific areas that will be identified in the context of this mission, to have more reliable, regular, and consistent information to assist in the decision-making process.
Gian Luca Portacolone
SOCIEUX+ Social Protection Coordinator.