The World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors endorsed a new two-year assistance strategy for the Palestinian territories that focuses on supporting state building through service delivery and job creation. A US$62 million package of grants for reconstruction in Gaza was also approved.
"The Strategy will balance short-term stabilization and Gaza reconstruction activities with operations and analysis that promote sustainable growth," said Inger Andersen, World Bank Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, who just returned from the Palestinian territories. "Despite the challenging circumstances, the World Bank Group remains committed to contributing to the efforts of Palestinian people as they put in place the fundamentals of a future state. We are keen on developing longer-term opportunities to unleash the Palestinian entrepreneurial spirit, engine for growth with social justice," continued Andersen.
The US$62 million in projects include US$41 million in budget support, and US$21 million towards the critical reconstruction of Gaza infrastructure. The financing for infrastructure will build upon the existing operations being managed by Palestinian implementation units in Gaza: Gaza Electricity Network Rehabilitation Project, Water Supply and Sewage System Improvement Project, and the Second Municipal Development Project. The operations have the capacity to expand and utilize the additional funds expediently. The new projects can be smoothly integrated with no further procedural delays, a World Bank press release said.
"Gaza which is one of the most densely populated places on earth was already suffering from economic and social hardships before the most recent war and this has resulted in an unfolding human tragedy and physical destruction that requires immediate mitigation measures," said Steen Lau Jorgensen, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza. "The World Bank emergency response will support the Palestinian Authority with budget financing and urgent finance for infrastructure needs in the energy, water, and urban sectors. It is very important that other donors step up to provide support that is critically needed." The conflict in Gaza has created an unexpected and urgent financing requirement for the PA’s 2014-15 budget. Spending pressures particularly related to reconstruction efforts and expanding service delivery in Gaza are expected to significantly widen the PA financing gap given the scale of destruction and the severe economic situation in Gaza. The World Bank US$41 million supplemental grant to the sixth Development Policy Grant will help alleviate the fiscal pressures on PA’s finances and enable it to continue implementing the reform program.
"Mobilizing recovery efforts in coordination with the PA and the donors will help the Palestinian people regain a sense of normalcy against the backdrop of dramatic increase in unemployment and poverty," said Jorgensen.