Engaging Civil Society in Gaza Construction Process
Gaza construction is a basic right of the Palestinian people as Israeli occupation destroyed infrastructure and homes during the Israeli offensive on Gaza strip in 2014. The local civil society in Gaza Strip was excluded from taking part of the planning process and decisions making the construction mechanism; such mechanism would never meet the priorities and requirements of the people living in Gaza.
Consequently, PNGO Network, as an umbrella of NGOs, leaded a campaign to advocate the importance of civil society role through Gaza construction and to put their vision on the dialogue table. Six committees were formed from the most experienced civil society organizations to represent the main sectors under the umbrella of PNGO which are Women, Youth, Education, Health, Rehabilitation, and Agriculture. Each committee produced an analytical study that contains an inclusive examination of the sector’s current situation, beside a fact sheet that contains key messages for decision makers.
PNGO aims to increase the reliability and trust between civil society parts; INGO's, UN agencies, government and the local civil society so that establishing an inclusive relationship between different parts.
The aim of the campaign was to increase the engagement of civil society and the affected communities in the construction process of Gaza Strip in order to promote fair and effective construction and development.
This would be achieved by the following objectives:
- Produce six sectorial fact sheets reflecting the civil society vision in the construction process.
- Produce analytical inclusive studies to serve as a reference for the civil society and anyone who is planning any projects/ actions related to the development of Gaza Strip.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
Six fact sheets were produced and distributed to key stockholders through workshops and meetings. Fact sheets were presented in a conference were INGO's, NGO's, CSO's, donors and governmental representative were invited. Which all of whole expressed their interest in the fact sheet papers especially the recommendation and the key messages that should be taking into consideration while implementing any plans related to the construction process in Gaza strip. Besides that, sic analytical inclusive studies were produced to serve as a reference for the civil society and anyone who is planning any projects/actions related to the development of Gaza Strip and its sectors. By the end of the campaign, the civil society organizations had better understanding of the importance of their vision on the development and construction process.
Why this campaign is different? Our campaign was so inclusive, starting with the formation of the committee and how its members were selected, along with the strategy adopted by this committee to produce the fact sheet and the analytical study. The committee reached out to the affected communities and those who were directly affected by the construction mechanism.
The committee members were directly in touch with people on daily basis, while drafting the papers they made sure people top priorities are pointed out and the main root of the problem and the objection from the people to be addressed. Moreover, the analytical study made a solid ground and a strong reference for the fact sheet; which made its credibility very high.
As the fact sheets were wildly distributed, they started to be a key for changing the policies and mechanisms used in the construction process. Many decision makers and donors reached out to PNGO Network in order to have better insight of the content and how better involvement of civil society and the affected communities could be achieved.
The national committee for the construction of Gaza strip asked PNGO to take part of the monitoring process of the construction of Gaza Strip. Furthermore, donors affiliated directly with the construction process such as the UNDP asked PNGO Network to take part of anything they are implementing and related to the construction. Additionally, PNGO Network is taking the papers to the next level; on our agenda we have plans to have workshops and meetings with ministries and other governmental bodies to encourage them to take the recommendations and key messages into consideration while planning and implementing anything related to the construction.
The lack of coordination between the civil society organizations and the decision makers, back then the civil society and the affected communities' vision was not taken into consideration while planning for the Gaza Construction Process.
The government is based in Ramallah, West Bank while Gaza Strip is under the blockade thus it was hard to reach out the government and decision makers especially.
It was really hard for the campaign to approach a specific governmental body who is supposed to be in charge of the following up of the construction.
The diverse of responsibilities between government, donors and INGO's in Palestine due to internal political division and instability.
It's so important to engage all stakeholders in the planning process; the more inclusion means more success in achieving peoples' priorities and necessities; and being part of the decision give the people a sense of ownership as well as an easier accountability process.
The importance of building bridges between the governmental bodies and the civil society organizations will help achieve better real results on the ground.
Having a unified civil society vision and a road map of what the construction process and the development in Gaza strip will help in making their intervention and statements much stronger and more credible.