A bombing campaign by Israel in Gaza in retaliation for rocket attacks in the summer of 2014 caused widespread damage to infrastructure and people in the OPTI. Further unrest continues.
WWS piloted an Action Research project in Phase I. This approach empowers selected community members to interview a wide range of community members with the aim of discovering their priorities for development and change. This not only reveals new information and programming opportunities but also empowers those conducting the research. The research topic chosen for Gaza was the role of CSOs in advocating on national and public opinion issues and the topic for the West Bank was what are donors doing to assist civil society and what is civil society doing about the occupation. In
cooperation with the Institute for Development Studies, the groups wrote up their research in 2013. Both groups' research recommended CSOs determine their own agendas rather that the donors', cooperate better and be more inclusive of the voices of women and youth. In Gaza, the group designed a project which sought to ensure community voices' input into new programme design. In the West Bank, one group ran a community-led assessment of development projects which they have developed into a booklet for others to learn from. The other West Bank group worked with Community Based
Organisations to increase their influence over development and governance initiatives in their area.
In Phase I, WWS also worked together with an EU Non State Actors programme to support marginalised Palestinian communities to work together and advocate on issues which affect them. The Fostering Community Change programme worked in five villages in the West Bank. They developed community committees, mobilized young people and supported CBOs with small scale development programmes.
In 2014, WWS was suspended for five months, as a result of the renewed outbreak of conflict.
New Project design
In the aftermath, WWS identified the lack of a joined up approach by NGOs to address the issues faced by more marginalised groups in Gaza especially in times of conflict. WWS also recognised the challenges of implementing an overall programme with very different communities in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel. The community research approach of Phase I showed WWS again the vital importance of listening to the actual needs of communities. As a result in Phase II, WWS is building the capacity of NGOs and community-based organisations to address the specific needs of women with disabilities
and their access to essential services should conflict break out again. Around 20,000 women with disabilities are living in the Gaza Strip and organizations acknowledge that women with disabilities are rarely their focus of work. For example, they are considering creating a database of women with disabilities so they can receive text messages to know where to find help in a crisis. They are also investigating the possibility of ensuring some shelters are equipped to address the needs of women with disabilities. They are looking to collaborate closely with other NGOs in the Palestinian NGO
network so the programme is sustainable in the longer term.
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