STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: A Review Of NGO Coordination in the Field Case Study: Occupied Palestinian Territories 1967-2010
International organisations have been providing relief in the occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt) since the war in 1967. Due to the occupation, intermittent conflict and general economic decline, between 1993 and 2003, the oPt received USD 6 billion in international aid - half of these funds disbursed since September 2000. While the amount of aid given to oPt (and Israel) is "unparalleled", the oPt continues to experience a decline in development indicators or as, described by the international community in the oPT, to "de-develop". While the reasons are for this decline are complex, the provision of aid, particularly relief, as a means of addressing this decline remains controversial. As Mary Anderson notes "everyone ... agree[s] that donor assistance to the oPt plays into and reinforces the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In 2002, nearly 10 percent of all donor assistance was channelled through INGOs representing USD 148 million. This percentage increased significantly between 2006 and 2007.
Unsurprisingly there are very few international agencies that work in the oPt that don't include advocacy on behalf of the Palestinian people on its list of interventions - albeit with different objectives, methods and means. However when speaking out agencies prefer "strength in numbers" as the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), the Palestinian Authority (PA), Hamas, the Palestinian people themselves - even governments simultaneously supporting Israel and Palestinians - can, at anytime, single out an INGO and create difficulties for them. The impetus for the establishment of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) was to create this forum for concerted advocacy. This close collaboration among INGOs is also facilitated by a largely urban operating environment with development and humanitarian aid agencies living in close proximity of each other. The oPt has good communications and transportation allowing for easy networking, meeting and coordination contributing to a relatively "small and collegial" INGO community.