The project will construct 89 much-needed classrooms in 11 schools in the Gaza strip, and also carry out land reclamation projects.
USAID is providing US$2.6 million for the project, which will be implemented in partnership with the Palestinian Ministry of Education, the Union of Agricultural Workers, the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, and the Arab Centre for Agricultural Development.
"In this very critical time, when unemployment and poverty have reached alarming levels in Gaza, the initiation of employment generation projects could not be more fitting," said Timothy Rothermel, the Special Representative of the Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People.
The project is part of the strategic framework for employment generation developed by the Palestinian Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, he noted.
Dr. Abdallah Abdulmonim, Deputy Minister of Education, expressed deep gratitude to the UNDP and USAID for responding to the Ministry's appeal for support to build the new classrooms -- desperately needed due to the rapidly growing student population and crowded classrooms that make teaching and learning difficult.
The programme is part of a concerted effort by UNDP to generate jobs by improving infrastructure in Palestinian cities, said Khaled Abdulshafi, head of the UNDP office in Gaza. "This provides a dual benefit for the community," he noted.
An estimated 210,000 jobs have been lost by Palestinians since the beginning of the Intifada. The World Bank and the United Nations report that the ratio of the total population to the number of people employed has climbed by more than 50 per cent since the start of the Intifada. In 2000, one worker supported 4.3 people in the West Bank and 5.9 in the Gaza Strip. The ratios are now 6.9 and 9.4 respectively.
It is estimated that two thirds of Palestinian households now live below the poverty line -- 58 per cent in the West Bank and 85 per cent in Gaza. Furthermore, 57 per cent of the Palestinian households overall - 58 percent in the West Bank and 54 per cent in Gaza -- have lost half of their usual income since the beginning of the Intifada.
For more information please contact Ehab Shanti or Dania Darwish, UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People, or Nadine Shamounki, UNDP Communications Office.