Open day to celebrate EU support to marginalised communities in the West Bank
At the invitation of the Community committee members of Al Walajah village near Bethlehem, EU Representative to the West Bank and Gaza Strip Mr. John Gatt-Rutter, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and hundreds of other visitors last week attended an Open Day in the village filled with music, cultural performances and an exhibition of local products. Al Walajah is one of five marginalised communities in the West Bank that the EU and Oxfam are supporting to find real representation through the formation of community committees.
The event was an occasion for community members to speak on the challenges the village is facing due to the construction of the barrier and expansion of neighbouring settlements. It was also a great chance to share with them the strategic plan they developed themselves to make improvements in their daily lives.
"I am particularly impressed by what has been achieved here in Al Walajah, in such a short time and despite all the difficulties you are facing and which we all know well," said the EU Representative John Gatt-Rutter. "Not only have you established a community committee but its members have been particularly active in developing your own Action Plan and a Citizen's Awareness Guide. Moreover, you have put in good use the seed-fund that the project has made available to support community-driven initiatives such as the sports centre we launched today. And all this through a fully democratic and participatory approach whereby each representative of the society – be it the youth or women - has its voice being heard."
PM Fayyad inaugurated Al Walajah's new sports centre, which represents the first visible step of how community members are planning to go about identifying their needs and making concrete actions to improve the quality of their lives.
In Al Walajah the committee now has twelve members, including representatives from youth and women's organisations. The group was tasked with studying the needs of the village, with the participation of village residents and organisations, and producing a strategic plan for development of their community lasting three to five years.
With the support of local partners PalVision, Ansar Centre for Children, MIFTAH, and the Women’s Study Centre, the project also targets communities in Al Auja, Zbeidat, Fasayel and Jiftlik in the Jordan Valley.
The EU Non State Actors programme, under which this intervention is funded, places non state actors and local authorities at the heart of local development, and considers them as essential actors in the definition of their own development strategies. Using a bottom up approach the project aims to empower people to make a positive impact on development processes and to increase participation in the decision making process. (ENPI Info Centre)
OXFAM work in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel