“Give a man to fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.” This is the motto followed by the USAID-funded Local Democratic Reform (LDR) Program implemented by CHF International in the West Bank and Gaza. In partnership with the Ministry of Local Government (MoLG) of the Palestinian Authority, LDR recently worked to create a five-year Strategic Plan to provide a targeted mission and cohesive plan for the Ministry over the next five years.
Rima Shbaita was one of many MoLG staff who was nominated to be part of a technical team working on the Strategic Plan. A Ministry employee since 2000, Rima had participated in various planning processes that had never been institutionalized. “It was disappointing. Every few months we had a new Minister with a new plan and new working methods,” said Rima. She was also frustrated by the fact that most of these planning processes were more about donor’s agenda and did not match on-the-ground reality, marginalizing Ministry staff.
“With the LDR program I felt the difference. CHF representatives worked with us and for us. The staff involvement was significant, and local expertise made the planning process real,” said Rima. As part of engaging and encouraging staff involvement, the LDR program trained 80 MoLG staff from 13 departments and 11 directorates on how to develop a strategic plan. This was important to ensure that the Ministry staff had the tools and the capacity to participate in the planning process and, more importantly, develop their own mission and vision. “The MoLG staff took the lead but guidance and support from the LDR team was essential to complete the work.”
Developing the Strategic Plan was exciting and challenging in equal parts. As the future blueprint of the MoLG, it would impact the lives of more than one million Palestinians and therefore had to be a consensus-driven process. Several long meetings and discussions were held with the over 80 MoLG staff on what should be included in the plan to help realize their vision.
“Responsibility and commitment from the staff was significant due to their involvement from the beginning. The trainings they participated in made them realize the importance of implementing what is planned,” said Shukri Radaida, Director General of Administration and Human Resources at the MoLG, as he lauded the participatory nature of the process set out by CHF’s LDR Program.
The presence of the vision, mission and the Strategic Plan along with the detailed implementation action plan will impact the Ministry’s relations with all partners particularly Local Government Units (LGUs). One of the main impacts of these interventions will be a more efficient relationship between the Local Government Units and the Ministry. “I was happy to see the decentralization approach in the plan. It is a big need for the sector and we are looking forward to its implementation,” said Tahseen Slaimi, the Mayor of Salfeet, a city in the north west of the West Bank. Adding that, “decentralization can give the LGUs the capacity and the competencies that will help them work with the citizens in their area. It will also motivate them to work harder as they will have control over their work and will be able to make changes based on reality”. He stressed on the importance of the LGUs becoming the leader and catalyst of the development process in the community.
“Each of the LDR interventions complemented each other and that helped us use what we have learned in real life situations. Now the MoLG is capable of heading towards a more sustainable, planned and structured way of conducting its work. I can see the Ministry’s performance improving by at least 50% if we follow the guidance provided by the LDR team,” said Shukri Radaida. The MoLG has already developed the implementation plan for the first year and CHF is already committed through LDR to support the Ministry on several critical development intervention areas of the Strategic Plan in the coming years.