CHF and USAID Launch EPLA in Gaza/West Bank

CHF and USAID Launch EPLA in Gaza/West Bank

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Provides US $21 million to Support the Empowerment of Palestinian Local Authorities Program (EPLA)

Dr. Khaled Fahed Qawasmi, Minister of Local Government and Mr. James Bever, Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday 12 December 2005 announcing the official launch of the USAID funded Empowering Palestinian Local Authorities program (EPLA) – a three year program designed to enhance the capacity of national and local level government units to meet the needs of their communities.

EPLA will be implemented by CHF International leading a consortium composed of international and Palestinian organizations incorporating ARD Inc., the Center for Engineering and Planning (CEP) and Bisan Center for Research and Development.

During the ceremony, Dr. Khaled Fahed Qawasmi, Minister of Local Government and Ms. Lana Abu Hijleh, Country Director of CHF International, will also sign the Program implementation agreement outlining the different responsibilities of the two parties under EPLA program. Further, and in a symbol of rapid start up of the various program activities CHF International will sign agreements with several municipalities already identified as the initial beneficiaries of EPLA program to implement immediately needed municipal infrastructure improvements in select communities. The approved initial list of projects under EPLA values more than $1.0 million and their implementation will start immediately.

Over the next three years, the EPLA consortium will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Local Government and with select Local Government Units to develop and articulate a Palestinian vision, policies, an institutional framework and legal structures for democratic local governance and to build interest, trust and sustainable opportunities for cooperation between local/national government and citizens, the private sector and educational institutions in the West Bank and Gaza. A key component of the EPLA program is the meaningful participation of community stakeholders in the design and implementation of democracy building and community improvement activities.

EPLA will also provide support to at least 30 Local Authorities and 10 Joint Service Councils to more effectively and in a participatory manner assess and prioritize needs; deliver and manage infrastructure and basic services and implement integrated planning processes.