In 2015 the World Bank sounded the alarm, noting that unemployment rates among Gazans had reached 44% - “probably the highest rate in the world.” Since then, the situation has worsened. By 2019, more than half the population of the Gaza Strip was unemployed. World Bank data also indicate a youth unemployment rate of 61%.
The same upward curve can be seen for poverty, whose rate increased from nearly 39% to 53% between 2011 and 2017.
The long battle to combat poverty
The Gaza Strip is on life support. In 2017, four out of five people there were receiving government or non-governmental assistance. Yet aid alone cannot fix the economic and social situation. “That’s why it’s crucial to provide access to work for young people, whose living conditions are very difficult,” says Vannina Pomonti, AFD’s Project Manager in charge of appraising and monitoring NGO projects in the Middle East.
One project that has worked to provide sustainable aid is ANGE - Access to employment for NECC Graduates in Gaza Strip. It was implemented from 2017 to 2020 by the Palestinian NGO Near East Council of Churches (NEEC) in partnership with Secours Catholique-Caritas France. Its objective: to promote access to jobs for young graduates in the Gaza Strip by improving their employability.
AFD co-financed 50% of its budget of over €1 million. The young people eligible for this training and support program were found following a call for expressions of interest at vocational training centers and through selection interviews.
Training - to Prepare Gazans for tomorrow
Initially, internships and job guidance were to be provided to 250 young people. But the project generated so much interest that, in the end, 310 Gazans were selected. They were able to follow a professional training course with a six-month paid internship. The training involved a variety of trades, in electricity, carpentry, aluminum and other metals, ironwork for men, and sewing and clothing design for women. Training in business management was also provided to those who wanted to start their own business.
Some 60 young people, including 18 women were awarded an entrepreneurship grant. “Of the young people who created a business thanks to the project, 25% were able to generate a monthly income greater than $250 after the support, and 35% of them reached a level between $150 and $250,” says Vannina Pomonti. The project thus gave these Gazans hope for the future.
What's more, this first 2017-2020 edition might have a sequel: Secours Catholique-Caritas France plans to apply for more funding from AFD this year.