On a recent visit to the Palestinian territories, a Group of World Bank Executive Directors had an opportunity to witness first-hand the ongoing innovative thinking even in a very challenging and constrained environment. The visit also drove home the critical importance of economic and social services to the Palestinian people during this difficult period of economic contraction.
The ten members of the Bank’s Board were in the Palestinian territories from May 10 to May 12 as part of a broader tour of the region. The delegation that represents 100 of the 189 member countries of the Bank sought to deepen their understanding of the development context and the role of the World Bank Group in supporting economic and social development in the West Bank and Gaza
The delegation met with government officials, private sector representatives, and the donor community. There were also a number of field visits that provided the delegation with a view of the aspirations and resilience of the Palestinian people and their commitment to a better future. One of the field visits emphasized the r World Bank’s focus on investing in youth, ensuring their participation in their surrounding community, and supporting opportunities that lead to employment.
The delegation visited Shu’fFat Refugee Camp in East Jerusalem. The camp suffers from severe overcrowding with no proper plan to adequately and safely accommodate the increasing population. Sewage pipes frequently clog, adding to the unsanitary conditions of the camp. Despite the worsening living conditions and the fragility of the environment, Shu’fat Basic Girls’ School is a success against all odds.
Perhaps one of the most remarkable moments was when the delegation had an open discussion with members of the school parliament, a group of young girls representing their school, and learned about their inspirations and dreams. When the Executive Directors (EDs) asked the girls what their dreams were, one responded: “Many – I have many dreams. One is to make this camp one of the best refugee camps there could be.”