Overview of Australia’s aid program to the Palestinian Territories

How we are helping

2016-17 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$43.0 million

2017-18 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$20.5 million

2017-18 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$43.8 million

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $43.8 million in total ODA to the Palestinian Territories (PTs) in 2017-18. This will include an estimated $20.5 million in bilateral funding to be delivered by DFAT.

Australian aid to the PTs is a tangible demonstration of our long-standing support for the Middle East peace process. Our assistance is helping to strengthen the economic and social foundations of a future Palestinian state which can provide jobs and services for its people. Our objectives are framed by our relative size as a donor. We seek however to align our objectives with other donor’s efforts to maximize our impact.

The PTs (consisting of the West Bank and Gaza Strip) is one of the poorest regions in the Middle East. The 2015 United Nations Human Development Index, measuring life expectancy, standard of living and education, rated the PTs 113th out of 188 countries. The population of the Palestinian Territories is 4.4 million (World Bank, 2015), almost 44 per cent of whom are refugees. A further three million Palestinian refugees live in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and rely on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for essential services (such as health and education), protection, and in many case, food. Some 26 per cent of the Territories’ people are food insecure, 25 per cent live in poverty and 25 per cent are unemployed. These figures have all deteriorated over the past 20 years, leading the United Nations to refer to the PTs as having undergone a process of 'de-development'.

The PTs face formidable constraints to economic development including: the physical separation of territory, a lack of control over territorial borders and key natural resources such as land and water, restrictions on movement of goods and people, and the ever present threat of violent conflict. These constraints to development are particularly evident in the Gaza Strip, where extreme population density, heavy economic restrictions and repeated cycles of conflict and insecurity have rendered half of its population dependent on food assistance to meet basic needs.  

Australia has a long history of supporting Palestinians. Australian aid in the PTs supports improved public financial management of the Palestinian Authority, a competitive agricultural economy and access to quality basic services for Palestinian refugees. The  program is organised around the following two objectives as outlined in the Aid Investment Plan (AIP) 2015-19. These objectives contribute to stability and inclusive economic growth in the PTs, and complement other donor priorities.

Objective 1: Improved public financial management and a more competitive agricultural economy in the PTs

Well-functioning institutions and a robust economy are prerequisites for viable state. We support agriculture as a driver of economic growth and a tool for strengthening community fabric through the third phase of the Australian Middle East NGO Cooperation Agreement (AMENCA 3). We support the Palestinian Authority’s public financial management capacity through the World Bank’s Palestine Reform and Development Plan Multi-Donor Trust Fund (PRDP-MDTF). The provision of Australia Awards continues to enable Palestinians to influence their futures and their institutions. Our scholarships focus on academic disciplines that support agriculture and private sector development.

Improved public financial management and a more competitive agricultural economy in the PTs

Objective 2: Palestinian refugees in the PTs and across the region are able to access quality basic services

The provision of basic services and the capacity to respond to humanitarian situations are what people expect from their governing authorities. We support UNRWA to provide education and health services to Palestinian refugees in the PTs (West Bank and Gaza), Syria, Lebanon and Jordan and to improve living conditions in refugee camps. We provide targeted and responsive humanitarian assistance as conflict arises through trusted partners such as UNRWA, UNICEF and Australian NGOs. We support Australian and Palestinian NGOs and civil society organisations through AMENCA 3, the Direct Aid Program (DAP) and the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) to provide local solutions to local problems.

Palestinian refugees in the PTs and across the region are able to access quality basic services

Our results

  • Australian funding to UNRWA contributed to universal primary education for more than half a million Palestinian refugee children (half of which were girls), and over 9.1 million patient visits at UNRWA health care facilities, social safety net assistance (cash and food) to over 254,000 people and micro loans to over 39,000 people in 2016.
  • Since 2012, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided hygiene promotion activities to more than 113,000 people and improved water and sanitation facilities in 281 school, benefiting over 197,000 students (half of them girls).
  • Created more than $80 million in additional agricultural produce across the PTs through our NGO program, Australia Middle East NGO Cooperation Program Phase 2 AMENCA 2), in 2009-2015.
  • Awarded scholarships to 51 Palestinians (including 19 women) which helped build public sector management skills within the Palestinian Authority (PA) and legal expertise in universities since 2011.
  • Australian funding to the United Nation’s Access Coordination Unit enabled the movement of humanitarian and development personnel and goods through checkpoints and border crossings throughout the PTs in 2016-17.
  • Australian funding to UNRWA helped repair over 87,000 partially damaged homes after the Gaza conflict in 2014.
  • Australian support to small civil society projects in the PTs under the Australia-NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) helped vulnerable women accessing business and skills training and empowering them, and mothers and children developing better preventative practices for hygiene related diseases.
  • More effective public institutions in the PTs (as assessed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund).

Our changing program

Following the release of the 2015-2016 aid budget and consultations with program partners, we have refined our objectives to focus more directly on what we can achieve. Our changing aid program in the PTs is based around supporting a viable economy that enables opportunities for people and provides the underpinnings of a stable state. We will maintain our existing commitment to provide services for those in need and to respond to emergencies as they arise.

Over the duration of the Aid Investment Plan (2015-2019), we will continue to re-balance our investments by reducing the proportion of funding for state and institution building and increasing the proportion of our funding supporting economic growth, particularly in the agriculture sector.


Last Updated: 22 September 2017