Overview of Australia’s aid program to the Palestinian Territories

How we are helping

2014/15 Bilateral Outcome
$46.2 million

2015/16 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$20.5 million

2015/16 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$42.8 million

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $42.8 million in total ODA to the Palestinian Territories (PT) in 2015-16. This will include an estimated $20.5 million in bilateral funding to be delivered by DFAT.

Australian aid is a tangible demonstration of our 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. In 2015-16, Australia will be the tenth largest bilateral donor to the PTs, which represents approximately half a per cent of the PT’s Gross Domestic Product. 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 2014 United Nations Human Development Index, measuring life expectancy, standard of living and education, rated the PTs 107 out of 187 countries. Some 22 per cent of the Territories’ people are food insecure, 26 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. The Gaza Strip experiences development constraints akin to the West Bank but is further challenged by extreme population density, heavier restrictions on the movement of people and goods and a tiny land mass.

Australia has a long history of supporting Palestinians. Our development program will focus on strengthening the economy, building institutional capacity and providing services. Our plan aligns with the Palestinian Authority's National Development Plan. Our program is organised around the following two objectives as outlined in the Aid Investment Plan.

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 will make agriculture 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 will continue to support the Palestinian Authority’s public financial management capacity through the World Bank’s Palestine Reform and Development Plan Trust Fund.. The provision of Australia Awards will continue to enable Palestinians to influence their futures and their institutions. Our scholarships will focus on academic disciplines that support agriculture and private sector development.

Investments for 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 will support UNRWA to provide education and health services to Palestinians in the PTs, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan and to improve living conditions in refugee camps. We will provide targeted and responsive humanitarian assistance as conflict arises through trusted partners such as UNRWA, UNICEF and Australian NGOs. We will 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

  • Since 2009 Australia has promoted economic growth by working with Australian and Palestinian NGOs to raise incomes for over 53,000 people in poor farming communities.
  • Since 2011 Australia has been contributing to the Palestinian Authority’s economic reforms including through measures such as broadening its tax base and transparency of public procurement and delivering efficient services.
  • In 2014-15Australia enabled an additional 15,000 Palestinian children to attend school in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Syria and Jordan, with girls making up half of all enrolments.
  • Since 2011 Australia has helped improve water and sanitation facilities in 121 schools, benefiting over 71,400 students. Over 35,000 people have also increased their knowledge of hygiene practices.

Our changing program

Following the release of the 2015-16 aid budget and consultations with program partners, we have refined our objectives to focus more directly on what we can acheive. 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, we will 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. We will do this in the context of reviewing multi-year agreements with UNRWA and World Bank’s Palestine Reform and Development Plan Trust Fund as they expire in 2016, and in the context of the scale-up of AMENCA 3.


A blind girl singing a song at the celebration of the newly built WASH facilities at her school
Hebron, Haya, a blind girl, singing a song at the celebration of the newly built WASH facilities at her school (credit: Ahed Izhiman).