At the outset of the conference, the Director of NDC, Mr. Ghassan Kasabreh, welcomed the audience, extending his thanks to everyone who contributed to bringing this strategic framework into existence, including Palestinian organizations and institutions from the public and private sectors, and government, for their participation and effective contributions to the discussions.
He extended special thanks and appreciation to the French Development Agency for the substantial funding and support it provided to develop this strategic framework, which is part of its funding of the Fourth Palestinian NGO Project managed by NDC.
Mr. Kasabreh said that the development of this strategic framework stems from the efforts and vision of NDC to create an effective Palestinian NGO Sector which contributes to building the NGO sector. “We at NDC, realized from day one the importance and necessity of having a strategic vision for the NGO sector that serves as a framework to regulate and guide its development work.”
He elaborated that the strategic framework aims primarily at giving Palestinian NGOs a strategic direction to deal with the major issues that Palestinian society will likely face the in the next five years. The strategy aligns with the Palestinian national development agenda, priorities, and plans to address these issues. “It is a serious attempt to create a framework that regulates and guides NGO work in Palestine,” Kasabreh said.
Mr. Kasabreh stressed that “the strategic framework is not a strategic plan implemented by one organization. Also, it is not a strategic plan for NDC. In fact, it is a strategic framework owned by the Palestinian NGO sector, which will be implemented in a collective and complimentary manner with the government and other sectors in order to achieve the common goals of the Palestinian people. It is an unprecedented attempt in terms of its comprehensiveness and its proposed cooperation mechanisms. It reflects the maturity of Palestinian NGOs and their serious desire to work together.”
Member of the Steering committee for the NGO Strategic Framework, Mr. Nasfat Al-Khofash, from the National Institute of Palestinian NGOs, added his comments, saying “the importance of this plan lies in the fact that it is the result of consensus among four networks, which represent the vast majority of Palestinian NGOs, in addition to academics, local and international experts. It comes during international, regional, and local circumstances which impose tremendous challenges on the Palestinian NGO sector and society—this comes in the absence of a political horizon and unprecedented Israeli escalation of settlements and expansion activities, as well as the funding crisis which faces the NGO sector and Palestinian society in general. In addition, there is increased recognition of the importance of having more transparency and accountability in the work of Palestinian NGOs, as well as understanding its relationships with the government, society, and other sectors.”
He added: “This strategic vision comes as a framework to encourage Palestinian NGOs to streamline their existing programs and projects in order to achieve strategic objectives that will lead to achieving the intended objectives over a five-year period 2013 – 2017.” The general objective of the framework has been defined as having a more sustainable, independent, and effective NGO sector , to enhance steadfastness, liberation, economic and social development in Palestine, as well as empower the Palestinian people.
The strategic framework to develop the Palestinian NGOs has five objectives. The first objective is to ensure more effective engagement of NGOs in the process of national liberation and democratization based on international recognized legal framework. The second is streamlined and effective relationships between the NGO sector and the Palestinian development partners. The third is improved access to quality services that are responsive to the needs of the community provided by government and the NGOs. The fourth is to have more effective, accountable, and transparent NGOs, while the fifth relates to secured and adequate financial resources for NGOs.
It is worth mentioning that NDC was established as a response to the need for a sound mechanism to provide support to the Palestinian NGO sector. NDC works to develop the capacities and competencies of Palestinian NGOs to enhance their self-reliance and sustainability by providing them with financial and technical support. This support aims to enable NGOs to provide quality services, particularly to the poor and marginalized throughout the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. At the same time, NDC works towards developing the NGO sector as a whole, through encouraging the exchange of information and expertise, and through supporting research and policy development, as well as strengthening the relationship with development partners.