Advocacy work continues to build on existing positions and the principles they believe are essential for any viable solution to the conflict: an end to occupation; self-determination and sovereignty; effective governance; protection of rights; security for all; freedom of movement; and control over natural resources.
Raising Awareness to Build Peace
Christian Aid sees the occupation as a root cause of poverty in IOPT. Evidence from evaluations of Christian Aid’s work in IOPT has highlighted the need to increase awareness of the occupation and ensuing conflict amongst the Israeli public, as many are unaware of either the history or the day-to-day reality of occupation experienced by the Palestinians.
To counter the traditional narratives and try and influence public opinion towards ending the occupation, Christian Aid works with partners such as Zochrot and The Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).
In the occupied Palestinian territory, CA partners The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and The Agricultural Development Association (PARC) support communities to undertake participatory vulnerability capacity assessments (PVCAs). This approach focuses on bringing the voices of women, men and, where relevant, children together to share ideas and explore the risks and challenges they face, but also the opportunities available to them.
They use this information to devise community-specific action plans which aim to ensure they are prepared to face the risks that they identify.
This approach strengthens resilience at individual, community and institutional levels.
These action plans can then also help the community leverage support for additional development work they wish to do or plan advocacy efforts to challenge local or national decision makers to protect their rights.
Economic Opportunities for Young People
This is a new area of work for Christian Aid in IOPT, and they are working on a number of pilot initiatives.
The Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA) supports young people in Gaza from ages 5-17 with multi-disciplinary psychosocial activities such as drama, art and other therapy.
They also provide vocational training for young people, teaching skills to access the global digital market to enhance employment and present opportunities for people to generate income, notwithstanding the blockade.
Christian Aid worked with the YMCA to use the Participatory Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (PVCA) tool so that communities were able to identify their needs, the risks they face, and how they might be able to address these.
In Raboud and four other surrounding villages, ‘protection groups’ were established for each village.
Made up of youth, women, and men, the groups meet to discuss issues within the community and how they can work together to address these issues. The women pictured here are from two of these protection groups.
This is the first time that women in the community have been involved in the decision-making.
The group told us that since working in this new way, women are now trusted to run committees and have leadership roles.
Mai, who leads the Women’s Development Programme with the YMCA, said that having women involved with the PVCA has been vital, ‘We weren’t seeing the impact we wanted to – but once we included women in the PVCAs, it changed everything.’
The protection group has made improvements to a health clinic, where they are now able to do breast cancer screenings.
They also built a culvert and bridge so that they can cross a sewage stream, which is running down onto their land from a nearby illegal Israeli Settlement, in order to access their olive and almond trees.
IMAGE: Cassie Woodward/ Christian Aid