The incidence of poverty in the oPt has been deteriorating since the beginning of the Second Intifada in September 2000 due to the persistent Israeli occupation and the absence of political and economic stability. In 2005, more than 53.7 percent of the households are living below national poverty line compared to 23.3 percent in 1998. The uncertainty regarding the evolution of the political and economic context, and lack of adequate coverage of assistance to the population above hardship poverty, nearly 2/3rd of the poor, or those clustered just above the poverty line, increases the probability of poor Palestinians lapsing back under the national poverty line. The persisting regime of closure, and it’s effects makes forecasting for medium and longer term problematic. The WFP estimates of 2004 indicate that 37 percent of the population is food insecure and does not receive adequate food to meet minimum nutritional requirements. Food insecurity is, inter alia, reflected in a rise of the prevalence of chronic malnutrition in children under five years of age from 7.5 percent in 1996 to 9.9 percent in 2004. If the current situation persists, standards of health will likely suffer long-term damage and social stability will be at risk.
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education has focused on keeping the school system functional. Enrollment in basic education has been sustained at pre Intifada levels – in spite of a decrease in female enrollment. Although population data are no longer reliable to estimate gross or net enrolment rates (the last census dates back to 1997), enrolment targets in both primary and basic education have been reached. The MOEHE introduced the new curriculum in grades 1-10, and produced and distributed textbooks on a 1/1 ratio every year. In addition, most of the quantitative targets for teacher training were also met. Nevertheless, the quality of primary education is far from being achieved.
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
In the last 12 years, there have been very positive trends in reducing gender disparity in the Palestinian education system and forecast figures suggest that the positive trend is likely to continue. Eliminating gender disparity in education is an essential component in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment and as such, positive advances are expected in the achievement of MDG 3. However, data can also be viewed as misleading in terms of masking the spectrum of factors that would more realistically reflect concrete advances in the achievement of this ambitious and essentially cross-sectoral goal, particularly in terms of the related indicators on women’s economic and political participation.
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
After significant progress from 1990 to 2000, the progress rate of the under five mortality rate was very slow during 2000 to 2004 (about 2 percent reduction only). The rate is strongly related to the evolution of the conflict, as a result of military occupation, or of the effect of closures and limited access to health and social services in general, economic decline, impoverishment and aid dependency, child mortality is stagnating, or worsening in some areas like the Gaza strip, where it increased by about 30 percent over the last four years. The situation analysis of child mortality shows that progress in improving children’s health and survival is still possible, if conflict and poverty are addressed in an effective manner.
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
The methodologies currently in use for calculation of maternal mortality rates in the oPt present divergent figures and are therefore unreliable. Also, no national targets have been set to date. However data on the percentage of women delivered by a qualified skilled birth attendant is recorded at 98.3 percent according to the Demographic Health Survey of 2004.
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
On Target 7, the PA has not yet set clear targets for HIV/AIDS. The challenge is to maintain the low incidence levels, build awareness on prevention, and provide assistance to the PA for a multi-sectoral approach to combating HIV/AIDS in the future.
Regarding target 8, Malaria has been eliminated in the oPt. However, the prevalence of malaria in neighboring countries requires close monitoring of mosquito breeding areas. For other communicable diseases such as polio and tuberculosis, the number of reported cases has been almost negligible. Also, due to good coverage of vaccination programmes and the improvement in surveillance systems, it is likely that the target will be reached by 2015.
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Environmental protection and the integration of sustainable environment concerns into national policies is a recent concern in the oPt and has long been overshadowed by the conflict. Israeli occupation since 1967 has affected every aspect of Palestinian environment, the control over land and natural resources - particularly water - which has been and remains at the heart of the conflict. In 1999, the Palestinian Environmental Law No 97 was signed by the PA President and the 2005 draft Palestinian Constitution reiterates that the environment is a basic human right. The Ministry of Environmental Affairs (MENA), restructured into the Environmental Quality Authority (EQA) faces two kinds of challenges. There are long-term environment challenges that need to be addressed in parallel with the additional environmental risks and damages created by the ongoing conflict, and many long-term environmental solutions cannot become a reality without a peace process for the region. Considering the current trends, the persistence of the conflict and the levels of environment protection in the oPt, it is unlikely that Goal 7 will be met by 2015. Access to decent housing is also an important consideration in the oPt because of the conflict over land and high population density, including refugee camps.
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
The eighth goal of the MDG framework relates to the institutional framework required to achieving the previous seven including: the global governance structure for poverty eradication and the responsibilities of the donor community in supporting the achievement of the MDGs. ODA has been critical in responding to the humanitarian crisis since the outbreak of the Intifada. The broader objectives of state-building and development displayed uneven results, as there was some progress until 1998, but a sharp decline during 2000-2004 – with donor focus on emergency and humanitarian aid. Recently, there has been some shift in donors´ focus with renewed commitment to long-term development objectives.