The COVID 19 pandemic has strongly hit Palestinian society. In addition to the public health challenges there are the economic concerns: the already weak economy further deteriorated and many Palestinians found themselves without jobs and income. To respond to the COVID threat, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) disbursed an additional 7.8 million Swiss francs in several lines of action, which aimed to strengthen the resilience of severely affected communities in the Westbank and the Gaza Strip.
SDC engaged with UNDP to create short-term jobs in the health sector to enhance the sanitization efforts in the Gaza Strip, as well as allowing factories to retain staff by subsidizing their salaries. SMEs were supported with technical advise in the process of recovering, sustaining and growing their businesses.
With OXFAM, SDC developed several lines of intervention to strengthen Covid resilience in rural areas of the Westbank and Gaza. It supported campaigns disseminating know how on food safety and hygiene, including safety measures in packing houses. Palestinian farmers were provided with essential inputs (seedlings, plastic sheeting) to accelerate their recovery after a storm and prevent food supply chains from collapsing. Temporary jobs were created for unemployed in Agricultural Marketing and Processing companies to sustain livelihoods.
SDC also supported the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and its local humanitarian partners in their COVID-19 response to the health sector. Hospitals received hygiene supplies, vital ICU equipment and chlorine, equipment to protect their medical staff, to provide patients with adequate treatment and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
SDC provided sanitation equipment to 135 village councils in the West Bank to support sanitization efforts of public spaces through the Municipal Development and Lending Fund (MDLF). This action proved crucial to prepare for the resumption of teaching in Palestinian schools in the beginning of September.