Infrastructure Development and its Role in Improving the Palestinian Socio-Economic Conditions
Publication Type
Original research
  • Khaled Al-Sahili

Through the last decade, the infrastructure sectors including transportation faced several challenges with respect to the construction and rehabilitation of proper facilities, and the establishment of institutions to carry out the burden of the sector. A large portion of the road network in the Palestinian territories has been blocked by Israeli physical barriers and checkpoints in the last seven years, and Palestinian traffic is generally forbidden on other parts of the road system. International transport services have been highly restricted. Many roads have been dug up by heavy machinery to render them unusable.  The impacts of these restrictions include limiting mobility and accessibility, increasing travel time and cost, restricting the transportation of agricultural, industrial, construction materials, and imports and exports. In addition, these measures fragmented communities and isolates residents from social support networks. Furthermore, the social ties and relationships are weakened. The increased cost of, and expenditure on, transportation has contributed to the increased poverty level (poverty rate was 31% in 2000, 50% in 2001-2004, and 43% in 2005). On the other hand, Palestinians are paying more out of their pocket expenses for less travel.  Transportation can be a primary tool to alleviate poverty and improve socio-economic conditions. This can be done through its indirect impacts on economic growth or its direct impact on personal welfare of the poor. The contribution of transport operations to poverty alleviation is seen, in general, as indirect and stemming from broadly based economic development. Yet, most direct poverty-targeted interventions (schools, health clinics, nutrition programs, and social services) depend on transport as a complementary input for their effective delivery. Therefore, there is a need to strengthen the role of transport interventions in improving the Palestinian socio-economic conditions. On the other hand, labor-intensive methods in road work, where relatively low wages make them cost effective, provide a sustainable source of supplementary employment for the less advantaged, especially in rural communities. The role of the transport sector in improving the quality of life (and income) can be seen in terms of improving opportunities, reducing transport cost, providing good access (or trade and passengers), increasing productivity, increasing the social interaction, and reducing unemployment. This paper will help to formulate the strategy for future assistance and intervention to respond to the needs of this sector. Such assessment would lead to the identification of the developmental objectives and sectoral priorities. 

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