Gaza Shelter & NFI Cluster Coordination Team Summary
Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism
How to Engage
After the 51-day war, the United Nations under the leadership of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, brokered the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM) between Israel and the Palestinian Government of National Consensus (GNC). The GRM is intended to facilitate the import into the Gaza Strip of previously prohibited/restricted construction materials, mainly for repairs of homes destroyed and damaged during the war. The GRM is a temporary mechanism intended to be a step along a path leading to a full lifting of the blockade, to be supportive of the private sector and the UN, enabling transitional solutions, repair, recovery and new projects in the Shelter and Infrastructure sectors.
It is the understanding of the Gaza Shelter & NFI Cluster that the Government of National Consensus will administer the Mechanism and that the UN will ensure and coordinate end use monitoring.
The Ministry of Public Works and Housing (MoPWH) located in Gaza, announced on the Facebook page of the Minister that the GRM would become operational on 31 October 2014. Beneficiaries whose names were submitted to the GRM and approved would be allowed to purchase the quantities of ABC materials (aggregates, steel reinforcement bars, cement) required for repair, as detailed in the MoPWH / UNDP / UNRWA damage assessment.
The Gaza Shelter & NFI Cluster understands that the GNC as of 17th November 2014 has identified 37 vendors in Gaza who can sell materials, of which 9 have been approved to import and 4 have commenced selling materials to approved beneficiaries.
The UN and the Palestinian Authority have announced that a second shipment of building material and equipment will enter the Gaza Strip next week. Writing on Facebook, Palestinian Authority Minister of Civilian Affairs Hussein a-Sheikh said that, in coordination with the relevant Israeli and United Nations bodies, the Palestinian Authority would bring heavy equipment into the Strip, including bulldozers and buses next week. Construction materials will also be distributed to some 24,000 families whose homes were damaged in the 50-day hostilities between Israel and Hamas. (source: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.627864 24/11/14)
Steps involved in accessing materials from the Mechanism
The following steps summarise the current understanding of the Gaza Shelter & NFI Cluster, with regard to how the GRM is intended to operate, as well as notes on what has happened to date:
1. Details of each damage assessment case warranting access to prohibited/restricted materials are sent by UNDP and UNRWA to the Ministry of Public Works and Housing (MoPWH) in Gaza with a copy to the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MoCA) located in Ramallah. The list is then verified by MoPWH and sent to MoCA. This list of cases includes people who have received, or are due to receive, humanitarian repair or reconstruction assistance.
a. An initial list of around 2,000 cases were selected and submitted by MoCA. The majority of these families had minor or major damage to their homes, but they were still classed as inhabitable. Since that initial list, over 20,000 additional cases have been submitted by agencies to the GRM for processing.
2. MoCA ensures the integrity of the lists and data submitted (e.g. duplication, use of incorrect details) and enters the data into the GRM database.
3. MoCA sends the verified cases to the Israeli authorities to receive approval. MoCA should receive an Israeli response within 48 hours from submission of the list.
Initially the information that needed to be submitted included:
Name of beneficiary, ID #, mobile/phone number, address, GPS coordinates, photos of damage, required quantities of ABC materials.
Recent discussions between the MoPWH, MoCA and the Israeli authorities have led to the details being reduced to: Name of beneficiary, ID #, address, required quantities of ABC materials.
4. Of the 2,000 names approved, 894 were selected by MPWH to receive materials-slips enabling the purchase of cement. Beneficiaries are invited to check the website for their names, and then identify where to go to receive the slips and which suppliers they can approach to purchase the materials.
These materials-slips are a temporary measure that allows the beneficiaries to purchase the materials from the selected vendors at a price fixed by the GNC.
5. Approved cases are sent back to MPWH which prepares materials-slips and uploads the names on the Ministry website. Beneficiaries are invited to check the website for their names, and then identify where to go to receive the materials-slips and which suppliers they can approach to purchase the materials.
a. It should be noted that the 894 beneficiaries who have received materials-slips for small quantities of cement, have not received materials slips for necessary accompanying aggregates and reinforcing bars.
Frequently asked questions
1. How is the quantity of materials calculated for each beneficiary?
A new application has been designed to convert the damage assessment results conducted by UNDP/MoPWH and UNRWA to equivalent ABC materials. These quantities are calculated automatically and MoPWH have access to it along with the database.
2. How can others, who have no damage to their homes, apply to complete unfinished housing construction or build new homes?
This will be undertaken through the GRM. Interested parties should submit plans and bills of quantity and submit them to MoPWH. The project details will then be passed onto MoCA as part of the GRM.
A response regarding project approval may take up to 3 months.
3. How can a humanitarian agency obtain materials for its housing repair projects?
The agency needs to receive beneficiary lists, as per their selection criteria, from MPWH. Beneficiary names are then to be submitted through the process above, and approved beneficiaries will be given materials-slips. The agency could then opt to provide cash to beneficiaries to ensure they had sufficient funds to purchase the materials.
4. What happens if MoPWH will not share the required beneficiary details with MoCA?
Those case(s) missing the required details will not be approved.
5. How can a humanitarian agency obtain materials for its infrastructure projects?
Humanitarian agencies supporting infrastructure repair or construction may use the prior existing coordination mechanism with COGAT, submitting full project details and awaiting a response. This worked in the past, albeit very slowly, for UNRWA and UNDP but required donor intervention for NGOs. Alternatively they can submit plans and BoQs to MoCA (via MoPWH) under the GRM.
6. What other key components should humanitarian agencies be considering, in order to ensure successful use of the Mechanism?
A key gap in serving the first list of names was that beneficiaries did not receive coordinated payments of cash to accompany their materials slips to support the purchase of materials and to pay contractors to implement repairs/construction.
The current self-help mechanism also lacks the complementary enabling coordinated supportive technical advice on how to conduct the repairs that one would expect to find in an owner driven housing reconstruction process. Activities to support beneficiaries through these processes have been included in the Strategic Response Plan of the Gaza Shelter & NFI Cluster. The MoPWH has stated that the latest list of names will receive coordinated support in terms of payments for repairs.
7. How is the GRM being monitored?
The UN will follow up with small proportion (around 5%) of the beneficiaries to report whether or not they have used the materials as intended. The consequences of not using materials as intended are unclear, either for the beneficiary or for the GRM in general.
8. Will MPWH release the names of those who are not approved by MoPWH and/or MoCA, and is there an appeal process?
It is unclear whether the names of people who are not approved will be released.
All individuals requiring shelter repair are expected to become eligible to procure construction material. Cases of individuals not successfully processed can be raised at the Higher Level Steering Committee.
Any beneficiary or agency who so wishes can appeal through their representatives. Individuals not successfully processed will be followed up on by MoPWH and be reprocessed. The UN will follow up for appealing agencies and INGOs.
9. What are the consequences of not being approved?
For those not yet approved or rejected by the GRM, they will not have access to materials at the current time. It is unclear if or when this might change, or how repairs might be undertaken in these cases, as there does not seem to be an alternative system in place to facilitate these repairs.
10. What is the plan to publicise this information to the general public in Gaza?
The GNC is currently preparing material for public distribution in addition to the material already released by the MPWH on their website.