By Anca Voinea
Co-operatives in Palestine will be entering a new development phase with the launch of a co-operative sector strategy by prime minister Rami Hamdallah.
The co-operative sector plays a key role in the economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, being active in agriculture, housing, the service sector, handicraftcraft and retail. Agricultural co-operatives alone account for roughly 1.4% territories’ GDP, based on 2012 data from the General Directorate of Cooperatives.
The prime minister launched the strategy at a conference featuring more than 200 participants from relevant ministries, co-op unions, civil society organisations and international delegates.
Mr Hamdallah said co-operatives made an important contribution but there was a need to improve the regulation and administration of the sector. The strategy was set out by the General Directorate of Cooperatives with support from the ILO after consultations with stakeholders.
The plan covers three main pillars: promoting an institutional environment to enable co-ops to grow and develop; improving the financial and organisational performance of co-ops; and expanding the co-op model into new sectors, particularly recycling and renewable energy.
The strategy also explores the need to invest in co-operative education among young people. Also speaking at the event, Emanuela Pozzan, senior regional specialist on gender equality at the International Labour Organization (ILO), talked about co-ops emerging in sectors such as finance, social care, technology and environment. She pointed out that these co-ops presented opportunities for women and young people as well as those active in the informal economy.
Munir Kleubo, ILO representative in Jerusalem, said that in 2010 the office had helped with the review process of the co-operative law.
And Rashid Al-Ruzzo, ILO national coordinator in Gaza, touched upon the difficulties that women’s co-operatives are facing in Gaza.
There are currently 957 co-operatives registered at the General Directorate for Co-operatives at the Ministry of Labour – 785 in the West Bank and 172 in the Gaza Strip. The sector will continue to be engaged in discussions on the implementation of the strategy along with the ILO’s regional office.