Long-term support to UNRWA’s reform

Project completed

This intervention will enable UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestine Refugees in the Near East) to further implement its development mandate by supporting two substantial components of its 2016-21 reform agenda, namely: the Resource Mobilization Strategy and the Protection Framework. These reforms will improve the overall provision of services by increasing and diversifying funding for the Agency and by strengthening the protection mandate and activities of UNRWA.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Occupied Palestinian Territory
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Primary education
Primary health care
Material relief assistance
01.01.2016 - 31.12.2017
CHF  4’600’000

Palestine refugees face a human development and protection crisis: food insecurity and poverty levels are high and rising among refugees, as well as protection threats from armed conflict and denial of basic human rights.

UNRWA has made significant progress in terms of the assistance and protection it provides - as a result of the implementation of its reform process - but funding shortfalls risk jeopardizing the efficiency gains underway. UNRWA is in a chronic financial deficit (the 2016 General Fund gap currently stands at USD 81 Mio). The deficit represents a serious risk to UNRWA as an institution and the environment in which it operates (further destabilization of a very fragile context).


The overall goal is to support UNRWA’s long-term reform process, thus enabling the Agency to provide better quality and more efficient services to Palestine refugees.

Target groups
  • Direct: External Relations and Communications Department and the Protection Unit.
  • Indirect: 30,000 employees and 5 Mio Palestine refugees.
Medium-term outcomes
  • Funding of UNRWA is increased with the implementation of the Resource Mobilization Strategy and allows the organization to fulfill its mandate without cutting basic services nor compromising quality.
  • Refugees’ rights under international law are increasingly protected and promoted

Expected results:  

  • Additional funds are attracted from new donors, predictability is increased and UNRWA is able to bridge the 2016-17 General Fund gaps.
  • The Protection Unit is established and effectively coordinates protection intervention Agency-wide ensuring a coherent response across the Agency.

Results from previous phases:  

  • The Enterprise Resource Planning System went live in April 2015, strengthening UNRWA decision-making with a state-of-the-art platform that integrates finance, procurement and human resources operations.
  • The Resource Mobilization Strategy enabled UNRWA to bridge the unprecedented 2014-2015 General Fund deficits. Efforts made towards Arab countries (now covering 7.5% of the General Fund, from 3.5% in 2014) and investments in private fundraising (every dollar invested generated 17 in return) were particularly successful.
  • E-health was implemented in all health centers (excluding Syria) by replacing paper medical records with electronic patient files. The new informatics platform generated improvements in terms of quality, efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

Other partners

The 30 members and observers of UNRWA Advisory Commission (donors and host countries; the members of the UNRWA Resource Mobilization Steering Committee (Jordan, MICAD and Gates Foundation), and UN institutions involved in protection.

Coordination with other projects and actors
  • The intervention is complementary to the regular un-earmarked General Fund contribution from the Humanitarian credit line. It constitutes a follow-up to the contribution from the Humanitarian credit line to Strengthening Protection Approach (2014-15).
  • Switzerland seeks and facilitates coordination with like-minded donors and host countries on matters related to the reforms.
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    4’600’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    3’931’532 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF   3’600’000 Budget inclusive project partner CHF   10’000’000
Project phases Phase 5 01.07.2021 - 30.06.2023   (Completed) Phase 4 01.01.2018 - 30.06.2021   (Completed)

Phase 3 01.01.2016 - 31.12.2017   (Completed)

Phase 2 01.01.2015 - 31.12.2015   (Completed) Phase 1 01.12.2013 - 31.12.2014   (Completed)