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Fall 2015

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Getting Back to Business in Post-Conflict Gaza

When a business is put out of commission by war, it can take only a small investment—done rapidly in a post-conflict environment—to put it back on its feet, creating employment and making sales.

The 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict had a disastrous impact on Gaza. Scores of businesses, schools, hospitals, and homes were damaged or destroyed, as were infrastructure and farmland, leaving thousands of people without adequate shelter or a way to make a living. More than 900 factories covering 10 industrial sectors were damaged, according to estimates by the Palestinian Federation of Industries (PFI).

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Alert to this crisis, the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) and European Union’s Palestinian Market Development Programme (PMDP), led by DAI, opened the Gaza Back to Business matching grants window in November 2014—only weeks after the conflict had ended. The response was tremendous: Through July 2015, more than 700 businesspeople had applied for grants, with 129 agreements signed by enterprises meeting the project’s strict criteria. Most awards have been for less than £10,000 (US$15,740), but their impact—combined with recipients’ matching contributions—has been significant. Businesses and farms that might have folded irrevocably are selling again, and more than 1,000 people have returned to their jobs.

Though Gaza remains isolated, the 360-square-kilometer territory still has potential for further recovery and for economic growth in areas such as agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, and construction, according to Halim Halabi, PMDP’s Economic Advisor and Gaza Manager.

“[The] Gaza [business community] is suffering from three components: we have restrictions on movement, restrictions on importing materials and equipment, and also restrictions for exporting,” said Halabi, who has worked on DAI-led projects since 1994. “But after years of living in Gaza, I am optimistic still. There is a bright future...

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Growing a Global Network of Microfinance Practitioners

The European Commission (EC) is one of the world’s leading exponents of access-to-finance programming, known particularly for initiatives such as mentoring local banks and developing loan programmes for small businesses and green energy investment. Equally noteworthy is an EC programme dedicated to promoting microfinance in developing countries, a programme that recently closed after vitalizing a global network of local microfinance practitioners who in turn reached some 3.5 million people.

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Building Community Climate Stories and Adaptation Plans from the Ground Up

A complex web of ecosystems, the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) is acutely sensitive to climate change. More than 60 million people depend on this vast interconnected system to support their livelihoods. While there is an urgent need for these communities to begin adapting to rising temperatures, heavier precipitation, and more frequent flooding, residents of the Basin—mostly people connected to rice, livestock, and fish farming—do not have the knowledge, tools, or resources to better prepare themselves for the future climate.

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Training Videographers for Development in Cambodia

When Australian-Cambodian videographer Bunhom Chhorn returned to his native Cambodia in the early 2000s, he found the country nearly stripped of basic video expertise. There were no facilities, instruction, or equipment available to most people. Cambodian media overall had been greatly diminished by years of poverty and instability.

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Measuring the Effectiveness of Government in Thailand’s Provinces

Thailand enjoyed strong economic gains through the 1980s and 1990s, but political crises and civil unrest that have escalated since 2005 have damaged the country domestically. The prolonged constitutional crisis—culminating in the May 2014 military coup d’etat—has punished Thailand’s 67 million citizens by diminishing governance and public services. Civic pride, engagement, and trust in government are at historic lows, with ordinary people taking to the streets in protest and riot.

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