Sur ce site

Accueil du site > Equipes de Recherche > Outils pour une gestion durable du foncier et de l’environnement urbain dans un contexte de transition politique. Municipalités de Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, Palestine. > Findings

Policy Tools towards Sustainable Land Use and Urban Environmental Management under a Transitional Political Context


By combining the results of these two enquiries the team was able to draw up a series of recommendations regarding alternative policies and tools towards sustainable development in the target area. The analysis of the role of the Municipalities was divided into four sections according to the sectors and issues that the analysis tackled.

Regarding the “Municipal Administrative and Financial Management” sector (1), the results show that if the residents suffer from a number of difficulties and insufficiencies in administration, conversely, the municipalities experience endemic budgetary and financial difficulties, many of which exacerbate and are exacerbated by the aforementioned administrative difficulties.

On the subject of “urban growth and infrastructure management” (2) the selected communities face a general deficiency of public institutions and infrastructural networks (especially the water and sewage network, and in a lesser manner) and, in addition the municipalities suffer from a lack of substantive urban growth plans and strategies (among other problems that of the lack of qualified professionals to draft developmental plans and master plans or again outdated building and planning legislations). There is no special department for urban environmental management (3) in any of the three municipalities, and consequently there are no clear strategies to address the current environmental issues or to mitigate current and future environmental problems.

The difficulties discussed in the above sections on population demographics illustrate the problems facing these municipalities. However, there is no clear strategy or plan in the municipalities that would deal specifically with these demographic issues and dynamics (4). The directorate of local government indicated that there is a national committee for combating poverty headed by the Ministry of Planning and the UNDP/PAPP. This committee works in cooperation with local NGOs and with the MOLG. The committee aims at preparing a participatory poverty assessment, developing strategies to combat poverty and implementing these strategies. Additionally there has been municipality support of women’s organizations, and initiatives of cooperation between the municipalities and local civil society organizations to raise public awareness. These endeavours and initiatives are inextricably linked, however, with the administrative, financial, and planning abilities of the municipalities. As the population continues to grow and demographic concerns become more pressing, many of the same problems described in the previous three subsections will impact this area as well.

The second angle of the project, the “Citizens’ Perception of the Municipality Role” tackled the five major issues. Firstly, the “General national and municipal policies” (1) demonstrated that 74% of the questionnaire takers had not heard about the National Development Plans and 52.6% were not aware of the planning and building codes. In terms of financial transparency, 70% indicated that they have no knowledge about municipality budget allocation and only 20% were aware of credit for the urban poor.

Regarding the second major issue, that is “the quality and accessibility of services” (2), the respondents’ perceptions about the urban services was in general fairly good except for medical services, as 46% said that the hospitals are in poor conditions, and another 34% consider them mediocre. One recurrent complaint (57%) indicates that the municipalities do not ensure the accessibility of public facilities to all individuals.

The third issue addressed the “needs of the population” (3) and 71,1% of the respondents noted that the local government does not take actions to provide affordable housing. However, the directorate of local government in Bethlehem reiterated that this is one of the Ministry of Housing mandates. Overall, the majority of respondents felt that the current legislations, regulations, and laws are not consistent with the future needs of Bethlehem urban population.

As for the fourth issue, dealing with the “Environmental Policies” (4), the results are alarming as only 17.5% indicated that that they are well informed about environmental issues and hazards, while 33% felt that they are not well informed about environmental issues and 49.5% considered that they are somewhat informed.

The last issue addressed, that of the “public’s participation” (5) offers the grim view of those interviewed on the matter : About half of the individuals questioned said that the municipality does not participate with the public in the process of both need and capability assessment.

Based on the literature review conducted and analyzed and on the results of roundtable meetings with the decision makers at the local level, as well as the analysis of the citizen questionnaire and the workshop conducted with the citizens, policies and tools have been suggested in the following domains : (1) municipal administrative and financial management ; (2) urban growth, land and infrastructure management ; (3) urban environmental management ; (4) demographic strategies. We can only briefly describe a few of these measures here.

First there should be a clear definition of roles and functions for each department in the municipality, with cooperation and coordination between the different parts. Political decentralization and structural adjustments should be initiated, including the transfer of administrative, financial, planning and executive authorities from the central government into the local government, so that local people have more control on their immediate environment. National effective laws and regulations should be adopted and updated, and formulate relevant bylaws at the local level to implement these laws.

The main problems that our cities face today have arisen from uncontrolled urban growth and the unplanned developments. These problems include degradation to environmentally sensitive land and ecosystems, loss of cultural heritage, loss of open space, loss of prime agricultural lands, development in hazardous areas, urban sprawl, degraded air quality, and more energy consumption. Therefore, land use and land development policies must be established and actively implemented. These policies should balance among urban growth, environmental protection, and demographical factors (participatory urban governance).

Regarding urban management policies, urban data on the local level such as developing a land inventory (which includes the parcels, land value land ownership, land cover and land use, environmental value, linkage to infrastructure, etc.) should be collected, updated and disseminated. The framework under which zoning maps and rules are prepared is important because land use decisions are based on the zoning maps which designate specifically which parcels can be used for which particular purposes. Thus zoning regulations would give the municipality control over the kind and size of development in particular places.