Impact of the Current Transportation System on Poverty in the West Bank (Case Study: Nablus)

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Nizar Shehadeh Othman Atawi
One of the stated objectives of various international development organizations is “to reduce poverty through sustainable economic development.”Therefore, the question is how can transport systems best contribute to poverty alleviation? There are no direct and easy answers for this question. There are considerable changes in the transport system operations in the West Bank during the years of the Intifadah and due to the Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) measures on the road network. So it is important to study the impact of the current transportation system on poverty and standards of living. The primary objective of this study is to investigate the impact of current conditions of the transport system on the socio-economic aspects of the Palestinian life, particularly poverty and quality of life (in terms of transport accessibility, expenditures on transport, travel time and cost, affordability of public transportation, and access to markets and employment). The methodology of this research is based (a) reviewing related studies at the local and international levels, (b) surveying related existing conditions (related transport and socio-economic indicators), and (c) field surveying of transport and living conditions of selected communities. Nablus City was taken as a case study in this project. The main findings of this project are: 1. West Bank is facing great numbers of IOA measures, which had a devastating impact on the life of Palestinian people (economic, social, service, and other sectors). 2. Travel time and cost increase in the West Bank are results of closures and checkpoints, which have lead to income decrease and high levels of poverty rates in the Palestinian society. 3. Economic and social issues of the Palestinians have greatly been affected by these measures. 4. Poverty rates have sharply increased during the years of the Intifadah due to multidimensional reasons of unemployment, income decrease, and inaccessibility to work opportunities. 5. The field survey analysis indicates an increase in travel time and cost, decrease in income, change in home style, increase in transport expenditure, and difficulties in access to hospitals, educational institutions and general services. All were results of the closures regimes imposed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). 6. Drivers were also affected by the imposed measures. Less daily trips were made, income has decreased, vehicle maintenance frequency and cost has increased, and travel routes have constantly been changed to pass by the IOF road blocks and closures. 7. The Separation Wall has destructive effects on Palestinian life; isolating communities of each other, inaccessibility to work places, and access difficulties to social and service sites. Based on these results, it is recommended to continuously consider these closures in negotiating with the Israelis. The Palestinian Authority should continue working hard to remove Israeli checkpoints. Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority should establish measures to counter these effects on Palestinians. The Palestinian Ministry of Transport should also consider supporting the transport sector and re-establishing public transport fares to make the public transport more affordable. Nablus City was hardly hit by these closures. Therefore, every effort should be made at the official level to encourage investment in the city to strengthen its economy and reduce these effects.

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