Creating Jobs, Supporting Hope
How Data & Analysis Demonstrate the Impact of Job Creation Programmes in Gaza
Why support job creation during a humanitarian emergency?
Job creation focuses on resilience and the capacity of communities to maximise the benefits of humanitarian programming during a protracted crisis. Humanitarian action focuses on life saving in the first instance and then turns to sectors that enable people to make it through a crisis and to be able to re-build once it subsides. These integrated approaches focus on individuals', families, and communities, resilience.  Resilience relates to people's ability to predict, withstand, and recover from crises.  It enables people to get “back on their feet” more quickly.
Large-scale crises, like those regularly experienced in Gaza, can impact labour markets in addition to their humanitarian costs. Mass evacuations and disruptions to housing, transportation, social services and infrastructure can impede basic livelihood strategies. If someone loses their job in the context of a broader crisis, it can send them into a downward spiral of vulnerability. Job creation programmes, amongst other livelihood strategies, are critical to stemming this downward spiral.
The most common objectives for these programmes include “restoring infrastructure crucial for growth, promoting local private sector activity, and providing skills training to make individuals more employable.”  These have the potential of putting the most people to work. Evidence from low- and middle income countries suggests that, if designed well and linked to complementary services and programmes, poverty reduction and local multiplier effects can be achieved.  This approach has led the World Bank to include job creation strategies as strategically critical to any recovery/reconstruction scenario. 
How do Job Creation Programmes Support Businesses During a Crisis?
Our work in Gaza focused on conducting in-depth quarterly surveys over 3 years amongst participating businesses and employees of UNRWA's most extensive job creation programme. We wanted to know if the job creation programme supported businesses beyond “cheap” labour and “make-work” approaches. The data and analysis from this proves that the value far exceeded our best impressions and raises job creation, when done well, as a vital humanitarian instrument.
Participating businesses (JCP) recognised that they were more competitive than other businesses in their sectors. (Figure 1) 30 – 50% of businesses saw themselves as very competitive and this is also significantly higher than that of non-participating businesses (NPBs), who we surveyed as a control group. NPBs remained significantly less optimistic throughout the programme. The only time they surpassed the JCP businesses was in June 2014. However this was followed by a horrible conflict from July to late August. Here, JCP businesses' sense of competitiveness spiked after the conflict and remained high in relation to the NPBs.
This increased competitiveness was buoyed, of course, by an ability to better manage labour costs. Labor costs as a percent of sales remained fairly steady and much better than those of NPBs who saw erratic shifts in labor costs. (Figure 2)
With increased competitiveness and better managed finances, JCP businesses made much higher capital investments. (Figure 3)
These and other factors contributed to changes in revenue. While revenue was still influenced by shocks in the market, upward swings in revenue (due to capital investments and other factors related to JCP businesses' increased competitiveness) were more positive than those of NPBs and the long-term prospects were more positive as well.
Gaza Represents an Especially Difficult Crisis
Gaza is plagued with recurring crises that have a devastating impact for Palestinians. The 2014 war that occurred during this evaluation included nearly 2-months of constant shelling and violence. Before this, the closure of tunnels with Egypt created a dramatic and immediate negative impact on the Gaza economy. The World Bank estimates that these two events in Gaza caused a 15% contraction in GDP on a per capita basis with a 3% contraction in 2014 alone.  This same report goes on to say that in every area of manufacturing and trade, Gaza has seen continued decrease.  This includes regular electricity blackouts, the increasing cost of electricity and fuel, the varying costs of raw materials and the increasing need to buy things from abroad at a premium, and, given the constraints on the Gaza economy, a shrinking customer base.
This volatility has led to a long-term decline in real per capita income and there is little indication that this will improve in the near future. The UN predicts that by 2020, the population will be more than 2.13 million and that GDP will continue to fall. There is a need to increase fresh water by 60%, build an additional 250 schools and 800 hospital beds as well as an additional 1,000 doctors and 2,000 nurses. 
Of course, the crises in Gaza do not simply hamper services. They have direct psycho-social and health related consequences. A recent Lancet study from 2011 found increased detrimental psychosocial and health issues including increased feelings of being “broken or destroyed, emotionally exhausted or their spirits broken.” 
How did the Job Creation Programme in Gaza Support Individuals & Families?
Given the convergence of these issues—a protracted emergency with severe socio-economic consequences, a deterioration of services, and increased psycho-social issues related to long term stress, depression, and feelings of despair—a job creation programme can actually go beyond immediate household needs and resilience. A job gives people a brief glimmer of hope.
In the most important way, the job creation programme supported continued employment amongst the three cohorts (Tri 1, Tri 2, & Tri 3) that we assessed. In the first cohort, 30% of respondents had found employment, 18% having received job offers from the JCP businesses in which they worked. In the second cohort, fewer had found employment, with roughly 19% reporting employment. However, in the third cohort, nearly 69% report having found employment with 67% remaining with the existing employer. As the Programme got better and the economic conditions in Gaza changed, the employment prospects improved.
Related to this, cohorts' employability improved. (Figure 6)
There is a similar trend to employability in skills development. Here the trend is more positive, with a higher proportion of respondents seeing a significant positive impact.
Food security also improved for each of the cohorts. As shown in the figures below, there was a clear decrease in those experiencing a range of food security issues.
Of course, improved livelihood strategies have a direct impact on food security. They can also have effects on other aspects of household resilience. All three cohorts we studied show both decreases in the average amount of individual debt and in the number of persons who are carrying individual debt. (Figures 10 & 11)
Overall, Self Esteem and Self Concept have swung widely during the course of the Programme while returning to the baseline normative.
Research on self-esteem, including concepts of value, security, perception and competence, tend to indicate that people’s perceptions of these have a normative that, while changed by immediate stimulus, events, or contexts, return to a fairly regular state.
For the first cohort, there is a discernable improvement in general competence. This is related to the Programme and can be seen as positive. This is also a complete data set as it shows change against the baseline to 1 year after the contract end, sufficient time for people’s self-esteem/self-concept to return to a fair normative.
For the second cohort, there is a similar volatility although there is a distinct positive trend across all areas with a significant positive increase in “Self Perception” and a correspondingly negative increase in “Social Competencies.” While this looks positive overall, this will need to be validated in the next +1 year after contract data.
The third cohort sees a general improvement across the board, with significant gains in almost every category. This may be due to the fact that such a high percentage of them (69%) maintained employment after the Programme’s end. This last cohort is a clear indicator that when there is more qualified, better positioned group of participants, the benefits will increase significantly for them as compared to less qualified/compared groups.
Our data and analysis of the UNRWA Job Creation Programme shows that there are immediate and long-term gains for both participating businesses and employees. While Gaza represents some particularities, such as the relatively high tertiary education rates, the data is strong enough to point to the value of job creation programmes when done well. In fact, the sentiment that runs beneath all of these numbers is hope. In interview after interview, people said that the job creation programme gave them some hope that they would get through the crisis. For businesses, they believed they could weather the horrendous storms of conflict. For employees, they knew they could keep food on the table and be in a position to re-build sometime soon. The Job Creation Programme gave them this hope and with it a degree of dignity that is difficult to equal in other humanitarian activities.
1 This is recognized at the policy level of the UN Secretariat. A 2009 report states” “In post-conflict situations, employment is vital to short-term stability, reintegration, economic growth and sustainable peace.” “United Nations Policy: Post-conflict Employment Creation, Income Generation and Reintegration.” United Nations, June 2009.
2 For work on resilience and its relation to humanitarian contexts, see: Simon Levine & Irina Mosel, “Supporting Resilience in Difficult Places.” Overseas Development Institute, April 2014; & Adam Pain & Simon Levine, “A Conceptual Analysis of Livelihoods and Resilience: Addressing the ‘Insecurity of Agency’.” Humanitarian Policy Group Working Paper, November 2012. For a more econometric approach, see: Prabhu Pingali, Luca Alinovi and Jacky Sutton, “Food Security in Complex Emergencies: Enhancing Food System Resilience.” Disasters, Vol. 29, Issue Supplement 1; June 2005.
3 “Prevailing Approaches to Job Creation in Fragile and Conflict Affected States.” In, Nora Dudwick & Radhika Srinivasen, Creating Jobs in Africa’s Fragile States. IDRG/The World Bank, 2013. Page 23.
4 Rachel Slater, “Cash Transfer, Social Protection and Poverty Reduction.” International Journal of Social Welfare, Volume 20, issue 2; July 2011. Pages 251 – 254.
5 “World Development Report 2013: Jobs.” IRDB/The World Bank, 2014.
6 “Economic Monitoring Report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee,” The World Bank. 27 May 2015. Page 5.
7 IBID, p. 16 – 18.
8 “Gaza in 2020: A Livable Place?” United Nations Country Team, August 2012. (http://www.unrwa.org/userfiles/file/publications/gaza/Gaza%20in%202020.pdf)
9 Clea McNeely, Brian K. Barber, Carolyn Spellings, Rita Giacaman, Cairo Arafat, Eyad El Sarraj, Mahmoud Daher, & Mohammed Abu Mallouh. “Prediction of Health with Human Insecurity and Chronic Economic Constraints in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: A Cross-Sectional Survey.” The Lancet, December 2013, Volume 382. Page 25.