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Community and Socio-Economic Development


Since the early days of statehood, Israel has given high priority to adopting policies, establishing support structures, and encouraging initiatives aimed at generating economic growth and community building. The imperative of rapid economic development and the necessity to absorb the continuous waves of mass immigration has enabled Israeli experts to acquire experience in rural development, community building, cooperative organization and micro-enterprise in an emerging economy of immigrant populations. Focusing on socio-economic development as a tool for poverty eradication, MASHAV stresses the importance of bottom-up development, concentrating on the contribution of women to the development of their country.


The direct relationship between the level of strength of a community and solving the problems of the individuals who live in it is widely acknowledged. MASHAV's professional training programs in community development therefore emphasize the mobilization of human and material resources. They are designed to develop local leadership and strengthen local government. By improving the quality of life of poor rural and marginal urban people, steps are taken toward eradicating poverty at the grassroots level.


In light of decentralization and democratic reforms, the increasing demand for economic development and for accountability to both local and external stakeholders, local governments face new responsibilities which are very different from their traditional roles. Moreover, dealing with concepts such as good governance, local economic development, territorial competitiveness, and sustainable and inclusive development requires capacities of integrated local and regional approaches to development which are not always available. Institutional capacity building oriented to improve performance these fields are thus a must.

Throughout the years, Israel has gained knowledge and practical experience in integrated local and regional development, combining horizontal integration between sectors and partners with vertical integration between local, regional and international levels. MASHAV's integrated approach enables local governments to take a pro active approach to development, using strategic planning and integrated regional development as planning and development tools.


Rural areas in developing economies are characterized by high rates of poverty. Measures taken to increase productivity are essential but not sufficient. The integrated rural development approach is designed to harness the benefits of improved productivity to promoted sustainable development through agro businesses and rural tourism activities, improved infrastructure and the delivery of services, community development and setting organizational platforms for development and governance. MASHAV supported throughout the years training and capacity building combined with development projects in many developing countries.


Strategic planning is a framework for actions. The keys for the implementation of strategies are harnessing local assets for the development process and establishing the organizational platforms for implementation. Through focusing on local assets (such as personal skills, local institutes and organizations and physical assets) and the establishment of implantation platforms (such as municipal strategic planning units, municipal corporations for development, PPP, support systems for LED and municipal crosscutting working patterns); local governments in Israel have been successfully promoting development through strategic planning in the fields of urban revitalization, LED, rural sector transition processes, municipal branding and more. MASHAV provides training and capacity building activities based on this experience, as well as the establishment of a pilot Municipal Strategic Planning unit (MSPU) in Kisumu, Kenya.


Poverty is the main development challenge facing both developing and developed countries. Israel is in the almost unique position of combining elements of developed and developing societies within a single country and small and diverse geographical areas. This enables an adaptation of policies and strategies successfully implemented in Israel to the developing countries' local arenas. The development strategies cover LED, community economic development, sustainable tourism development, solid waste and waste water management, delivery of services, poor urban neighborhoods upgrading, and urban safety issues. All strategies incorporates the comprehensive development context, sustainability and inclusion, and promoted through MASHAV trainings and capacity building activities.


The challenge to create new opportunities by establishing micro and small enterprises is being recognized as a tool to generate additional sources of income. Micro-enterprises are more flexible and adaptable to rapid changes than are bigger companies. On an individual level, starting up a business has sometimes been the only solution for certain segments of society, e.g. women, younger people, or workers who were previously employed in the public sector. Small scale entrepreneurs, especially in the early stages, often lack the necessary information and tools needed for running their businesses. They are also in need of updated data about the market. It is therefore important to create appropriate frameworks that can offer support, guidance, and managerial tools to those willing to take the risk of entrepreneurship.


Handling crisis situations is a frightening and often intimidating task even for the most seasoned counselors, social workers, managers of human service organizations, psychologists, nurses, police officers, and other professionals. Much attention has been given in recent years to raising the level of readiness of these professionals, paraprofessionals, and volunteers, through seminars and in-service training, for example, to staff crisis hotlines, and many other emergency services. MASHAV's experience in this area includes, among others, the following fields: Youth in distress; Psychological and physical rehabilitation in the community; Child abuse; and Working with people/communities affected by trauma.


The vast majority of the more than one billion people living in abject poverty in the developing world are women. MASHAV conducts programs throughout the developing world focusing on reducing the gender disparity and training women to participate in the decision making process. Programs address the connection between gender, poverty reduction and sustainable development, and the need for gender-sensitive policymaking. MASHAV's programs encourage empowerment strategies to heighten the consciousness of national leaders to issues relating to women's economic and social welfare, and to increase interaction between women's organizations and the public-private sector.

Brief descriptions of some of MASHAV's professional programs in the field:


Today, women constitute almost half of all international migrants worldwide. In principle, this massive flow of migrants has benefits for all involved: the migrant women, as well as the origin and receiving countries. Migration can help women and their families to increase their income, learn new skills, improve their social status, build up assets and improve their quality of life. Yet with time, some of these women settle permanently in their host countries, at which point they may face a series of challenges related to their cultural, social and economic integration.

MASHAV's professional program addresses the potential positive and negative outcomes of migration from a gender perspective. The program aims to contribute towards a better understanding of how gender perspectives can be comprehensively integrated in migration and development agendas.


Development of microenterprises is recognized as a tool for combating poverty in many parts of the world. Microenterprise creation can offer new opportunities for self-employment and is sometimes the only possibility for those who, due to macroeconomic changes, find it impossible to enter the labor market. The aim of this professional program is to widen awareness of support systems for small scale entrepreneurs as a tool for regional and local development. It also helps to define the needs of the community in relation to the establishment of a Small Business Development Center, including the setting up of municipal economic units.


Children affected by HIV/AIDS are exposed to traumatic situations when they encounter sickness and loss of their parents which threaten their basic needs. Moreover, they are likely to face an alien community and experience stigmatization and rejection, leading to low self-esteem and lack of skills needed to cope.

HIV/AIDS should be seen and treated as a holistic issue. Young children with AIDS must be treated medically; however the effects of this disease on the psycho-social development of the child must not be neglected. It is therefore essential to provide this care to complement medical treatment. Well-structured systems that can offer services and counseling to children affected by HIV/AIDS are lacking in many countries where AIDS is rampant. In this workshop participants develop multi-purpose programs to serve their communities thereby becoming agents of change.


The World Bank states that nearly half the people of the world today are under 25 years old. Nine out of ten of these young people live in developing countries. A billion of them will need jobs in the next decade. Poverty traps youth with insufficient education, life and job skills, making the transition from school dropout to the workplace difficult, and perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Entrepreneurial training for young people combines the elements of education and poverty alleviation which are at the forefront of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Microenterprises have proven to be successful due to their versatility, flexibility and ability to adapt more quickly than big businesses.

The practical and theoretic elements of this professional workshop are combined to help the participants - teachers, heads of educational and community institutions and university lecturers - act as facilitators, encouraging and preparing young people for economic independence by starting up their own small businesses.


Rural areas in most developing countries have been neglected - agriculture does not allow for a fair standard of living, other sources of income have not been developed, and accessibility to basic human needs - education, health, potable water and sanitation - is poor. As a result, malnutrition, high mortality rates and illiteracy are more common than in urban centers. Moreover, the majority of poor people in the world live in rural areas, and those who wish to improve their situation have only one path: emigration to urban centers, preferably metropolitan areas. However, these centers are not able to absorb the vast influx and suffer in return from problems of poor infrastructure, lack of housing, insufficient services and low personal security. Therefore, a holistic and crossfunctioning approach needs to be promoted in order for rural development to be successful. This program focuses on the methodology regarding planning in terms of a cross-functional process.

All professional programs and models can be adapted to regional, national and local development strategies, Additional details are readily available upon request.