What do you do if you are from a marginalised community and you want to campaign for improvements in your village or town? You have little to no access to decision makers, few opportunities for representation, and limited channels available for making your voice heard. Well, if you live in the Palestinian Territories, advocacy can now come to you.
Tajaawob on Wheels is a new initiative that bridges the gap between Palestinian communities and their authorities. It provides a mobile space (a minivan converted into a radio station to be precise) for citizens to advocate for social improvement and to hold authorities to account.
The mobile radio station will travel to marginalised communities within the Palestinian Territories, including the Jericho and Jordan Valley, Qalqiliya and Bethlehem governorates, and will give citizens an open and accessible space to meet and interact with authority representatives and discuss specific issues facing their communities.
‘Tajaawob on Wheels is designed to be a generator of change by enabling dialogue on issues that really matter to communities,’ says Rami Nasser Eddin, Executive Director at Palestinian Vision, a local not-for-profit youth organisation responsible for launching the initiative with Palestinian radio station 24FM. ‘Our ultimate aim is to enable greater public engagement in the decision-making process in the Palestinian Territories and to improve the responsiveness of the authorities here.’
Ihab Bsseiso, a spokesman of the Palestinian Authority, sees the initiative as an important step in the development of the local Palestinian media to be able to highlight issues resulting from government policies. Speaking at the recent Tajaawob on Wheels launch event, he praised the initiative as ‘an opportunity for citizens to hold decision makers accountable towards tackling issues of community concern.’
The initiative builds on the advocacy campaigns being supported by the wider Tajaawob programme, funded by DFID and managed by a consortium led by the British Council.
One such advocacy campaign in the Frush Beit Dajan community is seeing citizens advocate for the equitable allocation of clean water within the area. Without their own water supply, most members of the community are forced to abandon the village during the hot summer months to gain access to water.
Through another campaign in Um Salamona, the community is advocating for additional classrooms to be built at the village’s high school, so pupils, and girls in particular, would no longer need to travel through dangerous settler land to the neighbouring village to be educated.
Through Tajaawob, the British Council and its five delivery partners – MIFTAH, AMAN, Palestinian Vision, Oxfam GB and BBC Media Action – support advocacy groups in these communities through training and coaching, media exposure and grants.
As well as supporting communities, Tajaawob also helps to improve the responsiveness of the authorities, such as local councils and national ministries. Focusing on the ‘supply side’ of accountability, the programme helps to develop tools and spaces for greater engagement with citizens.
Tajaawob on Wheels will be an additional asset in supporting Palestinian communities on their journey along the road to social change.