Occupation and conflict have led to a rapidly shrinking economy in Palestine, leaving almost half of the population living in poverty. The situation also remains dire for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, as their social programs are gravely under-funded and underdeveloped. People in Palestine cannot move freely to buy and sell goods due to road blocks and check points.
This has elevated the overall unemployment rate to more than 25%. In Gaza where the Israeli blockade has led to a collapse of the local economy, the unemployment rate has been raised to one of the highest in the world, at around 40%.
UPA's economic empowerment programs sustain the most vulnerable, and empower the Palestinian economy with sustainable measures in self-reliance. From innovative home gardens that address the ongoing food crisis in Gaza to embroidery workshops and rabbit breeding units that allow women to learn valuable skills, earn a wage and care for their families, UPA’s microfinance projects have helped build independence for thousands of Palestinians.
In addition to microfinance, UPA has also participated in Career Training. Implemented between 2006 and 2009, UPA supported a pilot career training program administered by the Education for Employment (EFE) Foundation for accountants, engineers, and nurses. EFE partners with both businesses in Palestine and abroad who commit to hiring the selected group of students; and EFE prepares these students with the specific skills needed in their field, as identified by the businesses.