What We Do

UNRWA delivers basic health services and is responsible for providing a healthy living environment for Palestine refugees.

An Integrated Plan

The UNRWA integrated community-based actions (ICBA) framework is an integrated, bottom-up approach to socioeconomic development. Adopted by the health department in cooperation with the Agency's other programmes, its main goals are to:

  • Reduce poverty in camps
  • Improve health and environmental conditions
  • Achieve a better quality of life for Palestine refugees in camps
  • Promote the role of women in health and sustainable development
  • Integrate health policies and programmes in UNRWA-wide strategic development agendas.

People’s health is largely determined by factors outside the health sector, so good health cannot be achieved in isolation. ICBA projects address the social determinants of health through coordination of UNRWA health, education, relief and social services, and microfinance efforts. 

By working with camp communities and focusing on people, the projects help communities address their needs themselves, ensuring that projects are self-sustainable.

The UNRWA Health department has adopted the ICBA framework with the technical and financial support of the World Health Organization (WHO)/Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO). The ICBA is an adaptation of the WHO community-based initiative programme.

More on the WHO community-based initiative

In 2009, ICBA implementation started in two camps: Souf, in Jordan, and Qabr Essit, in Syria.

How does it work?

The ICBA approach works through the joint collaboration of the community, camp support teams, UNRWA programmes and other stakeholders, including UN agencies, NGos, governments and donors.

All partners agree on a social contract at the start of the implementation.

The contract contains key targets and a time frame, and describes the role of each partner. It keeps the partners, especially the communities, accountable for the targets and provides a broader base for programme implementation.

What are the strategies of ICBA?

The effective implementation of ICBA relies on promoting the centrality of health in development policies. This is done through:

  • Disseminating information
  • Establishing advocacy partnerships
  • Collaboration between different programmes
  • Incorporating community-development approaches in poverty reduction policies.
What is the camp’s role?

The community of the Palestine refugee camp is a key element in the success of the project. In each camp, they:

  • Monitor and evaluate the projects
  • Implement the development packages
  • Guarantee loans and ensure recovery is on time
  • Identify recipients for income-generation projects
  • Prioritise needs and prepare camp development plans
  • Motivate families to participate in community development
  • Manage the programme, including maintaining financial records.

Read more about the ICBA framework (PDF)


To find out more about the UNRWA ICBA programme, please contact:

Souf Camp, Jordan
Dr Bassam Khnouf
Deputy Chief Field Health Programme
+962 6 580 9100 Ext 5282 
[email protected]
Mobile: +962 79 600 8574

Qabr Essit Camp, Syria
Dr Anwar Sharqawi/ Deputy Chief Field Health Programme
+963 11 613 3035-42 Ext 374
[email protected]
Mobile: +963 11 940 888 170

Dr Yassir Turki
Health Communication and Community Based Initiative Officer
+962 588 8309
[email protected]