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Local government

Profile of Abdel Mughni Nofal

by Sabine Balk

Nowadays

Abdel Mughni Nofal, the director general of the MDLF.

Abdel Mughni Nofal, the director general of the MDLF.

Abdel Mughni Nofal directs a fund that promotes the development of municipal infrastructure in the Palestinian Territories. He is proud of playing a pioneering role for North Africa and the Middle East. This contribution was produced in cooperation with KfW.

The director general of the Municipal Development and Lending Fund (MDLF) is a busy man. He typically works 16-hour days. "I love my country and would do anything to help it," Abdel Mughni Nofal says. Listening to the 56-year-old man, it’s clear that he enjoys his work and takes pride in it.

Nofal, who is a trained architect and urban planner, was appointed as director general of the MDLF five years ago. This semi-public fund is partially financed by Germany through KfW Development Bank and employs 53 staff in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Previously, Nofal worked as an urban planner and consultant in various municipalities and organisations, including the city of Hebron and the UN Human Settlements Programme.

Nofal knows the cities and municipalities of his country well and understands their wishes and needs. Such knowledge is helpful when it comes to allocating money. The MDLF has strict rules how funds are being allocated and for what purpose. For this, transparency is the guiding principle. Following an ­incentive-based mechanism, municipal governments receive, for example, more funds if they follow a transparent budgetary process and sound financial management. According to Nofal, this incentive- based mechanism has proven to be very successful.

Municipal administrations must be transparent not only to the MDLF, but also to citizens. At town hall meetings and through participatory municipal planning processes citizens are directly involved in deciding what projects are being submitted for funding by the MDLF.

Since the MDLF began work in 2006, approximately 500 kilometres of roads have been built or repaired, 50 kilometres of sewer lines have been constructed or maintained and 1,400 stationary waste bins have been installed. Schools, parks and playgrounds have also been built ­using MDLF funds.

In addition, the MDLF provides capacity building support individually designed and targeted according to the needs of each municipality. These include for example administrative reforms, establishing IT-based accounting systems and training of municipal staff. Nofal knows it is essential for his fund to tackle the specific challenges the various municipal authorities face.

The principle of transparency applies not only to the administrative bodies concerned, of course. The fund itself must disclose all relevant facts and figures. Such data is made available by its website www.mdlf.org.ps. On behalf of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, KfW provides about 30 % of the MDLF’s capital. So far, its contributions add up to approximately € 45 million.

Director general Nofal has travelled to almost every Middle Eastern and North African country to discuss his work. "Everyone wishes they had a fund like ours," he reports. He is convinced that municipal administration in the Palestinian Territories is among the strongest in the region. (sb)