Rooting Development

in the Palestinian Context


About us Blog


The Project Rooting Development in the Palestinian Context integrates and builds on the developmental challenges, experiences, and popular strategies of various segments of the Palestinian population in the Westbank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan and Lebanon. It derives from the particularities of the Palestinian people and the specific challenges faced as a result of the fragmentation and territorial displacement from decades of Israeli rule.
Through bridging the divide between academic knowledge producers, community-based knowledge and development strategies, the project aims at building alternative knowledge and practices of development that move beyond Eurocentric, Western models.

CDC Zarqa

About us

Founded upon the previous APPEAR project, the Center for Development Studies (CDS) at Birzeit University (BZU) and the Department of Development Studies (DDS) at the University of Vienna continue to deepen and articulate an alternative vision for development. The project integrates and builds on the developmental challenges, experiences, and popular strategies of various segments of the Palestinian population in their different locations, in order to bridge the divide between academic knowledge producers and community-based knowledge and development strategies.

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  1. To work out the Palestinian development agenda Rooting Development by establishing a community of critical knowledge producers (researchers, intellectuals, activists, political actors).
  2. To train new fieldworkers from Palestinian communities in Jordan and Lebanon.
  3. To establish an advanced training programme at CDS.
  4. To build an academic network for a young generation of researchers and fieldworkers from the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Austria.

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trainees Lebanon


We are on Facebook!

Once more, our project is going against the grain. While people are fleeing Facebook’s appropriation of their data in numbers, we are swimming upstream and decided to join. If you are still holding out, follow us to stay updated on our events.

Event: Lebanon – on the brink of War

We warmly recommend the upcoming VIDC event “Lebanon – on the brink of War”.


Time and location
Monday, 12 March 2018, 19:00 – 21:00
Central Library Vienna – Am Gürtel, Urban-Loritz-Platz 2a, 1070 Vienna



Ghida Anani
founder of the feminist NGO Abaad, Beirut


Nikolas Kosmatopoulos 
American University Beirut


Helmut Krieger
Department of Development Studies at the University of Vienna/VIDC

Welcome: Magda Seewald, VIDC

Languages: English and German with simultaneous interpretation




While the war in Syria has disappeared from the headlines in Western media, its effects in Lebanon are omnipresent. With more than 1.5 million refugees from Syria and a major social, political and economic crisis, Lebanon has long been part of the conflict and war zones in the Arab world. In the face of this flight, social and social struggles in the country are exacerbated. They form part of what a comprehensive crisis in Lebanon means.At the political level, Saudi Arabia’s pressure on Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the end of last year was so great that he had to resign. Although Hariri is now back in office, this episode illustrates how unstable the political system in the country still is. Linked to this is the direct military involvement of the Lebanese Hezbollah in the war in Syria as an ally of the regime and its political weight in Lebanon. This has led to increased speculation in Israeli media over the recent months of an upcoming war Israel’s against Lebanon.At the same time, in the course of recent years, a diverse social movement in Lebanon has impressively demonstrated that political, social and economic crisis developments are not simply accepted. In view of these developments, what can mean social and political engagement in Lebanon under today’s conditions? How can the different lines of conflict be interpreted from a feminist perspective? In what ways are future military escalations inevitable?


For more info visit here.


Radiobeitrag: Arabische Welt: Emanzipatorische Alternativen trotz Krise und Krieg? [GER]


„Krise, Revolte und Krieg in der arabischen Welt“ titelt ein neues Buch als Ergebnis langjähriger Auseinandersetzung mit der Region und den Ereignissen, welche bereits im Kolonialismus tief verwurzelt sind, aber ihren Ausgang im anhaltenden Israel-Palästina Konflikt haben. Es finden sich Beiträge von Wissenschaftler/innen und Aktivist/innen, die sich gemeinsam der Herausforderung stellen, sowohl eine differenzierte Analyse des sogenannten arabischen Frühlings und seiner politischen und gesellschaftlichen Folgen zu geben, als auch überregionale ökonomische und soziale Verflechtungen aufzuzeigen. Die Kritik an „westlichen Narrativen“ darf ebenso nicht fehlen. In dieser Radiosendung sprechen die irakische Schriftstellerin und Aktivistin Haifa Zangana über den Kampf der Frauen gegen Ungerechtigkeit und die Politologin Rabab El-Mahdi erklärt warum die ägyptische Revolution Teil einer globalen Transformation ist. “Rooting Development”-Projektkoordinator und Sozialwissenschaftler Helmut Krieger, Mitherausgeber des oben genannten Buches, analysiert eurozentrische, aber auch alternative Konzepte von Entwicklung in der Region.


Gestaltung und Moderation: Maiada Hadaia (Verantwortlich für den Sendungsinhalt)


Gäste: Rabab El-Mahdi, Politologin, Associate Prof. American University Cairo

Haifa Zangana, Schriftstellerin und Aktivistin

Dr. Helmut Krieger, Sozialwissenschaftler, wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut für Internationale Entwicklung, Universität Wien und Konsulent bei VIDC (Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation)


Sendetermin: Freitag 16.02.18, 20:00-21:00 Uhr


Live hören: ORF Ö1 Campus (im Player rechts)
Nachhören: Podcast


Welt im Ohr ist eine Sendereihe der OeAD-Abteilung für Bildung und Forschung für internationale Entwicklungszusammenarbeit.


Gerne möchten wir Sie zudem darauf aufmerksam machen, dass die letzte Radiosendung mit dem Titel „Partnerschaftlich und auf Augenhöhe!?“ im Rahmen der Medienkooperation mit ORF Ö1 Campus nun nachträglich auf der KEF-Webseite hörbar ist.


Lecture in Vienna: Embedded Development – Reconstruction programmes and the Multipolar War in Syria (in German)

Development Dialogue – Bethlehem

The Center for Development Studies, Birzeit University, held a Palestinian developmental debate and dialogue session in Bethlehem.

© Center For Development Studies

Ten representatives of grassroots organizations in Aldheshah, Azzah and Aidah camps attended the meeting. The discussion tried to provide a critical and alternative reading for the developmental experience in the refugee camps. Additionally, seven of the project’s MA trainees attended the session.

The discussion started with the following question: What does “development” mean in the refugee camps? How can we, as Palestinians, perceive “development” in the refugee camps that are located in Palestine?

The lively debate revolved around the following issues: some expressed their rejection of the concept of  “development” in the refugee camps entirely because of the fact that the term itself violates the sense of the “temporary situation” the refugee camps must reflect.

Ensuing questions were: is it reasonable to seek return after all of the construction? What is the kind of development that a refugee camp needs? These issues looked dangerous to the activists the participants have met. For them, it is complex; On the one hand, refugees are not “beggars”, on the other hand they are only asking for their essential rights since they lost everything during the Nakba.

The Palestinian government now constructs streets, builds health clinics and providing different services. In the camps, this is not the role of the government, rather it’s the role of the UNRWA, and all the means of development have to be only related to it.

Moving from tents to concrete houses has affected the lives of the refugees negatively; the refugees had refused the idea of development before since they are aiming to go back to their original villages and cities, and also because development must be connected to a political project. The youth believe that there is a political project in the refugee camps: a project that achieves the right to return.

© Center for Development Studies

From another perspective; the process of development in the refugee camps, for them, has to do with the way the government sees and deals with the camps. There is a tendency to render the camps into yet another slum in the world. So the mechanisms of developments are meant to improve the lives of the refugees in order to fight these slums. But, do refugees want the development of their exile, or to return?

As for the foreign aid policies and the donors’ agendas, the activists reflected that they are aware of all the parties that have agendas, and they are aware enough to shut down any donation with a political agenda that opposes theirs.

In an attempt to answer the evident question of ‘what to do?’, the activists believe that it is the organizations’ role to fight against the process of changing the consciousness of the refugees.

They concluded that the process of development in the refugee camps has to do with the right to return, otherwise it is not “development”.