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How healthy is the Arab Revolution? Add your slogan here!

Enis Baris's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
Since the revolutionary spirit seized the Arab World about a year ago, I could not help asking what, for me at least as a health professional, was the obvious question: how much did the voice of protest have to do with the deep dissatisfaction among vast segments of the population about the parlous state of their health systems? Scanning the blogs and tweets from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region didn’t help.  The outpourings there concerned mainly employment and education.

The demand for elections and the supply of politicians: The structural economics of democracy

Will Stebbins's picture
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World Bank | Arne Hoel | 2012Successful democracies need more than elections, according to Professor Roger Myerson of the University of Chicago. They need a steady supply of politicians with good reputations for responsible leadership. While this may seem an obvious conclusion, the question of how politicians develop track records is a critical one. It is especially critical for societies in transition, with no tradition of competitive elections. In his opening remarks to the MENA Chief Economist Forum on Economic and Political Transitions, Professor Myerson looked beyond processes such as elections to the very structure of democratic systems and how they determine outcomes. 

How to survive the revolution and thrive … in the long run

Mariana Felicio's picture
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World Bank | Arne Hoel | 2012For citizens of the Arab world – and probably most especially young citizens – the post-revolution era has seemed a bit of a cold shower; the obstacles daunting; the heady moments of people power faded; and the question for some perhaps whether there even was a revolution. In this context it’s empowering to hear the voices of recent history from elsewhere in the world and fascinating among them is Dewi Fortuna Anwar from the Vice President’s Office in Indonesia. She is steeped in her country’s history of independence, democracy, and dictatorship.

Arab voices loud and clear

Dale Lautenbach's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
It’s so uplifting to walk into a room that’s crackling with energy. I was a little late for the opening session in Rabat today for a workshop focused on Supporting Citizen-State Engagement in the Arab World. That’s ok, I thought, forgiving myself a little too easily, it’ll take a bit of time to warm up. How wrong I was: some 90 people in the room from seven different countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – Egyptian, Jordanian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Tunisian, Palestinian and Yemeni teams. The debate was whipping around with everyone pitching in about whether this workshop should be open and transparent.

Ask the experts! Upcoming MENA Forum on Economic and Political Transitions

Caroline Freund's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
The year 2011 will be remembered as the year of the Arab Spring. Revolutions brought new governments to Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, while a number of other governments in the region introduced important reforms.  The peoples’ demands are clear: democracy, dignity, better governance, and a more inclusive growth model.  Now is the time to deliver. Yet, the political, economic and social developments are shifting and it is not clear how the population’s heightened expectations can be met. 

Women in transition

Caroline Freund's picture
Also available in: Français
In a new study, Mélise Jaud and I examine how countries transit from autocracy to democracy.  We find that 86 countries have tried over the last 50 years, with 42 successful and quick, 13 successful but slow, and 31 failed.  We also look at the determinants of attempting transition, given you are in autocracy--as well as the determinants of sustained success, given that you try to transit.

Djibouti’s "Shining Mothers": Role models for behavior change, better health

Guest Blogger's picture
My Djiboutian counterparts told me the embarrassed woman was being criticized because her 5-year-old son still doesn’t speak.  Rather than follow the ancestral tradition of giving water to her newborn, she chose to exclusively breastfeed her last child until he was 6 months old. The group asserted that this choice had led to the child’s developmental problems. My immediate reaction to the scene was, “Peer pressure is a true obstacle to promoting optimal breastfeeding in Djibouti!”

Alert! Arab world women at bottom of global workforce participation

Tara Vishwanath's picture
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World Bank | Arne Hoel | 2011Worldwide, women remain at a disadvantage relative to men and the same is true in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. But, there is a stark paradox in gender equality: while, for the most part, MENA countries have made admirable progress in closing gender gaps in education and health outcomes, these investments in human development have not yet translated into commensurately higher rates of female participation in economic and political life. For example, female labor force participation rates at 25 percent are half the world average and the lowest among other regions.

Trucks, tankers, camels and salt all ply the Djibouti-Ethiopia trade corridor

Vincent Vesin's picture
Also available in: Français
We drove 140 miles across the Djibouti desert to the Ethiopian border to gain a better understanding of the flow of transported goods between the two countries. Djibouti depends on its deep sea port around which the Djibouti city built up over the centuries.  It is the closest and best equipped port for Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, which has no sea coast of its own.  Ethiopia has a population of around 90 million, exceeding that of any one country in Europe, while Djibouti has less than one million, fewer than Fairfax County, Virginia. Almost all of Djiboutians live in the port city.  

In Change Square

Wael Zakout's picture
Also available in: Français

I visited Change Square in the center of Yemen’s capital Sana’a a few days back to meet with Tawakkol  Karman, Nobel Peace Laureate. We met in her tent, a simple space but full of ideas, energy, love of Yemen and a strong desire for change.The visit reminded me of the camp we used in Bir Zeit University in the West Bank where I studied in the eighties. I was a young student then, like Tawakkol, full of energy, hope and desire for change and for a free Palestine and a democratic state where Muslims, Jews, and Christians can live together with equal rights and as good neighbors.

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