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A new successful approach to portfolio performance in the Maghreb that could work everywhere

Afef Haddad's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية

When it comes to improving portfolio performance, the Maghreb Country Management Unit (CMU) has found a solution that worked well: Partnering with the Government counterparts to form a strong Implementation Support Team (IST)

In early March 2019, the World Bank hosted eight Government representatives from various ministries and institutions (including the Central Bank) from Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. These representatives form what the Maghreb CMU has called "the ISTs". They had a busy week of training on World Bank operations from Strategy to results on the ground and the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) evaluations. They even participated in the Quarterly MNA-Global Practices portfolio review to see first-hand how the region and the Global Practices partner together for better portfolio performance and were determined to replicate the approach with their sector ministries. These ISTs played a major role in improving the Maghreb portfolio performance and boosting its disbursement ratios and therefore are playing a major role in expediting results on the ground to the beneficiaries.

Youth volunteering for social impact: evidence from Lebanon

Rene Leon Solano's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
Photo Credit: Patrick Fadous, NVSP Communications Officer

Jean, a Christian Catholic, Graziella, a Christian Orthodox, Ali, a Muslim Shiite, Roukaya, a Muslim Sunni, and Ashraf, a Druze, met for the first time when they signed up to work together on a community project. The project was one of the 22 community projects financed in the first phase of Lebanon’s National Volunteer Service Program (NVSP) in 2015, and which benefited almost 1,300 Lebanese youth throughout the country. 

The projects, which were implemented by local NGOs, included health awareness campaigns, care for the elderly and the disabled, cleaning and rehabilitation of public gardens, soccer fields, and trails, organization of inclusive art and sports activities, and organization of awareness campaigns of solid waste management practices, to name a few.

The Middle East and North Africa cannot miss the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Ferid Belhaj's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية

The traditional route of industrialization for developing countries may no longer be available for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This should not be a source of regret, as the aspirations of the region’s young and well-educated population extend far beyond auto assembly lines. Furthermore, the repetitive work of an assembly line will increasingly be performed by machines rather than people. The rapid pace of technological change that is propelling this process, dubbed the "Fourth Industrial Revolution," offers new opportunities for developing countries. Opportunities the MENA region cannot afford to miss. 

Invest in women to boost growth in MENA

Lili Mottaghi's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français

Only one in five working-age women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has a job or is actively looking for one. Currently, women make up only 21% of the labor force and only contribute 18% to MENA’s overall GDP. Had the gender gap in labor force participation been narrowed over the past decade, the GDP growth rate in MENA could have doubled or increased by about US$1 trillion in cumulative output. Instead, the current gender gap in the traditional labor market has extended to the rest of the economy, including the technology sector, impacting women’s access to, and use of, digital services. Women are 9% less likely to own a mobile phone and 21% less likely than men to use mobile internet. 

Tunisia: Solid Social Safety Net Programs for Stronger Human Capital

Antonius Verheijen's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français
 School in Douar Hicher – Tunis, Tunisia.


As one of the forerunners of the World Bank’s new Human Capital Project, Tunisia was one of the six countries that presented their vision for human capital development at the World Bank Annual Meetings  held October 10 – 11 in Bali, Indonesia.

Forcibly Displaced: How MENA Can Reverse its Human Capital Depreciation

Lili Mottaghi's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français


The countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) endure a paradox. They have a highly educated labor force but a large pool of unemployed youth. Whether this contradiction results from uncoordinated economic and educational policies, skill mismatch, low productivity of labor, or anemic demand due to lack of a robust private sector, the ensuing lengthy unemployment and skill depreciation have resulted in disproportionate human capital erosion across the MENA region. MENA countries’ rankings in improving their human capital formation have fallen, acc ording to the human capital index (produced by the World Economic Forum) and in 2017, were among the lowest in the world, close to South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Millennials Welcome! Young women are revolutionizing the startup scene despite conflicts in MENA

Tobias Lechtenfeld's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français


Our team at the MENA Youth Platform recently had a conversation about women-and youth-led entrepreneurship in the MENA region, and for which emerging trends to look for. One thing is very clear: the next revolution could look very different.

My life as an entrepreneur in Egypt

Mostafa Amin's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français

Egypt is a market of more than 100 million people and full of opportunities for the trained entrepreneurial eye. Like many developing nations, Egypt seems to have a struggling job market, but many see this as a blessing in disguise. In a country where millions are looking for jobs, there are also millions who give up on the search and create their own opportunities. This might seem far-fetched, but the reality is that poor people in developing nations are extremely entrepreneurial – probably even more so than in developed countries. Professor Ha-Joon Chang captured this fact in his book, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism

One of the best decisions in my life was to reject a job offer from a big corporation and embark on an entrepreneurial start-up journey. Indeed, the journey has been tough and there were, and still are, bumpy roads, but the rising entrepreneurial spirit across the country has been extremely uplifting. I have been in the Egyptian entrepreneurial ecosystem for the past few years and I consider myself well connected and quite informed about everything that has been happening. But I can say with confidence that what the country has been seeing in the past few years is very promising and inspires us to do more. 

From marginalization to inclusion: The story of the waste pickers in the West Bank

Amal Faltas's picture

About a decade ago, we started a project to improve solid waste management for waste pickers like Ibrahim and the 840,000 people in the southern West Bank governorates of Bethlehem and Hebron. One of the project components included the closure of the Yatta dumpsite, where illegally dumped and burned household waste was reaching a very unsanitary and hazardous level. 

But here came the challenge. 

While the closure of the dumpsite would mean putting an end to a serious environmental and public health problem, it was terrible news for the waste pickers and their families. It meant that the livelihoods of those families would come to an end. 

Youth volunteers in Yemen provide hope during conflict

Khalid Moheyddeen's picture
Also available in: العربية


Even before the protractive conflict, implementing development projects in some of the most remote and disadvantaged districts in a number of Yemeni governorates faced significant challenges. To address these challenges, and overcome some of the problems related to access to these remote areas, Yemen’s Social Fund for Development (SFD) devised a program in 2004 to attract youth interested in volunteering to promote development. In its first phase, this program — known as “Rural Advocates Working for Development (RAWFD)” — targeted a number of male and female students from these remote areas and provided them with a development-related program while they are attending universities in major cities. After graduation, these young graduates made a big difference in facilitating SFD operations and activities of other national and international organizations in their home areas. 

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