Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Policy Program and the Center on Children and Families at Brookings released a study on multidimensional poverty and race in America. The study shows why it’s important to look at poverty through the dimensions of low household income, limited education, lack of health insurance, concentrated spatial poverty, and unemployment, and why we should consider ways to de-cluster and reduce the links between them.
As we do every weekend, my friends and I headed to the city of Ramallah in the West Bank one recent Sunday to have breakfast and enjoy the warm days of the Palestinian Spring at a local café. As we sat there discussing our lives, we couldn’t help but hear a conversation taking place at the table next to us, where five young Palestinians were complaining about the lack of jobs. The group of friends, it seemed, were all fresh university graduates who had been looking for work for months with no luck. What grabbed my attention most was that they were all blaming the Paris Protocol for their situation—saying “it has put the Palestinian economy back years from where it should be!”
For the last six weeks or so I have been more or less full time engaged in thinking about how we can generate employment opportunities for Syrians in countries that are hosting them, particularly those located in Syria’s near neighbors. I have reflected on my experience in working on private sector development in Syria nearly a decade ago. As someone who had worked in virtually every country in the Middle East I was amazed at the country’s industrial potential.
How can development practitioners promote economic development for parts of the Arab world affected by conflict and fragility? The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) has featured various solutions in a recent blog series on financial inclusion during crises. These blogs highlight the fact that although conflict, violence, and uncertainty make development difficult, solid financial infrastructure for small-scale lending can help people weather a crisis or, in other words, support their economic resilience.
Last week I attended a gathering of legal aid providers, a somewhat informal group mostly from rich countries but with a slowly growing number of developing country participants. Legal aid services—covering public information and awareness, group and individual counseling, and representation by a lawyer—are generally delivered free of charge to the poor and vulnerable, so they can better understand their rights and the procedures to enforce them, and improve their access to formal justice sector services (those provided by courts, other dispute resolution bodies, and lawyers).
The Middle East is plagued by so many issues—severe economic problems, civil wars, and the threat of radical armed groups—that it is easy to push climate change to the bottom of everyone’s agenda. But the magnitude of the challenges brought about by man-made global warming to the Middle East and North Africa region could reverse this.
How can we boost the impact of employment programs for low-skilled and vulnerable citizens? A recent project in Tunisia suggests that choice is a key ingredient in ways you may not expect.
Until now, the gap between rich and poor in the Middle East and North Africa has seemed—statistically at least—narrower than in many other regions of the world. Digging up data on wealth that has been squirreled abroad and hidden from the public eye, though, changes that.
It’s been four years since Yemen witnessed a popular revolt against corruption and injustice. But Yemen has not stabilized since. Back in September 2012, hopes were high that Yemen was on the path to political transition. Aid by the international donor community poured in. But today, Yemenis seem to have lost all hope in government or the impact donor aid could have to improve their prospects.
This blog was originally published on Future Development.
There are now some 9 million Syrian refugees and it is estimated that 5,000 additional refugees are created every day. Over 5 million Syrians reside in neighboring countries, principally Jordan (800,000), Lebanon (1.8 million) and Turkey (1.8 million). Europe and the West have been largely closed to these refugees with desperate boat journeys the stuff of daily news items. The crisis is not abating, and with 2 million refugees in Iraq the problem is expanding. What is clear is that many of these refugees are unlikely to be going home soon, if ever.