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Back to School 2017

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On the heels of the first World Development Report focused entirely on education, and its critical importance for stable and inclusive societies, we launch our annual ‘Back to School’ series that focuses on the state of education in the Middle East and North Africa region. We begin the series with a two-part interview with Safaa El Tayeb El-Kogali, World Bank Practice Manager in the Education Global Practice, on the challenges faced by the region’s education systems and the efforts to address them.

Cash it out? Why food-based programs exist, and how to improve them

Ugo Gentilini's picture
© Dominic Chavez/World Bank
© Dominic Chavez/World Bank

India’s state of Chhattisgarh faced a daunting challenge in the mid-2000s. About half of its public food distribution was leaked, meaning that it never reached the intended beneficiaries. By 2012, however, Chhattisgarh had nearly eliminated leakages, doubled the coverage of the scheme, and reduced exclusion errors to low single digits.
How did they do it? 

Taa Marbouta, the secret of the Egyptian Women

Nahla Zeitoun's picture

The year 2017 has been declared by the Egyptian President as the Year of the Egyptian Woman.

Following this declaration, the National Council of Women (NCW) launched an awareness-raising campaign entitled “Taa Marbouta” to promote women’s social, political and economic empowerment in Egypt.

Watering the Future: Seizing Water’s Potential to Support Development and Stability in the Middle East and North Africa

Torgny Holmgren's picture
Water in Gaza - Ahmad Dalloul, Palestinian Water Authority

History repeats, history rhymes and sometimes history regresses. Wandering through cities and fields in the Middle East and North Africa a thousand years ago, you would have been struck by the security of water supplies, the irrigation enabling highly productive farms and governance structure in place to allocate and value water in a sustainable way, supporting a flourishing civilization.

Citizen Report Cards for Better Citizen Engagement and Accountability: Sanitation Sector in Egypt

Amal Faltas's picture

Engaging with citizens to obtain their views on the quality of service and the responsiveness of governmental bodies is uncommon in Egypt.

The water and sanitation sector is no exception. Planning and implementation of sanitation projects in Egypt is typically dominated by technical design considerations — with little to no attention to ways in which the community might express its concerns. With an absence of accountability mechanisms to prod government agencies to make improvements, this conventional approach is associated with a weak sense of ownership by local communities and a poor record of delivery of quality infrastructure projects by the government.

But World Bank programs in Egypt are increasingly being designed to incorporate innovative social accountability tools that emphasize the right of citizens to expect quality public services and the responsibility of government to respond to the needs and expectations of citizens. A pioneering effort in this regard within the Bank’s Egypt portfolio is the Sustainable Rural Sanitation Services Program (SRSSP), which integrates a key social accountability tool in its design, namely the Citizen Report Card (CRC).

Solar Energy — putting power back into the hands of ordinary Gazans

Sara Badiei's picture

"We have electricity for two hours every 24 hours," says a high-ranking energy official in Gaza. 

Up to just 10 years ago, Gaza enjoyed full, round-the-clock electricity supply 24 hours a day. But by 2016, this was reduced to 12 hours per day due to severe power shortages — and the situation has declined rapidly since.

Why we should invest in getting more kids to read — and how to do it

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
Data shows that huge swaths of populations in developing countries are not learning to read. Scaling up early reading interventions will be a first step toward addressing these high illiteracy rates.
Data shows that huge swaths of populations in developing countries are not learning to read. Scaling up early reading interventions will be a first step toward addressing these high illiteracy rates. (Photo: Liang Qiang / World Bank)

It is estimated that more than 250 million school children throughout the world cannot read. This is unfortunate because literacy has enormous benefits – both for the individual and society. Higher literacy rates are associated with healthier populations, less crime, greater economic growth, and higher employment rates. For a person, literacy is a foundational skill required to acquire advanced skills. These, in turn, confer higher wages and more employment across labor markets .

Women driving the Middle East and North Africa forward, one business innovation at a time

Ayat Soliman's picture

Our continued belief in the enormous resourcefulness, resilience and sheer drive of young Arab women has yet again been reconfirmed. 

Profiles of the Diaspora: Selma Turki

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Born in Tunisia, Selma Turki left her native country for France when she was two. She returned to Tunisia for high school and to pass her Baccalaureate. She studied architecture for two years at the Paris Ecole des Beaux Arts before moving to Canada to pursue her studies in computer science. She also accomplished leadership and management education at Henley Business School (UK) and Berkeley (US).

Profiles of the Diaspora: Riad Hartani

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Riad Hartani was born and raised in Algiers. He graduated as an engineer from Ecole Polytechnique with highest honors and went on to obtain Engineering and Master degrees in France, both with highest distinctions. At the age of 25, he was awarded a Doctorate in Artificial Intelligence with highest honors and best thesis distinction, from the University of Paris. Subsequently he pursued his work as a post-Doctoral fellow in Machine Learning and Computational Intelligence at the University of California, Berkeley.