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Conflict and development: the World Bank Group’s new strategy for the Middle East and North Africa region

Omer Karasapan's picture
Damascus,Syria - Volodymyr Borodin l Shutterstock.com

In February 2012, I wrote a blog about the relevance to the Arab revolutions that had swept the region of  the UN’s then recently unveiled “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future worth Choosing,” which called for the eventual adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Now three and a half years later, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, , world leaders endorsed the SDGs, an ambitious agenda that aims to end poverty, promote prosperity and protect the environment. 

Think regional, act local: a new approach for Maghreb countries

Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly's picture
 Pichugin Dmitry l Shutterstock.com

Every organization, no matter how large, needs to pause occasionally and take a good, hard look at itself. It is vital for measuring the gap between intention and achievement, and charting a new course. For the World Bank Group (WBG), this “hard look” took the form of a gathering for three days in Marrakech, Morocco where we listened to voices from the ground, debated and reached consensus on an action plan for a renewed path for the Maghreb Team.

Does legal aid reduce poverty?

Paul Prettitore's picture
 Emad Abd El Hady l World Bank

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). 

Why Fatima had to lose her house

Wael Zakout's picture
 Sarah Al Bayya l World Bank

I’ve just returned from a mission to Palestine. During the visit, I met Fatima. She was happily married until last summer, when suddenly she lost everything. 

What is a university degree worth in the Arab world?

Christine Petré's picture
 Ramzi Maalouf

Graduation—a long-awaited day in most students' lives. Yet, according to Amir Fakih, himself a recent graduate from Lebanon’s Notre Dame University, a graduation ceremony also comes with grievances. To illustrate his perception of the future for Lebanon’s young university graduates, he decided to dress himself in his graduation gown doing low-income jobs. 

Early childhood education is not a luxury

Kamel Braham's picture
 Arne Hoel l World Bank

Observers of the educational landscape in the Maghreb countries are often left with the impression that early childhood education is more a luxury than a necessity. While child-care centers, kindergartens, and other preschool institutions are thriving in the big cities, backed by a private sector that is filling the void left by the public education system, the public preschool system continues to be neglected. In order to understand the importance of early childhood education, the status of universal education in the region needs to be examined a little more closely.

Do global rankings tell the whole truth about universities in the Arab world?

Simon Thacker's picture
Zurijeta l Shutterstock.com

Choosing a college or university is one of life’s pivotal decisions—it can influence your career and future opportunities. For students in the Middle East and North Africa, as elsewhere, that decision depends on many factors, large and small. But in today’s world that choice is increasingly influenced by rankings, that is, how an institution lines up against other universities when it’s rated. 

Part of the #Youthbiz movement? Share your story!

Valerie Lorena's picture

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A boat trip from Port Elizabeth to Kingstown, in the Caribbean country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, is a one-hour trip that locals take several times a day. It was during one of these journeys that the boat of Kamara Jerome, a young Vincentian fisherman, ran out of gas six miles from Bequia City in what is termed locally as the "Bequia Channel." While waiting for help with strong wind gusts and the sun on his head, the idea of developing a boat that would run with wind and solar energy was born. Soon after, the idea became a prototype; a boat using green technology was on the water making 20-year-old Jerome a winner of international innovation competitions and a role model to other Caribbean youth. 
 
In Mexico, young engineer Daniel Gomez runs a multimillion bio-diesel company originally conceived as a research project for his high school chemistry class. Gomez and his partners - Guillermo Colunga, Antonio Lopez, and Mauricio Pareja - founded SOLBEN (Solutions in bio-energy in Spanish) in their early twenties. 
 
Although Daniel and Kamara have different educational backgrounds, they do share one important skill, the ability to identify a problem, develop an innovative solution, and take it to the market. In other words, being an entrepreneur, an alternative to be economically active, that seems to work and not only for a few.

Arab world needs a new deal on energy to end the black outs

Charles Cormier's picture
Skyline of Dubai with high voltage power supply lines - Philip Lange l Shutterstock.com

When I started working in the Middle East and North Africa region two years ago, the surprising thing I discovered is that although the region is known as an energy powerhouse – it produces 30% of the world's oil, has 41% of the known gas reserves, and hydrocarbons are its most important export - the countries in the region barely meet domestic demand for electricity, partly due to a chronic shortage of gas.

Tunisian youth counter radicalization with innovation

Christine Petré's picture
Outside a school in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia - Christine Petre

In the capital Tunis, after the attack in Sousse, a group of young entrepreneurs got together to go beyond governmental policies and find innovative solutions to combat terrorism and radicalization. They launched the “Entrepreneurship against terrorism” event. About 50 young people gathered for the one-day brainstorming event. They were divided into groups, with each one given training in leadership, business development and alternative ways to combat radicalization.

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