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Middle East and North Africa

Obrigado, Brasil!

Clive Harris's picture
Paving a highway in Brazil. In 2014, Brazil's
 infrastructure investment commitments
​drove an overall global increase.
In March we released the update from the Private Participation in Infrastructure (PPI) Database for the first six months of 2014, covering investment activity in energy, transport, and water and sanitation. The good news of a rebound of investment commitment from a decline in 2013 was noteworthy, alongside the heavy concentration of activity in Brazil.
 
The PPI Database’s 2014 full year update for these sectors has just been released, and it confirms the trends we began tracking for the first six months. Total investment in infrastructure commitments for projects with private participation in the energy, transport, and water and sanitation sectors increased six percent to $107.5 billion in 2014 from levels in the previous year. The total for 2014 is 91 percent of the five-year average for the period 2009-13, which is the fourth-highest level of investment commitment recorded – exceeded only by levels seen from 2010 through 2012. 
 
This increase over 2013 was driven largely by activity in Brazil. Without Brazil, total investment commitments would have fallen by 18 percent, from $77.2 billion in 2013 to $63.4 billion in 2014.  Although this is lower than H1 2014 (57%), Brazil’s large stake is a continuation of a recent trend.
 
The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region saw $69 billion of investment commitments, or nearly 70 percent of the total for 2014. Three of the top five countries by investment commitments in 2014 were from LAC.  The top five, in order, were Brazil, Turkey, Peru, Colombia, and India. 

A green school in Egypt offers lessons on coping with climate change

Mohamed Ashraf Abdel Samad's picture
The Shagara project

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. 

Will the Middle East’s displaced ever return?

Omer Karasapan's picture


As fighting continues in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons stands at 15-16 million—a number that is unprecedented and growing. The displaced are mainly in seven countries (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, and Turkey), with significant numbers seeking refuge in Europe and smaller numbers going everywhere from Oman to Somalia. 

Trust, Voice, and Incentives: how to improve education and health services

Mario Marcel's picture

Girls sitting exams in the Middle East
Bill Lyons / World Bank

A new World Bank report addressing the widespread dissatisfaction of citizens with the delivery of essential public services and calling for accountability in public service delivery in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region was released a few weeks ago.

The statistics in Trust, Voice, and Incentives: Learning from Local Success Stories in Service Delivery in the Middle East and North Africa  are grim, as nearly three quarters of MENA students are scoring “low” or “below low” in international student performance tests and one third of the public health clinics in MENA countries lack essential medicines and staff.

The good news, however, is that the report also sheds light on local success stories in health and education where, against serious odds, a number of clinics and schools have managed to deliver quality servicesto citizens. The examples from Jordan, Morocco, and the Palestinian Territories highlight the power of collaboration and mutual trust between citizens and public servants to produce better results.

Have Arab youth lost faith in democracy?

Christine Petré's picture


In 2010, just before the Arab Spring, the ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey* identified a soaring social dissatisfaction among the region’s youth. Democracy was then the top priority. Ninety-two percent of those polled responded that “living in a democracy” was their greatest wish. The same poll conducted earlier this year shows a marked decline in aspirations for democracy.
 

Generosity has limits: Who’s helping Lebanon and Jordan accommodate Syrian refugees?

Ferid Belhaj's picture
Dona_Bozzi / Shutterstock.com

Lebanon and Jordan are providing a global public good to the international community by hosting an incredibly high number of Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict in their embattled country. More than two million are currently residing in Syria’s two resource-poor neighbors, which have been impressively generous in welcoming them in a seamless manner, unmatched in modern history. 

Will nationalization policies in Saudi Arabia impact migrants and remittance flows?

Kirsten Schuettler's picture

Saudi Arabia hosts the largest number of migrants in the Gulf region. The country is the second largest remittance sender after the USA. A new Saudization program since 2011, the so-called “Nitaqat program”, seeks to increase the number of Saudi nationals employed in the private sector. Will this have an impact on migrants and remittance outflows from Saudi Arabia? 

Too many children in the Middle East and North Africa left behind

Claudia Costin's picture


For a region that is considered middle-income, it is unacceptable that one in every 40 children in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) dies in the first year of life mostly from preventable causes. Neither does it makes sense that one fifth of its youngest population is stunted from malnutrition, and more than half are missing out on critical micronutrients such as iodine in salt, which impairs cognitive development. Moreover, with only 27 percent of children ages 3-5 enrolled in pre-school, almost half the world average, three quarters of children in the region are missing the opportunity to build the foundations for school readiness, and to acquire the skills they will need to lead a happy, autonomous, and healthy life.
 
What are the implications of these alarming trends?

Twelve reasons why the Arab world needs to pay more attention to early childhood development

Will Stebbins's picture
 Arne Hoel

Inequality begins early in life. In the Middle East and North Africa region it begins before birth, as prenatal care is not universal, and continues right through early childhood with different levels of access to vital nutrition, health services and early education. Missing out on any one of these key development factors can leave a child at a permanent disadvantage in school and adult life. There is also the risk that inequality entrenched early in life is passed on to the next generation, creating a cycle of poverty. A new World Bank report has calculated the different chances that a child from the region’s poorest 20% of households (least advantaged child) and  a child from the region’s richest 20% of households (most advantaged child) have for healthy development. 

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