Syndicate content

Middle East and North Africa

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

The surprising benefits of autocratic elections
Washington Post
After a bitterly contested election campaign and several controversial postponements, Muhammadu Buhari engineered an upset of Nigeria’s incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday, the country’s first-ever case of electoral turnover. Legislative elections will follow on April 11, while two other African countries, Sudan and Togo, are also scheduled to hold elections over the next two weeks. Besides the coincidence in electoral timing, these countries share another surprising link—all three are generally recognized as autocracies. The marriage of autocracy with contested elections is, in fact, the norm nowadays. All but five autocracies have held a national election since 2000, with about three in four allowing multiparty competition. What makes these regimes autocratic is that the elections fail to meet democratic standards, typically with state power being used to favor the ruling party.
Cellphones for Women in Developing Nations Aid Ascent From Poverty
New York Times
Here is what life is like for a woman with no bank account in a developing country. She keeps her savings hidden — in pots, under mattresses, in fields. She constantly worries about thieves. She may even worry about her husband taking cash she has budgeted for their children’s needs. Sending money to a family member in another village is risky and can take days. Obtaining a loan in an emergency is often impossible. An unexpected expense can mean she has to pull a child out of school or sell a cow the family relies on for income. Or, worse, it can mean she must give birth at home without medical assistance because she doesn’t have the money for a ride to a clinic. In ways big and small, life without access to financial services is more difficult, expensive and dangerous. It constrains a woman’s ability to plan for her family’s future. At the community level, it traps households in cycles of poverty. More broadly, it limits the economic growth potential of developing countries.

Fighting corruption in Lebanon: No more taboos? No more untouchables?

Ferid Belhaj's picture

​Once an unmentionable endemic, corruption seems to have gained the honor of the limelight. It is now at the forefront of the public debate in Lebanon. Today, Lebanon’s political scene is watching in amazement as government ministers compete in a race to show how seriously each of them is taking the fight against corrupt practices. They are pushing ahead with an often controversial crackdown, publicly naming suspected felons.

The impact of Libyan middle-class refugees in Tunisia

Omer Karasapan's picture
Libyan Flag

The Arab world is in the midst of one of the largest human displacements in modern history, with 14-15 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs). This number includes over 10 million Syrians that are now refugees abroad or IDPs, nearly 2 million Iraqi IDPs, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees most of whom fled to Syria. There are 2 million Libyans abroad, mostly in Tunisia, and 400,000 IDPs within the country. The region is also prone to sudden population movements such as the hurried return of hundreds of thousands of Egyptians from Libya, first when fighting intensified over the summer and then following the barbaric beheading of 21 Egyptians. 

This blog originally appeared in Future Development.

We are all accountable: The health of Palestinians first and foremost

Samira A. Hillis's picture

Razan was a vibrant, happy girl living in the town of Rafah in the Gaza strip when she was diagnosed with a bone marrow illness not long ago, in November 2014. She needed a bone marrow transplant, a medical procedure available only in Israeli hospitals. Her referral, though urgent, was delayed for 20 days. First, she was directed to the wrong hospital for marrow transplants, and then she was denied financial coverage. The Israeli authorities failed to respond immediately to her parents’ application for an emergency permit to allow her into Israel through the (otherwise impenetrable) Erez crossing. 

Razan died on 25 November. She was just 11 years-old.

Women, work, and equity: social insurance reform in Jordan

Stefanie Brodmann's picture

Imagine you are a young woman in Jordan, deciding how to balance your work and family life, and thinking about the immediate present and longer-term future. You learn the government has introduced a law addressing a number of employment issues. A friend has told you about it, but you need to understand it better to decide how you and your family could benefit from it.

5 reasons why water is key to sustainable development

Tariq Khokhar's picture

March 22nd is World Water Day. We’ve already covered 7 things you may not know about water so here a 5 more facts showing the links between water and health, energy, the climate, agriculture and urbanization. But first:

This is every river and waterway in the contiguous United States


Image via Wired

Nelson Minar produced this incredible map using data from the USGS National Hydrography Dataset. It includes some waterways that are dry most of the year but still have defined creek beds, and like veins running through the human body it shows how fundamental water is to the country’s ecosystem.

By the numbers: Facts about water crisis in the Arab World

Ghanimah Al-Otaibi's picture

The Middle East and North Africa is home to 6% of the world’s population and less than 2% of the world’s renewable water supply. In fact, it is the world’s driest region with 12 of the world’s most water scarce countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Libya, Oman, the Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

The energy future, as seen from Denmark

Nicholas Keyes's picture
Photo by Blue Square Thing via FlickrDriving across the Danish countryside, they cannot be missed: towering white wind turbines as far as the eye can see, their slow-turning blades providing a 21st century counterpoint against the flat landscape of fields and farmhouses.
Denmark has committed to renewable energy further and faster than any country in Europe.  The Scandinavian nation generates a third of its annual electricity demand from wind, and solar capacity is growing as well. For countries that want to green their energy mix, there is no better place to get a glimpse of the future than Denmark. 
Its pioneering spirit has brought great benefits, and international acclaim, but like all first movers, Denmark is also learning as it goes. 
To tap into this learning, ESMAP—the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program—organized a study tour to, Denmark’s transmission system operator, as part of its work to help client countries integrate variable renewable energy into their electricity grids. Joining the study tour were 26 participants—representatives from regulators, system operators and utilities from 13 countries, including South Africa, Chile, China, Pakistan, Zambia, and Morocco.