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Middle East and North Africa

Which comes first: good governance or economic growth? (Spoiler: it’s neither)

Yuen Yuen Ang's picture
Graphic: Nicholas Nam/World Bank

The idea that economic growth needs good governance and good governance needs economic growth takes us to a perennial chicken-and-egg debate: Which comes first in development—good governance OR economic growth? For decades, positions have been sharply divided between those who advocate “fix governance first” and others who say “stimulate growth first.”

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.

Breaking the cycle of poor public service performance

Hana Brixi's picture
Photo: Dana Similie / World Bank


The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a rising middle-income region, and its citizens rightly expect quality public services. Yet too often they experience disappointment: students attending local schools are insufficiently prepared for the 21st century economy, and those needing health care too often find public clinics with no doctors or medicines.

Few in positions of authority are held accountable for such shortcomings. This situation both undermines the potential for improvement and heightens people’s unhappiness with the delivery system.

Six Charts on How Corruption Impacts Firms Worldwide

Ravi Kumar's picture

At times, I ask my friends in Nepal, why they would not launch a business, especially when they have funds. A common obstacle for everyone is that they say you have to bribe government officials to even open a business.
 
Turns out, this isn’t unique to Nepal. According to Drivers of Corruption, a report recently published by the World Bank, developing countries are generally more affected by corruption than other countries.

Here are six charts that show firms’ experiences with corruption around the world. These charts are based on surveys of more than 13,000 firms in 135 countries, by World Bank Enterprise Surveys.

Check out these charts and tell us if you are surprised. 

Financing Needs Cannot Be Met Without Private Sector's Help

Nazaneen Ismail Ali's picture
 
Photo: Dana Smillie / World Bank


To maintain current growth rates and meet demands for infrastructure, developing countries will require an additional investment of at least an estimated US$1 trillion a year through 2020. In the Mashreq countries, the required infrastructure investment for electricity alone is estimated at US$ 130 billion by 2020, and an additional US$108 billion by 2030.
 
These gigantic financing needs will continue to place a huge burden on government budgets. Simply put, they cannot be addressed without private sector participation. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can help to close this growing funding deficit and to meet the immense demands for new or improved infrastructure and service delivery in sectors like water, transport, and energy (among others). In countries with diverse and numerous needs,PPPs can fill gaps in implementation capacity as well as the scarcity of public funds.

Three Reasons Procurement is Essential for Development

Philipp Krause's picture

Public procurement is not among the most popular topics in development circles. However, consider just these three ways in which procurement is probably one of the most indispensable elements that make up a truly capable state:

First, without effective procurement, hospitals wait for drugs, teachers for textbooks, and cities for roads. Whenever a news item surfaces about drugs shortages in hospitals, schools without textbooks or failing road networks, the reader may be looking at a procurement problem. Without efficient procurement, money gets wasted on a very large scale. Many developing countries channel significant proportions of their budgets through the procurement system – even marginal savings can add up very fast. Third, public procurement is a part of the government that citizens see every day. Lack of transparency and corruption in procurement directly affects citizens, and the losses to corruption are estimated in the billions of dollars every year. Corruption in procurement is a big problem that affects rich countries as well.   
  

A Matter of Trust: Governance and Service Delivery in the Time of Ebola

Hana Brixi's picture
WHO team are preparing to remove dead bodies of people who died from Ebola.
"WHO logistician Jose and team are preparing to remove dead bodies of people who died from Ebola." Source: WHO

Why do people  sick with the Ebola virus in West Africa avoid public hospitals?  Or, why do children not learn basic skills in schools despite significant public investment in education? 

In response to such situations, development specialists typically call for sector-wide reforms. And the design of such reforms draws on sector policy analysis and on the assessment of service delivery arrangements and capacity. Increasingly, since the 2004 World Development Report, sector reforms also seek to make teachers, health professionals and other service providers accountable to citizens and communities.

Is Technology Sufficient for Fiscal Transparency & Openness? Lessons from East Asia and North Africa

Tina George Karippacheril's picture

A Warli Tribal Painting by Jivya Soma MasheWe are curating a monthly series on Digital Gov. in developing countries. The series seeks fresh perspectives and insights into the policy, institutional and technical dimensions of technology and public management, in understanding how public services are modernized, organized and delivered to citizens and, in supporting openness and public accountability. In the fourth post of the series, we reflect on Fiscal Transparency and Openness in light of the upcoming Asia-Pacific Regional Open Government Partnership Conference, focusing on developments in major middle income countries in East Asia and North Africa.

The Arab Spring: A ‘Limited Access Orders’ perspective

Steven Webb's picture

The Arab Spring has aroused great expectations, with the slogans for “freedom now” and some factions’ liberal dreams of Western-style democracy. But beneath this enthusiasm is an uneasy sense that getting from here to there is not so straightforward. The new limited access order (LAO) framework can help us understand better the implications of the Arab Spring and the realistic options going forward.

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