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Sustainable Communities

Local elections in Tunisia: an opportunity to give interior regions a fair chance?

Antonius Verheijen's picture
Also available in: Français


Watching party activists pass out election leaflets in Bizerte on Labor Day gave me the first tangible feel that local elections were coming, in an otherwise quite understated campaign. While some may feel disappointed about the relatively low-key process, and even more so with voter turnout, sometimes ‘understated’ is also a good thing: the sense that local elections in Tunisia, the first one since 2011, can be a ‘normal’ political occurrence in a context where democracy is evolving.
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My journey to Aden

Faiza Hesham's picture
Also available in: العربية
Aden, Yemen - By Ahmad Omar Lajam

In October 2017, I departed on vacation from Amman to Yemen. When I arrived in Aden, my hometown, Aden received me with its sunny and hot weather that melted the icy coating around my intense longing to see the city again and the pain of being away from my family and beloved country for over two and a half years.

Millennials Welcome! Young women are revolutionizing the startup scene despite conflicts in MENA

Tobias Lechtenfeld's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français


Our team at the MENA Youth Platform recently had a conversation about women-and youth-led entrepreneurship in the MENA region, and for which emerging trends to look for. One thing is very clear: the next revolution could look very different.

Bait Sonya: How local solutions lead the way to empower Palestinian Women

Samantha Constant's picture
Also available in: العربية


A few weeks ago, I hiked along a historic path through Arab ar-Rashayida -- a Bedouin village nestled in the central desert foothills of the West Bank – up to a steep cliff overlooking the Dead Sea (and beyond that the Jordan Valley).

After drinking sugary hot tea and taking in the nostalgic view, my tour guide Nidal and I were picked up by our hosts from the Khaima Abu Ismail to head back through the desert (by car) only to be greeted by truck loads of middle school-aged girls and boys.

From marginalization to inclusion: The story of the waste pickers in the West Bank

Amal Faltas's picture

About a decade ago, we started a project to improve solid waste management for waste pickers like Ibrahim and the 840,000 people in the southern West Bank governorates of Bethlehem and Hebron. One of the project components included the closure of the Yatta dumpsite, where illegally dumped and burned household waste was reaching a very unsanitary and hazardous level. 

But here came the challenge. 

While the closure of the dumpsite would mean putting an end to a serious environmental and public health problem, it was terrible news for the waste pickers and their families. It meant that the livelihoods of those families would come to an end. 

Youth volunteers in Yemen provide hope during conflict

Khalid Moheyddeen's picture
Also available in: العربية


Even before the protractive conflict, implementing development projects in some of the most remote and disadvantaged districts in a number of Yemeni governorates faced significant challenges. To address these challenges, and overcome some of the problems related to access to these remote areas, Yemen’s Social Fund for Development (SFD) devised a program in 2004 to attract youth interested in volunteering to promote development. In its first phase, this program — known as “Rural Advocates Working for Development (RAWFD)” — targeted a number of male and female students from these remote areas and provided them with a development-related program while they are attending universities in major cities. After graduation, these young graduates made a big difference in facilitating SFD operations and activities of other national and international organizations in their home areas. 

Walking in the Footsteps of History – Towards the Social Fund for Development in Iraq

Ghassan Alkhoja's picture
Also available in: العربية


It had rained a couple of days ago. Our footsteps almost float on soil that feels soft, almost spongy. We see footprints of wolves that roam the lands at night. The sun is low in the sky, and a slight breeze wafts all around us. There is serenity in the air, as if history itself is imprinted in the consciousness of this land. This is Uruk, some 300 kilometers south of Baghdad, and some 7,000 years from the start of civilization. 

Last year in May, I authored a blog about the Iraq Social Fund for Development (SFD) project. I wrote about Iraq’s glorious history, its abundant natural resources, its profound cultural heritage, and its vast human capital. I wrote about the cradle of civilization and the great rivers, embodied by the city of Uruk, one of the earliest urban centers in civilization, which many believe lent its name to modern day “Iraq”. I also wrote of the deep challenges that are facing the people of Iraq. Successive years of conflict, violence and displacement have significantly eroded or destroyed much of what the people of this land have built. Today, I write about the promise of history, the optimism of the present, and the potential for a more promising future. 

Three ways Tunisia can strengthen economic and social inclusion

Carine Clert's picture
Also available in: Français


Despite a difficult context of political transition and acute economic crisis, post-2011 Tunisia boldly laid the foundations for social dialogue. It allowed the government and key social actors to achieve a consensus on the country’s strategic direction. The 2013 Social Contract addressed the crucial challenge of social inclusion, with the need to target subsidies more effectively to make room in the budget for social investments. This included improving the targeting and coverage of the social safety net program – the Program for Needy Families-PNAFEN. In addition, for the first time, the government’s 2016-20 Five-Year Plan makes inclusion a strategic priority and lays out a vision for building a minimum social protection floor for all.

Making Sand into Gold

Wael Zakout's picture
Also available in: العربية
Haider Y. Abdulla | Shutterstock.com - Property Landscape in Dubai

Those of you who have visited Dubai in recent years may relate to what I am going to say: Dubai is in the middle of the desert, and its land, not that long ago, was really worth nothing. Now it is one of the most vibrant international cities in the world. All this happened in a relatively short time span.

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