Published on Arab Voices

The virtual tribe: community of practitioners explores employment & safety nets in MENA

        “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
                                                 ~ Benjamin Franklin ~

Tune in for the live streaming of a virtual knowledge sharing forum on the topic of jobs on January 16  and January 17  at 8:30 AM EST (3:30 PM Istanbul time). This is a unique opportunity for anyone interested in this issue to connect with experts and top-level practitioners with just a few clicks. Participate in the debate, ask questions and share your views! 

Javier Santos Travel and learning have always gone hand in hand. With the option of virtual travel, learning and information sharing have never been easier. We are presented with endless opportunities to discuss, interact and share experiences. Hopefully, this will help us come up with creative ideas for global solutions. The World Bank’s Community of Practice hopes to do just that. Born out of a desire of various countries faced with similar challenges to share best practices, the community facilitates South-South learning between practitioners.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is now launching its own community of practice through a virtual knowledge sharing forum. The main purpose will be to facilitate a discussion on how best to improve employment opportunities for youth in the region and manage risks faced by various households. 

In MENA, one of the greatest development challenges is unemployment with the world’s highest youth unemployment rates at 26.5% in the Middle East and 27.9% in North Africa (2011 KILM dataset produced by the ILO). Rising unemployment has also been cited as one of the leading causes of the Arab Spring with thousands demanding economic and social inclusion. Job creation is no longer just an option; it is an urgent priority for most countries in the region. It was this urgency that inspired us to form the MENA community of practice.

The MENA community works in close coordination with many partners at the World Bank including the Human Development Network and the Jobs Knowledge Platform. The effort is financed by the Multi Donor Trust Fund. This community will facilitate interaction between seven countries initially: Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, and Yemen. Practitioners will share their operational experience, knowledge, and best practices on issues related to active labor market programs and social safety nets. The focus will be to try to find operational solutions and programs to cope with high unemployment and recent income shocks. In fact, there are already ongoing initiatives in the region that may prove valuable to other countries such as an effective conditional cash transfer program in the Palestinian Territories and Gaza and a system that supports budding entrepreneurs in Tunisia.

On January 16 and 17, a workshop will be held in Istanbul to kick-off this virtual tribe of practitioners.This is just the beginning of a series of activities the World Bank will facilitate throughout the year including: monthly virtual meetings, study tours, two workshops disseminating results, and a policy note on a topic selected by participants. Directors of social assistance and employment in the 7 respective countries will define the role of member countries and the World Bank. They will also decide on the topics to be discussed during the year, and most importantly, define tools that will be employed to help the knowledge exchange. This will ensure the participating countries’ ownership of the initiative and the community’s responsiveness to local needs. Let the discussion begin. Join us!



Amina Semlali

Human Development Specialist

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