Statistical agencies in the Middle East and North Africa have now started to open up access to their raw datasets (micro-data). In a break with their old ways, they have begun either to post them on their websites or to share them on a bilateral basis. To support this wind of change, a group of donors active in the statistical domain and avant-garde partner countries joined forces for the first time to launch the Data Improvement and Quality in Access initiative (DIQA – which reads as “precision” in Arabic).
During her recent visit to Cairo, the World Bank's Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Region Inger Andersen reiterated the Bank's support for an inclusive economy in Egypt that enables all citizens to take part in shaping their future.
Half of today’s world population is under 25 years old. The growing share of young men and women globally has not yet reached its peak and will continue to increase over the next two decades. Eradicating poverty will not be possible if the needs of this young cohort are not treated with careful attention. In the coming 10 years, 47 million jobs will be needed - nearly 400,000 jobs per month - in order to absorb the young generation into the workforce. The challenge is too great to be treated with a business-as-usual approach, and no individual stakeholder alone is capable of offering a comprehensive solution.
Egyptian policymakers are facing a significant challenge: how to address acute economic challenges while managing ongoing political and social transitions. Output in major sectors of the economy (construction, trade, and tourism) remain weak while foreign direct investment (FDI), once a core tenant of Egyptian growth, reached nearly zero in the second quarter of this year. The Egyptian unemployment rate, which traditionally hovered around 9.5 percent in the years preceding the revolution, has increased to 13.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013.
“Kefaya!” (“Enough!” in Arabic), was one of the main slogans in 2011 as people took to the streets and called for social justice. Although change has taken various forms across the region, the quest for social justice remains prevalent throughout.
One of the key ways to promote social justice is through better public services. As surveys suggest, social justice for citizens largely means equal access to quality public services such as healthcare and education.
Regional Vice President Inger Andersen reaffirms the Bank’s commitment to the success of Yemen’s historic reconciliation process.
Egyptian writer and commentator Bassem Sabry talks to Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Director for Djibouti, Egypt and Yemen about the economic challenges facing Cairo.
Sabry: What do you think are the questions that are missing from the discussion on Egypt right now?
Schafer: I think the question is, what is the priority right now for Egypt? If we go back two and a half years, the revolution was basically the result of growing exclusion and inequality. And that is still, in my view, the top priority.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is no stranger to severe weather, floods, and earthquakes. The number of natural disasters around the world has almost doubled since the 1980s, in MENA it has almost tripled. Over the past decade, governments in the region have developed a better understanding of the risks posed by natural disasters and the measures needed to prepare for them. In support of their efforts, the World Bank has prepared a report, Natural Disasters in the Middle East and North Africa: A Regional Overview,which aims to highlight the natural hazards facing the region and the progress made in tackling these challenges.
There is an Arabic proverb that says it is better to prevent than to cure.
This is exactly the premise of disaster risk management.
Why is it important for people and governments in the Arab world?
As Franck Bousquet, Sector Manager of Urban, Social and Disaster Risk Management explains: While the number of disasters worldwide has doubled, in the Middle East and North Africa region it has tripled.
It started with the first cries of “degage” that resonated across southern and central Tunisia to the streets of the capital in the winter of 2010. Through the ups and downs of Tunisia’s transition, one constant has been the citizens’ demand that the government listen to their voices and for greater accountability. Public opinion polls, banned under the former dictatorship but common today, rarely touch on bread and butter issues, such as how citizens feel about the most basic public services. One such issue is access to and the quality of health care, where systematic feedback from citizens has long been lacking.