There is currently no Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Iran. The last Interim Assistance Strategy which covered the period 2002-2003 was extended through 2005. No new World Bank loans to Iran have been approved since 2005 and all projects have closed.
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The millions of workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs who bear the cost of this are often unaware the impact these policies have on the opportunities to which they aspire. In Egypt, for example, aggre... Show More +gate employment growth declines by about 1.4 percentage points a year when connected firms enter new business sectors. Without grasping this, the internal debate critical for economic reform is curtailed.In economies in MENA, like economies everywhere else, it is the start-ups and the most productive firms that are the engines of job creation. The report provides plenty of evidence to support this: in Lebanon, about 177 per cent of net job creation from 2005 to 2010 was generated by micro start-ups; in Tunisia, small startups created 580,000 jobs from 1996 to 2010—92 percent of all net job creation. Although it has fewer start-ups overall, Jordan provides a striking example of what entrepreneurs can achieve against the odds. Unable to tap start-up capital, a Jordanian couple who returned home in 2002 after working for the Swedish communications firm, Ericsson, used their own contacts and money to set-up a software company. By 2008, it employed 100 engineers locally and exported 80 percent of its products.The region needs a larger pool of young firms and productive firms like this to unleash private sector job creation. However, existing rules tend to protect established insiders rather than encourage new ventures, creating few incentives to turn good ideas into new ventures. Only six limited liability companies are created per 10,000 working-age persons on average each year in the region, compared to 20 across 91 developing nations, and as many as 40 and 80 in Chile and Bulgaria.This means that despite the fact that more than 65 percent of the populations of most MENA countries are of working age, the energy of a growing workforce has largely gone to waste. Instead of filling skilled, high-productivity jobs (such as those in the software industry), relatively well-educated jobseekers have disappeared into low-productivity services in the retail trade, hotels and restaurants— often jobs with fewer benefits or opportunities for advancement. Women, who face cultural hurdles, have the lowest representation in the labor force anywhere in the world.Only by removing the type of privileges described in this report can the region move toward the level of job creation it needs. The report shows that promoting open markets and competition, and leveling the playing field, will provide an environment conducive to entrepreneurship and the emergence of dynamic firms. Reforms initiated transparently would make sure citizens are aware of what their governments are doing and can provide input into policymaking. Show Less -
The success of the program allowed the WSC to de commission two desalination plants and reduce the level of water extraction from the island’s aquifer to levels not seen since the 1960s. The leakage i... Show More +n the water distribution network “was around 4000m3/hr in 1995, yet [has] decreased to below 450m3/hr today”, according to Stephan Riolo, executive director of the network’s infrastructure in Malta.Malta clearly had lessons to share in reducing water losses and operating desalination plants. As part of their program of support for MENA countries, the World Bank therefore organized a conference on the small Mediterranean island that brought together 30 senior officials from major water utilities in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories and Yemen.All the countries that participated are facing similar problems and have keen interest in reducing losses and improving the management of their water supply. Most said that in their experience, however, reducing water losses had proved difficult and complex. Malta’s case was particularly valuable as it shows that countries can achieve successful water loss reduction, as long as it is part of a comprehensive, well-designed program.The WSC had applied a structured approach based on four pillars: (i) the acknowledgement of the many components of water loss and the interaction between them, (ii) the need to take into consideration, when setting targets, the economically acceptable level of non-revenue water (water supplied but not billed for), (iii) the need to move away from short-term interventions, and (iv) the recognition that water loss lies at the core of assets management.Participants agreed that replicating the WSC’s success in other MENA countries would require a similarly structured approach, based on long-term strategic planning. This would have to include the following phases: (i) a careful diagnosis of the water loss situation, identifying activities that would generate the largest savings, and setting realistic targets, (ii) a comprehensive program of intervention covering all relevant aspects of water loss (as opposed to “one shot” actions), and (iii) institutional reforms to establish the right framework for maintaining the utility’s economic performance.There was great interest from all participants to move forward with specific technical assistance, with the WSC transferring its knowledge through peer-to-peer exchanges and a twinning approach. It was agreed that twinning activities between the WSC, Tunisia’s SONEDE utility, and utilities in Gaza, would be supported, in part through a grant from the Center Mediterranean Integration.Other participants, such as Morocco’s ONEE, Northern Lebanon’s water establishment, and utilities from Sana’a and Aden, also expressed their interest in exchanges with the WSC. Based on this, a comprehensive twinning program between the WSC and MENA utilities will be finalized in the next few months, so as to start exchanges in the field before the end of 2014. Show Less -
ARADO is the training arm of the Arab League, and the Network of Experts is tapping into it to facilitate a regional training program that builds on existing resources in the various countries, addres... Show More +ses common challenges, and capitalizes on existing strengths.“When it comes to the effectiveness of public procurement,” said MENA Regional Procurement Manager, Yolanda Tayler, “it is striking how similar many of the challenges that MENA countries face are, and how little has been done in the past to take advantage of cross-border training programs.”Capacity building programs often have problems in common. These include a lack of sufficient funding, the lack of an assessment of existing skills and competencies—and gaps—and the frequent exodus of highly-qualified staff to other government positions or to private companies offering higher pay.Many countries have taken a highly fragmented approach to capacity building, and have not yet been able to build a body of knowledge within the country. Other shared challenges include the lack of qualified trainers and specialized training institutes, the quality and coverage of the training programs, and the limited knowledge or dissemination of modern procurement tools like e-procurement.The Network of Experts’ regional capacity building program seeks to address some of these shared challenges, following the model of the Sharjah event on SMEs. Trainers from nine MENA countries attended it—Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Djibouti, Egypt, Yemen, and the Palestinian Territories.A regional capacity building strategy for public procurement will be developed for training materials in Arabic and French for the ‘training of trainers’ programs, and for building partnerships with training institutions. Subsequent country-level training sessions will leverage each country’s existing institutions, infrastructure and expertise, while putting World Bank President Jim Yong Kim’s science of delivery methodology to good use to make sure that everyone knows how to implement the training programs. In the longer term, there could be a regional certification program for procurement professionals. Some countries have already made ground-breaking advances in terms of the coordination between their public procurement departments. Collaboration allows stakeholders to learn from the successes of others in the region. At the regional level, countries could coordinate to create economies of scale, taking advantage first of the resources and knowledge that already exist on the ground. Show Less -
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the most water scarce region in the world, and its water stress is likely to worsen. In 1950, per capita renewable water resources were four times greater th... Show More +an they are today. By 2050, there are indications indicate that natural water resources in MENA will drop even further, to 11 times less than the global average.Droughts hit the region with punishing regularity, bringing significant water shortages, economic losses, and adverse social consequences. Between 2008 and 2011, drought in Djibouti caused a yearly economic contraction of approximately 3.9 percent of GDP.Droughts are the third most prevalent hazard in MENA after earthquakes, but despite the alarming levels of water scarcity, the opposite, floods, also pose significant danger in MENA too.The 2008 floods in Yemen caused damages totaling US$1.6 billion, or six percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The 2009 floods in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, brought losses of US$1.4 billion. The 2004 floods in Djibouti led to 230 deaths, US$ 11.1 million in losses, and affected 100,000 people. Nine years later in 2013, slightly less flooding in Djibouti resulted in fewer victims, though 13 people still died, and there was a far shorter disruption of citizens’ livelihoods.What was the difference?The difference was the emphasis the country placed in learning how to manage the risks caused by water scarcity and floods, and investing in protective infrastructure. Intense, unusual rains do not have to mean disastrous flooding. Neither does a drought have to become a source of malnourishment.The percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) exposed to floods, the most recurrent natural hazard in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, has tripled from 1970–79 to 2000–2009. The 2011 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction finds that although global flood mortality risk has been on the decrease since 2000, in MENA and some other regions, it is still increasing.Coping with droughts and floodsThough MENA countries face serious water challenges, there have been regional improvements in managing these and other risks.Djibouti’s resilience to floods is one of the success stories. Since 2006, Djibouti has rehabilitated the dike protecting people from its most flood-prone wadi (dry river bed), updated its preparedness and emergency plans, and installed new hydro-meteorological stations in the different climatic areas of the country. It has also performed seismic and floods risk/vulnerability assessments, established a flood early warning system.Slow, creeping natural disasters like droughts are especially hard to cope with. Djibouti has carried out the world’s first Post Disaster Needs Assessment of its kind on its 2008-11 drought. There are also initiatives across the region to develop drought resistant agriculture.A new approach to natural disastersCountries in MENA have decided to change their approach to so-called natural disasters, understanding the benefits of being prepared for the weather or geological risks, rather than waiting for such events to strike and putting the pieces back together again.Efforts have also been made to design and enforce new disaster risk management (DRM) policies, plans, and legislation. Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and Yemen are a few of the countries that have designed policies and established DRM units within the government to strengthen coordination. Disaster risk assessments, early warning systems, risk management laboratories, and knowledge centers have been established.Despite this encouraging progress, more needs to be done at regional, national, and local levels. The World Bank has been financing post-disaster reconstruction and risk reduction initiatives in the region for the past three decades. It is partnering with governments and other international institutions to lay the foundations for DRM in MENA. The report Natural Disasters in MNA: A Regional Overview analyzes the risks the region faces, and the measures and tools countries have adopted to enhance their preparedness.Developed by the World Bank, in collaboration with MNA governments, the United Nations and regional institutions, this report also looks at the DRM experience from around the world, while also focusing on the specific risks the region faces. The report proposes a path to improve the resilience of MENA countries to the challenges around water, both in terms of its scarcity and sudden overabundance, as well as a range of other natural hazards. Show Less -