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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World Bank Governance Practice Manager Yolanda Tayler explained, “Even though SMEs represent between 80 to 90% of formal sector enterprises in MENA, they are often not aware of the potential that the ... Show More +public market offers to them. In Iraq, for instance, over US$51 billion is spent through public procurement. Yet, the smaller enterprises are not benefiting from their fair share of that spending.”To address these issues, the World Bank is working with governments, training institutions, and the private sector in eight countries to reach out to SMEs and expose them to tools and methods that will help them to compete in the public market. In sum, over 70 trainings will have taken place by the end of June, 2015, under a landmark regional program funded by the MSME Facility of the Arab World Initiative.In KRG, the Kurdistan Contractors Union has collaborated with the Ministry of Planning to execute 10 workshops across four cities, targeting 250 SMEs.In Egypt, the General Authority for Government Services has partnered with a training institute to execute 18 workshops in 16 different cities, employing impressive reach and scope to share information and knowledge with new suppliers in all corners of the countries.In Lebanon, the Institute of Finance has put together an impressive program in partnership with a private business school. The launch of the program in March was covered by 10 local newspapers and 4 TV channels. Lebanon’s program will also feature an impact evaluation component, to track how successful the participating companies are in actually winning bids.In Djibouti, the Chamber of Commerce is coordinating with the National Commission on Government Procurement to deliver six workshops.In the Palestinian Territories, the High Council of Public Procurement Policies has elected to partner with Birzeit University to disseminate twelve sessions for local companies.By approaching the problem with a market focus, the hope is that new firms can become reliable government suppliers and provide a real boost to the national economies. To date, the program has trained over 700 small businesses across 21 cities in 7 countries. This is not just a chance for businesses like Shirzad’s to access new opportunities. It’s also an important way for the public sector to improve its image and relationship with the private sector, to promote better value for taxpayer money, and to contribute to job growth. Show Less -
New World Bank report provides first comprehensive analysis of the state of early childhood development in the Middle East and North Africa regionRabat, May 12th, 2015 – Generations of children in th... Show More +e Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will be at a permanent disadvantage according to a new World Bank report, without concerted action to improve access to key development factors during early childhood. With data gathered in twelve countries, Expanding Opportunities for the Next Generation, Early Childhood Development in the Middle East and North Africa reveals serious deficits in early childhood development and large inequalities that are holding the region back, and provides guidelines for policies to ensure all children can reach their full potential.A growing body of evidence points to early childhood as the most critical stage in human development. Pre-natal care, immunizations, proper nutrition and the cognitive, emotional and social development of children are the foundations for later success in school and adult life. The report identifies significant shortcomings throughout the region in each of these vital components. One in every 40 children dies in the first year of life mostly from preventable causes, one fifth are stunted from malnutrition which puts millions at risk of impaired learning and limited opportunities and only 48 percent have access to iodized salt that is essential for cognitive development. At only 27 percent, pre-primary enrollment is half the global average.“Inequality begins early in life and once entrenched is harder and more costly to reverse – with many of the outcomes irreversible,” said Safaa El-Kogali, World Bank MENA Practice Manager for Education and lead author of the report. “Our research shows that disadvantaged children are the least likely to receive development support, in both the region’s poorer and more developed countries, which will impact their opportunities throughout their life. The good news from global experience is that interventions, especially for disadvantaged children, can have immense impact and dramatically change the lives of millions of children and influence the development trajectories of countries.”The report was released today at a conference in Rabat hosted jointly by the World Bank and Morocco’s National Observatory for Human Development (ONDH). The event drew senior government delegations from across the region, along with representatives from development organizations, donors, civil society, and academia. A diverse range of speakers addressed the conference, including the Moroccan Minister of Education and President of ONDH, Rachid Benmokhtar and Claudia Costin, World Bank Senior Director for the Education Global Practice.The overall goal of the event was to review the report’s finding, share experiences and determine a way forward based on the available evidence and driven by clearly articulated targets. The report makes clear that a focus on economic growth alone will not be enough to address the many shortfalls. It requires targeted interventions to address the various dimensions of early childhood development. These include the expansion of pre- and post-natal care. Identifying children at risk for poor growth, monitoring their health, and supporting their nutrition to lower the chances of stunting and impaired brain development. Investments in micronutrients can have especially high returns, as every dollar invested in iodizing salt has been shown to deliver US$15 to US$520 in benefits. The provision of good quality pre-primary schools in poorer neighborhoods can also provide immediate and long-lasting results, by addressing the inequalities of opportunity in early childhood that set the stage for income inequality later in life. Show Less -
A child’s social and economic background has a significant impact on whether they have access to the variety of factors that contribute to healthy ECD. The report calculates that a child from the poor... Show More +est segment of society in Lebanon has a 51% chance of being fully immunized by their first birthday, while a child form the richest segment has a 79%. In Tunisia, a child from the poorest segment of society has a 4% chance of attending early education or childcare, while a child from the richest segment has a 97% chance. Since these inequalities in early childhood underlie many adult inequalities, programs that address these gaps during early childhood can be powerful tools for addressing inequality. “Children should have equal opportunities for healthy development during their early years, regardless of their circumstances,” said Safaa El-Kogali, World Bank MENA Practice Manager for Education and lead author of the report, “which is why a focus on early childhood development is so critical.” Public health interventions, such as iodizing salt, can be simple, effective and cheap. They have enormous impact, especially true for disadvantaged children. This is also true of scaling up immunizations and nutrition programs that monitor children and target any who appear at risk of malnutrition. Investments in early care and education also deliver significant returns. “The lives of millions of children can be rapidly improved when countries make ECD a priority, and it can end up influencing the development trajectory of countries,” added El-Kogali.Algeria is a case in point. As a nation, it stands out as having turned pre-primary enrollment around in under a decade by introducing a pre-primary curriculum in 2004. Before it, only 2% of Algerian children received pre-primary education. By 2011, 75% did, with most pre-schools (86%) provided by the government. Other initiatives include one in Jordan, where a Better Parenting project was introduced targeting disadvantaged families. This focused on teaching parents more about childhood development, the role of the family, positive discipline, and the importance of play. The project sought the help of imams to teach fathers, in particular, about better parenting after Friday prayers.Normally, ECD indicators change relatively slowly over time, but the ongoing crises and conflicts in MENA may change this. Childhood development programs may be confronted with new challenges, as well as new chances to improve. “Waiting will only make the challenges greater and more costly to reverse,” concluded El-Kogali, “the time to start is now.” Show Less -
The first chapter offers an overview of the evidence that the period from before birth to age five is the most important stage of human development. This period is especially crucial as deficits at th... Show More +is early stage tend to be irreversible and to perpetuate cycles of poverty and inequality. The many dimensions of healthy ECD, from proper healthcare and nutrition to early development activities, are identified along with the range of related indicators used to measure the state of ECD in the region.Chapter 2 offers a comparison with other regions of the world, for a better understanding of the state of ECD in MENA,. The twelve countries of the region are also compared, to establish benchmarks and identify country-specific deficits in ECD. The chapter includes an analysis of the factors that influence ECD, as there is significant inequality of access to key development activities even in the region’s more developed countries.Chapter 3 shows that economic growth alone will not address the many shortfalls in the region’s ECD. Targeted interventions are needed. The chapter provides a way forward with a number of approaches from around the world that have been implemented successfully and which would benefit children in MENA.Chapter 4 offers an overview of ECD in Algeria which has achieved good immunization rates but has high rates of stunting due to malnutrition, and where a child’s social and economic background influences the chances of healthy development.Chapter 5 offers an overview of ECD in Djibouti where prenatal and delivery care is now almost universal but child mortality rates are still high and less than one third of children are fully immunized by the age of one.Chapter 6 offers an overview of ECD in Egypt where stunting is a major and persistent problem and disadvantaged children are the least likely to benefit from early schooling, although immunization rates have reached 92%.Chapter 7 offers an overview of ECD in Iraq where only half of children are receiving regular prenatal care, less than two-thirds are fully immunized and access to key development activities is closely related to social and economic background.Chapter 8 offers an overview of ECD in Jordan which has achieved near universal coverage for prenatal and neonatal care, and while rates for stunting are low there is large variation in nutrition status, with a child from the poorest segment of society seven times as likely to be stunted as a child from the richest.Chapter 9 offers an overview of ECD in Lebanon which has also achieved near universal coverage for prenatal and neonatal care but where only half of all children are fully immunized by age one and poorer children are more likely to be stunted.Chapter 10 offers an overview of ECD in Libya before the current crisis, where 87% of all children were fully immunized but only half had access to iodized salt, essential for cognitive development, and more than one fifth were stunted.Chapter 11 offers an overview of ECD in Morocco where 90% of children are fully immunized but almost one third are stunted and deaths in the first month and year of life are above regional averages, with the poorest children facing greater risk of death.Chapter 12 offers an overview of ECD in Syria before the current crisis, where 96% of births were assisted by a skilled attendant but only 78% of one-year-olds were fully immunized and over one quarter of all children were stunted.Chapter 13 offers an overview of ECD in Tunisia which has achieved near universal prenatal and delivery care and early mortality has fallen below regional averages, but children in rural areas have one third the chance of urban children to attend early education and 22% of children aged 5 are engaged in child labor.Chapter 14 offers an overview of ECD in the West Bank and Gaza which has achieved near universal coverage for prenatal and delivery care but stunting remains a persistent problem and there are large differences in access to early care and education between advantaged and disadvantaged children. Chapter 15 offers an overview of ECD in Yemen before the current crisis where less than half of all births received prenatal care and children were more than twice as likely to die before their first birthday (7%) as they were to attend early childhood education (3%). Show Less -