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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Water loss, and its operational and financial consequences, is a major concern for urban water utilities in the Mediterranean region. Losses, both physical and commercial, are due to leakages and the ... Show More +failure to bill customers for the full amount of water they use. A combination of these two factors puts the financial viability of water utilities at risk.In countries already coping with water scarcity, the burden of water loss often leads to rationing and intermittent supply. As climate change exacerbates the problem—threatening the supply of renewable water and increasing the cost of new water resources—reducing losses from leaky pipes and under-billing, is becoming a priority for water utilities in the Mediterranean and throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.Malta, situated at the very center of the Mediterranean, provides a remarkable illustration of how major water resources challenges can be successfully overcome. The island has one of the lowest rates of renewable water supplies in the MENA region, at 100 m3 per capita per year. It also stands in the top ten countries with the highest population density, alongside Gaza, Bahrain, Hong Kong and Singapore.Several decades ago, Malta became one of the first countries in the region to invest in desalination plants but, in the 1990s, as new plants were being built to meet increasing demand, it became clear that demand for water was fast outstripping its supply.The Water Services Corporation (WSC), Malta’s national water utility, turned its attention to water loss instead, initiating an aggressive program that achieved significant results. In addition to state-of-the-art concepts and technology for monitoring and reducing leakages, the WSC also put in place a program to optimize energy consumption at its desalination plants, reducing average energy consumption from 6-7 to 4.5 kWh/m3. Show Less -
WASHINGTON, August 7, 2014: Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen and Libya are trapped in a “poor policy – poor growth” cycle, which prevents their economies from moving to a sustainable growt... Show More +h path, says the World Bank in the newly released Quarterly Economic Brief for the Middle East & North Africa region.The report, titled “Predictions, Perceptions and Economic Reality - Challenges of Seven Middle East and North Africa Countries Described in 14 Charts,” finds that the situation has gotten worse after the 2011 uprisings. Despite recent signs of economic improvement in Egypt and Tunisia, growth continues to be weak and cannot generate enough jobs. Fiscal deficits are still high and public debts are growing at a faster pace than before, leaving little space for growth-promoting investment. Private sector activity is sluggish, and the few jobs that are created in the public sector are filled through connections, leaving young people frustrated. Many workers move to the informal sector, creating a large, vulnerable group exposed to external shocks.“While the problem of high unemployment is especially pernicious in these countries, an even greater problem is that of those working in the informal sector, “says Shanta Devarajan, World Bank Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa region. “These people, who are not part of the unemployment statistics, are in an even worse situation, since they lack security in their earnings and often live near the poverty line.” These seven countries have the potential to move to a higher growth path but the sustainability of growth depends heavily on governments’ choice of economic policies. “There is a risk of policy error if, by trusting economic forecasts that paint a positive outlook for their economies, policymakers resist needed reforms,” says Lili Mottaghi, World Bank MENA Economist and the author of the brief. Studies have shown that there is an optimism bias in growth forecasts for developing regions and in particular for MENA, because these forecasts do not necessarily take into account new information that comes in at the last minute, nor the structural breaks that sometimes drive an economy.Prompt actions are needed to promote economic activities that deliver sustainable well-being for all citizens. These actions include structural reforms - targeting of subsidies, strengthening the investment climate, improving governance, and removing rigidities in product and labor markets – that are well integrated with economic policies. These reforms are necessary whether the short-term economic prospects are rosy or gloomy. Without them, the private sector will struggle to become a growth driver and create jobs. Show Less -
This issue of the MENA quarterly brief assesses the macroeconomic performance of seven ofthe MENA countries: Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen and Libya. All of these countries experienced ... Show More +rapid economic growth during 2000-10, and suffered a sharp economic slowdown in the aftermath of 2011. The brief focuses on the challenges facing these countries with a closer look at the actual growth performance in comparison with their forecasts and highlights the limitations of forecasting in the wake of the 2011 uprisings; and at the consequences of the growth slowdown, including unemployment, where perceptions may diverge from reality. The story is told in fourteen charts. Show Less -