From Morocco to Oman, apart from the obvious official language and religion, there is history. In effect, it is the movement of people from the outer edges of the MENA that was always throughout millennia a common carrier upon which carriages would transport migrants away from danger and bad life. So, what is the link if any between the countries of the MENA region?
Recent examples of mass movements of Syrians into Jordan, Turkey, and the European Union would be the most edifying sample. More recently, Yemen despite its status as a poorer country compared to other Gulf ones went nevertheless through conflict with its neighbours and its populations had to flee away to its immediate adjacent countries. Before that, there was the Libyan case where a large desert country with a small population did produce as it were some migrants mostly to Europe for the well offs and the neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt for the masses.
After more than half a century of migratory movements between the two shores of the Mediterranean, the North African migration system was definitively “formatted” as it still stands today: organically linked to France first, and then to Western Europe.
The Levant conflict and civil wars, and finally the crises and successive wars here and there since the 80s, have consequently forced the exodus of millions. North African countries have in turn been affected, directly or indirectly, by these Middle Eastern crises.
But geopolitical issues are also not the only differentiator of these countries and apart from armed conflicts and/or civil unrest, oil and conflict are felt like the main drivers of migration to and from or within the MENA.
Climate change and its subsequent life deregulations are affecting its inhabitants. Would this, despite all the goodwill of all the COPs and SDGs, affect the numbers and the flows?
Would all countries be subject to this culturally well-established custom since the Exodus from Egypt, to run away to search for better climes?
The MENA region is somehow more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than elsewhere and it should take this opportunity to focus on its socio-political among many other things institutional arrangements. An IFRC’s Press release on how the Ukraine conflict tends to intensify existing humanitarian crises in the MENA region. This article follows on how Cascading Climate Effects in the MENA are impacting all and it should be best through an inclusive model of governance for its obvious argumentations towards some democratic development in the said region.
Iranian Red Crescent Society teams install safe water points in the country in March 2022 to help communities cope during the ongoing severe drought. Photo: Iranian Red Crescent Society
16 June 2022, Beirut – The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continues to face multiple and complex crises from conflicts to climate change and displacement. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) today issued a rapid assessment report focusing on the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on the humanitarian situation in the MENA region.
The findings of the assessment confirmed that the conflict intensifies the impact of pre-existing crises and trends and increases the vulnerability of most countries.
Rania Ahmed, Deputy Regional Director of IFRC MENA said: “The global economic and security impact of the conflict in Ukraine could be the proverbial last straw that breaks the camel’s back, pushing already fragile countries in the MENA region over the tipping point.”
The assessment’s main findings show that food security and livelihoods are the two most affected sectors. Currently, there are 56 million people in need of food in the region. Data show that the number could increase by 25% over the next six months because of the global food price index increase that has hit a record high. Twelve countries from the MENA region have experienced a dramatic increase in the price of basic food items. In Lebanon, prices have increased by 75-100%. In Iran and Yemen prices went up by 50-75%. Currently, five million people are facing food insecurity in the region. An estimated 1.9 million could slide into hunger.
MENA countries source up to 85% of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia. The agriculture industry in the region has already been severely affected by a combination of disrupted supply chains, water scarcity, and increasing temperatures.
With donors’ attention turned towards the Ukraine crisis, there is a risk that the humanitarian funding for MENA countries might drop. Lack of access to donor funding will only amplify the existing humanitarian crisis in several MENA countries. For the millions of Palestinians, Lebanese, Yemenis, Syrians, and others who live in countries experiencing conflict, catastrophic economic meltdowns, and increasing humanitarian needs, this would be equivalent to shutting down critical life support.
Finally, energy and oil-importing countries are experiencing additional social stress as they witness a 25-75% increase of fuel prices. In Syria and Yemen, fuel shortages and a lack of electricity is already severely impacting the delivery of basic services. The compounded crisis trends in Lebanon, including the sharp increase in energy prices resulting from the Ukraine crisis, have the potential to push the country over the tipping point to become a “critical crisis”.
Methodology: This rapid assessment aims to contribute to the ongoing analysis and scenario development to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to evolving crisis trends in the MENA region, with specific considerations on how the Ukraine conflict is a risk multiplier to existing crisis trends. The assessment was carried out between 25 April and 3 June 2022 using secondary data and a perception survey of 24 representatives of National Societies and IFRC Heads of Delegation.
Assessing the policy frame in pastoral areas of West Asia and North Africa (WANA)
The rangelands of West Asia and North Africa (WANA) region – which includes the Maghreb and Mashreq, Turkey and other countries of the Arabian Peninsula – are conducive to different patterns of pastoral resource management, due to the prevailing arid and mountainous conditions.
Camels in Tunisia. Photo: Linda Pappagallo
Environmental change in the region is quite intense, resulting from population growth, shifts in land use and climate dynamics, and is one of the main drivers of socio-economic and political transformation in the region.
In most WANA countries livestock rearing is a primary source of livelihood for a large segment of the population, and the governance of rangeland management and livestock trade are high priority issues for the national and regional political economy. Despite a fragmented and conflicting political setup that affects regional economic integration and the establishment of a common institutional framework, development trajectories regarding agriculture and food security have converged over time.
Throughout the region, there have been repeated attempts to convert herding communities into stable and controllable producers through their incorporation into state and market mechanisms. Patterns of herd management and livestock mobility have been profoundly reconfigured, and while the movement of animals is increasingly restricted as feed and water are brought to them, the mobility of rural dwellers has intensified, through intense migration flows that are contributing to major transformations in local societies.
Goats and sheep being trucked to Saudi Arabia for sale. Photo: Mathilde Gingembre
Over time, development approaches, institutional arrangements and market dynamics have proven inconsistent in addressing the long-term needs of rural producers and ecosystems. Particularly in the arid and remote pastoral regions, local livelihoods have significantly deteriorated in recent decades, and are now increasingly shaped by processes that take place outside the realm of livestock production and very often beyond regional boundaries. The reconfiguration of land, livestock and labour regimes has generated tensions and risks that have weakened the capacity of pastoralist communities to deal with evolving uncertainties.
The recent history of WANA drylands is one of strained economic development, stressed community networks and degraded ecosystems; the broader implications of the political and economic marginalisation of drylands have significant impacts for the entire WANA region and society.
apofeed with “What Lies Beneath the Slow Economic Growth in the MENA?” attempts to elaborate on the current situation that is prevailing in certain MENA countries.
What Lies Beneath the Slow Economic Growth in the Middle East and North Africa?
A dynamic private sector is key for the economies of the region to grow out of their currently high debt levels; Unlocking sustainable growth in the region’s private sector requires reforms that facilitate innovation, the adoption of digital technologies and investments in human capital; Reforms to support these objectives must take account of sustainability and the global agenda to limit climate change
The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank have published a joint report, Unlocking Sustainable Private Sector Growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) (https://bit.ly/3H73CdA). The report analyses constraints on productivity growth and limited accumulation of factors or production in the MENA private sector.
The report is based on the MENA Enterprise Survey conducted between late 2018 and 2020 on over 5 800 formal businesses across Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, the West Bank and Gaza. Historically, economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa has been weak since the global financial crisis of 2007-2009 and the Arab Spring of the early 2010s. Since then, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has grown by only 0.3% a year in the MENA region. That compares unfavourably with rates of 1.7% on average in middle-income countries and 2.4% in the developing economies of Europe and Central Asia.
Achieving higher and sustainable growth is particularly important in view of other economic challenges facing the region. Public debt has increased considerably over the last decade, accompanied by declining investment. More recently, the coronavirus pandemic has battered the region, further straining public finances. In addition, the Russian invasion of Ukraine affects the MENA economies through higher hydrocarbon prices, risks to food security and declining tourism.
Against this background, it is important that policymakers exploit the potential of the private sector to propel the region towards greater prosperity.
“The spillovers from the war in Ukraine add to structural vulnerabilities in the region. The prospects for global financial tightening, persistently high energy and food prices and concerns for food security come on top of concerns related to weak economic growth and rising debt levels,” said EIB Chief Economist Debora Revoltella (https://bit.ly/2UYJi4s). “When responding to the new shock, MENA countries need to tackle the main structural bottlenecks affecting the region. Reforms that lower regulatory barriers, tackle informal business practices, promote competition, and facilitate innovation and digitalisation are crucial for achieving sustainable economic growth and improving resilience to future shocks.”
The business environment in the MENA region as reported in the survey has been held back by various factors. Political connection and informality are undermining fair competition, bringing economic benefits to a limited number of companies. Management practices lag behind benchmark countries, with a decline in average scores in all MENA countries since 2013.
Customs and trade regulations appear to be more severe barriers for firms in the MENA region than in other countries. Firms need more time to clear customs to import or export than in other countries. The MENA economies depend on high levels of imports compared to low export activities.
Although firms trading in the international market are more willing to develop and innovate processes, only 20% invest in innovation, which can affect the long-term economic prospects for the region.
The region needs to make better use of its human capital. Predominantly, only a few foreign-owned companies invest in training their human capital, and they tend to be digitally connected exporting firms. Additionally, a significant share of companies are not engaging in financial activities with other economic players, opting to self-finance voluntarily.
Incentives for companies to decarbonise are weak, and MENA firms are less likely than their counterparts in Europe and Central Asia to adopt measures that reduce their environmental footprint.
Unlocking sustainable growth in the region’s private sector, the report calls for MENA economies to lower regulatory barriers for businesses, promote competition and reduce disincentives emerging from political influence and informal business practices.
The region is also in need of reforms to facilitate innovation, the adoption of digital technologies and investments in human capital, while being in line with the global agenda to limit climate change, enhance sustainability and protect the natural environment.
Improving management practices can be instrumental to that. “Good management practices can account for as much as 30% of differences in efficiency across countries,” said Roberta Gatti, Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank. “Management practices are lacklustre in firms in the region, particularly in those with some state ownership. Improving these practices can have substantial benefits, is not costly, but is not easy. It will require — among others — a change in mindsets.”
Companies should also be given incentives to exploit the benefits of participating in cross-border trade and global value chains more broadly, accompanied by better management practices.
At the same time, the state has a duty to ensure that this transition process is just, through measures that help workers to take advantage of opportunities to obtain new, higher-quality jobs linked to the green economy, while also protecting those at risk of losing their jobs. Such measures include labour market policies, skills training, social safety nets and action to support regional economic development.
EBRD Chief Economist Beata Javorcik said: “Climate change creates an opportunity the MENA region to build up its green credentials and use them as a source of competitive advantage. This will create the much-needed high-quality jobs linked to the green economy.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of European Investment Bank (EIB).
Climate change affects all countries, especially those with high agricultural production and equally those with lower production. The ingenuity of the producers of the first countries could not oppose any remedy to this phenomenon. Without wanting to be disillusioned because of this, everyone knows that only a global movement of all the world’s populations could turn this upside down or the other way around.
So, the question would be how to proceed to ensure that the people of the world act the same and at the same time, for a fairly long period. For many specialists, this period would be forever.
The United Nations has already been working on this with its sustainable development agenda with a program based on 17 clearly defined goals.
These goals would be to transform our world from sustainable development through the action of all countries – poor, rich, and middle-income – to protect the planet while promoting prosperity.
They recognize that ending poverty must go hand in hand with strategies that develop economic growth and address a range of social needs, including education, health, social protection, and employment opportunities while addressing climate change and environmental protection.
The problem is that the planet does not expect its inhabitants to start from a common agreement to push in the same direction.
More virulent phenomena such as desertification, and scarcity of groundwater that mainly due to reductions in precipitation in all climatic areas of the globe. Paradoxically, there is the fact that seawater levels tend to rise above their normal level as known in recent centuries.
Apart from what is said above, there is a much greater impact. This is kept away from direct attention.
It is the one that affects those important agricultural producing countries that with this global warming would tend to lose their level of production at the expense of those other countries whose lands froze for centuries and who would see them suddenly turn into arable land. Conversely, countries whose subsistence production enabled these to go through millennia might be likely to face up to survival of the fittest span of time.
Are we being on the verge of yet another phenomenon consequent from climate change? It would be that of a new swing in the hierarchy of food producers of the world? The question that has not been asked so far still deserves attention. That of each and every one.
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