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Oct 01, 2014 / 0 Comments
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Case Studies from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia

By Jacques Van Der Meer*

 

For the Southern Mediterranean countries, the issue of the constitution of structural knowledge assets, in particular intellectual property will be critical to the deployment of a knowledge economy strategy. While the volume of patent filings of the region is low, this does not necessarily reflect the non-existence of potential, but rather the insufficiency of the capacity and infrastructure necessary to ensure the value of the upstream resources necessary (research conducted in the universities, public research centres outside universities, corporate research centres for small to medium size companies and major groups etc.).

 

The European Investment Bank, as a lead in the CMI’s “Innovation Capacities” programme, commissioned a study of the Intellectual Property assets in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to assess the potential of developing a successful IP system. Coordinated by Professor Ahmed Bounfour othe University Paris-Sud, this study, “The market of patents in the South-Mediterranean zone and its potential for development Egypt, Morocco, Tunisiaevaluates the context of innovation in three countries (Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia) and, based on a “gap-analysis” with Turkey, South Korea, and Malaysia, subsequently evaluates possible scenarios and policy options to develop the Intellectual Property Rights system and market. Some of the highlights of the study are as follows:

  • Intellectual Capital in the region can be major drivers of growth and value creation, as well as a way to promote “hard” intangibles, like Intellectual Property Rights, Utility Models, Copyrights and Trademarks.
  • Some 80% of patent applications are characterized by non-residents demand in the Southern Mediterranean, and most of the remaining twenty per cent of resident applications are single applicants. Hence, both stimulating residential applications and looking closely into Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was recommended.
  • Although MENA countries made progress in updating their patent system to international standards and adopting innovation policies, there is a clear stagnation in patent registration from resident applicants. Hence, the necessity to identify causes and ways to stimulate local demand for patents.
  • MENA countries have little focus on industrial research, and Intellectual Property Rights regimes are based on academic research, which is not absorbed by the local industry. Turkey’s governance model marrying industrial and academic research is a good model to look into for MENA countries.
  • The region has a potential in innovation that has yet to be triggered.

 

Read the Study “The market of patents in the South-Mediterranean zone and its potential for development Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia” in Arabic (attached below).

Dec 11, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Silvia Marchionne moderated the discussion on “How can Mobility and Cultural Exchanges Promote Entrepreneurship and Regional Integration?” in the context of the regional conference on Youth and Employability in MENA: Better Skills, More Jobs” in Cairo in July 2017. In this article, she restitutes the discussion’s main takeaways.

 

The Southern Mediterranean region is facing a changing landscape characterised by a deep economic crisis and high youth unemployment rates, lack of skills, important gaps between the skills and the labour market, low employability rates of graduates and a growing demand for high skilled profiles and a global competition for talent.

 

Many MENA countries, especially Arab Mediterranean countries, face important and overlapping challenges. Youth unemployment rates in MENA (21 percent in the Middle East and 25 percent in North Africa) are higher than in any other region in the world. Young women and new educated entrants in the labour market are disproportionately unemployed. Moreover, young entrants to the labour market are more educated than ever before, but are unable to capitalize on the time and resources invested in their education because of a lack of good quality jobs in the respective labour markets.

 

There are many factors that influence economic growth, ranging from governance and overall macroeconomic and political stability, to productivity, innovation, and the quality of skills that education systems can develop. Skills development is a cumulative and dynamic process that occurs throughout an individual’s life cycle. Skills are acquired through many avenues: the formal education system, informal and continuing education, and on-the-job training.

 

Taking into consideration this challenging environment, there is a need to establish closer links between higher education and employability, between youth mobility and research, between governance of higher education and employability to promote the establishment of more cross-sectoral partnerships.

Universities are relevant institutions in promoting economic growth and civil society participation, not only for their capacity to create and disseminate knowledge, but also as organizations that attract talented people, inject new ideas, enrich cultural life, and encompass the whole social fabric of which they are a part.

 

In this context, interconnection between the need to increase opportunity for encounter and dialogue on one hand, and on the other hand to structure that encounter around the value set and interest of citizens such as good practices in the domain of creative enterprise and managing cultural diversity is a crucial aspect as well as the importance of mobility as a transversal dynamic of cultural relation, in terms of ideas and cultural works as well as people-to-people cooperation. Those are the main key messages of this session, as mobility exchanges could surely help increasing the citizenship and entrepreneurial skills of youth and their employability opportunities. However, mobility and exchange should be promoted not only from South to the North but also from North to South and South-to-South countries. This should lead us to working to stop increasing barriers to cultural mobility in Europe and the Mediterranean interconnected with policy approaches on security and migration, especially working more on facilitating the visa delivery.

 

In conclusion, we should work to empower individuals and preparing long lasting solutions in a long-term perspective to integrate youth in the society, by filling the gap in the lack of awareness and information for mobility opportunities (by increasing info days, dissemination and relations between university staff and students/youth regarding mobility) and through facilitating platforms and opportunities for cross-network actions, involving diverse civil society networks.

 

 

 

Dec 05, 2017 / 0 Comments
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The 23rd edition of the COP-UNFCCC took place at the Bonn World Conference Center from 6-17 November 2017. The CMI-facilitated Mediterranean Youth for Water (MedYWat) Network was represented by its core group members Antoine Allam and Hassan Tolba at a joint UNESCO/UNECSO-IHP side event, organized in collaboration with the World Youth Parliament for Water.

 

MedYWat is a community of young professionals, researchers and civil society members working in the water sector from around the Mediterranean. It was launched earlier at the CMI World Water Day youth workshop “Youth Innovating with Wastewater for a Sustainable Mediterranean” (Marseille, 21-22 March 2017) and has been growing ever since.

 

The “The role of Youth in Bridging Water and Climate Change” side event took place on Friday 10th as part of the 2nd Water Action Day at the UNESCO Pavilion, in the presence of the Deputy Director of the Division of Water Sciences at UNESCO, Dr. Anil Mishra.

 

The session was introduced by Dr. Mishra, myself and the other two speakers, Anaïs Vives, board member of (Generations Climate and the Water and Climate Initiative) and Hassan Tolba (World Youth Parliament for Water).

 

The session began with my own presentation on “Mediterranean Youth for Regional Water Security” which consisted of a description of the Center for Mediterranean Integration, the MedYWat network and a case study of climate change impact on Mediterranean watersheds.

 

Several reports mentioned the escalating situation in the Mediterranean involving water resources such as the Plan Bleu 2012 report (PlanBleu, 2012),[1] IPCC 2014 report (IPCC, 2014)[2] and Llsat’s 2013 study (Llasat, et al., 2013). [3]They all confirmed that climate change is deeply affecting the hydrological regime of Mediterranean watersheds.

 

Once again, the findings of a simulation research study on the evolution of Lebanese snow cover done in 2007 and later verified by measures in 2017 at the “Centre Régional de l’Eau et de l’Environnement” (CREEN) of Saint Joseph University in Beirut (Hreiche & Najem, 2007), [4]confirmed the impact of climate change on Lebanese water resources.

 

Researchers noticed that spring discharges between 2005 and 2015 were becoming more regulated, with a lower peak flow in spring season and higher flows in winter, compared to the period between 1965 and 1975 with 2°C lower temperatures. Another finding by researchers was the early snowmelt occurring 1 month earlier than before. Such impacts might affect the water management plans and have major consequences on irrigation, water supply and other water management applications.

 

Therefore, to anticipate major consequences on water management in Lebanon, we are working right now at CREEN on developing a low flow prediction model to support water authorities in management tasks.

As a Mediterranean youth, myself, I call on other young people to take part in the fight against climate change by: 

 

  • Volunteering in local and regional youth committees and networks promoting more sustainable development by raising awareness in several Lebanese universities, scouting activities and others
  • Working in the water sciences research field with several research projects involving water resources and climate change
  • Acquiring new personal healthy habits such as reducing waste production

 

At COP23, several UNESCO sessions stressed the importance of youth involvement in research studies on climate change, since access to data has become easier and several organizations such as G-Wadi, (http://www.gwadi.org/, a UNESCO MENA platform) built online platforms for data collection and sharing. These research opportunities push youth and research communities in exploring the relations between climate change and natural resources.

 

This session was unique, it gave an opportunity to youth to contribute to the 2nd Water Action Day by presenting their work and achievements.

Indeed, youth are gaining ground when it comes to conceiving and presenting innovative solutions.

 

Through my participation at COP23 Water Action Day, MedYWat network seized another opportunity to gain visibility as a blooming and active network on an international level. MedYWat needs to keep making progress with a clear working plan for addressing climate change.

 

[1] PlanBleu. (2012). les demandes en eau toujours satisfaites en Méditerranée à l'horizon 2050 ? Les Notes du Plan Bleu, #25. Sophia Antipolis: Plan Bleu PNUE/PAM.

 

[2] IPCC. (2014). GIEC, 2014: Changements climatiques 2014: Rapport de synthèse. Contribution des Groupes de travail I, II et III au cinquième Rapport d’évaluation. Genève, Suisse: GIEC.

 

[3] Llasat, M., Llasat-Botija, M., Petrucci, O., AA, P., J, R., F, V., & L, B. (2013). Towards a database on societal impact of Mediterranean floods within the framework of the HYMEX project. Natural Hazards Earth Systems Sciences. doi:10.5194/nhess-13-1337-2013

 

[4]Hreiche, A., & Najem, W. (2007). Hydrological impact simulations of climate change on Lebanese Coastal Rivers. Hydrological Sceinces Journal, 1119-1133.

Dec 05, 2017 / 0 Comments
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The main aim of COP23 is to move forward with the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement by forging a grand coalition to speed up climate actions before 2020.

 

This includes negotiations on the implementation framework for transparent climate action under the Paris Agreement, as well as showcasing different actions around the globe to reduce green house gas emissions across different sectors, including on vulnerability and resilience of water resources in the face of climate change.

 

A "Water Action Day" thematic day was dedicated to water security during COP23, at the UNESCO Pavilion. The CMI Mediterranean Water Heroes presented Mediterranean youth-led solutions in the region including "The role of Youth in Bridging Water and Climate Change" and "Water Security and Climate Action from a youth perspective".

 

Water Security and Climate Action in Mediterranean region. In the Mediterranean region, more than half of most countries’ populations are under 30.Today, young water professionals are highly educated and aware of the challenges facing water and the climate in the region, and have the potential to make a considerable contribution to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the region, particularly to SDG 6 which calls for clean water and sanitation.

 

Most Mediterranean countries, particularly in the Arab region, have been facing severe water insecurity including chronic water scarcity, lack of access to safe water and improved sanitation services, to hydrological extremes such as droughts and floods. Water insecurity is worsening due to population growth, unplanned urbanization, influx of refugees as well as climate change. These factors will all continue to exacerbate stress on socio-economic development and result in greater pressure on water resources and the environment.

 

Taking youth seriously is not an option but an urgent priority for many Mediterranean countries to achieve water security in fragile contexts. The Youth is the backbone of any society and the most dynamic & vibrant human resource that can take the society on the path of sustainability and inclusive growth. Engaging this vast untapped potential and dynamic energy will lead to a paradigm shift in the water sector. Actively engaging youth in conserving the water resources and promoting economic and social development will be essential to drive societies towards sustainable development.

 

Today’s water sector in the Mediterranean faces the fundamental challenge of trying to do more with less – not an easy endeavor due to intermittent water supply, ageing infrastructure, lack of information systems, weak institutions and strained human and financial resources. Moreover, water security is more complex in fragile contexts, which intensify water resources vulnerability and weaken the social contract between institutions and local communities as a destabilizing force and risk multiplier.

 

The status quo is not enough Water is pivotal to reach our SDGs and the Paris agreement, but for that, we need to have a paradigm shift from an infrastructure delivery approach to planning resilient services and nature-based solutions. We need to change how we collaborate, how we draft our policies and implement them in a more holistic way, and find new financing mechanisms for achieving the water SDG.

 

Youth led solutions for water Cutting-edge youth solutions in solving the multiple challenges of sustainable development have the potential to push the water sector to scaling up, in the face of economic, political and cultural obstacles. In terms of holistic solutions, the role of young water professionals can be summarized as follows:

 

  • Diversified collaboration:  It is important to build inclusive approaches and to ensure that no one is left behind, through creating platforms for intergenerational dialogue, communication and exchange to share knowledge, expertise, experiences and youth initiatives across the region to learn from one another. We want our voices to be heard and our opinion to be taken into consideration in the decision-making processes. A proactive, structured and continuous communication between young water professionals, different stakeholders and various communities will be key in building resilient societies and developed economies in the face of water challenges and climate change.

 

  • Raising awareness and Capacity-building: It is crucial to raise awareness around water challenges among young people and to inspire them to get involved in strengthening the resilience of communities to water-related hazards. They will need knowledge to understand the state of water resources and to stimulate behavioral change towards a new ‘water culture’.

 

  • Innovation and Collaborative leadership A sustainable water future for all depends on collaborative leadership. Leadership and innovative ideas can significantly contribute to resolving water challenges and providing holistic and innovative solutions to harness untapped resources such as non-revenue water, wastewater reuse and recovery with a new approach towards financing the water sector.
Dec 01, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Women collecting water in Al-Minsalah district, Haddjah province, Yemen. Photo: ECHO/T. Deherman

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has become a hotspot of unsustainable water use, with more than half of current water withdrawals in some countries exceeding the amount naturally available. This could have serious long-term consequences for the region’s growth and stability. Solutions for narrowing the gap between the supply of and demand for water are an urgent priority.

 

Continue reading this article on the World Bank blog 

Oct 06, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Une grande partie du réchauffement climatique est causée par les pays développés, mais le combattre appartient maintenant autant aux pays développés qu’aux pays en développement.  Cette iniquité fondamentale, de même que la façon d’en venir à bout, au cœur de la Convention-Cadre des Nations Unies sur les Changements Climatiques (CCNUCC). Il en va de même pour tous les accords sur les changements climatiques conséquents, comme bien sûr l’Accord de Paris signé en 2015 et l’Accord de Marrakech signé en 2016.

 

Dans ces différents accords, les pays développés consentent à accorder une aide financière considérable — et subventionnée — aux projets d’atténuation du changement climatique des pays en voie de développement qui décideraient de devenir pionniers et champions de la lutte contre le changement climatique, qu’il s’agisse de projets en lien avec les énergies renouvelables, au transport ou à tout autre secteur. C’est dans ce contexte qu’ont été lancés en 2008, les Fonds d’Investissements Climatiques (FIC), ainsi que leurs composantes spécialisées sur l’atténuation des changements climatiques comme le Fonds pour les Technologies Propres (FTP) et le Programme de valorisation à grande échelle des énergies renouvelables (SREP). Les FICs ont été les précurseurs du bien plus important Fond Vert pur le Climat, (FVC) lancé en 2015. À ce jour, le FVC a récolté plus de 10 milliards de dollars en contributions. Il permet de débloquer prêts et bourses hautement subventionnés pour des projets pour le secteur public comme pour le secteur privé. Le secteur privé et public se doivent tous deux d’être mieux informés sur la manière dont ces prêts fonctionnent et comment y accéder.

 

 

L’un des grands principes d’investissement derrière un tel financement est de garantir l’efficacité et la rentabilité de chaque dollar investi. C’est pourquoi les projets doivent être transformationnels. Il ne doit pas s’agir de maintenir le statu quo : le projet doit clairement démontrer  son efficacité et sa capacité à être reproduit  ailleurs. Un phénomène bien connu dans le monde du développement technologique est l’incapacité des technologies à franchir « la Vallée de la Mort ». En d’autres termes,  une situation où la demande pour une technologie émergeante est trop basse parce que  ses coûts sont trop élevés, et ses coûts sont trop élevés parce que la demande est trop basse. La demande, et donc la production, ne sont pas encore assez élevées pour créer une économie d’échelle des procédés de fabrication et de la chaine logistique de la technologie.

 

Les technologies en énergies renouvelables ont d’ailleurs déjà fait face à la Vallée de la Mort. Pour certaines d’entre elles, la demande a été suffisamment stimulée par les mesures d’incitation (ex. forts tarifs de rachat et aides à l’investissement). Deux bons exemples : l’énergie solaire photovoltaïque et l’énergie éolienne, qui furent de réelles technologies transformationnelles pour le secteur énergétique. L’ aide au financement et les autres mesures incitatives ont permis à l’industrie photovoltaïque et éolienne d’atteindre un niveau qui leur permet désormais de se passer des mesures incitatives. Elles ont depuis franchi la Vallée de la Mort et sont désormais bien au-delà.

 

Cependant,  une transformation révolutionnaire du secteur énergétique qui est encore loin d’être achevée est celle qui procurera un accès fiable et continu à l’énergie propre 24 heures sur 24 et 7jours  sur7, et ce tout au long de l’année. C’est ainsi que la production d’électricité à combustible fossile pourra enfin être remplacée. Bien qu’elles soient désormais des alternatives à bas prix lorsqu’elles sont disponibles, le photovoltaïque ne fonctionne que lorsque le soleil brille et l’éolien, seulement lorsqu’il vente suffisamment. Ces énergies se doivent d’être relayées par des technologies propres stockées et utilisées lorsque que le soleil et le vent font défaut.

 

 

L’une des options de stockage consiste à générer de la chaleur par le soleil, la conserver, et l’utiliser pour générer de l’électricité. C’est ce que fait très efficacement l’énergie solaire thermique — ou  l’énergie solaire concentrée (ESC). L’ESC peut procurer de l’électricité propre 24 heures par jour à l’année longue  grâce au stockage thermal par accumulation (p. ex. la conservation de la chaleur dans une solution saline). Le prix d’ESC baisse  à mesure que son utilisation se répandr, mais — avec seulement 5000 MW d’ESC en production dans le monde — cette technologie n’est pas encore sortie de la Vallée de la Mort. D’autres mesures incitatives sont encore nécessaires pour faire grimper la demande et atteindre une économie d’échelle suffisante à la construction de l’équipement.

 

 

S’il y a une région du monde où l’ESC est particulièrement efficace, c’est dans  la vaste ’étendue sèche, sans nuages et désertique de l’Afrique du Nord et Moyen-Orient (MENA). En effet, il s’agit d’une région où tout financement mondial pourrait rapidement faire grimper l’utilisation de la technologie ESC. C’est pourquoi le FTP s’est doté en 2009 d’un plan d’investissement ESC de 5,6 milliards de dollars à destination de la région MENA. Ce plan a donné naissance à la centrale Noor CSP 5000 MW au Maroc (un bon de 10 % de capacité mondiale de l’ESC).
Les fonds subsidiaires du FTP ont encouragé d’autres financements concessionnels et non-concessionnels émanant de sources privées et publiques qui ont permis un coût moyen pondéré du capital (CMPC) de 4 % sur ce genre de projets. Un CMPC aussi bas que 4 % aurait été impossible à réaliser autrement. En effet, l’augmentation de l’ESC dans la région ensoleillée du MENA aurait été bien plus lente sans l’aide du FTP. L’ESC serait autrement resté beaucoup plus longtemps du mauvais côté de la Vallée de la Mort.

 

 

Les prix les plus récents de l’ESC à Dubai, en Australie et au Chili, ainsi que l’augmentation de l’ESC en Chine, suggèrent que la réelle compétitivité de l’ESC n’est plus très loin, mais qu’il reste encore du chemin à parcourir. Heureusement, les possibilités de financement concessionnels pour l’atténuation du changement climatique dans la région MENA sont encore importantes. De nombreux fonds du FTP ou du SREP, et dans une plus large mesure au FVC, ont très peu servi en région MENA, et en aucun cas dans le cadre du stockage de l’énergie ou de l’ESC.

 

Le FVC est ce qu’il pourrait arriver de meilleur à l’ESC et au stockage de l’énergie dans la région MENA. Par exemple, la Jordanie, l’Égypte, la Tunisie, le Maroc, l’Algérie, la Libye et le Liban pourraient proposer des projets ESC au FVC et bénéficier d’un CMPC comparable à celui de la centrale de Noor. De nombreuses institutions agréées par le FVC et actives dans la région MENA pourraient soutenir de tels projets, par exemple l’AFD, le kfW, le FMO, le JICA, l’EBRD, l’AfDB, la World Bank ou le IFC.

Qui sera le premier à apporter des CMPC à faible coût du FVC dans la région afin d’augmenter la production d’ESC dans la région et ailleurs ? Les gouvernements, les services publics et le secteur privé n’ont peut-être qu’à demander…

 

 

Sep 26, 2017 / 0 Comments
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“It is possible!”. With these words and a lot of smiles, the first forum of the Syrian International Business Association (SIBA) ended. “SIBA” has made it possible to unite, promote and represent the voices of Syrian business men and women living abroad.

 

On July 12th and 13th 2017 and after several months of preparation, SIBA was formally established. About 80 participants representing different generations of Syrians living across 17 countries as well as several development partners were hosted in Marseille by the Center for Mediterranean Integration for the first forum of the Syrian International Business Association (SIBA)

 

With high hopes and enthusiasm, participants presented the projects they have built to create opportunities for their fellow Syrians—now refugees in the countries hosting them, by reinvesting in these countries and their businesses there. They have done so in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, as well as in the Gulf countries and Europe.

 

During this forum, the role of SIBA was defined; the association will be supporting the business community and will help Syrian refugees adapt to their host countries.  

 

Since the first meeting in Eschborn, back in February 2017, Syrian businessmen have been working intensively to bring SIBA to life. During the forum, concrete actions were taken.  The constitution of SIBA was unanimously voted, a board of seven directors was elected and Mr. Samer Shamsi Basha was named president.

 

“Every Syrian has his own problem. With SIBA, Syrians will support others Syrians”, stated Mr. Mumtaz Daboul, member of the steering committee.

 

SIBA, the next chapter!

 

As SIBA sets its foundation, participants expressed their optimism regarding the future of the association and what it can bring to the Syrian diaspora around the world. 

 

“I am optimistic about the future of SIBA. Its members have a common objective and share a feeling of responsibility towards the Syrian people. I fully trust that they will work for its success” said Mr. Fadi Haddad. Mr. Haddad delivered a clear message; “we want to establish a forum that can unify all Syrian businesspeople and be at the service of Syrian refugees living in host communities.”

 

Despite the pain and the heavy losses, Syrians still fight to achieve their dreams and offer help to their fellow countrymen and women. Mr. Haddad expressed his hope that “SIBA will become a shield for all Syrians”. “It will provide many services to refugees, such as finding funds, facilitating banking procedures, assist in obtaining diplomas equivalences, and providing professional training” he added.

 

Optimistic about SIBA’s future, Yara, a young entrepreneur was enthusiastic to be part of a project that could be “useful for her country”.

 

For Yara a lot of young people have ideas and projects to realize but don’t have the funds nor the capacity to do so. The role of the business community should be to support them and SIBA can become the place they can find this support.

 

Regardless of their political differences, Syrians living all over the world came together to talk about investing in the future of their country. This is what makes SIBA a unique experience for the Syrian diaspora. 

Sep 26, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Over the five years of the Syrian conflict, municipalities of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey hosting 89% of Syrian refugees have developed extraordinary resources and solutions to this humanitarian and developmental crisis. Today, some of them have surpassed their response towards strategizing on how to turn the burden into opportunities for local shared growth. Host municipalities across the region learnt from this experience about “Improving local economic opportunities for host communities and refugees”.

 

During the 2nd Annual CMI Peer- to Peer learning workshop of Mediterranean Host municipalities network (Beirut, May 9 -12, 2017) representatives from more than 40 municipalities from Jordan, Lebanon  and Turkey have gathered under the umbrella of the Center for Mediterranean Integrations’ Mediterranean Host Municipalities Learning Network, to discuss their best practices in hosting refugees. They emphasized on of their biggest challenges- creating economic opportunities for both communities.

 

One important solution lies in identifying opportunities to develop local growth and to attract investments from entrepreneurs and the private sector. Change is notable in the starting outreach and actions of host municipalities : Sarhan municipality in Jordan took an avant-gardist step by reaching out to closely 50 private companies, offering them incentives such as land facilitation and simplified procedures to attract the private sector. Central government also played a primordial role, particularly on the level of financial and administrative regulations.

 

Such policy and regulatory support has allowed three plants to get established in Sarhan, including Syrian-led businesses, and among which the pickle industry is generating 250 jobs for Jordanians and Syrians.

 

“There are 550 Syrian industrial facilities in Jordan employing 14,000 workers of which 4,000 are Syrians” tells us Mohammed Al-Shaer, a Syrian businessman managing Sigma Detergents in Amman. “Only through the easing of restrictions on industrial investment in general, and for Syrians in particular, can we leverage the labor markets, locally and nationally”.  

 

When relocating their businesses to host countries, Syrians are not only transferring capital, but also knowledge and experience. Municipalities’ increased awareness of Syrian entrepreneurs’ role in strengthening local economic development, social cohesion and livelihoods for both Syrian and host communities is yet another reality changing the response of municipalities to the crisis.  

In Turkey, the 51% of relocated businesses from Syria multiplied employment opportunities and widened market opportunities. The resources and know-how have even helped reviving dormant and forgotten industries, such as handmade shoe-making in the city of Gaziantep.

 

Senior advisor at the World Bank, John Speakman explains the importance of host countries seizing the abundance and closeness of Syrian human and financial capitals. “The closer your investors are, the better it is. Syrians live near you, and there lies infinite potential of investment”, he said.

Changing the vision and action of local authorities towards Syrians’ participation in the labor market, is therefore key. According to Rami Sharrack, deputy executive director of the Syrian Economic Forum in Gaziantep, Turkey, the first step is “establishing working groups in each municipality in charge of local economic development, involving the Syrian private sector as an active member”.

 

Moreover, gender is emerging more clearly as the new face of the municipal responses to the crisis as Syrian and local women are becoming the breadwinners. In fact, women’s access to the labor market continues being a chronic and common issue in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

 

Several municipalities are becoming more aware of benefits female workers can bring to local economic development. They are building, through their networks of private and Non-Governmental Organizations, the skills and employability of both Syrian and local women, linking them to their labor market needs. Zarqa’s municipality in Jordan provided training to 60 women including Syrians in the production of pickled products, and followed up by providing them permit for home-based businesses.

While in Saida, Lebanon, a private restaurant chain, called Tawlet, defied an even more complex challenge, and is hiring today Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese women as cooks.

 

One major limitation to municipal action remains the limited financial resources, particularly in Lebanon where basic services and infrastructure have always been defaulting in rural areas. Haneen El Sayed, Program Leader tells us how the World Bank is starting a 200 million dollars’ project to rehabilitate roads in Lebanon: “This is one example of many  on how the World Bank helps support countries affected by the crisis, and helps generate jobs and incomes to both Syrian and Lebanese workers”.

 

Following the European Union-Jordan compact, adopted in December 2016, it was also agreed to simplify rules of origin requirements to Jordan exports to the EU, provided job opportunities are offered to Syrian refugees, alongside Jordanians.

 

Jordan will also make it possible for over 165 000 Syrian children to access education and increase opportunities for Syrian youth to receive vocational training.

 

Learning from these examples highlighted the many ways for host municipalities to turn the presence of Syrian refugees into economic opportunities. The host municipalities network participating to the Beirut workshop want to learn more on how to better attract the private sector and leverage Syrian workforce and businesses.

 

A compendium capturing some of those good practices was also discussed and shared among them, as one of the many tools the municipalities wills use to exchange and learn through their Host Municipalities Network. Going forward the Network will continue to facilitate peer-learning within the community of practice on local economic development in the forced displacement context.  

 

Jun 21, 2017 / 0 Comments
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“The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn't need to be reformed -- it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.” 

-Sir Ken Robinson

 

In a recent World Economic Forum report on global competitiveness, Egypt ranked 137 in the world out of 144 countries in primary education meeting the needs of a competitive economy, with only 20% of children from the poorest 20 percent enrolled and completed the basic education level. In addition to enrolment issues, disparities in students’ academic and social achievement, cultural gender biases and the poor quality of teachers and school infrastructure have been impacting students’ ability to interact and learn.

 

A persistently marginalized population, primarily of young people in rural Upper Egypt, remains highly disadvantaged in accessing education. This dates to multi-faceted challenges, some of which are:

 

  • Over half of youth (especially female) listed parental disapproval, father disagreement, or customs and traditions as reasons for not entering school.
     
  • Schools in rural communities are usually placed in the main village or destitute, which could take students over 1 hour of walking to reach. A valid reason for parents to not send their girls to school and for boys to dropout due to the tiredness caused by long walking distances, especially during winter time.
     
  • erosion of social capital due to out-migration to suburban or urban areas

 

Most rural communities do not have the resources to address all of these challenges with separate initiatives. However, what if all could be addressed simultaneously? A Community School run collectively by individuals from the community.

 

Since 2007, Man Ahyaha has been diligently working on sustainable development projects in some of Egypt’s most underserved and impoverished areas in different governorates that suffer severe percentage of underprivileged villages in Upper Egypt, Old Cairo and Alexandria.

We have been working in Aayat destitute (60 km away from Giza) for more than 2 years on various developmental projects including alternative education program for children and teenagers, Microfinance for women and young ladies and building concrete infrastructure for poor households.

By June 2016, we decided to conduct needs assessment, human-centered observations and multiple focus groups discussions with the community there, the necessity of an elementary school for the children in elementary school was brought to our attention.

 

In Baharwa Village in Aayat, the nearest elementary school is 3 km away, which keeps the younger children only enrolled on papers, but have no access to any actual learning. Moreover, the distance coupled with the lack of transportation leaves most of the children unable to go to school.

Conditions are worse during winter, with the muddy road and the rainy weather.  These are all factors that affect the enrollment of children in schools and contribute to the drastic dropout rate, especially for girls.

 

At Man Ahyaha, we believe that any project should be initiated to fulfil a real need that the community we are working with has and not re-create a solution for a fictional need, therefore we started building a community school with the villagers and for villagers.

 

Community schools are a viable alternative to public schooling, yet it abides by the formal education system’s curriculum alongside the informal education techniques. One of its main pillars of uniqueness lies in its ability to enhance enrollment and completion rates of children from age 6 to 14 (class1-6). In our classes, we allow for creative informal education techniques such as building skills and personal development, especially that children in rural areas are more open to activity-oriented learning.

 

Our schools became centers of the community and are open to everyone – all day, every day, evenings and weekends; with a variety of services to provide medical and social help along with monthly community meetings.

Teachers in community schools are more of knowledge facilitators, ensuring the factor of hiring high quality teachers who can impact students’ ability to interact and learn in a safe space and an intellectually stimulating environment.

 

Most importantly, community schools create a concrete alternative for the far-away built schools that drastically affect girls’ enrollmentand prevent the completion of their education.

 

Right now, Man Ahyaha is trying to execute its vision of “Support Community Engagement through Education”. Considering our efforts and success in Baharwa, we are now replicating the community school module in another village in Aayat District.

Our approach encompasses an all-levels development for the whole rural area through education, sustainable infrastructure, Access to healthcare and community center.

 

                                                                                                             

 

Jun 20, 2017 / 0 Comments
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June 20 is an international day to salute the resilience of refugees worldwide. Five years into the Syrian crisis, refugees have proved strength, courage, and perseverance.

 

We tell here some stories on their status and lives.

 

The Three Neighboring Countries

 

A young Syrian girl playfully hides from our camera at an adhoc compound for refugees in Saida, Lebanon. Lebanon hosts more than 1,011,366 Syrian refugees*, with limited official camp management regulations.

 

 

Young "Rouya" posing for our camera, at the Harran Camp, Şanlıurfa, Turkey. "She likes taking photos" told us her mother. Turkey hosts 2,992,567 Syrian refugee, registered with UNHCR. 

 

 

While in Jordan, 660,785 Syrian refugees are registered with UNHCR, and teenagers aged 12 to 17 constitute 13.5%.

 

 

Learning, Working and Singing!

 

"There is a pleasure in sharing creative moments with the children that come through here" says Khawla Omar Mekhlef, who's an Arabic language teachear the IMPR Urfa Community Center (Şanlıurfa, Turkey) while teaching young Syrians how to prevent bullying. Khawla is herself a refugee.

 

 

“I love to paint, my teacher always says that I am good at it” tells us Youssef Kashaam, 11 years old at the Art and Peace center, Gaziantep, Turkey.

 

 

And in Saida, Lebanon, Lebanese cook together with Syrian and Palestinian refugees, revisiting recipes and opening the doors of a touristic restaurant in the portal city, Tawlet.

 

 

Sana Suleiman, another resilient refugee in Turkey, explained to us how she joined her husband in winning bread by learning and working in sewing. She's also looking forward to build more capacities by learning Turkish language. "My husband and I urgently need to work, but in order to work we need to learn Turkish and that takes a long time” (IMPR Urfa Community Center, Şanlıurfa, Turkey).

 

 

Nothing can stop young Syrians from integrating and showcasing their talents! Tali Julak, the 12 years old in the center of the below photo has not only joined a Turksih/Syrian choir, but also dreams of fame. “I want to become good as Beethoven was in playing the Piano” (The Art and Peace center, Gaziantep, Turkey).

 

 

Returning Home

 

All of these stories and more, much more, are ones of individuals making the best of their refugee status. Individuals fighting everyday for dignity and respect. A common wish that the young and old had shared with us, is the wish of returning home. 79 y.o. Abd Allah Mahmoud Kasem wisely smiled to our camera, telling us: “I have spent 5 years in this camp, we are free to move and live in decent conditions but the best would be for us to go back to Syria” (Harran Camp, Şanlıurfa, Turkey).

 

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