Facing challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequalities in the Arab region: do policy choices of Arab governments still hold after the global crisis?
Countries in the Arab region are particularly vulnerable to the fallout of the global economic crisis as a result of already existing high levels of unemployment, dependency on food imports, widespread conflict and political insecurity and vulnerability to impact of climate change. This paper sheds light on the poverty and unemployment challenges in the region, reflecting on the effectiveness of policy approaches adopted so far and suggests recommendations in areas of social and economic policy-making as well as regional cooperation.
Challenges in tackling vulnerability to poverty include:
- a noticeable increase of people living in poverty and a high proportion of the population on the poverty threshold
- food dependency and reliance on food imports
- inequality between and within countries
- chronic unemployment
- predicted decline in remittances after these had been rapidly rising
- fluctuating nature of aid and oil export earnings, and the questionable returns of trade liberalisation
The authors suggest that Arab governments need to prioritise long-term structural changes while addressing short-terms with particular emphasis on:
- working together and capitalising on regional added-value, capacities and cooperation in facing the crisis
- greater protection for the economic and social rights of the poor and marginalised
- spaces for the active participation of various stakeholders, including civil society and women’s groups, in drawing up economic and governance frameworks that prioritise
Specific recommendations on policy options addressing the above are given at the end of the paper.