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Jordan targeted by World Bank new strategy for region

By Khetam Malkawi - Mar 26,2016 - Last updated at Mar 26,2016

AMMAN — World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are due on Sunday to start a visit to Jordan, where they will visit the Zaatari Refugee Camp and meet with top officials.

The two guests will also hold a joint press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, and Planning and International Cooperation Minister Imad Fakhoury.

The visit by the two international figures comes after a three-day stop in Lebanon, with the aim of having a first-hand look at the impact of the Syrian crisis and to assess how the two organisations can best support both countries in light of the ongoing regional conflicts and instability.

In Lebanon, Kim announced a new $100 million initiative aimed at supporting the government’s plan to improve the quality of its education and to secure school education for all Lebanese and Syrian refugee children by the end of the 2016-2017 school years, said a World Bank (WB) statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times.

A similar sum was also pledged to Jordan at London donor conference that took place last month, according to Fakhoury.

The WB statement said that over the past several months, the World Bank Group has reoriented its strategy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to promote peace and stability as necessary conditions for development. 

Working with partners, the aim is to focus directly on the causes of conflict, while helping countries address its consequences and to recover and rebuild. 

The new strategy is built on four main pillars: restoring trust between citizens and their governments with greater accountability and improved services; promoting increased regional cooperation around the shared priorities of education; energy and water; supporting countries and communities hosting large numbers of refugees to strengthen their resilience and preparing for reconstruction whenever and wherever peace emerges.

To raise the volume of financing needed to implement the new strategy, and to rally the international community around the common goal of promoting peace and stability in the region, the World Bank Group has partnered with the United Nations and the Islamic Development Bank Group. Together, the statement said, they have convened the international community to develop the New Financing Initiative to Support the MENA Region, which aims to provide concessional financing to support refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon, the middle income countries of the region that have been the most impacted by the Syrian refugee crisis; and raise a greater volume of financing needed for post-conflict reconstruction and economic recovery for countries across the MENA region.  

“This initiative will create a unique platform among multilateral development banks and the UN to strengthen coordination on development assistance to the region at this critical juncture,” the statement added.

 

At the Supporting Syria and the Region Conference that took place in February in London, the World Bank Group announced that it would triple its investment in the region as compared to the previous five years. Funding from the New Financing Initiative to Support the MENA Region combined with current programmes is expected to total about $20 billion over the coming five years. Furthermore, the initiative aims to raise $1 billion in grants from donors over the next five years, which will be leveraged to provide $3 billion to $4 billion in highly concessional loans for Jordan and Lebanon. 

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The goals sound lofty, but what is the realistic route to achieve them?

Is there any way to monetize the value for each individual? I say 'monetize" because that may be the best way to compare programs.

Also by focusing on the benefit to the individual recipients, we pay attention to the people who are important, and not to the dandies who distribute the money among their friends and relatives.

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