Arab governments should implement pro-poor policies to minimise the number of people falling into poverty as a result of the global economic crisis.
That's the recommendation of a new report – written by Christian Aid and its partner organisation, the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) – which argues that governments in the Middle East should re-orient their economic policies to promote more sustainable and equitable development in the region.
We are also calling on Arab governments to cooperate with each other to ensure a more effective regional response to the economic crisis.
On the frontline of the crisis
Our report (published in July 2009) comes as the deepening worldwide recession has begun to hit poor communities in the Middle East hard.
Poor families – already struggling with higher prices brought about by a global food and energy crisis - are now having to cope with increasing rates of unemployment and falling remittances from relatives working overseas.
Our partners who work with poor and vulnerable people in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories say they are currently fighting ‘de-development’.
Christian Aid believes people in the Middle East are particularly vulnerable to the fallout from the global crisis because of previous policies pursued by their governments.
Recent gains in human development indicators such as education and life expectancy have been fragile, and are not built on long-term government policies which would help safeguarded their sustainability.
Moreover, conflict and political instability is widespread, and prone to get worse in a downturn.
But Christian Aid argues that the current crisis is an opportunity – a chance for regional governments to agree new economic policies that will tackle poverty.
Social priorities and employment creation should be at the centre of short-term policies, whilst economic policies must be oriented to sustainable development in the long term through fairer revenue generation and an integrated approach to the food, energy, climate and economic crises.
We also believe that any new policies would be more effective if there was greater participation of civil society, particularly women’s groups.
You can read the report on our website or go to ANND’s website and click on the link on the homepage.