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The MENA region, the virtual water trade, and the opportunity cost of agriculture

The MENA region, the virtual water trade, and the opportunity cost of agriculture

This paper will ask the following questions: How has the MENA region integrated into the virtual water trade, what is the opportunity cost of its agricultural policies, and how does it perpetuate its agricultural policies? This paper makes two principal arguments. Firstly, this paper acknowledges the important role played by imported foodstuffs in meeting the food and water security needs of the region. Generally, the region imports low-value water-intensive crops such as wheat, and exports higher-value crops such as tomatoes and citrus fruits, though until recently wheat production has also been prominent and widespread in the region. This paper argues that because the MENA region relies on water from rivers and aquifers (blue water) to irrigate, whereas other parts of the world can make use more of soil moisture (green water), the opportunity costs for the water use in the MENA region are far greater than those in other parts of the world. This paper will make an attempt to calculate those costs, showing that the MENA region exports virtual water for a far higher opportunity cost than is borne by those countries that export virtual water to the MENA region. Secondly, this paper argues that the region’s reliance on imported virtual water backgrounds and conceals policies of water mismanagement and misallocation – policies which are then perpetuated by nationally and internationally funded major water engineering projects that prolong unsustainable practices.
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A reform agenda for improving the delivery of ALMPs in the MENA region

A reform agenda for improving the delivery of ALMPs in the MENA region

As mentioned before, training programs are widely used by countries throughout the MENA region, but most are provided in-class and are supply-driven. However, inter- national evidence indicates that the effectiveness of training programs (as measured by their insertion rates) increases when they include life-skills, on-the-job training or both (World Bank 2012). While some of the recent available rigorous impact evaluations of ALMPs in MENA countries (Table 4) show that their life skills component had little or no impact on labor market outcomes, all three evaluations showed the importance of life skills for students’ behavioral development. On the other hand, existing literature reveals that on-the-job training programs have large positive effects on employment outcomes, especially when they are well-targeted (Additional file 1: Table A1). Thus, and given that lack of work experience is a major constraint to job insertion in the re- gion (e.g.: fifty percent of the total unemployed in Morocco are first-time job seekers), increasing on-the-job training opportunities for unemployed youth in the MENA re- gion is critical to improve labor market outcomes in the region. A recent evaluation by the Inter-American Development Bank of the Juventud y Empleo program in the Do- minican Republic found that in the short run, the life skills package (on-the-job train- ing + life skills) was more cost-effective than the traditional vocational training package (on-the-job training + vocational training + life skills) (Martinez 2013) (Additional file 1: Table A1).
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Linking Environmental Water Scarcity and Options for Adaptation in the MENA Region

Linking Environmental Water Scarcity and Options for Adaptation in the MENA Region

The consequences of water scarcity in the arid and semiarid regions cannot be over emphasized. These areas are affected by droughts and wide climate varia- bility, and the challenges are expected to worsen as the population and economic development increases. As indicated earlier in Figure 2, MENA region countries are more affected by climate change since they are located in the most water strained world region. For instance, all the MENA region countries located on the coast of the Mediterranean experience coastal aquifers contamination through seawater intrusion due to an increase in the sea levels in low-lying areas [30]. Saltwater infiltrates into the soil causing high salinity. The fresh water lens is af- fected because the use groundwater from the lenses is unsustainable. The fresh- water lens is an important part of the ecological system that is particularly sus- ceptible to pollution. In this regard, it appears that climate change does not only decrease the quantity of fresh water but the quality of groundwater might be ne- gatively affected. On contrary, [31] indicated that not only the quality of ground- water that will be affected but the whole landscape making it difficult for human and other living organisms to live. Egypt had a share of water per capita of 860 m 3 /year in 2003 and expected to decrease to 582 m 3 /year by the year 2025 [32].
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Common Risk Factors in Stock Returns in the MENA Region

Common Risk Factors in Stock Returns in the MENA Region

The current study aims to address part of that issue by giving focus to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) markets as emerging markets. Comparatively, the MENA markets are less developed than the Asian or Latin American markets. Additionally, they are also relatively small, illiquid, less transparent and mainly dominated by the banking system (Lagoarde-Segot & Lucey, 2008). The MENA markets are also characterised by attributes such as economic, currency, liquidity, institu- tional and political risks. They are also seen to be less efficient markets with a high proportion of small companies that play a fundamental role in asset allocations. Despite all these characteristics of the MENA region, it seems pertinent to ask if those risk factors found in developed and other developing markets may also affect the equity markets of the MENA region. Thus far, there are no sources available to update the risk factors of the stock markets in the MENA region. For the purpose of this study, we computed our own risk factors so as to examine the risk factors which are most frequently used to explain the stock excess returns in the MENA region. This study is motivated by previous discussions on using alternative asset pricing models to explain stock excess returns, and on using different datasets to validate these factor models. In this study, we analyse the effects of the size, value, profitability, investment, mo- mentum and illiquidity factor on the stock markets of the MENA region.
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Impact of Narrative Exposure Therapy on torture survivors in the MENA region

Impact of Narrative Exposure Therapy on torture survivors in the MENA region

This study assesses the effect of NET on anxiety. Likewise, this study is the first to present somatic effects of NET, showing improvements in self-reported health as well as a reduction in pain perceptions and levels of disabilities after treatment. This points to a positive association between psychological and somatic health outcomes related to NET. Furthermore, our findings show a larger effect for women than men. This supports previous literature that women benefit more from trauma therapy than men (Békés, Beaulieu-Prévost, Guay, Belleville, & Marchand, 2016). In the present study, it is possible that men found the NET requirement to relive the traumatic experience and express feelings and associated physiological responses as more challenging. The exposure element of NET may be particularly difficult for men in male-dominated societies such as in the MENA region. So far, the effects of NET on PTSD and depression in torture survivors have mainly been evaluated in high-income settings. This research evaluates the effect of NET on PTSD and depression in torture victims who continue to live in unsafe and difficult environments facing legal, employment, and financial challenges in their current middle- or low income countries. Some faced threats of deportation back to their home country on a regular basis, and some were still at risk of being tortured. This research rejects the assumption that trauma treatment should be delayed until refugees or asylum seekers resettle to live in a stable and permanent environment (Norredam, Mygind, & Krasnik, 2006). Instead, the current findings coincide with previous studies suggesting treatment need not be delayed (Stenmark et al., 2013).
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Banking efficiency and economic growth in the MENA region

Banking efficiency and economic growth in the MENA region

In order to assess the financial development in the MENA region we use a specific measure of financial deepening:credit to the private sector in terms of GDP (CPR), considered as one of the relevant indicators of the magnitude and the extend of financial intermediation broadly defined (Boulila and Trabelsi (2004), page 211) . This indicator has been used widely in the literature (King and Levine (1993a),Demetriades and Hussein (1996), DeGregorio and Guidotti (1995), Levine, et al. (1999), Guillaumont, et al. (2006)) and is supposed to delimitate more precisely the investment financing activity to the private sector as opposed to the credits to the government or public companies and credits issued by the central bank.
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Economic Freedom And Investment Efficiency In The MENA Region

Economic Freedom And Investment Efficiency In The MENA Region

The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of economic freedom level on investment efficiency; predicted by market return and volatility; using data covering the period from 1996 tell 2015 for the MENA region countries. Simple regression models and multivariate regression models were applied to test our hypothesis. The results show that the economic freedom level has a little impact on market return, and the capital market performance get better as the government regulations get highly efficient and the financial system is accessible and efficiently functioning. In the same time, the evidence points out that economic freedom decrease market returns’ volatility (risk), indicating that; if government’s regulation in banking and financial systems doesn’t assure transparency and honesty, then financial markets efficiency will be hindered, the cost of financing will increase and the completion will be limited. Keeping in mind that the two fundamental aspects of investment are risk and return; it is obvious that economic freedom enhances the risk-return investment efficiency in the MENA region.
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Do Changes in Weather Patterns and the Environment Lead to Migration in the MENA Region?

Do Changes in Weather Patterns and the Environment Lead to Migration in the MENA Region?

There is a consensus that adverse weather events are likely to lead to migration as individuals and households migrate under climate pressures in order to improve their livelihoods. Such population movements have been taking place for thousands of years (Gupta et al., 2006), and today the resulting pressures are accelerating the process of urbanization, given that those most affected by climate change tend to be involved in agriculture in rural areas. With the climate expected to worsen in many parts of the world, including the MENA region, there is substantial concern that migration may accelerate, whether one refers to tye4rms such as environmental migration, forced environmental migration, environmentally motivated migration, climate refugees, environmental displaced persons, disaster refugees, environmental displaced persons, or eco-migrants to refer to this reality. Some estimates suggest that hundreds of millions of people may have to migrate in the next thirty to fifty years (Jakobeit and Methmann, 2007; Stern Review 2006; Christian Aid 2007; Foresight, 2011), but there is considerable uncertainty about when and even whether such migration will take place.
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Cost Of Debt And Dividend Policy: Evidence From The MENA Region

Cost Of Debt And Dividend Policy: Evidence From The MENA Region

In this paper, we extend the above findings by documenting the impact of dividend payout ratios on cost of debt in the MENA region (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and United Arab Emirates) during the region between 2005 and 2011. Our results show that cost of debt is negatively related to dividend payout ratios. Our results are consistent with previous literature that associates high payout ratios with lower information asymmetries (La Porta et al., 2000). Lower information asymmetries reduce the risk faced by creditors. We argue that lower risk faced by creditors translates into lower required return (Blom and Schauten, 2008; Farooq and Derrabi, 2012). Interestingly, we also show that our results are more pronounced in firms with higher information asymmetries. We argue that value relevance of dividend payout ratios is greater for firms that have higher information asymmetries. These firms have scarcity of information. Therefore, whenever information disclosure improves, it is highly valued by investors. 2 Our arguments are consistent with Lang et al. (2004) who document a positive valuation effect of mechanisms that improve information asymmetries in countries with poor information environment. They argue that countries with high information asymmetries have dearth of information. Therefore, whenever information disclosure improves, it is highly valued by investors.
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Demand for Military Spending: The case of the MENA Region

Demand for Military Spending: The case of the MENA Region

Arab Spring and the domestic unrest and the threat of terrorism that followed are not the main causes of the recent spike in military spending in the region, as the bulk of arms purchases have largely been conventional heavy weaponry, such as combat aircraft, armored vehicles, and missile systems. The results indicate that military spending in the MENA region does exhibit high income elasticity and status is further signaled through regional clubs such as the Arab League. MENA countries face substantial opportunity cost of military spending and only weakly respond to local threats. The so-called ‘resource curse’ is not a strong indicator of military posture in MENA especially within the neoclassical demand model setting and robust estimation that account for dynamics and endogeneity.
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The Impacts of Climate Change in the MENA Region and the Water-Energy Nexus

The Impacts of Climate Change in the MENA Region and the Water-Energy Nexus

Specific impacts of climate change on water availability and water security in the MENA Region. 145[r]

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Data Collection for the Study on Climate Change and Migration in the MENA Region

Data Collection for the Study on Climate Change and Migration in the MENA Region

7 In Morocco, the first site was Chichaoua in the Plains Region. Chichaoua Province has been affected by drought over recent decades. The pattern has been accompanied by severe drought events. The second region is Al-Gharb in the Northwest. The al-Gharb plain is Morocco’s second largest agricultural producing region. In 2009, al-Gharb accounted for roughly 35 percent of the country’s cereal acreage. Al-Gharb has been severely affected by flash flooding from the Sebou River – events exacerbated by heavy snowfall and rains – which began in 2009. Thousands were displaced amid loss of homes and shelter and significant damage to infrastructure and agricultural production. Yet, Gharb also suffers from cycles of lack of rainfall. In 2011, for example, rainfall decreased by 14 percent. The area was recommended by Moroccan government officials and is an outlier among the survey sites, an area that has been affected by short-term weather events in the form of a natural disaster.
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Focus Countries for the Study on Climate Change and Migration in the MENA Region

Focus Countries for the Study on Climate Change and Migration in the MENA Region

Consider next the question of environmental degradation and climate change. The Algerian territory encompasses three main geographic regions: the Tell in the north, the high planes in the center, and the Sahara in the South of the country. The littoral region of the north is the most densely populated, with 63 percent of the population on four percent of the territory. One tenth of the population lives in the Sahara, which represents 85 percent of the territory. The majority of arable land (three percent of the territory), as well as the majority of industry are located in the coastal region, while the region of the High Plains dominated by semi-nomadic pastoral cultures. The coast and the Tellian Atlas are in a temperate climate zone, with warm summers and mild and rainy winters; the High Plaines and the Saharian Atlas have an arid climate, with low and irregular rainfall, cold winters and very hot summers; and the Sahara has a desert climate (MATE, 2010). Slow-onset environmental degradation is an issue throughout Algeria and the country is already subjected to water stress. Mean annual precipitation ranges from 800-1,000 mm in the East of the Tellian Atlas to 20-150mm in the Sahara. Since 1975, precipitation has gradually decreased, with currently only 600 cubic meters of fresh water per habitant and year, a level below the U.N. defined scarcity threshold of 1,000 cubic meters (MATE, 2010). Based on FAO data and World Population Prospects data, Fargues (2008) estimates that this amount will not drastically decrease until 2030, but it may decline after that.
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How Do Households Cope with and Adapt to Climate Change in the MENA Region?

How Do Households Cope with and Adapt to Climate Change in the MENA Region?

Table 1: Household Coping Mechanisms to Deal with Climate Change and Shocks % Selling or pawning livestock All Country Algeria Egypt Morocco Syria Yemen Quintiles Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Losses L[r]

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The Effects of Economic Dependency on the Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in the MENA region

The Effects of Economic Dependency on the Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in the MENA region

(3) Aid figures further strengthen this asymmetry, although development assistance has a much lower impact on EU-MENA economic interdependencies than the other two areas. Still, a short examination of EU aid “exports” towards the MENA can underline the main assumption of MENA economic dependence on the EU. Although the quantities of development assistance will never reach the level of quantities involved in EU-MENA trade and FDI interactions, their impact on political relations is undeniable. From the available data- sets we can arrive to the conclusion that the US is the single biggest aid supporter of the MENA, giving around 10 billion dollars yearly, while Germany comes second with around 5 billion. If we add other EU-member contributions to Germany‟s, we can calculate around 13-14 billion dollars of total yearly EU assistance to the MENA, with which the EU altogether clearly occupies the pole position. On the other hand, this number is not that much bigger than the US contribution, therefore we cannot find a clear EU aid dominance similar to the trade and FDI ratios. MENA aid incomes are not monopolized by the EU, rather “duopolized” by the EU-US “team”. (Data was used from the different sources of the OECD Development Assistance Committee.)
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Do RTAs Increase Bilateral Trade in the MENA Region?

Do RTAs Increase Bilateral Trade in the MENA Region?

Table 7 shows that AA has a negative sign on the coefficient of RTA2 and positive on RTAE and RTAI. These results can not be elaborated because AA does not effectively affect trade in MENA regions. AA contributes to divert trading from AA to non AA countries by 1.41 percent. In this research, AA is the youngest RTAs (signed in 2006 and became effective in 2006). AA was supported by EU for establishing a free trade area and as a possible first step in the establishment of Euromed (Rouis and Tabor, 2013). Until now, free trade area has been achieved. All members of AA are MENA countries that is Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia. These were categorized by World Bank as resource-poor and labor-abundance countries. Egypt has 24 agreements, Jordan has 20 agreements, Morocco has 29 agreements, and Tunisia has 18 agreements. These are relatively high for MENA countries. Many agreements tend to overlap and ineffective, one of the non effective RTAs is AA.
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State Divestitures and Bank Performance: Empirical Evidence from the Middle East and North Africa Region

State Divestitures and Bank Performance: Empirical Evidence from the Middle East and North Africa Region

Developing countries are increasingly engaging in restructuring activities, reforms and divestiture of the shareholdings of state-owned banks in private and joint venture banks, despite the prevalence of government ownership in developing economies than in developed ones. For instance, official privatization committees have been formed in countries such as Iran and Jordan with an aim of ensuring that the privatization process is implemented within the proposed timelines (Clarke et al., 2003). Additionally, bank privatization has become a fundamental part of the economic reform plan in Egypt since 1991 (Omran, 2007). Therefore, privatizations have been observable in the MENA region, and the effect on banking performance can be studied to determine what conclusions can be drawn from these events. Nevertheless, since privatization entails full or partial transfer of public stake to the private sector, it could be useful to keep in check the ownership structure before and after privatization in order to calculate the post-privatization % change in state ownership. This could be an important factor affecting the strength of impact of privatization on the bank‟s performance, thus would help in drawing conclusions and useful implications.
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Does Democracy Increase Bilateral Trade in MENA Region?

Does Democracy Increase Bilateral Trade in MENA Region?

Since 1960, MENA was one of the most undemocratic region in the world. In terms of political inclusiveness, almost all countries in the MENA region have low (exclusive) political inclusiveness and only a small proportion have good policy coordination (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Tunisia). Only Iran has politically inclusive with good policy coordination (Ross, et al., 2011). Table 2, Table 3, and Table 4 show the progress of democracies index in MENA Countries based on Poly IV Indexes that classified based on the abundance of input sources from 1988 to 2015. Polity IV measures democracy based on executive recruitment (unregulated, transitional, regulated) , freedom from executive authority (transitional selection, election), as well as political competition and opposition (closed, double-selection, double- elect, executive executives). The Polity IV Index has a range of values between -10 (full autocracy) to 10 (full democracy). Negative numbers can be interpreted autocracy while positively interpreted democracy.
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The epidemiology of Norovirus in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region: a systematic review

The epidemiology of Norovirus in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region: a systematic review

While the status of NoV-associated AGE is well estab- lished in many parts of the world, limited data exist about the contribution of NoV to the burden of diar- rheal disease in countries of the MENA region. This prompted us to perform a systematic review providing a summary of the current status of NoV across all age groups and settings in the region. The gathered data suggest that NoV imposes a burden of AGE in the MENA region among children less than 5 years old. The rate of NoV in these studies ranged between 0.82% and 32.9%. These results are compatible with data compiled from studies conducted in Latin America and Africa whereby infection rates ranged between 2.2%-43% [42] and 0.58%-22.0%, [43] respectively. While NoV is associ- ated with AGE among children, recent studies clearly show that other age groups including elderly are at high risk due to the mode of transmission and the severity of symptoms [16]. Only 3 studies on NoV were conducted among all age groups in the MENA region. Conse- quently, more studies are needed to assess the burden of viral AGE among these groups as well as elderly and im- munosuppressed patients at risk of several complications [44, 45]. Moreover, most of the studies included in this sys- tematic review were conducted among in- and outpatients from hospitals. Thus, community studies are needed to
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Democratisation in the Middle East and North Africa : perspectives from democracy support

Democratisation in the Middle East and North Africa : perspectives from democracy support

Fifth, after a period when their stock in world affairs seemed to be rising, the world’s authoritarian regimes may now feel challenged by the MENA’s region’s demonstration that freedom and democracy are very widely held aspirations and cannot easily be dismissed as ethnocentric tools of western imperialism.Admittedly the immediate reaction of governments ranging from Iran, China and Russia to Syria and Bahrain has been to increase repression at home. And in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries massively increased government spending including salary hikes for public officials has blunted (but not completely eliminated) discontent there. These reactions do not constitute progress for democracy. But they do highlight the fact that notwithstanding the Arab revolution there is still much room in the world for basic democratic gains to be made. And so by implication the scope for international democracy support to try to make a difference sooner or later looks considerable too. In the MENA region in the short term, then, democracy support may see a lifeline where it can aim to show that it has improved its game, while the much bigger picture of millions of people still living under (in some places increasingly) oppressive regimes suggests that the longer-term democracy case for staging effective democracy support is hardly less valid than before.
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