North Africa

Date of publication
février 2011

 This Synthesis Report is a synopsis of the outcomes of the regional assessment reports, which were based on studies and subsequent consultations in five regions of Africa. These reports show that some land related issues are common to all regions in the continent while others are region specific. Issues common to the whole continent are those related to: state sovereignty over land; legal pluralism; gender biases in access to land; land tenure security; and land and conflicts. A snapshot of region-specific issues shows that: migration and regional integration challenges are currently more prominent in West Africa; Island States seem to focus more on environmental issues and impacts of climate change on land; Southern Africa gives specific interest to unequal distribution of land; Central Africa focuses on the issue of land and natural resources including forests and on land rights for indigenous people; in Eastern Africa, countries have been scrambling for a long time to attract foreign private investment into sectors like tourism and mining, with effects on the customary based land rights of local communities, including pastoral communities; and in Northern Africa there are specific concerns regarding land fragmentation and water rights.

The regional assessments and consultations also identified some important emerging issues that need to be addressed by land policies in the continent. These are issues such as land markets and foreign direct investments (including the way they relate to biofuels); land and climate change; land, demography and urban development; and the new scramble for African land.

Experiences of land policy formulation and implementation are diverse. Regions and even specific countries within each region are at different stages of this process. While land reforms have been on going for many years in North Africa most other regions (Southern, Western and Eastern Africa) are just going through reforms and are at different stages. In Central Africa, no significant land reform has been undertaken for a very long time.

Date of publication
décembre 2010

The countries in North Africa share an arid and semi-arid environment with high diversity: mountainous areas run alongside maritime areas and desert. The population of the region was estimated at 160 million people in 2005 and is expected to be more than 270 million in 2030. Most of the population will live in urban areas. Currently, urban dwellers in North Africa represent more than 50% of the population and are expected to be more than 60% by 2030. However, the urban system in North Africa is suffering urban primacy.

The region is well known for its endowment in mineral deposits such as oil and gas. However, it is also known for being one of the poorest regions in the world in water resources. Due to rapid population growth, both water and land resources are becoming scarce. Sustainable land and natural resource management is an ancient and well established tradition in the region. This is witnessed for example by the pre-Islamic hema system of rangelands management, which governed the timing, frequency and intensity of grazing, and was instrumental in the maintenance of rangelands.

Like other regions in the continent, North Africa has suffered colonial domination: France, Britain and Italy invaded the countries of the region in the 18th and 19th centuries. The colonial domination led to legal pluralism, with French civil law overlapping with Islamic law and tribal systems. Consequently, land rights are extremely complex and include registered lands, melk lands (private lands), habous lands (or waqf) and pre-Islamic collective tribal lands. One consequence of legal pluralism is poor formalization of land rights and persisting land tenure insecurity and conflicts. The coexistence of traditional, religious, and civil legislation is considered as one of the main causes of land disputes in the region. 

The trend of land fragmentation is common in the region. Land fragmentation is the result of continuous sub-division of land for inheritance. Finding the appropriate response to land fragmentation is a key challenge for North African countries, as it is considered an impediment to land development and agricultural productivity. 

Islamic law enables women to own land through inheritance. Governments in the region have taken appropriate measures to enhance women land rights. However, the survival of customary practices hampers the consolidation of women’s land rights. 

North Africa has experienced numerous conflicts such as the North African Campaign of World War II, the Egyptian–Israeli war and border conflicts between countries in the region. As a consequence, land mines and explosive remnants of war are a common hurdle for development in the region. Specifically, explosive remnants of war are obstacles to land development. They have delayed irrigation projects in some instances and significantly increased the cost of agricultural projects in others.

Land is central to overall national development in the region. Agriculture, industry (including manufacturing and oil extraction) and the booming tourism industry are activities which require access to land resources and security of tenure. From 1950 to 1975, different policies were developed to address key land issues in North Africa. Generally, land policies were developed as part of national development plans. This trend of land reforms was based on state interventionism and included: expropriation of former colonial lands; land redistribution in favour of poor landless peasants; and establishment of ceilings on maximum land ownership. These reforms substantially improved access to European markets and thus contributed to poverty reduction. However, not all expropriated land was redistributed to poor peasants. The state ended up becoming the largest land owner, with state farms established across the region.

In the mid-1980s, most North African countries moved from planned economy and state capitalism toward neo-liberal economies. New laws were passed to enable the private sector access land resources and to attract foreign direct investments. However, governments failed to harmonize the laws passed under the rule of planned economy with the new ones, designed to promote a free market. The coexistence of those two types of laws proved not to be conducive to economic development. In addition, most North African countries remained centralized while the full implementation of the new land laws required devolution of power to the local administration.

Most countries in North Africa successfully experienced consultative mechanisms in the course of formulating their plans and programmes for combating desertification. This successful experience is a lesson learnt which can feed future land policy development processes in the region.

Date of publication
juin 2013
Geographical focus

In the Middle East and North Africa
Region, forest resources are generally limited, as is their
contribution to GDP, and it is for this reason their
importance is often overlooked. However, forestry's
contribution to natural resource and environmental
management, is significant, which should not be
underestimated. The report, implemented as an input to the
development of a Bank Forestry Strategy in guiding its work
in the sector, reviews the Bank-assisted forestry projects
in the region over the last ten years, defines the regional
forests, and describes its current status, and related
policy and economic issues, including the need of civil
society, and private sector involvement in forestry related
issues. It is highlighted that ultimately, the decisions
taken on the directions to be followed by the Bank, would be
based on sound knowledge of the overall regional aspects,
proposing Economic and Sector Work for the future. The
report outlines appropriate policy formulation and technical
solutions, but emphasizes that local communities must be
directly involved in the planning, implementation, and
monitoring of forestry development activities. This approach
implies that public administrations, responsible for
forestry development, become fully decentralized, and
capable of strengthening local capacity.

Date of publication
mai 2012
Geographical focus

This report is about how women
entrepreneurs can contribute more to the quality and
direction of economic and social development in the Middle
East and North Africa (MENA) region. Economic growth in the
Middle East has been remarkable since 2004, mainly because
of higher oil prices. Rapid job growth has followed, driven
mainly by the private sector. Yet the region still faces two
important challenges: the first is to create better jobs for
an increasingly educated young workforce; and the second is
to diversify its economies away from the traditional sectors
of agriculture, natural resources, construction, and public
works and into sectors that can provide more and better jobs
for young people (sectors that are more export oriented,
labor intensive, and knowledge driven). These goals can be
achieved only by more innovative and diverse investors. In
this, the private sector must play an even bigger role than
in the past.

Date of publication
août 2013
Geographical focus

This book analyzes the development of
knowledge-based economies in the Middle East and North
Africa (MENA). Its principal messages are: Because of the
so-called "knowledge revolution" resulting from
the rapid growth in information and communication
technologies (ICT), the acceleration of technical change and
the intensification of globalization, a new form of economic
development is taking shape worldwide. The knowledge
revolution presents MENA countries with challenges and
opportunities. They need to take advantage of this new
source of growth and employment. To date, related
investments in education, information infrastructure,
research and development (R&D), and innovation have been
insufficient or inappropriate in most MENA countries.
Moreover, inadequate economic and institutional frameworks
prevent these investments from yielding desired results.
MENA countries risk falling further behind in the world
economy. Urgent action is needed to advance structural
reform and to intensify and adapt knowledge-related
investments. These messages concur with those of two
important recent reports on Arab economies by the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 2002) and the World
Economic Forum (2003). While there seems to be agreement on
what needs to be done in the region, the question of how to
achieve the desired results is unfortunately often left
unexplored. This is to be the focus of further World Bank conferences.

Date of publication
septembre 2013
Geographical focus

This Policy Note discusses the status of
Forestry in the Middle East and North Africa Region (MNA) of
the Bank. The Policy Note is a product of the FAO Investment
Center in Rome, the International Food Policy Research
Institute (IFPRI) and the Bank. Experience in natural
resource management shows that to adequately address
sustainable development, solutions must go beyond any single
sector, and be cross-sectoral. They must also go beyond
technical solutions to include legal and policy frameworks.
In the MNA Region, a large percentage of the population
lives in rural areas on primarily small pieces of land and
in the absence of other sources of revenue to supplement
their income. Also because many do not own their land, they
are without the means to improve their small land areas to
increase output and revenues, thus creating a dependence on
the natural resources.

Date of publication
mai 2012
Geographical focus

This paper examines broadly the
intergovernmental structure in the Middle East and North
Africa region, which has one of the most centralized
government structures in the world. The authors address the
reasons behind this centralized structure by looking first
at the history behind the tax systems of the region. They
review the Ottoman taxation system, which has been
predominantly influential as a model, and discuss its impact
on current government structure. They also discuss the
current intergovernmental structure by examining the type
and degree of decentralization in five countries
representative of the region: Egypt, Iran, West Bank/Gaza,
Tunisia, and Yemen. Cross-country regression analysis using
panel data for a broader set of countries leads to better
understanding of the factors behind heavy centralization in
the region. The findings show that external conflicts
constitute a major roadblock to decentralization in the region.

Date of publication
août 2012
Geographical focus

Most of the Middle East and North Africa
(MENA) cannot meet current water demand. Many countries face
full-blown crises, and the situation is likely to get even
worse. Estimates show that per capita water availability
will be cut in half by 2050, with serious consequences for
aquifers and natural hydrological systems. Demand for water
supplies and irrigation services will change as economies
grow and populations increase, with an attendant need to
address industrial and urban pollution. Some 60 percent of
the region's water flows across international borders,
further complicating the resource management challenge.
Rainfall patterns are predicted to shift as a result of
climate change. The social, economic, and budgetary
consequences of these challenges are enormous. The supply of
drinking water could become more erratic, necessitating
greater reliance on expensive desalination technologies, and
increasing drought would require emergency supplies brought
by tanker or barge. Service outages would put stress on
expensive network and distribution infrastructure.
Unreliable sources of irrigation water would depress farmer
incomes, economic and physical dislocation would increase
with the depletion of aquifers and unreliability of
supplies, and local conflicts could intensify. All of this
would have short- and long-term effects on economic growth
and poverty, exacerbate social tensions within and between
communities, and put increasing pressure on public budgets.

Date of publication
mars 2014
Geographical focus

The paper presents the key objectives
for the rehabilitation of historic centers or medinas in the
Middle East and North Africa as elaborated by the World Bank
on the basis of twenty years of past and present lending and
technical assistance operations to the governments of the
region. These are: 1) the conservation of the urban and
cultural heritage; 2) the local economic development of the
historic city; and 3) the improvement of the living
conditions of the resident population. The paper presents
some innovative ways to classify the contemporary users of
the medinas into different catagories which then become the
market segments to reach via the rehabilitation initiatives
given the readically changed present role of historic cities
as urban cores of much larger urban agglomerations.The paper
reviews the financial and fiscal instrucments that can be
used to mobilize the necessary resources, including the
roles of scaled up private sector investments and of
internaitonal development financing in support of national
and local governments. As sustainale culutral tourism I sput
forth as the main economic rationale for investment of
financial reosurces in medina rehabilitation, the paper also
presents an innovative multi-vriteria index to determine the
tourism potential of historic cities in the region, which
has been recently used in the case of Morocco for a national
strategy for the rehabilitation of its historic cities.

Date of publication
mars 2012
Geographical focus

Environmental degradation is costly, to
individuals, to societies, and to the environment. This
book, edited by Lelia Croitoru and Maria Sarraf, makes these
costs clear by examining a number of studies carried out
over the past few years by the World Bank's Middle East
and North Africa region. Even more important than estimating
the monetary cost of environmental degradation (COED),
however, are the clear guidance and policy implications
derived from these findings. This volume presents a new
approach to estimating the impacts of environmental
degradation. In the past, when government officials asked
researchers the simple question how large are the impacts of
environmental degradation? The response was often an
emphatic 'large!' a rather imprecise number. The
strength of this work is that it actually quantifies in
economic terms how large is 'large' and thereby
gains the attention of decision makers and offers specific
insights for improved policy making. Finally, this book
demonstrates the benefits of doing a coordinated, regional
COED analysis that builds on the country-level studies. This
two-tiered approach produces important synergies, in terms
of both the methodologies used and the lessons learned.

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