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Knowledge Event on “Covid-19 Inequities in MENA: How Data and Evidence Can Help us Do Better”

  • Starts: Jan 18, 2022
  • Ends: Jan 18, 2022
  • Location: Virtual
  • By: CMI, WB


    Context and Rationale


    COVID-19 is revealing inequities between and within countries. Poorer people tend to be more exposed to the risk of infection, less likely to be able to work from home, more likely to live in large households and Beforecramped conditions, and less likely to receive the care they need. Meanwhile, the economic impact of COVID-19 is unequal, too. The latest World Bank report on the "Distributional Impacts of COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa Region" reveals how even within countries the consequences of the pandemic are felt differently.


    Poor people, refugees, or those engaged in the informal sector are more exposed to the risk of infection, have been harder-hit economically due to lockdowns, and have fewer means to cope with income losses. This is in line with the findings of recent CMI research on Post-Covid strategies (CMI-FEMISE forthcoming report), which stresses how the very large proportion of the population working in the informal sector is highly exposed and vulnerable, and how horizontal inequalities are increasingly felt and resented by the populations, especially women and youth.




    The joint CMI-WB event discussed the findings of the recent WB report and included high-level officials, institutional representatives, renownded research scholars, and experts exchanging, and sharing their thoughts on Covid-19 inequities in MENA and on ways forward.


    The event capitalized on the thorough WB regional work and laid the foundation for possible future work to better address the Welfare Impacts of Covid-19 in the MENA Region. Several axes of discussion were proposed during this joint event, including: How are poor people, refugees, and those engaged in the informal sector exposed to the risk of infection? Are there gender inequalities related to Covid’s impact?


    Through which channels are the economically vulnerable impacted? What are the conditions to mitigate the social and economic impact of Covid in MENA? As Covid -19 testing is free in the public sector in MENA, why are the poor using these services less? How can unequal access to vaccines be avoided? What can be learned from this pandemic to increase the resilience of the region to future (covariate) shocks? 



    Target Audience and Participation in the Event


    The webinar targeted the general audience from the South, North, and East of the Mediterranean. It welcomed the policy community and representatives of academic, civil society, and NGO communities that have an interest in the subject. These actors are part of the wider community of CMI partners and were invited to follow the event and actively participate. The webinar will consist of selected interventions by the discussants followed by a Q&A, allowing participants to interact by connecting directly from their computer or smartphone with a stable internet connection. The discussions helped policymakers and the general audience understand how Covid-19 has different welfare impacts in MENA and provided reflections on the need for further data that can help improve the response.


    Speakers and Presentations 


    15:00-15:15: Opening by Blanca Moreno-Dodson (CMI), Roberta Gatti (World Bank), and Nadir Mohammed (World Bank) on Covid-19 inequities in MENA.


    15:15-15:30: Presentation by Gladys Lopez-Acevedo (World Bank) presenting the results of the study on Welfare Impacts of Covid-19 in the MENA Region


    15:30-15:45: Intervention by Ibrahim El-Badawi (Economic Research Forum, FEMISE) on how Labor Market Panel Surveys can be a useful tool that can be linked to measuring Covid impact.


    15:45-16:00: Intervention by Katarzyna Sidlo (CASE), on what type of “New Data” is needed to better evaluate the impact of a pandemic shock in the region and on possible post-covid MENA development strategies, including digitalization.


    16:00-16:15 Intervention by Roger Albinyana (IEMED), on what evidence-based and policy-oriented EuroMesco/Iemed analysis suggests with regards the impact of Covid in the Mediterranean.


    16:15-16:45: Q&A session with the discussants


    16:45-16:55: Moving the data agenda in MENA forward by Johannes Hoogeveen


    16:55-17:00 Concluding remarks by Blanca Moreno-Dodson (CMI)

    Moderator : Constantin Tsakas (CMI) 

    Watch the recording








    Blanca Moreno-Dodson is the Director of the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), a partnership between multilateral development institutions, national governments, local authorities, and civil society, hosted by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).


    She has over twenty-eight years of experience as a World Bank development economist, including several positions as Lead Economist, mainly for the Global Tax Team, the West Africa Region, the Investment Climate Department, and the Office of the Vice-President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management. As a Senior Economist, she previously worked at the World Bank Institute, the West Africa Region, and the Corporate Strategy Group of the World Bank. Her regional experience includes the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and East Asia (China, India, and Indonesia).  She started her career as a Robert Shuman scholar at the European Parliament and as a junior economist at the European Commission, before joining the World Bank Group.


    Dr. Moreno-Dodson authored and co-authored five books throughout her career including “Enhancing Mediterranean Integration” (CMI, 2020), “Winning the Tax Wars, Tax Competition, and Cooperation” (Wolters Kluwer, 2017), “Is Fiscal Policy the Answer? A Developing Country Perspective” (World Bank, 2013), “Public Finance for Poverty Reduction.  Case Studies for Africa and Latin America” (World Bank, 2006) and “Scaling Up Poverty Reduction” (World Bank, 2005). She has also been published in several internationally renowned economic journals, such as the Bulletin of Economic Research, Hacienda Pública Española, the USA National Tax Association Journal, and Banca d'Italia Annual Volumes.

    She is a member of the Alumni Strategic Council of the Aix-Marseille University, France, and of the Steering Committee of the Navarra Center for International Development, Spain, and a guest lecturer at Duke University, the USA, and Aix-Marseille University, France.






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    Nadir Abdellatif Mohammed is the Regional Director for Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions (EFI) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Prior to this appointment, he was the Director of Strategy and Operations in the Human Development Practice Group of the Bank overseeing the Human Capital project; as well as the Global Practices for education; health, nutrition, and population; and social protection and jobs. From 2014-2018, Dr. Mohammed served as the Country Director of the GCC Countries in the MENA region of the World Bank.










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    Roberta Gatti is the Chief Economist of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region of the World Bank. In that role, she oversees analytical work to support the Bank’s operations and economic surveillance in countries in the region. In her previous capacity as Chief Economist for the Human Development practice group, she co-led the conceptualization and release of the World Bank Human Capital Index and oversaw the Service Delivery Indicators data initiative. Roberta joined the World Bank in 1998 as a Young Professional in the Macro unit of the Development Research Group. She has since led analytical agendas on growth, firm productivity, gender, social inclusion, and labor markets, including as the Global Lead for Labor policies. She has also managed teams and lending portfolios in both the MENA and the Europe and Central Asia regions. Roberta’s research is published in top field journals such as the Journal of Public Economics, the Journal of Economic Growth, and the Journal of Development Economics. Roberta is also the author of numerous flagship reports, including Jobs for Shared Prosperity: Time for Action in the Middle East and North Africa; Being Fair, Faring Better: Promoting Equality of Opportunity for Marginalized Roma; The Human Capital Project; and The Human Capital Index 2020 Update: Human Capital in the Time of Covid-19. Roberta holds a B.A. from Università Bocconi and a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University. She has taught at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities.





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    Johannes (Hans) Hoogeveen is Practice Manager for North Africa and the Middle East at the Poverty and Equity Global Practice of the World Bank. He has worked in fragile countries including in Africa and South Asia and was the country economist for Togo. Between 2004 and 2011 he lived in Tanzania, where he worked as a poverty economist at the World Bank. Between 2009 and 2011 he was the manager at Twaweza, a national NGO operating in the area of citizen engagement. 









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    Gladys Lopez-Acevedo is a Lead Economist and a Global Lead at the World Bank in the Poverty and Equity Global Practice. She works primarily in South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa Regions of the World Bank. Gladys’ areas of analytical and operational interest include trade, welfare, gender, conflict, and jobs. Previously, she was a Lead Economist in the World Bank Chief Economist’s Office for the South Asian region (SARCE), and Senior Economist in the World Bank Central Vice Presidency Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) unit and in the Latin America region at the World Bank. She is a Research Fellow of the Institute for Labor Economics (I.Z.A) and at the Mexican National Research System (S.N.I). Prior to joining the World Bank, she held high-level positions in the Government of Mexico and she was a professor at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM). She holds a BA in economics from ITAM and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia.






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    Ibrahim Elbadawi is the Managing Director of the Economic Research Forum (since January 2017- August 2019; August 2020- present) and president of FEMISE. He was Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Republic of Sudan (Sept 2019-July 2020). Professor Emeritus, University of Khartoum. Before that, he was Director at the Economic Policy & Research Center, the Dubai Economic Council (2009-2016); Lead Economist at the Development Research Group of the World Bank, which he joined in 1989; and Professor of economics at the University of Gezira in Sudan. He holds a Ph.D. in economics and statistics from North Carolina State and Northwestern universities in the USA. During his work at the World Bank, he also served as Research Director of the African Economic Research Consortium (Nairobi, 1993-1998), on external leave from the Bank. He has edited 13 books and special editions of referred journals and published about 90 articles on macroeconomics, growth and development policy, democratic transitions, and the economics of civil wars and post-conflict transitions. His regional specialization covers Africa and the Middle East. He is also a (non-resident) research fellow with the Center for Global Development. Dr. Elbadawi is the editor of (with Hoda Selim) of Understanding and Avoiding the Oil Curse in Resource-rich Arab Economies (Cambridge University Press, 2016); and, Ibrahim Elbadawi (with Samir Makdisi). Democratic Transitions in the Arab World. (Cambridge University Press: 2016).





    Roger Albinyana is the Managing Director of the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed). Roger has been working at the IEMed since 2016 and as an associate professor at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Barcelona, where he teaches international economic policy. Prior to joining the IEMed, Roger served as Secretary for Foreign and EU Affairs of the Government of Catalonia (2013-2016) and was a member of the EU Committee of the Regions. From 2010 to 2013 he served as an advisor on private sector development at the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean. He has published numerous papers and articles in his fields of expertise. He is also a board member at CIDOB and a member of the Advisory Boards of EMEA and EMNES. He holds an MA in Economic History from the University of Barcelona, a BA in Economics from Pompeu Fabra University, and a BA in Business Administration and Management from the Open University of Catalonia (UOC).




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    Dr. Katarzyna W. Sidło is the Director for the Middle East and North Africa Department at CASE – Center for Social and Economic Research. She specializes in the political economy, geoeconomics, and socio-economic development of the broadly understood Middle East and North Africa Region. Her research interests include the Islamic economy, female empowerment, entrepreneurship, and new technologies (including space industry), as well as EU-Southern Mediterranean relations. Educated at the University of Warsaw, School of Oriental and African Studies, and the University of Jordan, dr Sidło holds a Ph.D. (summa cum laude) from the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Warsaw, a MA in Arabic and Islamic Studies, and a BSc in Economics. She gained her professional and research experience in a number of countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the United Kingdom, Georgia, and Poland. In the past, she was a Visiting Scholar at G. Tsereteli Institute of Oriental Studies of Ilia State University, Tbilisi (2019/2020) and at the Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge (2015), as well as a SHARIASource Editor for Islamic Finance at Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School. An avid language learner, she speaks Polish and English, has a working knowledge of Arabic and Spanish, as well as basic knowledge of French and Georgian. Dr. Sidło has a proven track record working on studies, evaluations, and impact assessments commissioned by various international donors, such as the European Parliament, the European Commission and its various departments and agencies, the European Space Agency, and the European Investment Bank, including most recently “Innovation ecosystems and start-ups in the Mediterranean as a means of recovering from the Covid-19 crisis” (2021, the European Committee of the Regions), “EU Response to the Socio-economic Impact of the Covid-19 Crisis in its Southern Neighbourhood” (2021, the European Commission/IEMed), and “Post Covid-19 EU-MENA-Africa Trade Relations” (2020, the European Commission/IEMed).







    Constantin Tsakas works at CMI-UNOPS as Sustainable Development Policies Senior Programme Officer. He leads the programs of CMI’s Climate Change Resilience pillar specifically the “Mediterranean Forum on Energy and Climate Change”, the “Regional Knowledge program on Water” and the “Territorial Resilience to Climate Change” program. He also actively contributes to activities of CMI’s Co-development and Integration pillar, leading analytical work and knowledge production on socioeconomic and political economy dimensions of regional integration (Trade, Global Value Chains, link with SDGs), and to the Dialogue of the Two Shores Technical Platform. He first joined the CMI-World Bank in 2020 as Senior Policy Analyst / Fundraising Consultant. Prior to that, he was the General Manager of Institut de la Méditerranée working for the emergence of sustainable models of development and for greater involvement of civil society in public policies. As General Secretary of the FEMISE think-tank network (2014-2020) he also worked on the reinforcement of regional dialogue and research on major economic and social issues in the Euro-Mediterranean region. As Senior Lecturer at SciencesPo, Dr. Tsakas also taught on "Openness, growth and economic crisis in Mediterranean countries" at the SciencesPo University Collège of Menton. His publications for international institutions such as the World Bank, CMI, FEMISE, and the European Investment Bank include issues related to Climate Change, Trade Integration, Energy and the Green Deal, Social Entrepreneurship, Women and Youth Empowerment. He holds a Ph.D. in International Economics from Aix-Marseille University (France).