Cooperation with Arab donors in the MENA region – Open Regional Fund

Project description

Title: Cooperation with Arab donors in the MENA Region – Open Regional Fund
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Jordan, Yemen,
Overall term: 2009 to 2018

Alongside those member states of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that make up the Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC), the Arab nations also form an important part of the international donor community. In particular the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are home to institutions that specialise in allocating funds for development assistance. Some three quarters of development aid from non-DAC countries come from Arab donors. Around half of Arab development aid goes to the Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Despite the generous contributions of all these institutions, coordination between Arab and OECD-DAC donors is suboptimal. This reduces the sustainability and effectiveness of development activities, and potential synergies are lost.

German and Arab development cooperation organisations are working together more closely at the strategic and operational level.

To achieve this objective, cooperation projects backed by an open regional fund and one or more Arab donors are being jointly planned, financed and implemented in one of the recipient countries of the MENA region. Support is given to projects that strengthen civil society structures and contribute to poverty reduction. The promotion components include advisory services, basic and further training and, on a small scale, provision of materials and equipment. The programme covers all countries of the MENA region in which German development cooperation is represented.

In Yemen, the programme cooperates with the Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFUND), a multilateral organisation based in Saudi Arabia. The current Promoting Women’s Financial Inclusion Project focuses on teaching financial skills and developing needs-oriented financial products for women.

In Jordan, cooperation has been set up between the regional programme, the OPEC Fund for International Development and the Jordan River Foundation. The Madrasati Project was launched in response to the flow of refugees from Syria and the challenges this has posed for Jordan. Its aim is to improve the learning environment and quality of teaching in schools with a high percentage of Syrian refugee children and facilitate the integration of refugees into host communities.

Experience to date shows that the Arab donors involved are playing an active part in planning and implementing projects. It is clear that small but visible projects that are relevant to development policy and conducted with the partner organisations are doing much to build trust and foster dialogue.

The programme has been working successfully with AGFUND for several years. The project entitled Access of Women to Microfinance and Support to Victims of Violence has brought training and income opportunities for over 4,000 women affected by violence in Yemen.

The Access of Women to Health and Legal Services Project, which was implemented by the Center of Arab Women for Training and Research with funding from AGFUND, has supported the training of midwives in Yemen. In Tunisia, 40 employees from a non-governmental organisation were trained in the provision of counselling services to reduce domestic violence.

Together with the Qatar-based organisation Silatech, the regional programme has supported a project to develop and promote the use of savings account products designed for young people. The project works with banks, microfinance institutions and NGOs, and has reached over 72,000 young people in Egypt, Morocco and Yemen. In Yemen over 70,000 young people have opened a savings account, depositing a total sum of EUR 37 million. In Morocco, almost 2,000 young men and women took part in training events focusing on financial literacy. In partnership with Cairo University, 32 people were trained to give courses in this field.


Elvira Ganter