Middle East and North Africa ‘need more accountable public services’

17 Apr 15

Accountability produces better public services and is essential for long-term stability in the Middle East and North African region, the World Bank has argued.

The bank warned in a new report that essential public services in the MENA region were failing to meet the needs of the citizens.

Its Trust, Voice and Incentives said a lack of accountability from service providers and limited channels for citizen feedback produced a ‘corrosive’ effect.

Hafez Ghanem, World Bank vice president for the MENA region, said young people in particular were too often let down by schools that do not prepare them for the jobs market.

‘The problem is not a lack of resources but the wrong motivation, as public servants are not judged by their ability to meet the needs of citizens. Breaking the cycle of poor performance will be essential for rebuilding the relationship between citizens and governments and allowing the region’s youth to reach their full potential.’

In its search for solutions, the bank identified local examples of service delivery and shared lessons learned in its report.

For example, the Kufor Quod Girls’ Secondary School in the rural West Bank is a top performer for maths and science. This is because of parental and community engagement and the ability of the school’s principal to build and maintain a motivating work environment for teachers, despite the poverty and instability that surround them, the World Bank said.

It cited schools and health clinics in Jordan and Morocco, which use citizen experience to find better ways to provide services.

‘Improvements in services will not come simply through policy reforms and investments,’ said Hana Brixi, World Bank lead for public service delivery and lead author of the report.

‘It will require making public servants and providers accountable to citizens and promoting citizens’ trust in and engagement with public institutions. Our case studies reveal the impact of solutions designed to fit local contexts: local leaders, motivated school principals and health clinic staff, and communities can effectively join forces and make services work.’

The World Bank said it would provide support to the governments and people of the MENA region to develop inclusive institutions and efficient service delivery.

  • Judith Ugwumadu
    Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith writes about public finance, public services and economics across Public Finance International and Public Finance. She previously undertook reporting stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express.

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