Near and Middle East

In a region marked by serious and protracted crises, AFD’s aim is to contribute to social cohesion, with a focus on providing a response to the aspirations of youth and women, and supporting countries faced with an influx of displaced populations.
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Vue sur la corniche de Beyrouth, Liban
AFD and the Middle-East: strengthening social and environmental cohesion
Beirut's coasts view, Lebanon, Petit

Promoting sustainable and job-creating growth

working woman, textile industry, Trabzon, Turkey, Depardon

Promoting sustainable and job-creating growth

Supporting business development and performance

AFD supports productive sectors with high added value, which are likely to create decent jobs, such as the solar sector, agribusiness, the chemical industry, sustainable tourism and new technologies. Our action involves developing these sectors, supporting the creation and performance of microenterprises and promoting innovation.

Facilitating access to the labor market for women

Growth requires a well-trained population in sufficient numbers. Yet in countries in the Middle East, three working-age women in four are unemployed. To empower them, while boosting growth, AFD promotes access to the labor market for women.

Enhancing the attractiveness of urban and rural areas

AFD operates at several levels to develop attractive territories that offer a good level of equipment and services, but also market opportunities (local or for export):

  • In urban areas, we support social housing and projects to restructure neighborhoods, as well as the development of small economic activities and local services. We strengthen economic efficiency via operations in the building, public transport, and logistics and port functions sectors. Finally, we improve healthcare provision.
  • In periurban areas, biodiversity is subject to strong pressures due to the densification of the coast. To ensure the growth and attractiveness of these territories, AFD supports projects for industrial sanitation, the depollution of coastal waters and the protection of ecosystems. 
  • In rural areas, we focus on income-generating activities and access to credit, with the aim of retaining and increasing the wealth of populations who make their livelihoods from agriculture.

Managing a constrained natural capital and adapting to climate disruptions

solar panels, Jerash university, Jordan, energy

Managing a constrained natural capital and adapting to climate disruptions

Ensuring energy security 

The energy security of countries is essential to the quality of life of populations and contributes to the sovereignty of States. The energy shortage faced by countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine has an impact on the daily lives of populations, poses a macroeconomic risk, and undermines business competitiveness. 

AFD draws on French expertise in this field to assist its partners in the definition of sectoral policies. The aim is to address the underpricing of energy, without weakening the purchasing power of the poorest, while at the same time increasing the share of renewable energies in energy mixes. 

Adapting to water stress

The Middle East is one of the parts of the world the most affected by climate change. Water is already a cause of local and international conflicts in the region and the available resources per capita are expected to halve over the next 50 years.
AFD promotes three combined actions to anticipate the increasing scarcity of natural capital (water, soil, forest cover) and provide equitable access to it: 

  • Improve water demand management and the management of groundwater resources, which are experiencing a sharp increase in uncontrolled exploitation;
  • Mobilize non-conventional water resources (desalination, treated wastewater reuse) and transfer water between watersheds;
  • Adapt agricultural production to climate constraints. 

Strengthening social cohesion

Syrian refugees, Lebanon, training

Strengthening social cohesion

Providing a response to the aspirations of youth 

In a region where one young worker in four is unemployed, promoting access to employment for graduates and the inclusion of young people is a priority. In addition, while graduate unemployment remains a significant phenomenon, it masks another reality: 20 to 40% of young people are neither in employment, nor integrated into the school system, nor in training. 

AFD works with its partners to strengthen education and training systems and support active policies for employment in the public and private sectors. 

Responding to situations involving the influx of displaced populations

The long-term settlement of an ever-increasing number of displaced persons poses a challenge for host populations. In Jordan and Lebanon, in particular, AFD is helping to manage the consequences of this influx of migrants, who have been forced to leave neighboring countries by the ongoing crises. 

Our activities focus on strengthening economic opportunities and infrastructure, the use of which must be shared between populations, but also the capacity to take action in fragmented territories, such as Syria and the Palestinian Territories. 

In consultation with the other donors, we work on the definition of appropriate forms of operation (NGO facility or trust fund for coordinated action by donors benefiting from the best political and technical strengths).

of 15-24 year-olds are neither in employment, nor integrated into the school or training system
of AFD’s activity in the Middle East
million Syrians have taken refuge in neighboring countries

The current context in the region calls for renewed action. The Middle East is home to large refugee and displaced populations, mainly Palestinian, Iraqi and Syrian. These are generally long-term movements and the end of conflicts does not always mean that displaced persons will return to their country. Today, for example, the presence of Syrian refugees is a major factor in changes in the demography and urban landscape of their host country, in Lebanon and Jordan. 

The region does have the means to return to growth, despite the difficulties it is facing. AFD has been a major partner of Middle East countries since the late 1990s. Its first operations date back to when the local agencies opened in Palestine (1998) and Lebanon (1999). It today works alongside a number of countries in the region to promote social cohesion, in particular to address the issue of youth unemployment and the influx of displaced populations. 

Our range of financial and technical tools is being constantly developed to provide the best possible response to the changes in needs of our Middle Eastern partners: loans to States, knowledge production, technical assistance, support for the definition of public policies, loans to local authorities, guarantee instruments, loans to banks, public and private companies, post-crisis trust funds…

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Research document

Toward an Analytical Framework for the Governance of Natural Resources: The Case of Groundwater

The issue of groundwater management challenges the paradigm along which the concept of good governance has developed since the 1990s. We show that in contexts involving multiple power structures, the ...
May 2016
Research document

Supporting Access to and Retention in Employment for Women by Enhancing Child Care Services in Turkey

Female labor force participation remains low in Turkey compared to other OECD countries and labor market attachment is particularly low among women with children. In recent years, government policy has ...
May 2016
Research document

When Can Work Performed by Women Become a Factor in Their Empowerment? - Women‘s access to quality employment in Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey

The employment of women in Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey is not necessarily equated with financial, social and/or political empowerment. Though the three countries share striking similarities as regards the ...
Jun 2015
Research document

Facing Water Scarcity in the Mediterranean

Pressure on water resources has reached critical levels in many countries in the Mediterranean Basin. Sophisticated water mobilization strategies have been implemented but physical, financial and environmental constraints linked to ...
Apr 2015
Evaluation document

Operating in Fragile States - Lessons from Experience

There are several approaches to fragile states. The first, based on the crisis cycle, distinguishes between deteriorating countries, countries in prolonged crisis, countries emerging from crisis, and countries showing gradual ...
Oct 2010
Institutional document

Urban Projects Finance Initiative (UPFI)

Imagine the southern Mediterranean tomorrow… 245 million people living in urban areas – it’s a huge challenge for this region of the world. The Union for the Mediterranean, the European Union, ...
Apr 2018
Institutional document

Sawa initiative for the Middle East

Respond to people's immediate and essential needs and to place AFD interventions into a perspective of development. The major aim of this action by AFD and its partners is to ...
Apr 2018
Institutional document

Brochure AFD and European union

Since 2007, AFD has implemented over EUR 3bn of concessional loans with the contribution of EUR717m of European grants from the various loan-grant blending facilities and delegated cooperation. These partnerships ...
Jan 2015

What is Adapt'Action Facility?

Following the Paris Climate Agreement, AFD has launched Adapt’Action to support countries seeking technical assistance for the institutional, methodological and operational implementation of their commitments to the fight against ...
Dec 2018

Anne Odic : Cities have a role to play in the fight against the climate change

Cities have an absolutely essential role to play in the fight against climate change. Anne Odic, Head of cities division at AFD explains it in a few minutes.
Sep 2018

One Planet Summit: what results?

Nine months after the first summit in Paris, members of the One Planet coalition are meeting again this Wednesday, September 26 in New York to take stock of the progress of ...
Sep 2018

Improving the employment of young people and women in a context of crisis in Lebanon

In Lebanon, AFD and the NGO IECD (“Semeurs d’Avenir”) are not only trying to teach young people a trade, they are promoting the togetherness. Lebanese society has not totally ...
Nov 2017
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