BEIRUT: The recent turmoil in the Arab world increased poverty and delayed progress towards achieving internationally recognized development goals in the region, a recently released United Nations report said.
The report on the Millennium Development Goals, targets for states to reach to improve people’s general quality of life, said that while the Arab region has made progress towards many of the goals since 2010, progress has slowed since then markedly.
“In countries experiencing political, social and economic transitions, hard-won gains on the goals were in some cases halted or reversed,” the report released Monday said.
Countries such as Bahrain, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq and Libya have witnessed a turbulent times due to protests against the reigning regimes. Syria has been locked in a over two year long internal conflict that has turned millions of people into refugees.
The report said that increased poverty was caused by political volatility and conflicts in the region since 2010.
“Although still very low, extreme poverty increased after 2010,” the report said. “It started increasing since 2010, as unemployment and particularly youth and women’s unemployment continued to be major concerns,” the report said.
The report argued that good governance is the most critical missing link between growth and desirable development outcomes.
“The fact that some countries spearheading the recent round of social unrest are among the top performers on many MDGs raises serious questions about deficits in governance and participation, and underscores the importance of considering subnational inequalities in any measure of development,” the report said.
The report also said that the Arab region has made significant progress towards some MDGs, citing the improvement of primary school enrollment and literacy.
It also said many countries are closing in on gender parity in enrollment in primary, secondary and tertiary education.
However, the report said the region still lags behind on important targets, particularly those related to hunger, food insecurity, lack of access to water, lack of improved sanitation in rural areas, and child and maternal mortality.
According to the report, countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council scored the highest rate of development however still face declined rates in gender equality issues.
It added that GCC countries confront challenges in managing natural resources sustainably, a backbone for the gulf economy.
The report said that although “the Maghreb and Mashreq subregions have registered different levels of achievement, but they are still less advanced than GCC countries.”