MENA: opportunities in a region in transition

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a diverse region in a state of transition. Our longstanding presence and varied experience there has enabled us to build up a significant track record of delivering and implementing projects for achieving sustainable change. 

Building on our expertise in areas such as education, civil society capacity building and skills, we’ve steadily built up a significant portfolio of donor-funded international development projects for clients including DFID, the FCO, the EU and USAID. Our current activity includes projects in Iraq, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories, as well as regional projects involving Egypt, Morocco and Algeria. 

In Libya, our track record in the skills area and strong local relationships resulted in the EU asking us to manage a three-year, €6.5 million TVET technical assistance programme focussing on labour market development and institutional capacity building. In Iraq, we have received an extension for the €8.8 million Support to Improving the Quality of Education project, which has been working with the Iraqi government to improve learning outcomes for 800,000 primary and secondary school students in Kurdistan and central and southern Iraq.

Our three-year Access to Education through Teacher Training programme has just started in Lebanon. This project, which we co-finance with the EU, aims to help Syrian refugee school children to continue their education, and to support Lebanon with the significant problems faced when dealing with a large influx of displaced people. These challenges are not just confined to Lebanon, and the British Council is looking at how we can support governments and communities facing similar challenges in the region.

While DFID has reduced its bilateral activity in MENA, we recently secured a civil society project in the Palestinian Territories through DFID’s governance and security framework.  The project involves providing support to civil society groups for them to monitor how the Palestinian Authority (PA) spends public money and helping young people, particularly young women and girls, engage with the PA. 

In addition to working with international donors, our networks and relationships on the ground enable us to pursue national government contracts in the Gulf, as many countries continue to adopt a schools reform agenda.  

Looking ahead, we are currently tracking a pipeline of contract opportunities across the region in sectors such as skills and TVET, secondary education reform, English, civil society, access to justice and the rule of law, and public sector reform. 

One of our main clients in the region, the EU, is also looking to extend funding under its European Neighbourhood Instrument for 2012-14, as well as under its Development Co-operation Instrument, which could mean a number of potential opportunities on the horizon.

Read more about our international development work in the MENA region.