Social Protection Reforms in the Mena Region: Possibilities and Challenges

Ahmed Aref, Abdalhadi Alijla, Imène Cherif, Izabela Marcinkowska

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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The COVID-19 crisis revealed a significant gap in access to public services and highlighted significant issues with regards to government responsiveness to the immediate consequences of the pandemic. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in particular, social protection systems are relatively weak and have been strained, already in the pre-pandemic period, by several challenges and disfunctions.

In such context, vulnerable groups – including informal workers, women, children and the elderly – are particularly exposed to the economic and social consequences of the pandemic, particularly to loss of income and unemployment. While there is clear evidence that social protection systems have a positive impact on the lives of populations in times of crisis, but they need to be comprehensive and with a high rate of coverage.

What is the state of social protection mechanisms before and during the COVID-19 crisis in the MENA? What are the social protection responses of state and non-state actors to the pandemic? How can the current crisis be turned into an opportunity to reshape these social protection systems in a more inclusive way? What policies could the EU adopt to support social protection reform in the Southern Neighbourhood?
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyEuropean Union
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • social protection
  • social protection system
  • MENA
  • COVID 19
  • pandemic


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