Hanna and Paul about the MENA region

Last year, Hanna Baan Hofman and Paul van Essen supported the YEP Programme Bureau. Hanna did her internship at YEP as part of her studies International Land & Water Management at Wageningen UR. Paul is an alumnus of the YEP programme and is currently working as an independent consultant and coach. One of the tasks they have been working on is to develop a strategy to increase YEP applications for the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA). Hanna: “It would be great to see the effect of this MENA strategy in a few years. When the YEP Programme Bureau can show a significant growth of the number of Young Experts building a sustainable future in the MENA region by the end of 2025!”  

Paul: “Since the start of YEP in 2013 the YEP Programme Bureau received many applications for positions of Young Experts in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Indonesia and Ghana. However, since Phase II Indonesia, Ghana and also Rwanda are no longer focus countries. In order to diversify the countries of deployment of Young Experts it is important to have a closer look at the new focus countries, including those in the MENA region. In Phase I YEP could deploy Young Experts in 8 countries in the MENA region with only the Palestinian Territories and Yemen as focus countries. Since Phase II started in 2020, YEP can deploy Young Experts in 10 countries in the MENA region of which all are now focus countries.”

Hanna: “When reading the current policies of the Dutch government, but also of the European Union, we see a shift of focus towards the MENA region with an emphasis on youth employment. YEP is a great tool to support this and simultaneously contribute to the SDGs. There is a big young and highly educated population in the MENA region that wants to build a more sustainable future and find sustainable practices in the Water-Energy-Food nexus. Which is, obviously, a very urgent matter in the face of climate change.”

Paul: “It seems that especially the Agrofood and Renewable Energy sectors are booming in the MENA region. There is potentially a strong private sector collaboration in Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon and Jordan. While the collaboration with development cooperation is likely to be more prominent in Yemen, Palestinian Territories, Libya and Iraq. For YEP Water we will put an extra focus on Egypt as a delta country. In addition, Morocco seems to have potential considering the large community in the Netherlands with Moroccan origin.”  


Hanna: “Over the last few months we had several online meetings with the Dutch embassies, Private Sector Development (PSD) Coaches of RVO and with various potential organisations and companies. To contribute to the SDGs related to economic growth and inclusive societies, private sector development is promoted. SMEs that are rooted in the local communities are key to this development. Just as civil society organisations are key to integrating marginalised communities in the private sector development. Sector growth needs to be inclusive, especially in the sectors Water, Agrofood and Energy as they are fundamental to sustain livelihoods.” 

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