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Forced displacement is among the most pressing challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean region. In the Middle East and Turkey, the Syrian refugee crisis involves humanitarian challenges coupled with significant spillover effects in neighboring regions. After six years of Syrian conflict and displacement, Syrian refugees are seen as medium-term stayers and urban communities are especially affected by their presence, as refugees mostly reside in towns and cities.

A knowledge exchange and peer learning activities were carried out for delegations from Djibouti and Morocco seeking to learn from Mauritius. Despite different national contexts, Djibouti and Morocco are facing similar challenges that Mauritius faced in the mid-1980s, relating a largely informal Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector and improving quality of services. The objectives of the exchange were to better understand how Mauritius has been able to tackle the issues around the adoption of a legal and institutional framework that supports Early Childhood Development.

Djibouti was heavily dependent on food and energy imports, while about three-fourths of its population lived in extreme poverty. The government had been exploring alternative ways for alleviating poverty through social assistance programs financed by international institutions, such as the World Bank. It was among the first countries to receive a grant from the Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP).

The national water utility in Djibouti faced significant challenges with insufficient human capacity, degraded infrastructure, and out-of-date operations. The Ministry of Finance recognized the need to improve the utility’s performance, and with World Bank support prepared a knowledge exchange with the water utility in Tunisia, which had strengthened its performance. The exchange led to an action plan for Djibouti and a long-term cooperative partnership with Tunisia.


The Government of Djibouti recognized the need for a diversified path to economic and social growth that encompassed combatting poverty and enabling a dynamic private sector. Toward this goal it developed its long-term growth strategy, “Djibouti Vision 2035”, and engaged in a knowledge exchange with Cape Verde, Dubai, and Mauritius. The knowledge-providing countries shared how specific strategies in significant yet under-exploited sectors could help contribute to overall economic and social development.