Improving Prospects for Data Enabled Livelihoods Among Marginalized Communities in the MENA region

The Middle East and North African (MENA) region continues to face unique challenges in efforts to generate progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Goals: a rising population of under-employed youth, ongoing political instability, and a growing need to support peoples displaced by conflict and climate change. New approaches to leveraging data are emerging that could contribute to tackling these challenges, by generating employment opportunities, supporting more efficient and effective health care interventions, and identifying techniques to combat pollution.

While we have seen progress in the data for development movement in MENA in the past decade, there remain serious roadblocks for capitalizing on the untapped potential of data. Among these are low rates of data literacy and digital skills, a scarcity of open data from governments and in general, a lack of demand and use from the general public, decision makers, academics and students linked to data literacy, as well as a lack of data governance practices in general. However, the small and growing data community in the MENA anticipates more opportunities to use data to improve public service delivery, and stimulate innovative business models and economic growth.

This project supports the Open Data for Development regional hub in the Middle East and North Africa (MENAData), building on six years of work and lessons in the field of data for development in the region. This hub is laying the foundations for future work, governance and innovation on data for development in MENA with the burgeoning community of data experts. MENAData is focusing on building a sustainable community of practice around the innovative use of data to address development challenges.

Project ID


Project status



24 months

IDRC Officer

Ruhiya Seward

Total funding

CA$ 1,500,000


Egypt, Middle East, West Bank and Gaza


Networked Economies


Recipient(s) to be Determined -- Holding Tank

Institution Country


Project Leader

Marwan Tarazi


Birzeit University

Institution Country

West Bank and Gaza

Institution Website