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The forthcoming World Bank report on Social Safety Nets, Inclusion and Resilience: The Way Forward for Social Safety Nets in the Middle East and North Africa is the product of a collaborative effort led by a core team consisting of Joana Silva, Senior Economist, Victoria Levin, Economist and Matteo Morgandi, Young Professional.

Periods of transition can be defining moments for social welfare systems, as they are times of critical re-thinking, with questions raised about how existing systems can be reformed to promote social inclusion while improving access to economic opportunities. Most Social Safety Net (SSN) programs around the world were indeed introduced during such periods. In the Middle East and North Africa, the period of change ushered in by the Arab Spring provides an opportunity for improving social welfare systems. It was this unprecedented historical moment that inspired the report team to look at the key challenges faced by the region’s poor and vulnerable that could be addressed by renewed safety nets.

The objectives of this forthcoming report are twofold:

1. to enhance the knowledge about the current state of existing social safety nets (SSNs) and assess their effectiveness in responding to new and emerging challenges to the poor and vulnerable in the region, by bringing together and evaluating new evidence, data, and country-specific analysis; and

2. to open up and inform a debate on feasible policy options to make MENA SSNs more effective and innovative.


Joana Silva is a Senior Economist at the World Bank, where she works on labor market reforms and social safety nets. At the World Bank, Joana has divided her time between applied research on workers and firms in developing countries and policy oriented issues. Her areas of expertise include social protection, human development, labor markets and international trade. Her work was published, in, amongst others, the Journal of International Economics, Economics Letters and Review of World Economics. During her 5 years at the World Bank, Joana authored thematic Flagship Reports, managed cross-sectoral lending projects and advisory activities, and contributed to analytical studies, including labor market assessments, the role of international integration, investment climate, political economy of reforms, and impact evaluations. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Nottingham. Prior to joining the World Bank, she also worked for the Globalization and Economic Policy Research Center at the University of Nottingham and the Inter-American Development Bank. She is fluent in Portuguese, French, English, and Spanish.

Victoria Levin is an Economist in the World Bank’s Human Development department of the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region, focusing on issues related to social safety nets, labor markets, and poverty analysis. At the World Bank, Victoria has worked in the Research Department on aid effectiveness; in ECA on labor markets, social protection, and poverty analysis; and in MENA on social safety nets and community-driven development. Her country experience spans Lebanon, Jordan, Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. Victoria joined the World Bank after earning her Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard University. Her prior experience includes fellowships at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) as well as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Matteo Morgandi, an Italian national, is a Young Professional in his second rotation in the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Social Protection Unit. Formerly in the MENA Social Protection team, Matteo's work focused mainly on labor markets, particularly youth economic and social inclusion, informality and migration, and on the political economy of social safety nets. Before joining the World Bank, Matteo worked at the ILO in Washington, D.C. and El Salvador, and as volunteer in UNICEF, Armenia and in Caritas, Italy. Matteo is completing his Ph.D. in Development Economic at the Graduate Institute of Geneva; he holds a M.A. in Development Economics and International Development from SAIS Johns Hopkins University.

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