The “Policy labs for multi-stakeholder engagement on social protection in MENA: Case studies of Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia” is a joint collaboration between the Middle East and North Africa Social Policy Network (MENASP) at the University of Bath (UK), the University of Western Ontario (Canada), and regional partners the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (Jordan), the Centre for Social Sciences Research & Action (Lebanon), and the Tunisian Office of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (Tunisia/Germany), with funding from the Ford Foundation.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic impact on social welfare in the region, the two-year project aims at enhancing social policies dialogue in the MENA region by developing meaningful coalition-building and engagement by enacting a policy lab model with relevant stakeholders.
Focusing on social policy in Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia, the project is invested in promoting social policy that reflects the specific needs of the end-users; including those who have been disenfranchised by previous policies such as the old, the poor, and the disabled.
These policy labs, held in each partner country, will promote positive outcomes by providing a safe space for a diverse coalition made up of academics, government officials, policymakers, NGOs, as well as the end-users themselves. By engaging in a process of collaboration that incorporates academic rigour and local knowledge, it is hoped that this will lead to policy outcomes that are tailored to the end-users while also strengthening their civic engagement.
The project adopts a measured and strategic approach to effecting policy change in MENA. This is to be accomplished by prioritising health, social care, and social security as the three primary concerns in a post-COVID policy environment. The objectives for the project in Lebanon, Jordan, and Tunisia are:
- Greater civic engagement for user-groups – vulnerable user-groups and civil society actors are expected to benefit through their direct participation in the co-production of policy solutions inspired by the Policy Lab events.
- Enhanced civil society capacities – Local partners will work with state officials and user groups to co-produce policy solutions. This will lead to improved policy accountability and a better capacity for problem-solving regarding social protection.
- Enhanced trust and working relationships with policy-makers – The coalition composed of the University of Bath, the University of Western Ontario, ARDD, CeSSRA, and FES will collaborate in identifying priority areas for reinforcing the resilience of social protection systems in each regional area and will foster trust with policy-makers while agreeing on a plan for follow-up action.
Project Activities / Timeline
From 1st March 2022 to 1st March 2024:
- Collecting background information – This process will include:
- A systematic review of the current backdrop of social policy in Tunisia, Jordan, and Lebanon, with appropriate baseline measures based on what works.
- A comprehensive process of stakeholder mapping in order to appraise the design of the Policy Labs, and further, contribute to the development of a civic engagement plan for the project.
- Consulting with stakeholders on project plans, including international partners (i.e., UK, Canada).
- Meaningful dialogue with stakeholders to develop an effective policy lab model
- Common goals, outcomes, and project buy-in will be stimulated by initiating public engagement with a diverse set of stakeholders via face to face and online dialogue sessions (with the inclusion of new partners, such as in Tunisia).
- Based on literature reviews and consultations, identify themes and relevant stakeholders to participate in the Policy Labs.
- Create provisional plans for three case studies to be produced following the Policy Lab events in each country.
- Policy lab activities supported by dialogue and civic engagement
- Begin the process of civic engagement at the national level.
- Delivery of two adapted Policy Labs per year in Lebanon and Jordan, and one per year in Tunisia.
- Dissemination and policy feedback
- Soliciting stakeholder feedback, and performing analysis based on research and Policy Lab findings with due attention to the effects of COVID-19 on diverse populations.
- A regional knowledge-sharing conference will be held at the end of each project year, in which impact will be reviewed and case studies of the three countries will be presented to stakeholders. Digital media such as podcasts will be produced in conjunction with such events where appropriate.
- Civil society
- The wider public
This project is funded by the Ford Foundation.
- The Middle East and North Africa Social Policy Network (MENASP) at the University of Bath (UK)
- University of Western Ontario (Canada)
- Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development – ARDD (Jordan)
- Centre for Social Sciences Research & Action – CeSSRA (Lebanon)
- Tunisian Office of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung – FES-Tunisie (Tunisia / Germany)
- The Public Health Policy Lab in Jordan, 19th January 2022.