ICAI has scored the UK aid’s approach to youth employment in MENA as amber-red, meaning it is unsatisfactory in most areas, despite a relevant overall approach to promote economic stability and positive collaboration between aid actors. We made five recommendations on how the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) can improve its impact on youth unemployment in the region, including for women and vulnerable people.
- UK aid supporting youth employment in MENA since 2015 has some positive elements but is unsatisfactory in most areas; improvements are required for UK aid to have a positive impact.
- The overall approach of promoting economic stability and growth through macroeconomic reforms is relevant to the needs of the region, but assumptions in programme design are often not supported by evidence.
- We commend the coherence of interventions across UK aid actors, but find they would benefit from more interdisciplinary working and a more even spread of technical expertise across countries.
- Evidence of effectiveness across the portfolio is limited, due to a combination of programme design limitations and insufficient attention to monitoring and evaluation.
- Employment-related programmes should articulate clearly how they expect to contribute to job creation and economic development or address fragility, and ensure that these outcomes are monitored and evaluated.
- When promoting employment through economic reform, FCDO should undertake complementary interventions to tackle the specific barriers to employment faced by target groups.
- Employment-related programmes should be shaped by gender and social inclusion analysis, including of cultural barriers to the employment of women.
- FCDO should routinely consult with the young people expected to benefit from its MENA programmes and use the feedback to shape programme design and implementation.
- FCDO should strengthen its in-country partnerships with multilateral organisations by ensuring consistent strategic-level engagement.
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