03 July 2024

Regional Nutrition Situation Analysis in the Middle East and North Africa - 2024

Well-nourished children survive, grow and develop to their full potential, and well-nourished adolescents and adults are healthier, more productive and better equipped to contribute to society. In contrast, poor nutrition across the lifecycle can have devastating and often lifelong consequences on health and development – the effects of which exact a tremendous and expensive toll on individuals, families and health systems.The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is home to a culturally and politically diverse group of low-, middle- and high-income countries, at differing stages of demographic transition and experiencing a range of development challenges and humanitarian crises. As a result, the underlying factors influencing what and how children and families eat, and the nutritional status of the population, vary widely across the region. Regular, reliable national-level data are needed to understand where progress to reduce malnutrition has been achieved, where greater policy and programme efforts are required, and what emerging issues are impacting countries in the region.UNICEF’s Regional Nutrition Situation Analysis, 2024, presents regional and country-level findings on the nutrition situation of children, adolescents, and women in the MENA region. The regional nutrition situation analysis was conducted using a mixed-methods approach. In-depth analyses were also conducted in eight countries: Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, the Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, and Yemen.Key FindingsWhile there has been significant progress in reducing chronic malnutrition, far too many children are still starting life at a nutritional disadvantage in the MENA region.In middle childhood and adolescence, undernutrition persists while overweight and poor dietary practices are on the rise.An alarming proportion of adult women are living with overweight and obesity, and a third suffer from anaemia.Some policies, strategies and programmes to improve nutrition are in place, but stonger government commitment, investment and capacity support are needed.More recent and reliable data are needed to understand the nutrition situation. 
16 May 2024

UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Office 2023 Annual Report

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a region of contrasts. It is home to a culturally diverse group of low, middle-, and high-income countries. Child poverty remains high in most countries, ranging from 16 percent in Egypt to 76 percent in Yemen. Less than half of the children have access to social protection, hindered by low public financing for such programs. Inequalities between and within countries are substantial, and this gap is widening.In 2023, some MENA countries flourished while others experienced complex humanitarian crises that took a terrible toll on the lives of children and families. There were devastating earthquakes in Syria and Morocco, floods in Libya, the large-scale conflict across all of Sudan, creating the world’s largest child internal displacement crisis, and the ongoing tragic situation in Israel and the State of Palestine.Country offices and the regional office in Amman had to respond to the needs of children in very varied contexts. This required a high degree of program flexibility, solid contingency planning and preparedness, and a high level of attention to the duty of care for staff. The scope of such crises has inevitably impacted UNICEF’s work and the region’s progress toward child-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).Through it all, the UNICEF MENA Regional Office (MENARO) and 16 country offices continued to deliver results for children. In 2023, UNICEF, along with its partners, met most of the immediate needs of the most vulnerable children while delivering programmes, advocacy, and support to defend the rights of children and young people in varying circumstances and help them fulfill their potential. The dedication of country and regional office staff was outstanding, with teams delivering results in unimaginably challenging conditions, more particularly in Sudan, the State of Palestine, and Yemen, involving the loss of family members, multiple relocations, and evacuations. For MENARO, protecting staff security and well-being was a significant focus and achievement.