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Overview
The Middle East is composed of 16 countries, most of which are Islamic nations using the Arabic language. With its long history, each country has diverse cultural and social dynamics which translate into different levels of development. Military conflicts, economic recessions and high unemployment rates in the Middle East have impeded economic development.

Major development indicators show that progress has been made in health, education and quality of life in the past few decades. However, many people still live in poverty and the overall social development index remains low. Some of the major development challenges in the Middle East are the serious income disparities, high rates of unemployment, gender discrimination, political instability and slow integration into the global economy.

As for the MDG targets in the Middle East, significant improvement was seen in the areas of life expectancy, infant mortality and universal primary education. For example, areas such as Iran, Jordan and Syria have already achieved the goal of universal primary education. In addition, indicators related to the goal of establishing infrastructure, such as roads, electricity, etc., have been good. Efforts are still needed to achieve targets related to the provision of safe drinking water and sanitary facilities by the year 2015. However, due to an increasing number of people living on less than two dollars a day, sustained assistance is needed to reduce poverty in the region.

From 1991 to 2002, KOICA’s assistance for the Middle East region remained at an insignificant level. However, beginning in 2003, large-scale assistance was implemented through special cooperation projects in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. In particular, assistance is expected to gradually increase, beginning with USD 100 million being provided for reconstruction in Iraq from 2008 to 2011, and USD 20 million being provided to support the Palestinian Gaza Strip from 2008 to 2010.
ToTal Aid Flows to Middle East(1999-2008)
Performance in 2008

A total of USD 15.6 million or 5.7% of KOICA’s aid budget was delivered to seven countries including Iraq, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. Assistance to the region was decreased by 73.3% compared to 2007 due to the conclusion of the first Iraq reconstruction project, which ran from 2003 to 2007 at a cost of USD 260 million.

Iraq received a large portion of funding totaling USD 6.4 million, accounting for 41.2% of aid allocated to the Middle East, followed by Jordan and the Palestinian territories. For the top five regional partner countries, KOICA spent 5.5% of the total project budget or 98% of the budget earmarked for the Middle East. Projects in education accounted for 39.3% of the total budget, followed by health and governance
Top 5 Partner Countries in the Middle East (USD in million)

Rank

Country

Amount

Percentage(%)

Of KOICA’s total
budget

Of KOICA's budget for the region

1

Palestine

7.443

2.7

40.3

2

Iraq

6.501

2.3

35.2

3

Jordan

3.995

1.4

21.6

4

Yemen

0.461

0.2

2.5

5

Iran

0.046

0

0.3

Total

18.448

6.6

99.9

 
Assistance by Sectoral Priority in the Middle East (USD in million)

Sectoral Priority

Amount

Percentage(%)

Education

4.664

25.3

Health

4.705

25.3

Governance

2.306

12.5

Rural Development

0.057

0.3

Information& Communication Technology

0.328

1.8

Industry& Energy

0.752

3.9

Environment& Other

2.349

12.7

Disaster Relief

3.338

18.1

Total

18.471

100

 
Sector Share of ODA Middle East