Middle East and North
Africa at one time had the highest population growth rates in the world, exceeding Sub-Saharan Africa. In the 1990s population growth slowed, and is now about 2 percent – still more than South Asia, but less than Sub-Saharan Africa. Past high growth has been accompanied by significant poverty reduction – and sharp downturns have been accompanied by slight increases in poverty rates from already low levels in 1990. In the last decade economic growth was slower than in any region, except Sub-Saharan Africa and the transition economies of Europe and Central Asia. In
2001-2002, GDP per capita grew by only 1 percent. Since 1990 the percentage of people living below $1 per day has not improved, and the percentage living below $2 per day has increased from 21 to 23 percent of the population.
The region has a well-developed infrastructure. Over 85 percent of its population, have access to improved sanitation facilities and water sources; and
64 percent of its roads are paved. But with only 1,377 cubic meters of freshwater resources available per capita, the Middle East and North Africa ranks well below the average of other regions. And the region has the highest military expenditure in the developing world: 7 percent of GDP, more than double the spending of the next highest region, Europe and Central Asia.