To understand ramifications of potential UK development assistance merger, look to Australia's history, warns former Australian Foreign Affairs Minister

Alexander Downer, former Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, argued against the amalgamation of the Department of International Development (DFID) with the UK Foreign Office, a move currently being considered by UK government officials.  He reccomended that DFID, if placed under the Foreign Secretary, should remain a separate institution.

Downer drew a parallel between the UK's possible restructuring of its development assistance mechanisms and the 2013 merge of Australia's development assistance agency, AusAID, and its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

This move, Downer says, did not improve Australia’s foreign policy or its delivery of development assistance, as proponents claimed it would. Instead, it involved substantial disturbance and the loss of many talented development officials. Downer was Minister for Foreign Affairs for 12 years. In that role, he was responsible for Australia's development assistance program.

Letter to the editor - The Times

Australia United Kingdom

Australia and South Pacific could see dramatic geopolitical fallout from climate change

An article in The Diplomat magazine outlined the dramatic geopolitical implications of climate change for Australia and its neighbors. Low-income countries in the region are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and extreme weather, which pose a threat to their food and water security, as well as to their homes and livelihoods, increasing the possibility of forced migration.

Many of these low-income countries lack the resources and infrastructure to tackle the challenges of climate change alone. Australia has, for a long time, been involved in peacekeeping and development assistance initiatives in the region, but climate change has not been a development policy priority. The article's author joined calls for greater efforts from the Australian government to recognize the scale of the threat posed by climate change and to take bold action to mitigate major geopolitical fallout. Devastating bush fires across the continent have put an international spotlight on Australian government inaction around climate policy.

News article - The Diplomat


Australia partners with 6 East African countries in launch of research program on bean varieties

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) has announced a program to improve bean varieties to increase micronutrients and reduce cooking time. Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Kenya are partner countries in the program. 

Shorter cooking times can reduce environmental impacts and the adverse health effects of exposure to cooking fire emissions.

Press release - ACIAR

Australia Agriculture Nutrition

Australian photojournalist illustrates health crisis in neighboring Papua New Guinea

Award-winning photojournalist Alex Ellinghausen has outlined health challenges in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the key role of Australian government assistance and NGO programs. 

Documenting a visit to PNG with members of Australia's federal parliament, Ellinghausen emphasized the ongoing tuberculosis and nutrition problems affecting PNG's children. He also wrote on the improving situation for girls’ education and the programs addressing gender-based violence.

News article - Sydney Morning Herald

Study examines dependency of Kiribati education initiatives on Australian assistance

A study examining the dependency of Kiribati on Australian assistance has been published in the scientific journal Wiley. The study focuses in particular on the Australian-funded Kiribati Education Facility program to include children with disabilities in school programs, which has generated significant improvements in the access of disabled children to school. There is concern that these inclusive education initiatives would not surivive without continued funding from Australia, which is in danger of being cut if the government were to change its developing funding priorities.

'Dependency on Australian aid and the introduction of inclusive education initiatives in Kiribati' - Wiley Online Library

Australia Education

Australian researchers discover breakthrough in malaria transmission prevention

Australian researchers have identified a means of blocking transmission of the Falciparum strain of malaria.  This enables killing the parasite while it is present in red blood cells by inhibiting a specific enzyme Plasmepsin V. The discovery should allow the development of new preventative therapies, potentially blocking both sickness and transmission.

News article - SciDevNet

Australia designs major 'Transition to Health' program with Papua New Guinea

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has released a draft design document for a US$126 million (A$183 million) program to support components of Papua New Guinea’s National Health Plan.

Running over 5 years, the program will assist with high priority health challenges including family planning, sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health, and combating communicable diseases.

Draft design document - DFAT

Australia Global health

World Public Health Nutrition Congress to be held in Brisbane in March of 2020

The 2020 World Public Health Nutrition Congress, the latest of the sessions held every four years by the World Public Health Nutrition Association (WPHNA), is slated to be held in Brisbane, Queensland from March 31- April 2. Topics are set to include sustainable, resilient food systems; social protection and nutrition education; and trade and investment for improved nutrition.

Congress website - WPHNA

Australia Nutrition

Australian think tank proposes three potential areas for joint development cooperation with China

An opinion piece from the Lowy Institute has suggested that there are three areas in which China and Australia could work cooperatively in the Pacific: namely on debt sustainability,  donor coordination improvement (to the extent China wishes to join such mechanisms), and through joint projects.

A current example is the cooperative malaria project between Australia, China, and Papua New Guinea. Further trilateral cooperation would be most sensible in the health sector or possibly in the field of agriculture and food security.

Op-ed - Lowy Institute

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister announces consultation process to guide new Australian development policy

Australia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, and Alex Hawke, Minister for Overseas Development and the Pacific, have announced consultation arrangements on new international development policy. Input is sought from members of the public, the development community, partners, and stakeholders in Australia and overseas. These submissions close on January 31, 2020, and are limited to a maximum of five pages.

An expert panel has been announced to advise Ministers and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the development of the new policy and associated performance framework. The six members have backgrounds in foreign assistance, diplomacy, overseas trade, and NGO work. The Chair, Dennis Richardson was previously Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Secretary of the Department of Defence.

Government website: DFAT