Ivanka Trump finishes women's empowerment tour in Africa

US presidential advisor and daughter of President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, made a two-country visit to Africa to promote the Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, an effort to assist 50 million women in the developing world by 2025. Ms Trump first visited Ethiopia and then the Ivory Coast, where she toured a cocoa farm. She then spoke at a women's empowerment forum. 

News article - Reuters

United States

USAID preparing to lay off most local staff on Palestinian projects

The Trump administration has ordered the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to lay off most of the local aid workers in its West Bank and Gaza mission. The cuts are a result of a new US law that targets the Palestinian Authority for its financial support for people convicted of violence against Israelis.

USAID's work included assistance with building infrastructure, schools, and job creation. These cuts come at the same time as the Trump Administration plans to roll out its long-awaited peace plan. Many have opposed the reduction in staff, saying that USAID's development expertise and assistance had given those in the region a chance to live independently, and that the loss is likely "irreplaceable". 

News report - National Public Radio  

United States

'Global gag rule' hits PEPFAR implemeters

The US' expanded 'Global Gag Rule', which prohibits US health funding to foreign aid groups that provide abortion services, counseling, or even financial support to other groups that provide such services, has started to affect implementers of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program, according to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University and amFAR. 

Once limited to family planning, the expanded prohibition now applies to all global health implementers. The study surveyed nearly 300 PEPFAR implementing partners in 45 programs and found that the rule has now impeded the provision of full sexual and reproductive services, including contraceptives, and HIV services. The rule particularly affects sub-Saharan Africa, youth populations, and other marginalized groups.

Opinion piece - Devex

United States Global health

USAID releases policy framework for journey to self-reliance

Speaking before a global development audience in Washington, DC, the Administrator of United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Mark Green, launched the policy framework for his agency's new approach to development cooperation, the 'Journey to Self-Reliance'.  The shift in USAID's strategy seeks to "end the need for foreign assistance" through a new kind of engagement with partner countries.  

USAID has already released a number of other documents to assist in this transition, including metrics for measuring a country's progress toward self-reliance. 

Administrator remarks - USAID website

United States

OECD DAC preliminary data release shows ODA down by 2.7% in 2018

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) has published preliminary data for 2018, showing that official development assistance (ODA) fell by 2.7% in 2018. The data release is the first to use the OECD's  new 'grant equivalent' methodology. Applied for the first time in 2018, the method aims to ‘provide a more realistic comparison of the effort involved in providing grants and loans and encourage the provision of grants and highly concessional loans, especially to low-income countries’.

Net ODA from DAC members reached US$153 billion in 2018. The largest donors in absolute amounts were 1) the US (US34.3 billion), Germany (US$25 billion), 3) the UK (US19.4 billion), 4) Japan (US$14.2 billion), and 5) France (US$12.2 billion). In relative terms, the largest donors were Sweden at 1.04% of its gross national income (GNI), Luxembourg (0.98%), Norway (0.94%), Denmark (0.72%) and the UK(0.7%).

For more detailed information on the performance of bilateral donors, see the OECD DAC's detailed summary here.

OECD DAC – Press release “Development aid drops in 2018, especially to neediest countries”

Trump's proposed cuts to development assistance for Central America remain in limbo

After US President Trump announced cuts to three Central American countries, the details of those funding decisions remains unclear. The cuts—which the administration plans to make from already appropriated funding—were sharply criticized by a number of Members of Congress. If the money is 'reprogrammed' from fiscal year 2017 and 2018, as announced by the State Department, Congress is supposed to have authority to approve any of those decisions.  

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sidestepped the issue at a hearing before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over US foreign assistance programs, speaking only of future funding allocations. 

News article - Washington Post

United States

US Adminstration defends foreign assistance cuts while Capitol Hill remains opposed

In separate hearings on Capitol Hill, both the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and the Administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Mark Green, defended President Trump's proposed cuts to US foreign assistance in his fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget. Appearing before the Senate Appropriations Subcommitee, however, Secretary Pompeo was told by the Chair of the Subcommittee, Republican Lindsay Graham, that the president's proposal to slash the State Department budget "ain't happening". 

Administrator Green also got significant pushback from both sides of the aisle in the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) in relation to the FY2020 budget proposal.

Hearing video - Senate Appropriations Subcomittee

Hearing video - HFAC

United States

US Congress and development community speak out against spending cuts to Central America

The US development community joined members of Congress is voicing opposition to President Trump's attempts to cut foreign assistance to Central American countries. The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN), a coalition of development organizations, issued a statement opposing the cuts as counterproductive to the administration's own goals. According to the statement, "transparency, ownership, and accountability are the hallmarks of sustainable assistance and essential to self-reliance," and the sudden withdrawal of foreign assistance to the region "subverts the administration’s own efforts to champion effective foreign assistance". Members of Congress as well as other organizations issued similar warnings of the effect of the administration's efforts to withdraw already appropriated funding.

Statement - MFAN

News article - Reuters

News article - Breitbart

United States

US Office of Budget and Management issues report on implementation of transparency law on US foreign assistance

The US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a report on the implementation of the US Foreign Assitance Transparency and Accountability Act (FATAA).  The analysis, which was required by FATAA, presented the administration's assessment of compliance of the 22 agencies which have a role in implementing US foreign assistance.  The review covered seven different foreign assistance data reporting requirements. Agencies flagged for additional compliance requirements included the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which is in the process of turning into a new development finance corporation.

Report - OMB

United States

US President Trump announces end to foreign assistance in Northern Triangle of Central America

In a speech in Florida, US President Donald Trump announced that he had stopped funding to three countries in the Northern Triangle of Central America: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The US State Department spokeswoman then said that “[at] the secretary’s instruction, we are carrying out the president’s direction and ending fiscal year (FY) 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle.” The State Department said that it would engage with Congress on the redirection of the funds. 

Congressional supporters of aid for Central America called the move shortsighted and counterproductive, saying it would exacerbate the border issues that the assistance is designed to help, and raised the issue of whether the President could unilaterally make such funding decisions. 

News article - Politico

United States