COVID-19 spending must not come from development budget, says Dutch parliamentary majority

On March 26, 2020, the Dutch parliament approved by majority a motion to preserve the Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation budget from financing a part of the €15.0 billion (US$17.0 billion) package for the domestic response to the COVID-19 crisis in the Netherlands, which had been announced by the Minister of Finance earlier that week. 

The motion, spearheaded by Mr. Van der Staaij from the SGP party, made special emphasis in preserving the ODA funding to global health and food security. 

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)


Dutch umbrella NGO talks with Minister Kaag on COVID-19's effects in development sector

On March 23, 2020, the Dutch NGO umbrella organization Partos met with the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, to relay their asks back to her ministry. These recommendations were compiled by Partos members, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, and included the following:

  • Provide existing NGO programs with enough flexibility to respond quickly to COVID-19 and address the greatest needs of the most vulnerable;
  • Allocate additional funding to fight COVID-19 in developing countries and ensure continuity of current programs aimed at supporting health care; and
  • Keep supporting existing civil society strengthening programs for their critical role both addressing the current crisis as well as preserving civic spaces affected as a result of the political measures taken in some countries. 

The Minister promised to ensure flexibility of the use of current funds to NGOs and noted the Ministry is working on a framework towards this goal. Kaag also shared her concerns about Human Rights and the need to maintain ongoing and future programs in support of local organizations in developing countries. 

On March 28, 2020, Kaag expanded upon the importance of supporting the most vulnerable populations in developing countries in a panel discussion in the Dutch TV Op1 show (from Minute 35, in Dutch only).

Press release - Partos (in Dutch)


Strong pandemic response abroad and high WHO contributions benefit Netherlands' own security, argues op-ed

On March 27, 2020, the Netherlands' Financial Dagblad published an op-ed by Cordaid, Clingendael Institute, and Oliver van Loo (an independent health advisor), discussing the Dutch COVID-19 response both domestically and abroad in low-income countries, and calling for a bigger investment in the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The article reflects on a 2010 report from the Health Advisory Organisation to the Dutch government, which concluded that because infectious diseases have the potential to strike worldwide and do not adhere to national borders, addressing them abroad is important for the Netherlands' own security, as a small country. The op-ed further reasons that the weakened role of Dutch official development assistance (ODA) in supporting health system strengthening elsewhere has impacted domestic responses to the current crisis.

News item - Clingendael Institute (in Dutch)


Dutch parliament requests information on funding plans for COVID-19 support to low-income African countries

Arne Weverling, member of the Dutch Parliament and spokesperson for the Development Committee for the liberal party (VVD), requested that Ministers Sigrid Kaag and Stef Blok share with parliament their understanding of the medical, economic, and political consequences of the COVID-19 crisis in low-income countries. 

The VVD inquired whether there is any flexibility within the current development budget to provide funding specifically to low-income African countries for this purpose, or if the government is planning to shift existing development cooperation funds towards tackling the COVID-19 crisis. 

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Netherlands announces new ODA for COVID-19 response

On March 23, 2020, Dutch Ministers Kaag and Blok detailed new ODA pledges to be allocated to the COVID-19 response. These include: 

  • An extra contribution of €4 million (US$4 million) to the World Health Organization, intended for countries with weak health systems;
  • An increase to the existing contribution to the Contingency Fund for Emergencies from €1 to 2 million (US$1 to 2 million) for 2020;
  • An amount of €800,000 (US$909,000), allocated to the International Red Cross Federation via the Dutch Red Cross; and
  • An ongoing contribution to the Central Emergency Response Fund of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The Ministers also indicated that the Dutch government is considering making additional resources available through the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global alliance for financing and coordinating vaccine development, including in the field of COVID-19. 

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)


Netherlands will continue support to Sahel region with US$430 million over four years

The Dutch Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation informed parliament in a letter about the Dutch and European development efforts in the Sahel region in the coming years. The cabinet outlined its commitment to strengthening the capacities of Sahel countries to guarantee their own safety, and its investment of more than 400 million (US$430 million) for a period of four years in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

With regard to migration, the Netherlands contributes financially to international initiatives against human trafficking, smuggling networks, and towards the improvement of legal systems. The Netherlands also supports the reception and assistance of irregular migrants. The national commitment is designed in line with the broader European framework, which carries out several security missions in the area and invests in sustainable development. 

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)


Dutch human rights ambassador and parlimentarian join campaign for gender-equal media representation

Ms. Bahia Tahzib-Lie, the Human Rights Ambassador of the Netherlands, and Ms. Isabelle Diks, member of the Dutch parliament for the Green Party (GroenLinks), have joined the #Media4Women campaign, becoming Gender Equality Champions.

Gender Equality Champions are a part of Free Press Unlimited’s 'Media4Women' campaign, which represents women and men working to achieve an inclusive and equal portrayal of women by the media. In the respective videos shared by Ms. Diks and Ms. Tahzib-Lie, they speak about their work to achieve this goal, and share their reflections on what others could do to make a difference in  media representation.

Free Press Unlimited - Twitter


New resource tracking donor funding for COVID-19

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a US-based non-profit organization focused on health, recently released a centralized compilation of information on donor funding for COVID-19. Their analysis is based on publicly available information and details all funding directed toward the global response to the virus. It excludes spending on domestic response efforts or economic stimulus.

Key findings include:

  • Governments, multilateral organizations, and private funders around the world have so far spent an estimated US$8.3 billion responding to the virus;
  • 91% of funds have come from donor governments, the World Bank, and other multilateral organizations; and
  • The World Bank is the largest donor so far (US$6.0 billion). The US is the second-largest donor (US$1.3 billion), followed by the Tencent/Tencent Charity Foundation (US$215 million), Alibaba (US$144 million), and the European Union (US$140 million).

KFF plans to update the tracker as this global health emergency continues to unfold.

In addition to KFF's work on donor funding for COVID-19, other efforts to provide data-driven information on the outbreak have begun to emerge. Our World in Data's COVID-19 article is a particularly useful resource. Their aim is to help readers make sense of early data on the coronavirus outbreak. The article will continue to be updated as the situation develops.

Report - KFF

ONE highlights need for better data, alongside release of their new gender data dashboard

ONE, a global movement campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030, has joined the growing number of organizations calling attention to the fact that "more funding for gender equality may not be all it seems". Official Development Assistance (ODA) targeting gender equality reached an all-time high of US$45.2 billion in 2018, accounting for 39.4% of ODA. However, closer examinations of the figures recently released by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reveal that challenges remain, especially in terms of the quality of the data available on the state of funding for gender equality in development.

As part of ONE's commitment to back up their advocacy with data-driven tools, they released a new interactive dashboard to explore gender ODA from nine major donors. The tool provides data on how each donor spends gender equality focused development funding, information on their key gender strategies, details on the sectors and income levels that they target, and analysis of how different agencies prioritize gender equality.

Blog post - ONE

Dutch Minister shares reflections and future plans for Dutch humanitarian support

The Netherland's Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, sent a letter to the Dutch parliament outlining her reflections and insights on the current international humanitarian context. Her letter also outlines Dutch policy efforts and her ministry's financial commitments to humanitarian assistance in 2020.

This letter comes a year after the publication of the Dutch emergency assistance policy, which was articulated in the memorandum "People First!". Minister Kaag gives her thoughts on the two main pillars of this policy: the provision of emergency assistance (mainly through financing) and political, diplomatic and thematic initiatives. Furthermore, the letter shares insights on the situation of specific countries, including Syria and Venezuela. It highlights two priority areas for the Dutch government: mental health and psychological support in crisis situations and vulnerable groups such as young girls or people with disabilities. 

The letter also includes a summary of the Netherlands' financial assistance in the humanitarian sector for 2019 and expected spending in 2020. The Netherlands is forecasting a drop of roughly US$21 million (€18 million) in spending. Most of the cuts stem from reduced contributions to multilateral institutions including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

News article - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)