EU provides US$115 million in humanitarian support to the Horn of Africa

The EU is providing €105.5 million (US$115 million) in additional humanitarian support to countries in the Horn of Africa to help address the humanitarian situation affected by the COVID19 crisis. The assistance  will help support those affected by armed conflict, displacement, droughts, floods, and a locust infestation threatening food security and livelihoods. The assistance package includes project funding of €500,000 (US$544,000) in Djibouti, €42 million (US$46 million) in Ethiopia, €15 million (US$16 million) in Kenya, €48 million (US$52 million) in Somalia.
Press release - European Commission

Executive Director of Save the Children UK warns of "lost decade" for children

Kevin Watkins, the Executive Director of Save the Children UK, warns that unless immediate action is taken, the 2020s could be a "lost decade" for making progress on improving the lives of millions of vulnerable children.

Watkins highlights the fact that children in many countries are already missing out on their education as a result of school closures because of the COVID-19 crisis. These closures also mean that  370 million children are not receiving daily school meals, which represent a vital part of many children's daily nutrition.

Loss of income and the impact of rising food prices as a result of COVID-19 could also put a further seven million children around the world at risk of stunting. Furthermore, according to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the current suspension of routine vaccinations could result in more than 13 million people missing out on vital vaccinations.

Watkins calls for donors to:

  • Maintain their development assistance budgets, stressing the fact that poor countries require financial assistance now more than ever;
  • Support further debt relief for poor countries. The G20 already agreed to suspend official creditors debt to the poorest countries, which will free up US$14 billion, but Watkins calls for the G20 to push for a suspension of poor countries' commercial debt as well since overall, commercial debt is twice the size official creditor debt; and
  • Enable the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to support countries and expand their fiscal space.

News article - Devex

Italy launches 'Coalition for Food' initiative to combat COVID-19-related food insecurity

The Italian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Emanuela Del Re, in a call with the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development, Anne-Marie Belinda Trevelyan, presented the Coalition for Food initiative.

The initiative aims to mitigate food insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic. The multilateral action will ensure the sustainability and resilience of the agri-food sector during the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

Press release - Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

Japan to provide US$56 million in loans to Indonesia to strengthen cacao production value chain, support small farmers

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), with Olam International Limited (Olam Ltd.), has agreed to provide up to US$56 million in loans to support Indonesia’s cocoa industry.

The world’s third-largest cacao producer, Indonesia has over 1,000,000 households participating in the cacao industry. However, most cacao production is owned by small farmers, and issues exist over quality and productivity. Furthermore, cacao production is concentrated in the Sulawesi region where poverty rates are high.
This project will strengthen production capacity by expanding cacao plants owned by Olam Ltd.’s Indonesian subsidiary. By providing loans to small farmers, the project is intended to increase trading volume and raise incomes, decreasing regional disparities and alleviating poverty. Furthermore, by increasing Indonesia’s agricultural exports, it will help improve trade balances.

This project is co-financed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which also signed a loan agreement for US$120 million. In May 2017, IFC and JICA agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding for efficient co-financing of the private sector in developing countries.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Australia proposes global reform to wildlife markets, assisting in Papua New Guinea's fight against African swine fever

Australia's Chief Veterinary Officer has suggested the need for global reforms on wildlife markets. He is calling on members of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to take a united approach to change the way these markets are managed. Australia's Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, said changes should be aimed at minimizing the risk of zoonotic and animal diseases associated with these markets.

Littleproud and Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne, also announced jointly the Australian Government’s response to slow the spread of African swine fever in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and stop its entry into Australia. The government committed A$66 million(US$40 million) for a border response package late last year and is providing technical assistance and laboratory support, as well as communication experts to assist PNG with the fight against the African swine fever.

Press release - Minister for Agriculture

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Agriculture

COVID-19 crisis could trigger major food security issues, warn Australian experts

Australian experts have raised concerns about food security and nutrition both during and after the COVID-19 crisis. Despite the fact that nutrition and food security are global development priorities, experts argue that they have remained underfunded and that this could exacerbate the immediate and long-term effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

Inadequate water access, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and economic recession are having and will continue to have serious implications for the health, nutrition, and food security of people in poorer countries. COVID-19 has also highlighted the fact that human health is endangered by inadequate disease surveillance in the agricultural sector. Concerns have been raised about the fact that malnourished people are more likely to experience complications from a COVID-19. This puts the 10% of the global population that remains undernourished and the 30% deficient in key micronutrients — many of whom belong to already vulnerable groups including young children, women of reproductive age, and the elderly — at increased risk.

Given the connections between water, agriculture, nutrition, food security, health, and poverty, the development community is calling on the Australian government to increase its development assistance efforts aimed at tackling these cross-cutting issues.

Blog post - ANU Devpolicy Blog

Blog post - ANU Devpolicy Blog

Norway commits to upholding 1% GNI to ODA

The Norwegian Minister of International Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein, responded to a question from the Progress Party in Parliament, addressing Norway’s commitment to maintaining Official Development Assistance (ODA) at approximately 1% of gross national income (GNI).

Ulstein explained the government’s priorities in development policy and laid out the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the framework for Norwegian development policy: in particular the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. Norway is committed to upholding the current level of assistance.

Norwegian citizens have also expressed strong support for the government’s ODA work. Statistics Norway presented insights in 2017, showing that 87% of the population supports assistance to lower-income countries and that 50% support an increase in Norway's humanitarian budget.

Letter to the parliament – Norwegian Parliament (in Norwegian)

USAID Administrator underscores importance of Sahel food security

In a hearing before a US Senate appropriations subcommittee, Mark Green, Administrator to the US Agency for International Development (USAID), spoke to the importance of food security in maintaining stability in the Sahel. Without food security, Green said, the region faced further reductions in economic opportunity, greater displacement, and increased political radicalization.

USAID provides humanitarian assistance as well as development programs aimed at food security, governance, and resilience.  Green was also questioned about the possible reduction in US troops and how that would affect the stability of the region. Green conceded that a reduction in troops would make it more difficult for USAID to carry out its development programs. Green also spoke to the importance of working on issues that are particularly important to women and girls, including efforts against child marriage, and stressed that women needed to be included in the peace process.

News article - Devex 

United States Agriculture

Sweden provides US$5 million to combat effects of locust swarms in East Africa

To help prevent a looming humanitarian crisis following the recent locus invasion in East Africa, Sweden will provide SEK 45 million (US$5 million) in humanitarian support to the most affected countries. The locust is the worst invasion to hit Somalia and Ethiopia in 25 years and Kenya in 70 years. Swarms have also spread to Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, potentially affecting 20 million people in the region.

In response to an appeal from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Sweden has agreed to channel SEK 30 million (US$3 million) to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda through the FAO’s Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation (SFERA). The support will be directed toward priorities set out for each individual country. An additional SEK 10 million (US$1 million) will be provided to Ethiopia and Somalia, also channeled through SFERA, with the aim of limiting the locusts' spread and ensuring food security. Lastly, SEK 5 million (US$526,000) has been allocated to Kenya and Somalia, channeled through Oxfam’s rapid response mechanism, to combat the spread of the locust and support household recovery. 

Including these recent additions, Sida’s support to FAO in 2020 amounts to SEK 97 million (US$10 million).

Press release – Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (in Swedish)

Sweden Agriculture Nutrition

Agricultural research among most effective components of Australia's development spending, expert argues

Development spending on agricultural research has been an effective — though often overlooked — component of Australia's development scheme. With the government's review of their international development policy currently underway, the Chair of the Crawford Fund for International Agricultural  Research and former Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Anderson, spoke out about the importance of agricultural research in development. He encouraged the Australian government not to cut funding to the sector.

Agricultural research only takes up 2% of Australia’s development budget but according to Anderson, it offers enormous returns in terms of poverty reduction and economic growth in recipient countries. It also creates opportunities for Australia to engage in trade and soft diplomacy. In his comments, Anderson said that agriculture research is furthermore important because it ensures that Australia has the scientific knowledge necessary to respond to emerging biosecurity threats and trends.

News article - The Land

Australia Agriculture