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Ex-Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to become chair of Wellcome in 2021

In April 2021, Julia Gillard will become chair of Wellcome, the UK-based medical research charity currently engaged in developing a coronavirus vaccine. Gillard was Prime Minister of Australia from 2010 to 2013 and is currently chair of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). She is also chair of the Australian mental health organization Beyond Blue.

Gillard will succeed Eliza Manningham-Buller, who is stepping down from the role.

News article - Wellcome Trust

News article - SBS Australia

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

Norway scales up support to sub-Saharan African pandemic response

The Norwegian government has previously stated its intention to focus development efforts on sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 as part of its work towards realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) before 2030. With sub-Saharan governments and health systems are facing major challenges in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, Norway has announced it will allocate more assistance to strengthening health systems and assisting vulnerable people in the region.

The government is, therefore, proposing to increase development spending in sub-Saharan Africa by NOK 30 million (US$3 million). An additiaonl NOK 150 million (US$14 million) of the government's proposed increased allocation for global health efforts would go to priority countries including Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

To further enable countries in sub-Saharan Africa to meet the challenges of the crisis, the government is proposing an allocation of NOK 180 million (US$17 million) to the International Monetary Fund’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust and NOK 102 million (US$10 million) to the World Bank’s International Development Association, which provides assistance to the world’s lowest income countries.

Press release – Norwegian Government

Norwegian Development Minister calls for international response to safeguard girl’s and women's rights amid pandemic

In a joint op-ed, authors from 59 countries shed light on the serious consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Norwegian Minister of Development, Dag Inge Ulstein, is a part of the call for international cooperation to strengthen the rights of girls and women.

One of the many consequences of the pandemic is the increased vulnerability of girls and women. The op-ed discusses concerns like isolation and shutdown of health care services such as maternity care, safe births, and access to contraception leading to an increase in the risk of unwanted pregnancies and pregnancy-related deaths. Reports from around the world tell of a serious increase in gender-based and sexual violence. Ulstein is urging for international cooperation to maintain access to health care services and prevent serious setbacks within pregnancy-related deaths, teenage pregnancies, and child marriages.

Press release - Norwegian Government (in Norwegian)

Norway Education Global health

Norway's humanitarian budget reaches historic high

Norway’s humanitarian budget is at a record-high this year and large parts of the available NOK 5.5 billion (US$538 million) are now being allocated to specific groups. Organizations like the UN, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and several Norwegian humanitarian organizations will be receiving funds for their work on topics such as education and civillian protection in crisis areas.

Syria, Yemen, and South Sudan are among the countries receiving the most Norwegian humanitarian support this year. Norway will also provide support to efforts to prevent sexual and gender-based violence and the protection of civilians from landmines and other explosives.

Because of the current global situation, an increased portion of the humanitarian budget is being held in reserve to enable quick response to pandemic-related needs as they arise during the year. Several countries may, therefore, receive additional support later in the year.

Press release – Norwegian Government

Sweden's US$11 million in COVID-19 funding prioritizes relief for refugees, young children, emergency health workers

Sweden has reallocated a total of SEK100 million (US$11 million) from its humanitarian reserve toward mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in low-income countries.

Of this funding, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has allocated SEK30 million (US$3 million) to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), including for maintaining health care and access to clean water and hygiene in refugee camps; providing protective equipment for health care professionals and caring for the ill; granting cash support; and making temporary housing available to infected refugees.

In order to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic for children, Sida has also allocated SEK40 million (US$4 million) to the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF. Support will be focused primarily on strengthening risk communication, providing access to clean water and hygiene, strengthening access to education and social protection for families, and providing protective equipment for health professionals.

Sweden has also allocated SEK30 million (US$3 million) to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for supporting hospitals and health care facilities with adequate equipment and providing access to clean water, hygiene, and sanitation; psycho-social support for people already traumatized by violence and conflict; and information and training to stop the spread of infection.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Save the Children Australia to merge with digital library NGO, pursue education outreach

Save the Children Australia (SAVE) will merge with Library for All, a Brisbane-based nonprofit. CEO of SAVE, Paul Ronalds, said the merger will “leverage technology for maximum educational impact”.

It will scale up the efforts by Library for All to reach disadvantaged children around the world, using  Library for All's digital library application to deliver educational materials to remote and impoverished areas.

Press release - Save the Children Australia

Australia Education

Japan to provide US$86 million in loans to establish technological colleges in Thailand

The Japanese government announced that it will provide US$86 million in loans to establish two Japanese colleges of technology in Bangkok, Thailand.

Through the 'Industrial Human Resource Development Project', Japanese teachers will be dispatched to the two new technical colleges. The project aims to produce 1,100 graduates within two years.

The project contributes to a larger agenda around skilled human capital in Thailand. Since 2016, Thailand adopted the 'Thailand 4.0' agenda to promote innovation and productivity through the use of advanced technology, such as computerization, automation, and electrification. However, Thailand has not been able to develop enough trained engineers to match the demand of knowledge-intensive industries. The planned colleges are expected to contribute to rapid increases in the availability of skilled workers in these fields.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan

Japan Education

Spain to reshuffle development priorities to address COVID-19 crisis

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, and the Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, outlined several measures to support developing countries in tackling the COVID-19 crisis.  

González Laya underlined the importance of tackling the pandemic in the most vulnerable countries and Moreno announced that Spain will focus its official development assistance (ODA) on strengthening public health systems, fostering education, and guaranteeing universal access to public goods in several regions including Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Northern Africa, and Latin America.

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

Spain Education Global health

Norway pledges US$112 million to higher education and research in low-income countries

Norway has committed NOK 1 billion (US$112 million) to higher education and research in low-income countries. The aim of the funding is to strengthen the quality of education, guarantee the inclusion of marginalized groups, and ensure that education is relevant for contemporary job markets.

Higher education and research are priority areas in Norwegian development policy. The number of students receiving higher education has doubled worldwide since 2000. Nevertheless, marginalized groups across many countries and regions still lack access to higher education.

The money will be allocated over the next six years through the 'Norhed II' development program and managed by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

Press release – Norwegian government (in Norwegian)

Norway Education