Japan and the World Bank launch knowledge-sharing program to develop policy for elder care in Vietnam

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank launched a knowledge-sharing program for elder care in Vietnam. The elderly population in Vietnam is projected to increase from 7% to 14% by 2035, faster than Thailand or Singapore. Policy measures to mitigate aging populations’ economic impact are urgently needed. The program will be implemented in three phases, from August 2019 through March 2020.

World Bank Country Director for Vietnam, Ousmane Dione, spoke on the subject, saying, “Vietnam needs to start preparing for an aging society now by developing a comprehensive and financially sustainable health and social care service system that can provide the elderly with the care they need.”

Press release - The World Bank

News article - NNA ASIA News (in Japanese)

Japan Global health

Opposition grows to Trump's attempts to rescind US foreign assistance

Efforts by US President Trump to rescind already-appropriated funds for US foreign assistance has generated opposition both in the US Congress and among a broad array of development stakeholders. Bipartisan leaders of both the House and Senate foreign assistance authorizing committees sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) condemning the idea and threatening a response if the administration moves ahead with a formal rescission request.  Their letter pointed to the constitutional role of Congress to appropriate funds, adding that these funds are "essential" to US global leadership and security.  A group of more than 90 NGOs issued a joint statement in strong opposition to any cutting of funds, saying that rescinding these programs "leads to instability" and "puts lives at risk at a time of global crisis."

OMB then announced that it would end the freeze but would instead impose a spending limit on 2% of unobligated funds per day.  Additionally, the White House has now clarified that programs promoted by Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and advisor, and Vice President Pence would be exempt from any rescission package. These programs include global health and women's empowerment funds as well as funding to protect religious minorities abroad from persecution.

News article - InterAction

News article - Roll Call

United States Global health

New UK international development secretary pushes for better trade with Nigeria

The new UK secretary of state for international development, Alok Sharma, has made his first overseas trip to Nigeria, focusing predominately on how UK funding can stimulate stronger trade relationships between the two nations. The trip came ahead of the UK's first UK-Africa investment summit scheduled to be held in London in January 2020. The UK has set an ambitious goal to be the top G7 investor in Africa by 2022. 

Sharma announced £1 million (US$1 million) in funding to Nigeria through a new partnership with a private infrastructure development group aimed at assisting the development of local currency bonds. Sharma was part of the successful launch of a similar initiative in India with the masala bond market, which allowed India to raise investments on the London stock market to finance infrastructure and create jobs.

Press release - UK government 

United Kingdom

Parliamentarians urge UK government increase protections for humanitarian workers against increasing violence

A new report by the International Development Committee, the UK parliamentary body responsible for examining UK development assistance, has urged the UK government to step up measures for protecting humanitarian workers.

New data reveals that in 2018 alone, the second worst year on record, 270 humanitarian workers were killed, kidnapped, or injured working in the field. Humanitarian workers, in general, are considered to be at high risk given the high number of protracted armed conflicts in humanitarian crisis situations where they are often stationed.

The criticisms came in response to USAID's most recent "Aid Worker Security Report" which specifically highlighted sexual violence against female humanitarian workers as a major problem. Furthermore, consistent underreporting of sexual violence due to stigma and intimidation means that incidents were likely much more frequent than the statistics appear to show.

News article - Devex

Aid Worker Security Report 2019 - USAID

United Kingdom

Minister Kaag talks development with Melinda Gates and Dutch influencer Anna Gooshin

Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation Sigrid Kaag met with Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), and Dutch influencer Anna Nooshin on July 16, 2019, in The Hague. 

The three discussed shared goals around the eradication of HIV/AIDS, the promotion of women's rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights and how to best work together to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Anna Nooshin shared her views and experiences from her recent trip to South Africa where she met a young woman living with HIV who relies on treatment provided by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a funding instrument that is supported by the Dutch government and BMGF. 

Twitter - Minister Kaag 


Report by Centre for Global Development criticizes UK research funding as 'opaque' and 'off topic'

The think tank Centre for Global Development has written a new report calling for greater transparency in UK research funding.

According to the report, the UK spent £737.9 million (US$949 million) of its development assistance in 2017 on research:  8.3% of its bilateral development assistance spending. While 34% of all research funding went towards medical research, the authors of the report found it difficult to assess which sectors received the rest of the funding and criticized the spending as opaque. The research also noted the high level of funding going to UK universities and research institutes and questioned whether there had been an open procurement process.

Report - Centre for Global Development UK

Blog post - Centre for Global Development

Global health R&D

Canada will attend the International Conference for Democracy in Venezuela

Venezuela is set to host the International Conference for Democracy on August 6, 2019, in Lima, Peru. Rob Oliphant, Canada's parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, will attend the conference. Canada is a member of the Lima Group which was established to coordinate international efforts to address the Maduro regime.

The conference is a response to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights' report on human rights abuses in Venezuela. The attendance of representatives from more than 50 countries demonstrates widespread engagement from the international community in the attempt to peacefully end the leadership crisis in Venezuela.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada


US Congress receives report outlining plans for collaboration between USAID and new DFC

The United States Development Finance Corporation (DFC), established by the 2017 BUILD Act, will absorb the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Development Credit Authority (DCA) at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). OPIC and USAID have submitted a mandatory report to congress, outlining how the two agencies -- USAID and the DFC -- will function together. 

One of the most important changes from OPIC to the DFC is the addition of a chief development officer, who will report directly to the DFC Board, and an office of development policy. There are also plans to ensure that the DFC will be able to leverage existing staff at US embassies and USAID missions. The DFC will open its doors on October 1, 2019.

News article - Devex

United States

DFID staff reassigned to assist on Brexit

The new UK government is accelerating its contingency planning for a ‘no deal’ Brexit, following the government’s statement that the UK will be leaving the European Union on October 31, 2019, even if a deal has not been reached.

The minister responsible for ensuring the UK is prepared, Michael Gove, has reportedly redeployed 2000 civil servants to support the government in leaving the EU in October. Many of these civil servants have come from the Department for International Development (DFID). With DFID personnel reassigned, fewer staff will be available to manage the development budget.

News article - The Sun

United Kingdom

Italian NGOs publish open letter criticizing disengagement from international cooperation

On August 4, 2019, the three biggest Italian NGO networks AOI, CINI, and Link 2007 published an open letter addressed to the minister and the vice minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Enzo Moavero Milanesi and Emanuela Del Re. The CSOs denounced Italian disengagement in international cooperation and ask Moavero Milanesi and Del Re to act before it is too late. Their letter drew attention to and criticized the following points:

  1. The delay in staff recruitment for the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS); many key positions are still vacant.
  2. The postponement of the call for proposals on Global Citizenship Education for 2019.  
  3. The functioning of the National Council for Development Cooperation, which they recommend improving through regular convocation, increased contributions from working groups, and expansion of representation.
  4. The decrease of resources for NGOs leading projects on international cooperation from €70 to €26.4 million. 
  5. The increasing militarization of development funding that couples development initiatives with security priorities.

News article - Repubblica (in Italian)