The Donor Tracker team wants to better understand its users' experience and to gather ideas about how we can make the Donor Tracker even more valuable to the global development community throughout the rest of 2020 and beyond. That's where we could use your help. We've put together a short survey to ask you directly about how you use the Donor Tracker, which content and features you find most useful, and the kinds of things you would like to see. Your responses will shape and inform new features that we bring to the website.
Australia’s Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, has announced a A$60 million (US$43 million) program that will support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with their response to COVID-19. This funding is part of the Partnerships for Recovery program under which Australia's development priorities have pivoted to focus on supporting countries in its region in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
The ASEAN regional cooperation program will include a partnership working on the detection of COVID-19 in the wastewater of Mekong countries. The funding will also assist in planning for recovery through cooperation in areas such as digital transformation and connectivity, with particular attention to the challenges faced by women and girls. Support will also be provided to assist ASEAN with capacity building and the purchase of medical equipment and supplies for the COVID-19 response.
Richard Maud, Director of the Crawford Leadership Forum at the Australian National University (ANU), has called for an update of Australia's Foreign Policy White Paper. He points to a range of challenges not apparent in 2017 when Australia's current White Paper was issued. Specifically, Maud argues that Australia's development assistance program budget is inadequate for supporting countries in the region in dealing with the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, despite the fact that supporting the region with its economic recovery from COVID-19 is clearly in Australia's national interest. He expresses concern that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) budget continues to shrink despite growing challenges.
Maud was previously a Deputy Secretary of DFAT.
Julie Bishop, who was Australia's Foreign Minister between 2013 and 2019, has called it "regrettable" that the coalition government has cut development assistance from A$5.0 billion (US$3.6 billion) to A$4.0 billion (US$2.9 billion) since 2014. She argues that slashing international assistance sends mixed messages regarding Australia's commitment to countries in its region and undermines its influence in the South Pacific.
Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced that Australia has made sourcing arrangements with two vaccine suppliers at a potential cost of AU$1.7 billion (US$1.2 billion). Subject to the vaccines' approval for use, Australia will source vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, and by CSL and the University of Queensland. If either team is successful in developing a vaccine, 85 million doses of it will be produced in Melbourne.
The vaccines are being sourced to cover Australia's 25 million population but Morrison indicated that Australia is still committed to ensuring vaccine availability for neighbors in South East Asia and the Pacific. Officials have indicated that additional orders may be donated to other countries or sold at the original price.
A survey conducted by the pollster YouGov in August 2020, indicated that a majority of Australian people feel that the government should increase its overseas humanitarian and development funding to combat COVID-19. Commissioned by the Australian Council for International Development, the survey polled 1,056 Australians.
82% of respondents also agreed that it is necessary to control the virus in all parts of the world before life in Australia can return to normal.
Twenty-five million 'Donation Dollars' will be put into circulation in Australia in the coming years, with the aim of encouraging Australians to give to charities. These dollars are legal Australian tender but have a unique design symbolizing the ongoing impact that donating funds can have to those in need. The initiative by the Australian Mint comes after a year of natural disasters, a pandemic, and an economic recession in Australia.
Australia's Ministers for Health and Foreign Affairs, Greg Hunt and Marise Payne, have announced that Australia will contribute A$80 million (US$55 million) to support the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility's Advance Market Commitment (AMC). The contribution will be provided from within Australia’s existing development assistance budget.
The AMC will improve low-income countries' access to COVID-19 vaccines. It aims to provide vaccine doses for up to 20% of the population in participating countries. Eligible countries include Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga, as well as Indonesia, Timor Leste, and Cambodia.
Australian Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has announced an additional A$25 million (US$17 million) for clinical trials focused on treating and preventing COVID-19. Applications for funding will close on September 23, 2020, with studies to commence from early 2021. Funds will be provided from the domestic Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).
The government also released its COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy, which outlines Australia’s response to the virus. According to the strategy, the Australian government has submitted an expression of interest to participate in the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated that Australia would seek to assist Pacific and some South-East Asian countries by distributing a COVID-19 vaccine. This depends on Australia being able to develop a “working supply” of vaccine. Australian development NGOs welcomed this statement but have called for increased assistance funding for such a rollout to protect the existing development assistance budget.
Australian NGO, Micah Australia, has developed a coalition to help low-income countries in the region to combat COVID-19. Supported by the peak overseas assistance NGO body, ACFID, over 13,000 people have signed a pledge to support the campaign.
Micah has also drawn in Australian celebrities and more than 150 organizations. The 'End COVID for All' pledge calls on the Australian government to contribute its appropriate share of global funding to this humanitarian response.
Griffith University in Queensland, Australia has launched a tracker of COVID-19 assistance to the Pacific Islands. The tool tracks spending including concessional finance, debt forgiveness, in-kind donations, and grant funding.
Details are provided through a clickable map of donations by country. All assistance is shown in US dollars and includes where the funding was reported.
A new report from G-FINDER tracking the landscape of research and development (R&D) for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) has highlighted several promising developments in the field, but notes that the vast majority of the funding comes from just a few investors and that funding overall is insufficient. This means that needs often go unmet, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
“Many people, especially women, are dying and suffering from preventable and treatable issues of sexual and reproductive health, while the products currently available are not enough to change this,” said Dr Nick Chapman, CEO of Policy Cures Research. “There’s a clear gap in investment to research and develop new products to meet people’s needs in low-resource settings. With a few funders stepping in to fill this gap, there are missed opportunities to make a real impact on the lives of people in LMICs.”
Dame Meg Taylor, head of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, has warned that Pacific regional economies face a prolonged challenge that would aggravate existing nutrition, healthcare, and state fragility issues. Taylor was speaking prior to a virtual meeting of Forum economic ministers.
The ANU Development Policy Centre reported that per capita income in the Pacific has barely risen since 1980 and that poor health systems and unemployment levels have made the region particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Of the 20 top assistance-dependent countries in the world, one is Timor Leste and another nine are located in the South Pacific. The Centre has therefore established a Pacific COVID Economic Database to enable monitoring of economic policy across the Pacific countries.
Join the Donor Tracker this Thursday, August 6, 2020, from 16:00-17:00 (CEST), for a webinar addressing the pressing need for international climate finance in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
In 2015, the latest in a series of global climate change agreements was signed in Paris. The Paris Agreement includes a pledge made by donor countries to mobilize US$100 billion a year by 2020 for climate action in LMICs. This upcoming Donor Tracker webinar will examine the role that ODA can and should play in funding for climate action, including the US$100 billion target. It will include an overview of trends in ODA-related climate funding and policies by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) donors.
This webinar, and our recently published report on climate finance and ODA, complements the recent addition of ‘Climate’ as a sector of analysis across the Donor Tracker Donor Profiles. Climate was added this year in recognition of the importance of climate action to the future of global development efforts.
At the Aspen Institute's Aspen Security Forum, Australia's Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, stressed the importance of ensuring widespread access to any newly developed COVID-19 vaccine. He indicated that his discussions with other world leaders have led him to believe that there is widespread agreement that whoever discovers a vaccine fist, must share the vaccine with the world.
A statement from the Prime Minister's office following a Cabinet meeting on August 7, suggests that Australia is "well progressed" in advance purchase arrangements for vaccines or treatments, in facilitating access to vaccines through multilateral and international arrangements, and in procurement contracts necessary for the distribution and deployment of newly developed vaccines and treatments.
Australia has re-prioritized over US$13 million worth of official development assistance (ODA) to support Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) response to COVID-19. Coronavirus infections in PNG have increased sharply over the past two weeks, with cases concentrated in Port Moresby and now appearing in Lae (PNG’s largest and second-largest urban centers).
Australia has already provided ODA to PNG for the acquisition of protective equipment and COVID-19 testing kits, and to support initiatives aimed at strengthening the capacity of health facilities. Australia is also backing the PNG police force's efforts to assist with the COVID-19 response. Separately Australia has also provided a US$300 million non-ODA loan intended to buffer PNG's economy from the shocks caused by COVID-19.
During the annual Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), the United States' Secretary of State and Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister reaffirmed their joint commitment to global health security and their intention to strengthen their countries' cooperation in this sector. During the consultations, they outlined a number of activities to be part of their joint plan, including:
- Convening a second Southeast Asia Health Security Donor Coordination Meeting later in 2020;
- Building biosurveillance and biosecurity capacities in the Indo-Pacific to enhance the region's ability to respond to infectious disease outbreaks
- Improving hygiene conditions, reducing the sale of wildlife, and other measures to lessen the risk of zoonotic disease transmission;
- Strengthening pandemic preparedness in Indonesia and improving public health emergency response capacity in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar; and
- Supporting the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) with the development and distribution of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to improve vulnerable groups' access to vaccines.
A recent announcement by Australia's Prime Minister suggests that the country's defense budget will continue to grow until 2030. Meanwhile, Australia's budget for official development assistance (ODA) has been frozen until the fiscal year (FY) 2022/23, after which development spending will be indexed to inflation.
This means that the ratio of Australia’s spending on defense as compared to its spending on development assistance will reach an unprecedented level by 2030. For the last 50 years, Australia's defense funding has exceeded spending on ODA by around 5 to 8 times. It is now projected that by 2030, Australia's defense spending will be 16 times higher than ODA.
Join Donor Tracker this Friday, July 24 from 15:00-16:00 (CEST) for a webinar exploring donor financing for women’s economic empowerment, featuring analysis from the Donor Tracker team and our partner, the ONE Campaign.
Gender equality, including women's financial inclusion and economic empowerment, has gained increasing attention from the international donor community in recent years; but to what extent can donors' rhetorical commitment to the issue be seen reflected in data on donors' financing for women's economic empowerment? In this Donor Tracker webinar, Kalila Jaeger and Isabela Vera from the Donor Tracker and Ebba Henningsson from ONE will guide participants through an introduction to the OECD’s gender equality policy marker, discuss the current state of donor finance for gender-related development programming, and explore trends in donor countries' spending on economic empowerment initiatives for women.