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NGOs call on UK to address rising global hunger

A group of 15 international development organizations, including Christian Aid, Save the Children, and the British Red Cross wrote an open letter to the UK government, in which they demanded that the government step up its funding to tackle rising global hunger.

The agencies warned that the conflict in Ukraine has resulted in increasing prices and broken supply chains for grains, cooking oil, fertilizer, and fuel and that this is making pre-existing hunger crises for many countries far worse. The World Bank calculated that there could be a 37% jump in food prices because of the conflict in Ukraine.

The agencies called for the UK government to provide new funding and action to prevent famines and ensure that food is affordable. They also called for a reversal of cuts to the UK’s ODA budget and a commitment to ensure funding for Ukraine is in addition to existing UK development commitments rather than coming at the expense of other programs.  

News article – Keep the Faith

FCDO international development strategy remains unpublished, internal budget allocations delayed

Devex recently reported that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has not yet finalized internal allocations for its budget for FY2022/23. 

The overall budget envelope for the FCDO was set by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review at £11.1 billion (US$14.3 billion) for FY2022/23 (for both ODA and non-ODA spending). Normally, funding allocations to core thematic and geographic departments within the FCDO are decided by April the latest. However, Devex noted that the FCDO is struggling to finalize these internal allocations.

Part of the reason for the delay could be the failure of the FCDO to finalize its policy priorities, particularly in international development. The UK’s long-awaited International Development Strategy, which has been drawn up by the FCDO, was initially scheduled for release last year but remains unpublished. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in March was cited as the latest reason for the delay, as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, set about re-writing the strategy in light of the geopolitical shift.

Devex noted that there are concerns that following the recent UK local elections on May 5, 2022, Prime Minister Boris Johnson may reshuffle the cabinet reshuffle, potentially causing further delays in the strategy's publication.

The UK NGO community has called for the publication of the International Development Strategy as soon as possible, especially in light of the currently reduced ODA budget and the need for transparency and clarity over the UK’s priorities moving forward.

News article – DEVEX

Climate Action Network calls on UK to increase quantity, quality of climate finance for adaptation

The UK Climate Action Network (CAN-UK) and BOND, the UK network for international development NGOs, issued a new report in response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth assessment report.

The report focused on adaptation, loss & damage (L&D) financing, investment, and ecosystem preservation and called upon the UK to use its COP26 Presidency in 2022 to:

  1. Increase the quality and quantity of climate finance for adaptation: The report calls for the UK, as COP26 President in 2022, to work with other countries to ensure the delivery of the original US$100 billion climate finance commitment and to start work on a new collective quantifiable climate finance goal to replace the US$100 billion in 2025. The report urges the UK, when setting the future finance goal, to move away from top-down donor-led negotiation processes and to instead ensure any new agreement is based on science, needs, and justice;
  2. Broker an agreement on L&D finance by COP27: The report calls for the UK to utilize its Presidency this year to prioritize an agreement for a new, and well-resourced, finance facility for loss & damage;
  3. Drive forward the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) with concrete actions: The report calls upon the UK to set out a clear unambiguous goal for GGA and to set milestones for assessing progress towards this goal in 2022 and 2023;
  4. Embed locally-led, inclusive, and rights-based adaptation into climate action: The report calls on the UK to set an example and ensure that UK International Climate Finance is spent on inclusive and locally-led adaptation. The report also calls for the Principles for Locally Led Adaptation, which have been endorsed by Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), to be mainstreamed across all UK ICF programming;
  5. Increase investment in high-quality ecosystem-based adaptation: The report urges the UK to increase the role of nature in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and Adaptation Communication this year;
  6. Integrate and promote early warning and early action:  The report calls for the UK to ensure it has integrated climate change adaptation across all development and humanitarian programming and provides long-term finance to enable this to happen. It also notes that the forthcoming Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in May 2022 provides an opportunity for the UK to advocate for international financial institutions and partner countries to do the same;
  7. Transform agricultural investment to support sustainable practices: The report calls for the UK to use mechanisms identified within the Just Rural Transition Policy Action Agenda to ensure policies that support sustainable agriculture and calls for the UK to ensure that the FCDO’s agriculture strategy and programming support agroecology approaches.

Report – CAN-UK /BOND Adaptation and Vulnerability Report

South Korea and United Kingdom sign MOU on preparing for future pandemics

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) and United Kingdom’s Health Security Agency signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate with each other in preparing for future pandemics.

The two countries will cooperate in monitoring infectious diseases, risk assessment, responding to biological terrorism, and sharing pathogen information. They will also organize an annual high-level policy dialogue and expert meetings in addition to conducting research projects. Two commissioners from the two countries stressed that this future-oriented cooperation would help to solidify the health and security agenda and prepare for future pandemics.

News article – Maeil business (in Korean)

UK parliament urges government to prioritize women and girls in reduced ODA budget in Pakistan

The UK parliamentary committee on international development has called upon the UK government to use its reduced country ODA budget for Pakistan to focus on assisting marginalized groups like women and girls and, religious minorities.

The committee, which published a new report on UK ODA to Pakistan, highlighted that between 2015 - 2019, Pakistan was the single largest recipient of bilateral UK ODA. However, in 2020 it dropped to seventh place with an annual UK ODA budget of £200 million (US$268 million). The report illustrated how the UK via past programming had a positive impact on helping women and girls and religious minorities via its education and economic empowerment programs; but, progress made by these projects has been put in jeopardy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and cuts to the UK ODA budget. The report urged the UK government to use its smaller ODA budget to protect the gains made in these programs, focusing on girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment in hard-to-reach communities and by supporting other programs like nutrition and sexual and reproductive health which indirectly support these goals.

The report also called upon the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to continue to support the work of Pakistan’s National Commission on the Status of Women and its National Commission on Human Rights.

In order to improve the effectiveness of UK ODA in Pakistan, the report ultimately urges the UK to communicate its policy objectives clearly to its partners via its Integrated Delivery Plan.

Report – UK Parliament

UK commits US$20 million to Global Financing Facility

The UK Minister of State for Asia and the Middle East, Amanda Milling, tweeted that the UK has committed £15 million (US$20 million) to support the Global Financing Facility (GFF), a global mechanism for supporting low- and middle-income countries to invest in women, children and adolescent health.

The commitment was made at GFF’s ‘Reclaim the Gains’ meeting in Washington, DC on April 22, 2022, which saw international development providers, including the UK, provide an additional US$500 million in total to GFF. The impact of COVID-19 has severely restricted access to health services; GFF reported that coverage of lifesaving health interventions for women, children, and adolescents in 36 GFF countries dropped up to 25% in the first year of the pandemic.

Tweet - Amanda Milling

Press release – GFF

UK government criticized for slow disbursement of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, cuts ODA for additional partners

The Chair of the UK Parliament’s International Development Committee, Sarah Champion MP, wrote to the UK Foreign Secretary to complain about the slow disbursement of UK humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. Champion noted that more than 12 million people in Ukraine are in need of humanitarian support, and an additional 4 million have fled the country as refugees.

The UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, confirmed that only £60 million (US$81 million) of the £220 million (US$295 million) in promised humanitarian assistance has been delivered to Ukraine. Truss also admitted that the funding had been taken from other existing development assistance programs, and will result in cuts to other partner countries.

Truss stated that the UK government is working hard to try to speed up the disbursement of its funding.  

The UK government has promised £400 million (US$537 million) in total to Ukraine and has provided a guarantee for the World Bank to provide a US$1 billion loan to the country.

News article – the Independent

UK development watchdog praises UK’s leadership on WASH, but finds steep decline in funding despite rising need

The UK’s development watchdog, the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI), has released an information note exploring the UK’s approach to supporting the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector in low- and middle-income countries. The factual note – which is not an evaluation or assessment – highlights the UK government’s high level of ambition and success in supporting WASH in partner countries with its programs reaching 62 million people between 2015 and 2020.

It also notes the UK’s changing approach to WASH programming, which has seen the UK move away from supporting basic facilities in rural communities - on the basis that it was not sustainable - to focus more on supporting national systems and raising service standards. The new approach also involves leveraging other sources of finance, including encouraging communities to pay for services.

The note highlights that it is too early to determine the impact of the new approach, but does note that its rollout has been hampered by a steep decline in the volume of the UK’s bilateral ODA allocated to WASH - which fell by two-thirds between 2018 and 2021. The UK provided £206 million (US$ 276 million) in 2018, which fell to an estimated £70 million (US$94 million) in 2021.

In particular, UK research funding on WASH has been severely impacted. The note highlights that the fall in funding continued during the COVID-19 pandemic even though the UK recognized that WASH was a critical sector in its response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The note concluded by proposing that reviving UK leadership on WASH and exploring how WASH objectives are integrated into the FCDO’s health, education, gender, and climate change programming will be important for UK development.  

Report – ICAI

Australia’s ODA/GNI ratio could fall below 0.17% by 2025, says new report

A report by the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University suggests that Australia runs the risk of having an official development assistance (ODA) / gross national income (GNI) ratio less that of the US in the near future.

The report assumed that future development assistance reductions announced in the 2022 budget would be implemented. In this case, Australia's development assistance would decline to a record low level of 0.17% ODA/GNI by 2025 - 2026.

Australia's ODA/GNI ratio had already declined relative to other members of its close strategic group - comprising Australia, the US, Canada, the UK, and New Zealand. 

Report – Development Policy Centre

New ODA statistics show UK assistance fell by US$4 billion between 2020 and 2021

UK ODA was £11.5 billion (US$15.4 billion) in 2021 according to recently published ODA statistics. This represents a fall of £3 billion (US$4 billion) between 2020 and 2021 as UK ODA was reduced from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI. If the UK had maintained its commitment to deliver 0.7%, its ODA would have risen to £16 billion (US$21.5 billion) or £4.6 billion (US$6.2 billion) larger.

Below are some key trends observed from the statistics:

  • The majority of cuts landed on the bilateral program, with it dropping in share from 69% in 2019 to 62% in 2021 with a £2.5 billion (US$3.4 billion) cut in bilateral ODA;
  • while bilateral ODA to all regions fell, Africa took the largest cuts. The Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) provided 55% of its bilateral ODA in 2020 to Africa, but this fell to a share of 52% in 2021, accounting for an £864 million (US$1.1 billion) cut. This is likely a result of the region holding a substantial amount of large bilateral programs that were cut; and
  • the OECD statistics also confirmed the UK counted US$141 million of its ODA budget on vaccine donations. UK NGOs have been very critical of this policy noting that the donations should not come out of the ODA budget.

News articles – BOND, Devex

UK government – 2021 Provisional ODA statistics

 

 

Canada and UK announce call for concept notes for Climate Adaptation and Resilience initiative, valued at US$44 million

Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) announced a call for concept notes for their Climate Adaptation and Resilience (CLARE) initiative. 

The call seeks to identify transdisciplinary teams to conduct research related to CLARE’s three research themes: understanding climate risk, risk-informed early action, and developing in a changing climate. The initiative supports research that enables socially inclusive and sustainable action to build resilience to climate change on the African continent and in the Asia-Pacific region. 

The funding includes smaller project grants of up to CA$1 million (US$1 million) and larger project grants of between CA$6-8 million (US$5-6 million) for up to 42 months. The initiative seeks to fund approximately eight smaller and eight larger projects for a total of up to CA$56 million (US$44 million). Concept notes may be submitted until June 7, 2022. 

Press release - International Development Research Centre

British LGBTQ+ groups boycott UK's conference on LGBTQ+ rights following legislative U-turn on conversion therapy

More than 100 British LGBTQ+ organizations announced that they will boycott the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s (FCDO’s) first-ever global LGBTQ conference – Safe To Be Me - scheduled for June 27- 29, 2022.

The conference, the largest event of its kind, aimed to make progress on legislative reform, tackling violence and discrimination, and ensuring equal access to public services for LGBTQ+ people. However, British LGBTQ+ organizations have announced they will boycott the conference in response to the UK government’s last-minute decision to exclude a ban on conversion therapy for trans people in forthcoming UK legislation, and only ban it for gay or bisexual people.


British LGBTQ+ organizations argued that if the UK government cannot respect all LGBTQ+ people’s rights, then it should not be convening such a conference on the international stage.

News article – The Guardian

Safe to Be Me Conference - UK Government

UK launches US$119 million education program in Tanzania

The UK Minister for Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, Vicky Ford, announced that the UK government will provide US$119 million in development assistance to support improved learning outcomes for Tanzanian children, with a focus on girls, disabled children, and children living in deprived areas during her first trip to Tanzania.

The program, which is called Shule Bora, intends to help 4 million children in Tanzania access quality education. Funding will be aimed at supporting teachers and helping the Tanzanian government to maximize funding for educational outcomes.

The UK government reported that its education-focused development assistance helped over 15 million children across the world between 2015 and 2020, including 8 million girls.

Press release – UK Government

200 NGOs call on UK's Truss to avoid deprioritizing development assistance for long-term crises following FCDO strategy leaks

200 UK NGOs wrote a letter to the UK’s Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, urging her not to deprioritize health, climate change, and conflict prevention in the UK’s forthcoming international development strategy. The letter, sent by British Overseas NGOs for Development (BOND), the UK international development NGO platform, was sent in response to leaks from civil servants at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) that shared Truss had ordered a radical review of the government’s international development strategy following the invasion of Ukraine and was seeking to shift UK priorities. The strategy was due to be released in February 2022 but has been rescheduled for April 2022.

BOND urged Truss to ensure that the UK’s international development strategy is ‘poverty-focused, evidence and rights-based, and accountable to the British public and communities it is meant to serve'. They also urged Truss to continue the UK’s focus on critical issues like global health, climate change, and conflict, noting that it would be short-sighted and would undermine the UK’s strong record of impact in these areas to redirect funding to shorter-term crises exclusively. Finally, the letter calls on Truss to reinstate the UK’s commitment to delivering 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) as official development assistance (ODA), noting that this would enable the UK to respond appropriately to the crisis in Ukraine, while also supporting other countries in need.

Letter - BOND

FCDO restructures senior management team with focus on security; experts worry UK will downgrade focus on development

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has restructured its senior management team, including how it manages its development cooperation.

The FCDO’s most senior civil servant, Philip Barton, the FCDO permanent secretary, will now have an undersecretary for support. Tim Barrow will step into this role; Barrow formerly served as the FCDO’s political director.

Two new security posts have been established which appear to be driven by the war in Ukraine. Harriet Mathews has been appointed Director-General (DG) for Geopolitical and Security, and Thomas Drew has been appointed DG of Defence and Intelligence. Drew was formerly DG for the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

More specifically on the development front, the FCDO has created a new DG post for 'Humanitarian and Development'. Nick Dyer, the UK government’s former special envoy on famine prevention and humanitarian affairs will take on the post temporarily while the FCDO recruits a long-term replacement.

In addition, a new DG post for Economics and Global Issues has been created. Kumar Iyer, who formerly served as the DG for Delivery at FCDO, will take on this role.

The reshuffle has resulted in resignations, with Moazzam Malik, the FCDO’s DG for Africa announcing his departure. The FCDO will temporarily hire a new DG responsible for Africa and Latin America before a long-term replacement can be found to take on this new role. Development experts have decried Malik’s resignation and the merging of African and Latin American development programs as a signal that the FCDO is downgrading its focus on development.

Finally, Jenny Bates, DG for Indo-Pacific will take responsibility for the UK’s development finance institute, British International Investment (formerly known as CDC), and Vijay Rangarajan, former DG of Americas and Overseas Territories, will now be responsible for the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North America, and Overseas Territories.

News article – Devex

UK cut gender funding by US$2.6 billion in 2021, says NGO; leaked document reveals FCDO knew cuts would hit women and girls

Care International UK, an international development NGO, and Development Initiatives, a global organization harnessing the power of data and evidence to end poverty, released a new policy briefing paper on March 8, 2022, on the UK's leadership on gender equality at the global level. The paper estimates that the UK's reduced official development assistance (ODA) budget in 2021 resulted in a decrease of £1.9 billion (US$2.6 billion) in ODA that significantly targeted gender equality. 

The briefing paper provided detailed funding analysis on the UK’s investment in women’s economic empowerment, women’s political leadership, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence.

The briefing recommended that the UK government make gender equality a priority within its forthcoming international development strategy in addition to adopting a more holistic approach to gender equality, that addresses all aspects of tackling women and girls’ empowerment. The report also suggested that the UK government commit to refunding gender equality at 2019 levels. The Foreign Secretary of State, Liz Truss, stated she will reinstate funding for gender equality programs, but the volume of this resource commitment was unclear.

The briefing paper was released simultaneously with a Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development (FCDO) report on the likely impact of impending cuts to the UK's 2021 ODA budget on women and girls' lives and livelihoods, pushed forward by the Chair of the UK’s Parliamentary Committee on International Development, Sarah Champion.

The report, which was produced in March of 2021, ahead of the government's final decision on which ODA programs would be cut, confirmed that the level of reductions would negatively impact services for women and girls and especially burden girls’ education. The report also revealed that cuts would have a negative impact on other vulnerable groups including disabled people. Champion urged the FCDO to release the report several times to no avail.

Report – Care International

News article – The Guardian

UK COVID-19 vaccine donations expected to be budget neutral for FCDO’s 2021-2022 ODA budget

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) recently published its ‘Supplementary Estimates’ that provide an update on expenditure forecasts for 2021 and 2022 and their respective alignment with the allocated departmental budget.

The Estimates revealed that while the cost of the UK’s COVID-19 vaccine donations in 2021 will likely be counted as part of the UK’s official development assistance (ODA), it will be added to the government’s ODA budget from the 2020 Spending Review (SR20) for 2021 - 2022, which stood at £10 billion (US$13.4 billion) for all government departments.

The additional funding came as a result of more positive gross national income (GNI) forecasts by the government, which will increase the UK’s overall ODA budget in 2021 - 2022 in line with meeting its commitment of providing 0.5% of GNI as ODA. The Estimates expressly highlighted that vaccine donations for the year will be budget neutral for the FCDO.  

The Estimates also showed that the FCDO’s ODA budget is expected to be US$11 billion (£8.2 billion), a slight rise from the allocated budget of US$10.9 billion (£8.1 billion) that was allocated to FCDO for 2021 by the Chancellor of the Exchequers in 2020. The increase, which amounts to US$153 million (£114 million) in additional funding, was added as a result of unforeseen spending on tackling Omicron in Africa and supporting the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Report - UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office

UK government pledges US$295 million in development assistance for Ukraine; UK may increase development assistance budget in response to ongoing conflicts

The UK government pledged a total of US$295 million (£220 million) in development assistance to Ukraine between February and March of 2022.

The UK's official development assistance (ODA) commitment includes:

  • 3-year US$134 million (£100 million) package to support the Ukrainian economy; 
  • US$54 million (£40 million) to focus on humanitarian needs and medical supplies in Ukraine; and,
  • US$107 million (£80 million) in humanitarian assistance to support refugees in Ukraine and surrounding countries.

The UK international development NGO platform, BOND, is calling, for the UK government to reinstate its original commitment to provide 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) as ODA, in light of the rising humanitarian needs in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen.

The UK temporarily stopped meeting its commitment to provide 0.7% of GNI as ODA in 2021 as a result of the negative impact on public finances of COVID-19 and will only provide 0.5% of its GNI as ODA from 2021 onwards, until certain fiscal measures are met.

It is reported that the UK’s defense budget spending may increase as a result of the Ukraine crisis, though the UK’s Department of Defence has made no formal bid for an increased budget. This increase is unlikely to come at the expense of cuts to other government budgets like the UK’s ODA budget, but would instead be paid for by a widely expected upgrade in economic forecasts, which would give the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, the opportunity to increase public spending. If there is, in fact, an increase in the defense budget, it will likely be announced by Sunak at his Spring Budget Statement which is due on March 23, 2022.

News articles – BOND, Sky News

Reports – UK Parliamentary Report on UK Assistance to Ukraine

UK pledges US$214 million for CEPI, 37% less than previous commitments

The UK has pledged US$214 million (£160 million) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) between 2022 and 2026, to support their work producing vaccines for the world’s most dangerous infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

CEPI, a global partnership, launched in 2017 with the intention of developing vaccines to stop future epidemics. The UK's funding commitment is 37% less than what it committed to CEPI between 2017 and 2021, according to CEPI’s Annual Report 2020. This decline in funding reflects the UK's reduced official development assistance (ODA) budget, which fell in 2021 from 0.7% of UK Gross National Income (GNI) to 0.5%. 

The UK is hosting CEPI’s replenishment – the Global Pandemic Preparedness Summit from March 7-8, 2022, in London. CEPI is calling for US$3.5 billion for the next five years for the replenishment, an increase in its previous budget, in order to achieve its new goal of cutting the time it takes to develop new vaccines to 100 days (a goal backed by the UK during its G7 Presidency in 2021) and producing variant-proof vaccines. 

Press release - UK government

Report – CEPI Annual Report 2020

UK’s forthcoming 'International Development Strategy' to rebalance funding towards bilateral program

The UK’s Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, stated in Parliament that the UK’s forthcoming 'International Development Strategy' will rebalance funding towards promoting the bilateral program; the new strategy is expected to be published at some point during March of 2022

Truss noted that a rebalancing will enable the UK to ensure that taxpayers' money is spent on the UK’s core priorities, including clean infrastructure investments, promoting British expertise, supporting women and girls, and delivering humanitarian assistance.

Truss confirmed that the UK’s commitment to the World Bank’s 20th replenishment of its International Development Association (IDA20) will be 54% less than the UK committed to the previous replenishment. The UK has pledged £1.4 billion (US$1.9 billion) to IDA20, knocking the UK out of the top donor spot. Instead, the UK will become the third-largest donor to IDA, after the US and Japan. Truss noted that the new funding commitment was more in line with the UK’s share of global official development assistance (ODA).

Truss also stated that the UK’s forthcoming International Development Strategy will focus on increasing the number of countries around the world that are democratic and free. This indication builds on Truss’s previous speeches, which have supported a ‘Network of Liberty’ that spans the world and encourages countries to uphold democracy and liberty.

News article - Devex

Parliamentary Statement – UK Foreign Secretary