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Norway increases support to small-scale, rural farmers through IFAD by 40%

The Norwegian government is allocating NOK508 million (US$58 million) to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The funding will be distributed over a three-year period from 2022 to 2025. The amount is a 40% increase from their last project period and supports the ambitions of IFAD to double the organization’s work before 2030. 

The agreement is flexible, meaning that if other countries join the effort and IFAD can secure the funding for low-income countries itself, Norway will provide the full amount as core support. However, if IFAD does not manage to increase support for low-income countries, Norway will still ensure that a very high proportion of the Norwegian contribution goes to low-income countries through earmarked funds. Norway is cooperating with the other Nordic countries to encourage the rest of IFAD's member countries to increase their support. 

IFAD's work is aimed at increasing the pay of small farmers in low-income countries and improving their families' quality of life. The funding is a part of Norway’s action plan on sustainable food systems in the context of foreign and development policy. 

Press release - the Norwegian government

ACT-A Facilitation Council announces funding gap of US$27.2 billion, asks countries not to compete with COVAX vaccine contracts

The Facilitation Council of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) had its fourth meeting on February 9, 2021, to discuss its 2021 agenda and needs, including closing the funding gap of US$27.2 billion for 2021.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, co-hosted and began his introductory remarks by welcoming the newly-joined US under President Joe Biden to ACT-A. 

Ghebreyesus stressed that more than 90% of countries currently administering COVID-19 vaccines are wealthy, and 75% of all doses given have been given in just ten countries. Nearly 130 countries, he said, have not administered a single dose.

ACT-A and the COVAX Facility were created as part of global efforts coordinated by the WHO and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, among others, in order to increase access to vaccines and promote vaccine equity internationally, and these goals are being threatened, said Ghebreyesus.

He called for:

  1. Full financing of ACT-A and COVAX: The financing gap is at more than US$27.2 billion for 2021. He called on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries to commit a proportion of stimulus financing and to unlock capital in multilateral development banks to help close the gap.
  2. Respect for COVAX contracts from all countries and a non-competition commitment: He referred here to countries who continue to sign bilateral vaccine deals while many nations have no vaccine doses at all. Ghebreyesus reiterated WHO's goal that the vaccination of health workers should be in progress in all countries within the first 100 days of 2021, which means that countries with more doses need to share and donate doses before going on to vaccinate their lower-risk populations. He warned that if COVID-19 is not suppressed globally, that variants of the virus could result in the world "back at square one".
  3. An urgent increase in manufacturing to increase the volume of vaccines: This could include "innovative partnerships including tech transfer, licensing and other mechanisms to address production bottlenecks".

Experts have warned that all countries need to take an "internationalist", not nationalist, approach to vaccination rollout and tacking COVID-19, otherwise experts fear that some low-income countries may not receive vaccines until 2024.

Visuals from the 'ACT-A Prioritized Strategy & Budget for 2021' presentation illustrate the contributors of a total of US$6.0 billion to ACT-A, as of February 3, and the breakdown of the US$27.2 billion needed for 2021. According to an update as of February 12, ACT-A has an additional US$4.0 billion in projected funding, so the US$27.2 billion funding gap "will be reduced to US$23.2 billion as projected funds are operationalized."

Transcript - WHO

Event website - WHO

Norway allocates US$57 million to global health research

The Norwegian government will channel NOK500 million (US$57 million) to global health research through the Norwegian Research Council over the next ten years.

This newly announced funding will be aimed at reducing challenges related to universal health care and strengthening systems for primary health services in low- and lower-middle-income countries. The long-term funding also aims to reduce the gap between research and practice and to make it easier to ensure that the relevant research is taking part in the outline of new policies. 

Since the early 2000s, Norway has increased its research efforts to provide good health services, combat infectious diseases, and prevent deaths among mothers and children in partner countries. The Norwegian Research Council's initiatives have been essential in this work. 

Press release - The Norwegian Research Council (in Norwegian)

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs launches global platform on gender equality

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and two civil society organizations—Plan International Norway and FOKUS (Forum for Women and Development)—have launched the global campaign 'Action for Equality', with the aim to commemorate and take action on behalf of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform, which is "considered to be the most comprehensive global policy framework for the rights of women".

The two organizations work on advancing children’s rights and international gender issues. The goal is to raise both awareness and action about gender equality and lift women’s rights higher on the global agenda through a digital knowledge platform campaign.

The platform includes a quiz on global gender equality and suggestions on how to start the conversation and act on the topic. The campaign aims to show that none of the world’s countries are in line for achieving full gender equality before 2030. The campaign highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing the risk of earlier achievements being reversed. 

Website - Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Plan International, and FOKUS

Norway to redistribute surplus vaccine doses to low-income countries through COVAX Facility

The Norwegian Minister of International Development, Dag Inge Ulstein, announced in an op-ed that if all the current agreements go as planned, Norway will have three times the vaccination doses needed for its population. The government has decided that the surplus of vaccines will be redistributed to low-income countries through the COVAX Facility.

Ulstein addressed this situation as a moment of truth for international solidarity and justice. He affirmed that the world needs to secure a fair and equal distribution of vaccines and that Norway will be an active partner to ensure that the consequences of the pandemic for low-income countries are minimized. The Norwegian government has called on more countries to participate in strengthening COVAX and providing vaccines and surplus doses to low-income countries that need them. 

Op-ed - Vårt Land (in Norwegian)

Increasing vaccine access and use of cash transfers, tackling climate crisis at top of Norway's 2021 development agenda

The Managing Director of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), Bård Vegar Solhjell, has presented the top three priorities for Norwegian development assistance in 2021, stating that it will be even more crucial this year after the setbacks for lower-income countries in 2020.

The World Bank estimates that there may be 100 to 150 million more people living in extreme poverty in 2021, compared to in 2020. 

According to Norad, the first priority is to provide access to vaccines for everyone. The Norwegian government will continue its involvement in the distribution of vaccines and health resources through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). Countries will not see their economies flourishing again until the pandemic is over, so vaccination is an important factor for all other types of development assistance. 

Second, Norad will focus on increasing its use of direct cash transfers. The overall goal is to provide an easy and unbureaucratic social security net for the receivers. Broad international research has shown that cash as assistance functions well but has been used less by Norway. 

Third, Norad sees the importance of restarting investments in societies and businesses. This could and should be included in efforts to tackle the climate crisis, according to Norad, and the potential benefits for investments in renewable energy, agriculture, oceans, and other sectors are significant as world leaders come together to address climate priorities. 

Op-ed - Dagsavisen (in Norwegian)

Norway allocates additional US$218 million to Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator

The Norwegian government is allocating an additional NOK2.0 billion (US$218 million) to Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), the "global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines". The total funding now consists of NOK4.5 billion (US$492 million), which will be distributed over the period of 2021-2030.

NOK780 million (US$85 million) will go to three pillars: treatment, diagnostics, and strengthening of local health systems. NOK95 million (US$10 million) will be allocated to the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

Press release - The Norwegian government

Norway to provide US$10 million to UNESCO for promotion of freedom of expression, protection of cultural heritage

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Climate and Environment will provide NOK94 million (US$10 million) to the 'United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization' (UNESCO) to promote freedom of expression and culture.

This allocation is a part of Norway's global engagement to promote human rights and a new two-year cooperation agreement. The funding will be divided between the protection of freedom of expression, protection of cultural rights and artistic freedom, protection of world heritage, and protection of cultural heritage in conflicts and crises.

Norway's Minister of Climate and Environment, Sveinung Rotevatn, pointed out that world heritage, which refers to places on Earth designated valuable to humanity and worth protecting, can be put under pressure due to "unregulated development", conflicts, and poaching. These issues affect the environment and climate, which consequently impact people, so Norway's support aims to contribute to both human and environmental protection through multilateral cooperation.

The press release also noted that Norway provides support to UNESCO for education and ocean research. Norway is providing a total of NOK361 million (US$39 million) to UNESCO for the next two years under several different agreements.

Press release - The Norwegian government

Norway announces continued funding of US$16 million for 600,000 farmers through Farm to Market Alliance

Norway continued its funding to the Farm to Market Alliance with a new contribution of NOK150 million (US$16 million) as part of the Norwegian action plan on sustainable food systems.

The Farm to Market Alliance is working to create resilient value chains and facilitate cooperation between the public and private sectors to leverage the knowledge, experience, and infrastructure of leading experts in agriculture. During the project period leading up to 2023, a total of 628,500 farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia are expected to benefit directly from the program.

From 2018 to 2020, Norway financed the first phase of the Alliance's work with NOK25 million (US$3 million) through the World Food Programme Trust Fund. The new funding will be a part of the second phase.

The Alliance consists of the World Food Programme as the secretariat, as well as Rabobank Group (a Dutch bank), Bayer, Syngenta, and Yara (respectively: German, Swiss, and Norwegian companies).

Press release - Norwegian government (in Norwegian) 

Norway prioritizes hunger and food security with remaining 2020 funding, totaling US$36 million

The Norwegian government has decided to allocate the remainder of its flexible funding consisting of NOK330 million (US$36 million) to humanitarian assistance and food security.

Norway's humanitarian budget for 2020 is record-breaking as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and the government is prioritizing the urgent food crises in Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southern Sudan, Afghanistan, North-Eastern Nigeria, Somalia, and Syria. 

The funding will be channeled through the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). In addition, Norway channeled an estimated NOK100 million (US$11 million) in November to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). 

According to the Norwegian government, the humanitarian support in the fight against hunger and acute humanitarian distress is given a high degree of flexibility in order to ensure that the funding meets the greatest needs as well as where humanitarian actors have access to affected populations. 

Press release - Norwegian government (in Norwegian)

Norway gives additional US$5 million for global education through UNESCO

Norway increased its support for global education with NOK41 million (US$5 million) to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to be given over two years, in response to the major impact that COVID-19 has had on the educational sector in low-income countries.

The response is aimed at supporting member countries in strengthening their educational systems. This includes strengthening international coordination and educating teachers in order to secure lifelong learning for youth and adults. Supporting girls and vulnerable groups will be a priority. 

Norway will have contributed NOK202 million (US$22 million) in total for 2020 and 2021 to UNESCO.

Press release - Norwegian government (in Norwegian)

Norway proposes increased support for COVID-19 vaccines, food security

The Norwegian government is proposing to allocate an additional NOK2.0 billion (US$219 million) to their international response to COVID-19. The funding will target a fair distribution of vaccines, medicines, test equipment, and health services. With these new allocations, Norway’s total response to the pandemic adds up to approximately NOK12.0 billion (US$1.3 billion).

Specifically, the government is proposing to allocate NOK780 million (US$85 million) to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), for which Norway, along with South Africa, is taking a lead role to mobilize funds to help strengthen health systems in low-income countries. The funding will secure two million vaccine doses in 2021, 500 million quick tests in the first half of 2021, and 245 million treatments of steroids and antibodies through 2021.

NOK64 million (US$7 million) will go to vaccines in low-income countries through the COVAX Facility (the global mechanism designed to procure and equitably distribute vaccines). NOK60 million (US$7 million) is allocated to secure Norwegian citizens the two million vaccine doses, and if any of these funds are not needed by Norway, they will be used to purchase vaccine doses for partner countries. 

Norway will also support the work of the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm) with NOK1.0 billion (US$109 million), funded over a ten-year period. The IFFIm is a financial tool that helps Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance have quicker access to funding.

In addition to vaccines, the government is proposing to increase support for the World Food Program, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Press release - Norwegian government (in Norwegian)

Donor Tracker to host webinar on education in emergencies

Join the Donor Tracker on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, at 15:00-16:00 CET for a webinar addressing education in emergencies, featuring experts from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a global fund and partnership to improve education in lower-income countries, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency.

The growth of protracted conflicts and the increasing prevalence of emergencies globally have impacted the educational opportunities of millions of children. Precarious humanitarian situations around the world have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. With just ten years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), amid a global pandemic, prioritizing the educational needs of the world’s most vulnerable children is more important than ever.

However, are donors dedicating sufficient attention to education in emergencies? Join the webinar for a discussion on financing needs, donor priorities, and policy trends in the sector.

This webinar complements our recently published report, ‘Decades of neglect: Donor financing for education in emergencies’.

Registration - Zoom

Report - Donor Tracker

Norway allocates US$133 million to combat non-communicable diseases in low-income countries

Minister of International Development Dag Inge Ulstein announced that Norway, from 2020 to 2024, will contribute an additional US$133 million to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases in low-income countries.

The government is following its 'Better Health, Better Lives' strategy, announced by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2019. Ulstein emphasized that this funding is important in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, as the risk of getting seriously ill from the virus increases when one has underlying conditions.

There is an overall need to strengthen health systems in low-income countries. Non-communicable diseases receive only 1-2% of overall global health-related development assistance funding. This increases the funding gap for the most vulnerable. According to the Norwegian government's press release, Norway is the first donor country with a strategy focusing on non-communicable diseases in low-income countries. 

Press release - Norwegian government 

As civilian death toll in deadly Nagorno-Karabakh conflict rises, Norway provides US$2 million to relief organizations; UN warns of war crimes

Norway is contributing NOK17 million (US$2 million) to organizations providing humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by the rapidly escalating territorial and ethnic conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The conflict is ongoing since the late 1980s, but a recent resurgence of violence in the fall of 2020 has led to warnings from UN officials that insurgent attacks on civilians fall under the definition of war crimes.

The support will be allocated through several organizations and Norway will also support displaced children through its strategic partnership with Save the Children and the organization Halo Trust, which works to protect civilians from land mines. 

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide emphasized that she hoped the different parties of the conflict abide by the recently-instated ceasefire and resume substantial negotiations; violence has since resumed.

Norway affirmed its support of the work of the OSCE Minsk Group (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) which has been working toward a peaceful solution since 1994. 

Press release - Norwegian government

University of Bergen establishes first pandemic center in Norway

The University of Bergen (UiB) opened its first pandemic center in Norway on October 27, 2020. The center will be the third of its kind in the world and will promote and gather research on pandemics, particularly on COVID-19. The center will include researchers from all of the university's faculties. 

The center aims to be a resource for the general public, government authorities, and researchers to educate all sectors and ensure better preparation for the next pandemic.

It will provide research-based knowledge on infection control measures and infections' stages. Beyond research on medical consequences, the center also hopes to contribute research on the socio-economic, legal, and ecological impacts of pandemics.

The pandemic center is a part of the new 'Alrek health cluster' in Bergen, Norway, which consists of the University of Bergen, Bergen Municipality, Norwegian Health Institute, NORCE Research Center, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, and Haraldsplass Hospital. 

Press release - University of Bergen (in Norwegian)

Norway allocates additional US$44 million to Sahel crisis relief

At the Digital Donor Conference hosted by the UN, Denmark, Germany, and the EU, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide announced that Norway will allocate an additional NOK390 million (US$44 million) for victims of the crisis in the Sahel that has intensified as a result of COVID-19, among other reasons. 

Norway has already agreed to support the region with NOK100 million (US$11 million). The additional funding is allocated from the humanitarian budget and supports measures toward peace, food security, and education. The funding is valid from 2020 to 2022. 

News article – Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Australia commits US$7 million as part of pledge to replenish Global Agriculture and Food Security Program

Australia has committed A$10 million (US$7 million) as part of the first replenishment period for the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). Other donors to contribute to the replenishment were Germany, Norway, and Spain as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In total, US$300 million in contributions was announced.

Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke, emphasized Australia’s long-standing role as a supporter of the GAFSP because the organization has a proven track record in assisting smallholder farmers and could play an important role in reducing hunger during the COVID-19 crisis.

News article - ReliefWeb

Evaluation of Norwegian development assistance shows global health as priority; US$8 million aimed at COVID-19 projects

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) evaluated the use of Norwegian development assistance funding during the first six months of 2020. The evaluation showed that NOK700 million (US$8 million) was aimed at COVID-19-related projects and that increased efforts on global health and vaccines are the dominating priority.

Norad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have also made it easier for the recipients of funding to be flexible and re-allocate it to COVID-19-related projects. Most of the funding was allocated through international multilateral organizations. 

The mapping of funds is an initial mapping for future evaluations, including for long-term projects, future projects, and ongoing COVID-19-related projects. 

Press release - Norad (in Norwegian)

Report - Norad

Norwegian government calls for stronger collective action on women's and girls' rights

Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Minister of International Development Dag Inge Ulstein, and Minister of Culture and Equality Abid Q. Raja published a joint speech on the International Day of the Girl Child in which they focused on the setback for women's and girls' rights during the COVID-19 crisis. 

The ministers emphasized that education for girls is an important intersectional area for Norwegian development assistance and called for a stronger international collective action to achieve gender equality and to prevent the consequences of the ongoing pandemic. 

Some other areas they listed as important to address are the following:

  • Preventing conjugal slavery (forced and child marriage) and female genital mutilation (FGM);
  • Strengthening efforts to stop gender-based violence (GBV) and increase access to sexual and reproductive health services; 
  • Decreasing infant mortality and maternal mortality; and 
  • Protecting children’s vaccination programs (Norway is working hard to combat this with its leading position in global health and increased funding to Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance). 

Press release - Norwegian government (in Norwegian)