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Spain leads global joint statement to strengthen multilateralism

On November 10, 2020, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez hosted a high-level meeting in Madrid to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the UN. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and heads of state and government from Sweden, Canada, South Korea, Costa Rica, South Africa, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Jordan, and Senegal virtually participated in this event. 

This group of donor and partner countries convened to publish the call to action ‘Joint Statement: Reinforcing Multilateralism Together', with the ambition of reinforcing multilateral institutions, advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and taking concrete measures to address global challenges in key areas such as global health, climate change, gender equality, and digitalization.

This initiative will be shared with other countries to actively mobilize the international community around the following goals:

  • Reduce inequality and leave no one behind;
  • Improve conditions for health, health preparedness, and effectiveness of global health systems;
  • Protect our planet;
  • Promote peace, security, and justice;
  • Defend human rights, democracy, and gender equality;
  • Take "advantage of the digital revolution"; and
  • Ensure sustainable financing.

Press release – La Moncloa (in Spanish)

Australian agencies to work jointly on plant biosecurity

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) announced it will work with the Australian Plant Bio Security Research Initiative (APBRI) to address the problems related to global pests being introduced to Australia naturally and via cargo movement.

ACIAR is a part of Australia's development assistance program and is the government’s specialist research-for-development agency on agriculture, forestry, livestock, and fisheries, in addition to environmental management and social sciences. 

APBRI develops cross-sectoral research to minimize the consequences of biosecurity threats such as pests, diseases, and weeds that impact Australia's environment, communities, and plant industries.

News article - Mirage

Uganda's suspension of cash transfer organization's operations prompts questions of legality, forces USAID to terminate direct assistance

As a result of a Ugandan government investigation of GiveDirectly, the largest global nonprofit that provides cash transfers, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was forced to end a US$10 million direct cash transfer program to the Ugandan people.

USAID's program, which provided cash to those who had lost income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, was part of the national COVID-19 response. Although GiveDirectly had received cabinet-level approval, Uganda's National Bureau for NGOs opened an investigation in September 2020. It raised questions about the organization's registration, approvals, and sources of funding and expressed concerns about whether cash transfers could lead to "laziness among recipients".

However, GiveDirectly's randomized controlled trial studies with independent researchers indicated that the cash transfer programs are effective in increasing productive hours, in part due to the food security they provide.

Despite this and the US embassy's recently-issued press release stating that no irregularities had been identified, the Ugandan government's suspension of GiveDirectly required the US to permanently terminate the program.

Lawyers questioned the legality of GiveDirectly's suspension. Magelah Peter Gwayaka, a lawyer from the Chapter Four Uganda human-rights nonprofit, said that according to Ugandan law, an organization should receive a fair hearing before the high court prior to operations being canceled.

The US is Uganda's largest development and humanitarian assistance donor.

News article - Devex

Japan completes US$20 million irrigation project in Rwanda to help agricultural sector

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) completed a project worth US$20 million of three irrigation dams and a main irrigation canal in Eastern Rwanda.

Launched in February 2019, the project included the rehabilitation of two storage dams, called Cyimpima and Gashara, and the construction of a new storage dam, Bugugu. The project covered three marshlands totaling 170 hectares located in Kigabiro, Mwulire, and Rubona, which is used by 1,174 farmers.

The project will improve irrigation and increase the yield of farms, contributing to the development of the agricultural sector.

News article - The New Times

Italy and FAO launch food coalition to support food systems facing COVID-19 crisis

On November 5, 2020, Italy and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched the Food Coalition, a voluntary multi-stakeholder alliance to prevent and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on food systems.

The Food Coalition aims to advocate for strengthening global agri-food systems, raise awareness, share best practices, as well as mobilize financial resources and technical expertise to support the most vulnerable. More than 30 countries have expressed interest in joining the coalition.

At the launch event, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte committed to including the fight against hunger in the Italian G20’s presidency agenda for 2021.

News article - OnuItalia

Sweden pledges US$8 million to combat food shortages, child malnourishment

Rising food prices during the COVID-19 crisis, alongside other factors such as failed harvests, droughts, conflicts, and political instability, have fueled hunger crises in several low-income countries around the world. It is currently estimated that 690 million people are affected by chronic food shortages, and many of them are children.

To ease the situation and help combat child malnutrition, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has allocated SEK 50 million (US$6 million) to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in support of humanitarian needs in Yemen, Burkina Faso, and Venezuela. In addition, Sida has allocated SEK 21 million (US$2 million) to the International Rescue Committee for their work in South Sudan and Cameroon.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

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

Canada's IDRC launches call for proposals from researchers in LMICs, Canada with emphasis on food systems security

Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), in partnership with the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, has called for research proposals focused on improving policy interventions, as well as finding novel solutions to problems related to environmental sustainability, gender, population health, and social equity in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Funds are available for doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows in both LMICs and Canada focusing on one or more of the below themes:

  1. Promoting healthy and sustainable food systems in LMICs;
  2. Supporting interdisciplinary exchanges of ideas; and
  3. Harnessing existing lessons and best practices from research, policy, and civil society realms that work to improve food systems, environmental sustainability, and global health.

Press release - International Development Research Centre

Germany strengthens 'One Health' project, will invest US$35 million in Kenyan pandemic center

At the 2020 World Health Summit, an annual leading global health conference, German Development Minister Gerd Müller announced that the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) will invest €30 million (US$35 million) to set up a 'One Health' pandemic center in Kenya.

One Health is a multidisciplinary approach that recognizes humans' connections with other species and their shared environment, a concept discussed in the context of zoonoses (infectious diseases which spread from animals to humans) which can lead to pandemics.

The funding is part of Germany's efforts to expand the One Health and pandemic preparedness projects in response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Given that at least 40 more potential pandemic-causing viruses have been identified, the BMZ will put an additional focus on food security and early detection of zoonoses in food production, in cooperation with the World Bank.

Parliamentary State Secretary, Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, will be heading the newly set up One Health Directorate at the BMZ. According to Flachsbarth, the “One Health triad of human health, animal health, and a healthy environment” needs to be strengthened to effectively tackle future pandemics.

Press release – BMZ

EU commits US$46 million to Malawi for nutrition, social protection

The EU has allocated €39 million (US$46 million) in support for Malawi to respond to the COVID-19 crisis through funding for nutrition and social protection. 

This support includes a €16 million (US$19 million) top-up to €70 million (US$83 million) in funding for a program called Afikepo that will enable 280,000 children in 200 primary schools to receive school meals.

The EU’s support will also provide €23 million (US$27 million) to the National Social Cash Transfer Programme, increasing the total funding from €50 million (US$59 million) to €73 million (US$86 million). This will increase the cash transfer program’s reach among poor rural households with limited access to the labor market from 65,000 beneficiaries to 80,000 in the next year, as well as enabling 27,000 poor urban households to receive three months of cash support to lessen the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.

Press release - European Commission

Report shares six-month survey results on food security and recovery under COVID-19, proposes R&D investment options

Research funded by the Australian Council for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) has assessed food security and opportunities in the following five geographies: the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and seven Pacific Island Countries (Kiribati, Tuvalu, Samoa, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji).

The results highlighted COVID-19 related problems including limited access to agricultural supplies and areas, as well as ten pre-existing vulnerabilities that exacerbated the COVID-19 crisis in all five geographies.

The study also listed six factors important to post-pandemic agricultural recovery and resilience, which include the availability of imported staples, food system governance, and support provided by social protection measures.

The review proposed several research and development (R&D) investment options to support the recovery and resilience of food systems in each geographical area.

Op-ed - Development Policy Centre, Australian National University

Report - Australian Council for International Agriculture Research

UK announces US$62 million in new support to Rohingya refugees and Bangladesh

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has announced an additional £48 million (US$62 million) of UK development assistance to support the refugees of the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh, as well as to help Bangladesh deal with the COVID-19 crisis and natural disasters. The commitment was announced just ahead of the UK, US, European Union, and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) co-hosting a pledging conference for the Rohingya crisis.

The UK will have provided close to £300 million (US$389 million) to the Rohingya crisis since 2017, when thousands of Rohingya people escaped Myanmar's brutal, systematic violence against them. About 860,000 of the Rohingya who escaped Myanmar live in Cox's Bazar, a district in Bangladesh with overcrowded refugee camps, with no access to formal education or work opportunities.

£38 million (US$49 million) of the new funding will support humanitarian assistance in Cox’s Bazar and the other £10 million (US$13 million) will assist the country in responding to the pandemic and natural disasters, such as flooding, which make the refugees' conditions more difficult and are worsening in part due to the climate crisis.

Press release - UK government

Sweden pledges US$20 million for new hunger-focused humanitarian support package in response to COVID-19

In response to the humanitarian consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, on October 21, 2020, the Swedish government presented a new support package of SEK 170 million (US$20 million) against global hunger. The funds will primarily be allocated to the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

It has been estimated that the number of people suffering from acute hunger as a result of the pandemic will double in 2020 and affect approximately 265 million people.

Peter Eriksson, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, emphasized that we are facing the greatest hunger crisis ever, and that the climate, COVID-19, and hunger crises are all connected. Commenting on how more countries are reducing their humanitarian assistance as the need for it increases, he assured that Sweden will remain committed to its 1% of GNI target and is actively encouraging others to remain committed as well. 

In addition to the new support package, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has already committed SEK 189 million (US$22 million) to the WFP for 2020, including emergency food assistance and humanitarian air transport/logistics in the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Yemen. Sida’s agreement with WFP for the period 2019-2021 amounts to SEK 695 million (US$80 million).

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

EU pledges US$52 million in humanitarian support, food assistance to Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger for 2020

European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič pledged on behalf of the EU nearly €44 million (US$52 million) for the rest of 2020 to three countries in the Central Sahel region – Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger – to help address ongoing humanitarian and food crises.

Across the region, which is facing one of the fastest-growing humanitarian crises, more than 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Of the EU’s pledge, €20 million (US$24 million) will support the World Food Programme in addressing the food crisis in the region, while the rest of the funds will support humanitarian actions.

Press release - European Commission

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)

Members of UK's Conservative Party call for national leadership on WASH and nutrition

Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Andrew Mitchell, a former Secretary for State for International Development, wrote an article in the Telegraph newspaper calling for UK global leadership on 'water, sanitation and hygiene' (WASH). In the same newspaper, Conservative MP David Mundell, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Nutrition, made a similar plea for UK leadership on nutrition.

Regarding WASH, Mitchell highlighted the problem that three-quarters of people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have soap and water with which to wash their hands at home. He also noted the limited funding to date available for addressing the problem – even before the COVID-19 crisis, only 15% of countries had the money they needed to get water, lavatories, and hygiene to the people in their country without it. Mitchell underlined the importance of WASH to address COVID-19 and noted that out of the US$20.00 trillion committed to the COVID-19 response so far by the international community, only 0.02% has support WASH interventions. He called on the UK to encourage other donors to come behind the UN’s 'Hand Hygiene for All' partnership. He also indicated that the UK should use its upcoming G7 and COP26 leadership to highlight that addressing climate change and the pandemic requires a focus on the basics of water and sanitation.

Regarding nutrition, Mundell cited the pandemic's impact on undernourishment, noting that the UN is warning that the number of people facing starvation could double to 260 million with a further five million likely to suffer 'wasting' (connected to a higher risk of death if not properly treated). Mundell acknowledged UK leadership in the past on nutrition. However, he also noted that UK development assistance on nutrition will run out this year and called on the foreign secretary to renew the government's commitments to addressing global malnutrition.

News article - The Telegraph

News article - The Telegraph

UK government calls for more comprehensive debt deal, for World Bank to ensure COVID-19 response helps most vulnerable

The UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Dominic Raab, called for a more comprehensive debt deal and for the World Bank to ensure its COVID-19 response targets those most in need.

Speaking at the World Bank’s 102nd Development Committee, Raab welcomed the recent G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). However, he noted that it needed to be extended to 2021, and he highlighted that for some countries, debt relief will be required. He also encouraged the participation of all private and official creditors and encouraged the World Bank to work with others to strengthen the sovereign debt resolution architecture.  

Raab set out the UK’s vision for the World Bank’s response to COVID-19, noting that the UK expected all of the World Bank’s arms—including International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Development Association (IDA), and International Finance Corporation (IFC)—to work together to provide additional support to help countries recover and rebuild. In particular, Raab noted the following:  

  • The IFC and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) should use their financial capacity to provide liquidity and counter-cyclical support to the private sector to tackle problems facing low-income countries including capital outflows, lower commodity prices, and the loss of revenues in key sectors;
  • The World Bank should focus on global food security and risks of famine given predictions of rising numbers of people hungry in 2020 (Raab noted this would mean delivering funding quickly, strengthening social safety nets, building more climate-resilient food systems, and improving food markets);
  • The World Bank should use the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to build back in a sustainable and green manner in low-income countries; and
  • The World Bank should focus support on the most vulnerable and excluded people who have been often more heavily impacted by the crisis.

Press release - UK government

Hunger relief, sustainable food initiatives will be top priorities at G20, says Italy's Conte

On October 16, 2020, commemorating World Food Day and the 75th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, shared on Twitter that Italy will make anti-hunger and sustainable food initiatives top priorities in the framework of its G20 presidency in 2021.

Conte also promoted the 'Food Coalition', a project spearheaded by Italy through FAO, to tackle the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on agriculture and nutrition.

Conte congratulated the FAO on its anniversary, saying Italy was proud to celebrate the organization in Rome.

Twitter - Giuseppe Conte

Assessment of Australian development assistance performance in 2018-19 shows most targets met

The final report under the Australian government’s development performance framework, 'Making Performance Count', has been published. Nine of the government’s ten performance measures were met in 2018-19. The gender equality performance target had not been met but was improving, particularly in education.

This is the sixth and final performance report under the 2014 policy framework for the Australian development assistance program.

A new performance system will be used in the future, as announced in May 2020. This will be in line with the new Partnerships for Recovery policy for the Australian government’s development assistance program.

News article - Reliefweb

Canada's IDRC approves new research initiatives on COVID-19, food security in sub-Saharan Africa

Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has approved five new research initiatives related to COVID-19’s impact on food systems, nutrition, and food security in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, in West Africa and the Sahel.

The below 12-month projects were selected for "their capacity to document interventions in real time and share lessons widely for effective responses from government and donor agencies" to the COVID-19 crisis. 

  1. 'Initiative prospective agricole et rurale' (IPAR) will assess the role of social protection and strengthening local food systems in Niayes, Senegal; 
  2. 'Conseil ouest et centre africain pour la recherche et le développement agricoles' (CORAF) will explore the impacts of the pandemic on "food systems and livelihoods" in the Sahel;
  3. 'Association pour la promotion de l'élevage au Sahel et en Savane' (APESS) will support the livestock sector in West and Central Africa;
  4. Institute for Poverty, Land, and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) will examine the political economy of African food systems during the pandemic; and
  5. Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI) will research "opportunities for reconfiguring unequal gender relations" in Burkina Faso and Senegal.

News release- IDRC