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Canada commits over US$70 million to Caribbean Development Bank's Special Development Fund

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marc Garneau, has announced a funding commitment of CA$81 million (US$64 million) to the Caribbean Development Bank's Special Development Fund over the next four years.

This pledge is 16% larger than Canada's previous contribution to the Fund. With this recent announcement, Canada remains the largest country contributor to the Special Development Fund.

Canada has also allocated an additional CA$9 million (US$7 million) to the World Food Programme to specifically help Caribbean countries respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Press release - Global Affairs Canada 

Japan provides US$668 million to African Development Bank fund for economic growth and poverty alleviation

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provided ¥73.0 billion (US$668 million) to the African Development Bank for the Fifteenth Replenishment of the African Development Fund (ADF-15).

This loan will contribute to economic growth and help alleviate poverty in low-income countries in Africa during the ADF-15 period, from June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2022. The loan will be used for activities focusing on the African Development Bank’s 'High 5s', or development priorities: "Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa."

This loan consists of grant participation and concessional lending, with an annual interest rate of 0.11%, a repayment period of 40 years, and a grace period of 10 years.

Press release - Japan International Cooperation Agency

News article - Reuters

University of Western Australia, Food and Agriculture Organization identify 150+ underused crops to reduce hunger

University of Western Australia researchers have indicated that the Asia-Pacific region’s overreliance on a limited number of crops has led to undernutrition and low dietary diversity, which has resulted in a significant prevalence of stunting and wasting.

More than 150 underused food crop species have been identified by the university's researchers and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The full study has been published in the journal Nature Plants, with the species ranked in terms of their nutritional value, climate change resistance, economic value, and availability.

News article - Mirage

Under Spain’s leadership, Sahel Alliance General Assembly adopts resolution to foster regional sustainable development

On February 16, 2020, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEUEC), Arancha González Laya, chaired the second General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance that took place in N’Djamena, Chad, to review the current situation of the region and advance coordination to effectively address the negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

As a result of this meeting, the Sahel Alliance adopted a joint statement aimed at improving the living conditions of populations in the Sahel in a sustainable manner and guaranteeing equal access to essential services. Among other measures, it underlines the need to strengthen actions addressing the COVID-19 crisis, rural development, food security, climate change adaptation, and gender equality in the Sahel region.  

González Laya stated that the Sahel Alliance is committed to working towards post-COVID-19 recovery, strengthening public health services, as well as achieving inclusive and sustainable development in the region.

Created in July 2017, the Sahel Alliance is a regional organization that gathers the G5 Sahel member states—Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad—in addition to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Luxembourg, Denmark, the Netherlands, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the UN Development Programme, and EU institutions. Since June 2020, Spain holds the presidency of the Sahel Alliance for a one-year period.

Press release – MAEUEC (in Spanish)

Joint statement – General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance

Japan provides emergency grant assistance of US$6 million for people affected by crisis in Ethiopia's Tigray region

Japan announced that it will provide US$6 million in emergency grant assistance for people affected by the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia since an armed conflict broke out in November 2020.

Through the World Food Programme, the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, Japan will provide health-related humanitarian assistance, including mental health services and the repairing of health centers, as well as the provision of relief items such as food and hygiene products.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Spanish NGOs meet development leadership officials to shape assistance system reform

On February 8, 2021, representatives from the development NGO umbrella organization ‘La Coordinadora’ met with the Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, and the Director of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), Magdy Solimán. The objective of this meeting was to review the current government’s plans to deeply reform Spain’s development cooperation system.

According to La Coordinadora, Moreno reiterated the government’s intentions to increase Spain’s development assistance to 0.5% of the country’s gross national income by the end of the current term of office and underlined the need to strengthen Spanish cooperation and eliminate existing administrative bottlenecks in order to effectively address such budgetary grow.

La Coordinadora took advantage of the meeting to present its proposal paper to the Spanish government titled ‘A new cooperation system to change the world’, which was launched in January 2021 after gathering input and recommendations from up to 300 people involved in Spain’s development affairs.

Press release - La Coordinadora (in Spanish)

Proposal paper - La Coordinadora (in Spanish)

Under budget pressure, Australia abolishes development assistance evaluation groups

Following a freedom of information inquiry, the South China Morning Post reported that Australia had closed two development assistance evaluation entities primarily to achieve departmental budget savings.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) abolished the Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE) in September 2020 and ended the ODE's strategic evaluations of overseas development activities. DFAT also abolished an Independent Evaluation Committee overseeing evaluations.

Opposition spokesman Pat Conroy has claimed that the government's moves undermined Australia’s development program, just when major regional challenges needed to be faced. The DFAT, however, indicated that evaluations would be conducted by other areas of the Department including the Office of the Chief Economist.

Press release - South China Morning Post

Fourth International Fund for Agricultural Development’s Liaison Office established in Japan

An International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)’s Liaison Office was established in Japan to raise the importance of investing in small-scale farming and reducing hunger in low-income countries. This is the fourth IFAD’s Liaison Office in the world.

The IFAD Liaison Office in Japan will help tackle issues such as food insecurity, undernutrition, and poverty in rural areas. These actives will contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 1 ('No Poverty') and SDG 2 ('Zero Hunger').

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

UK parliament’s new report on secondary impact of COVID-19 on low-income countries finds countries facing hunger, debt, healthcare challenges

The UK parliament’s International Development Committee issued a new report on the secondary impacts of COVID-19 on low-income countries on January 26, 2021. The report warns that the setbacks to development as a result of the pandemic could be even worse than the direct impacts for low-income countries.

The report found that routine healthcare processes such as childhood immunization programs were grinding to a halt as systems buckled. Low-income countries' national economies were being saddled with increasing levels of public debt. The Committee wrote, "We welcome the UK’s role in extending the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative to 30 June 2021, the measure to temporarily suspend debt service payments for the poorest countries."

The report also found that job losses were impacting peoples’ welfares, particularly their access to nutrition, as families struggle to afford to feed their families. Finally, the report also finds that the secondary impacts of COVID-19 are gendered, with a rise in unpaid care work and violence against women who are often stuck at home due to national lockdowns.

The report recommends, among other things, that the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) should:

  • Replenish funds to NGOs working on the front lines to tackle the impact of COVID-19;
  • Set up a multi-year, cross-departmental global health strategy to ensure non-COVID-19 healthcare in low-income countries is strengthened;
  • Push for the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to be extended beyond June 2021 with private lenders encouraged to join;   
  • Update its nutrition commitments, which expired at the end of 2020, and expand funding in this area to address undernutrition and food insecurity; and,
  • Refresh the Department for International Development's (DFID) Strategic Vision for Gender Equality.

Report - International Development Committee

EU increases global humanitarian assistance budget for 2021 to US$1.7 billion

The EU has increased its humanitarian assistance budget for this year by 60% from the initially adopted 2021 annual budget, to respond to increased needs due to the COVID-19 and climate crises.

The new budget allocates €1.4 billion (US$1.7 billion) for humanitarian assistance, a significant boost compared to the €900 million (US$1.1 billion) allocated in the 2021 budget adopted last year. This includes a €505 million (US$614 million) allocation to countries in Africa impacted by the Lake Chad Basin crisis, the food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel, and displacements due to armed conflicts in South Sudan, Central African Republic Somalia, and Ethiopia.

Funding has also been allocated for the Middle East and Turkey (€385 million or US$468 million), Asia and Latin America (€180 million or US$219 million), and for humanitarian air services and for unforeseen needs (€302 million or US$367 million). 

The European Commission will publish a renewed EU humanitarian strategy in the first quarter of this year to propose ways to step up the EU response to meet the greatly increased humanitarian needs worldwide. 

Press release - European Commission

Spain’s new 2021-2024 foreign strategy draft prioritizes strengthening of development cooperation

On January 26, 2021, under the leadership of Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEUEC), the cabinet of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez approved the first draft of the ‘Foreign Action Strategy 2021-2024’, which outlines Spain’s foreign priorities and goals for the next four years.  

Sustainable development has been outlined as a core instrument to achieve Spain’s foreign goals. The new plan underlines the current administration commitment to increase Spain’s official development assistance (ODA) to 0.5% of the country’s gross national income (GNI) by 2023, to reform the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), and to provide the Spanish development cooperation system with a new and reinforced vision including the following priority interventions.

Vertical axes of Spain's development cooperation:

  • Tackling extreme poverty by fostering nutrition, water and sanitation, and global health;
  • Addressing the negative effects of climate change;
  • Fostering global education; and
  • Promoting socio-economic development.

Horizontal axes of Spain's development cooperation:

  • Deploying feminist development cooperation;
  • Protecting human rights;
  • Strengthening humanitarian assistance; and
  • Developing innovative public-private partnerships.

The new ‘Foreign Action Strategy 2021-2024’ draft, which will be ratified in Parliament during the coming weeks, defines four guiding principles for Spain’s foreign policy: more Europe, better multilateralism, strategic bilateralism, and solidarity commitment. In addition to that, it outlines different strategic priorities articulated around four areas of intervention:

  1. Promotion of human rights, human security, democracy, and gender diplomacy;
  2. Economic diplomacy to end inequities and advocate for a new socio-economic model globally;
  3. Climate diplomacy for Spain to champion global efforts against the climate crisis; and
  4. Multilateral diplomacy to strengthen international institutions with a special emphasis on global health governance.

Press release - MAEUEC (in Spanish)

‘Foreign Action Strategy 2021-2024’ - MAEUEC (in Spanish)

UK Foreign Minister visits Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, signs new agreements on healthcare, climate crisis

UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Development Dominic Raab visited Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia on January 20-22, 2021, and signed a series of new agreements on healthcare and the climate crisis, alongside discussions of ongoing economic and security issues in the region.  

In Kenya, Raab held meetings with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Foreign Minister Raychelle Omamo, Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe, and Defense Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma. The meetings aimed to bolster UK-Kenya trade and also resulted in the announcement of £48 million (US$62 million) in new UK climate initiatives for Kenya and a new health partnership to maximize knowledge-sharing between health practitioners in the UK and Kenya. Raab visited the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) Laboratory in the capital city of Nairobi to see how Kenyan and British scientists have worked together to develop the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Raab also met with soldiers attending the UK-supported Humanitarian Peace Support School to hear about joint counter-terrorism efforts.  

In Sudan, Raab met with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, Foreign Minister Omer Gamereldin, and the Chair of the Sovereign Council, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Raab confirmed the UK’s commitment to supporting Sudan’s democratic transition and noted that the UK stood ready to provide a £330 million (US$429 million) bridging loan to clear the country's arrears to the African Development Bank if Sudan continues to abide by the economic reforms agreed by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Raab also confirmed that the UK will provide £40 million (US$52 million) to the Sudan Family Support Programme.

In Ethiopia, Raab visited a school with Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde to showcase the UK’s ongoing efforts to support girls' education in the country. He also spoke to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali on finding a solution to the rapidly escalating conflict in the Tigray region and enabling humanitarian support to the resulting crisis. Finally, Raab signed a climate partnership agreement with Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen Hassen for collaboration between the UK and Ethiopia ahead of the UK-hosted COP26 climate conference.

While in Sudan and Ethiopia, Raab toured World Food Programme (WFP) sites to see how UK development assistance is contributing to nutrition projects.

Press release - UK government

UK Foreign Minister appoints new CEO of FCDO's strategic global forum institute

The UK Secretary for State for Foreign Affairs, Dominic Raab, has announced the appointment of Tom Cargill as the new CEO of Wilton Park, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s (FCDO) strategic global forum institute, which hosts high-level intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder discussions aimed at driving collective global security and prosperity.

Cargill is currently the CEO of the business development organization, British Expertise International, and was formerly the CEO of the UK-based NGO, Foreign Policy Group.

Press release - UK government

Former Italian Agriculture Minister appointed as new Deputy Director-General at Italy's Food and Agricultural Organization

Maurizio Martina, the former Italian Minister of Agriculture, Secretary of the leading center-left party (Partito Democratico), and Member of Parliament, has been appointed as Special Advisor and Deputy Director-General at Italy's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Martina led the organization of the 2015 World Expo in Milan, the theme of which was "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life".

Martina has expressed great enthusiasm for the importance of a multilateral approach to development, which Martina plans to apply while working on the G20 agenda, the next UN Food Systems Summit, and the Food Coalition launched by Italy in partnership with FAO a few months ago. 

News article - Corriere della Sera

Japan provides US$69 million to improve rice irrigation facilities in Senegal

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) announced plans to provide ¥7.2 billion (US$69 million) to the Republic of Senegal through the Project for Irrigated Rice Production to improve the productivity of irrigated rice and ensure food security in Senegal.

This project aims to rehabilitate and expand irrigation fields in the Senegal River Valley, strengthen management systems, and increase the procurement of agricultural machinery, which will contribute to SDG 2, the Sustainable Development Goal for Zero Hunger.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Japan provides technical support to increase rice yields in Liberia

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) announced plans to provide technical support through the Improving Rice Production for Smallholders Project ('LibRice') to improve rice yields in the Republic of Liberia.

Although rice is a staple food in Liberia, rice yield has been low over a prolonged period and 60% of domestically consumed rice is imported. The project aims to increase rice yield in Liberia's Bong County by enhancing and disseminating rice cultivation techniques, increasing the capacity of farmers, and strengthening the monitoring and evaluation capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Liberia is participating in the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) initiative for rice development led by Japan, which aims to double rice production from 14 million tons per year to 28 million tons per year across 21 countries.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

New Swedish cash grant will support female-headed households in Tanzania after successful first phase

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has agreed to extend and expand a previous cash grant program aimed at tackling extreme poverty in Tanzania by providing SEK 550 million (US$62 million). The grant complements contributions from other bilateral donors as well as a SEK 3.8 billion (US$430 million) loan from the World Bank to the Tanzanian government.

Between 2016 and 2020, Sida contributed to the first phase of a conditional cash grant program benefiting female heads of households, but which covered only certain parts of Tanzania. Following an evaluation of this support, which showed positive effects not only on income poverty reduction, but also on access to food, children’s school participation, and households' ability to increase their own income, Sida has decided to extend and expand the grant until 2024.

The second phase of the program aims to continue providing cash support to poor women—this time across the entire country—conditioned upon regular health checks, school attendance, and public works participation.

"This means that seven million extremely poor women, girls, boys, and men in Tanzania for three to four years can receive SEK 90-460 (US$10-52) per month per family...for food, schooling, housing, and help to set up micro-enterprises,” said Ulf Källstig, Head of Sida's Africa Department.

The cash grant is disbursed every two months to the female head of household and the amount per family is determined by the number of children and disabled family members. Additional grants are also provided to households undergoing training to find employment or start micro-enterprises.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

UK to provide additional US$61 million in humanitarian assistance to support those impacted by COVID-19 crisis and hunger

The UK government has decided to provide an extra £47 million (US$61 million) in humanitarian assistance to support over one million people especially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and hunger. The assistance will include support to Syria, South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Mozambique, as well as the Sahel region of Africa, and is aimed at providing food, nutrition, water, and shelter.

The announcement is part of the UK’s continued global leadership on addressing humanitarian crises and comes after new UN data showed that humanitarian crises are worsening around the world, with 235 million people expected to be "in need of urgent assistance" in 2021, a stark increase compared to 175 million people at the beginning of 2020.

Press release - UK government

US approves slightly higher foreign assistance budget, at US$62.7 billion, for fiscal year 2021

As part of a joint US$2.30 trillion omnibus appropriations and supplemental COVID-19 relief bill, the US Congress approved funding for US foreign assistance at slightly higher levels than for the previous fiscal year. Despite last-minute criticisms of the overall bill, including the size of the domestic COVID-19 stimulus checks, US President Donald Trump signed the bill and averted another government shutdown.

The overall US foreign assistance funding level for fiscal year (FY) 2021 was set at US$62.7 billion. This included US$5.3 billion in emergency assistance, as well as US$4.0 billion that went to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for vaccine distribution assistance.

The large funding cuts proposed by Trump for the FY2021 budget were once again rejected by Congress. The total amount for the International Affairs Budget (which represents almost the entirety of US foreign assistance) increased by US$3.4 billion over FY2020, largely due to increases in emergency assistance. There were small increases in food assistance, global health security, and development finance funding, but most accounts held steady at FY2020 levels.

Development advocates had hoped for more international assistance for COVID-19 related efforts and had been pushing for funding ranging around US$20.0 billion in supplemental appropriations. 

Report - US Global Leadership Coalition

Swedes continue to have strong confidence in use of official development assistance, survey shows

In the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency’s (Sida) annual poll of Swedes' attitudes toward official development assistance (ODA), confidence in the use of Swedish ODA increased somewhat in 2020.

When asked whether "Swedish ODA contributes to a better world", 61.5% of the respondents said that this is true or quite correct, reflecting an increase from 59.9% in 2019. The 2020 poll was conducted by Kantar Sifo with 1,500 respondents. Sida has been conducting the yearly survey since 1974.

Sida's Communications Director, Sepideh Imani, said Swedes have a reason to be proud, that in last year's OECD survey, Swedish ODA "was ranked the best in the world and really makes a difference". Imani noted that this year the country has provided much COVID-19-adapted support, especially for women and children in the way of health care, education, and cash assistance "so that they can buy food and let children go to school, but also support for the elderly who have been severely affected by the pandemic".

Swedes' general attitude toward ODA remained stable in 2020; the poll showed that 76% of respondents still think that it is important for Sweden to contribute to development in low-income countries. 55.8% of the respondents said they agree that Sweden’s goal to provide one percent of its gross national income in ODA is about right or should increase, while 35.8% believe that ODA should be reduced or abolished. 63.5% of women are positive toward Sweden’s ODA target, while only 48.2% of men support it.

Poll - Sida (in Swedish)

Press release - Sida (in Swedish)