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Advocates criticize Norway for development budget reprioritization in response to Ukraine crisis

The Norwegian government is proposing a record-high development assistance budget of NOK44.9 billion (US$4.5 billion). On May 12, 2022, the government published the revised state budget, indicating the intent to increase the development assistance budget by NOK3.6 billion (US$366 million), to NOK44.9 billion (US$4.5 billion) total, corresponding to a 1.09% ODA/GNI ratio for 2022.
 
The government will increase funding to Ukraine and its neighboring countries by NOK1.75 billion (US$178 million), meaning that Norway will contribute at least NOK2 billion (US$203 million) in response to the Russian invasion. In addition, the government allocated 50% of the increase - NOK 1.8 billion (US$183 million) - to in-country refugee costs in Norway, which has been met with heavy criticism. 

The government also proposed the reprioritization of NOK4 billion (US$407 million) within the development assistance budget to finance increased refugee expenditure in Norway. This move aligns with OECD regulations, but advocates are increasingly concerned. The funding will draw from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Climate and Environment. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have to cut NOK3.6 billion (US$366 million) and the Ministry of Climate and Environment, NOK300 million (US$30 million).

According to the revised budget, the follwing thematic areas and organizations will be affected by the reprioritization:

  • Afghanistan: NOK60 million (US$6 million);
  • Gender equality: NOK65 million (US$7 million);
  • UN Organization for Rights and Equality (UN Women): NOK75 million (US$8 million);
  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): NOK99 million (US$10 million);
  • World Health Organization: NOK118 million (US$12 million);
  • Human rights: NOK136 million (US$13 million);
  • Stabilization of countries in crisis and war: NOK140 million (US$14 million);
  • Civil society: NOK208 million (US$21 million);
  • Africa, regional allocation: NOK250 million (US$25 million);
  • The Knowledge Bank: NOK250 million (US$25 million);
  • United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef): NOK358 million (US$36 million);
  • United Nations Development Program (UNDP): NOK440 million (US$44 million);
  • Health: NOK470 million (US$47 million); and
  • Education: NOK553 million (US$56 million).

The only increased allocation in the development assistance as part of the reprioritization is funding towards food security, fish, and agriculture. The funding will be increased by NOK200 million (US$20 million) as a response to the impending global food crisis, which will be exacerbated by the Russian invasion.
 
Several Norwegian CSOs and international development advocates decried the revised budget. Henriette K. Westhrin, Secretary-General of Norwegian People's Aid indicated that it is incomprehensible that the government would consider cutting funding to the world`s poorest, especially since Norway is profiting immensly from the invasion. Secretary-General of Norwegian Church Aid, Dagfinn Høybråten, said that the cut could have major consequences for vulnerable people in low- and middle-income countries and could have a major domino effect on other donor countries' ODA. Secretary-General of Save the Children Birgitte Lange was similarly unimpressed with the development assistance budget cuts, highlighting that in the revised budget, for each seven dollars in development assistance, one will go to Norway rather than partner countries.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Norway disbursed US$4.2 billion in development assistance in 2021

Statistics, released on May 10, 2022, by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), demonstrate that Norway gave NOK40.1 billion (US$4.2 billion) in development assistance in 2021 - the highest amount in absolute terms in Norway's history. In addition, the number represents a NOK600 million (US$6.2 million) increase from 2020.

Norad manages 50% of Norwegian development assistance, which is equivalent to NOK20 billion (US$2.1 billion). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs manages 32% of the total funding, while the rest of the funding is managed by other ministries such as the Ministry of Climate and the Environment and Norwegian embassies in partner countries. 

In total, Norway gave NOK7.9 billion (US$822 million) in health-related funding in 2021. This number also includes core support for multilateral organizations. In 2021, NOK2.9 billion (US$301 million) was earmarked to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its respective consequences in low-income countries. Norway contributed 6.6 million COVD-19 vaccines, valued at NOK 380 million (US$39 million), according to the OECD.

The World Food Program (WFP), GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria received the largest increases in funding in 2021 for individual organizations.

NOK6.4 billion (US$666 million) of the development assistance in 2021 was targeted at climate-related funding in low-income countries. According to Norad, 16% of Norwegian funding was directed toward climate. 

Syria is still the single country receiving the most funding from Norway as a result of the ongoing humanitarian crisis due to the more than 10-year civil war. In 2021, Norway gave NOK895 million (US$93 million) in humanitarian assistance to Syria. In the 10-year period between 2012-2021, Syria received NOK7.4 billion (US$770 million) in funding. In 2021, Norwegian funding for humanitarian assistance equated to NOK6.6 billion (US$687 million). 

Multilateral organizations received 58% of all Norwegian funding in 2021. NOK12.6 billion (US$ 1.3 billion) went to the UN system, while NOK3.2 billion (US$333 million) went to the World Bank Group. CSOs received 23% of Norwegian development assistance. Among CSOs, Norwegian Refugee Council received the largest amount of funding, followed by the Norwegian Red Cross, Norwegian Church Aid, Norwegian People's Aid, and Save the Children Norway. 

Norad – Press release (in Norwegian)

Bistandsaktuelt – News article (in Norwegian) 

Japan provides US$10 million grant to respond to food crisis in Yemen

The Japanese government will provide the World Food Program (WFP) with US$10 million to help respond to the food crisis in Yemen.

Yemen has endured conflict for more than seven years and is facing major food shortages. These shortages have been further exasperated by rising food prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Over the years, Japan has actively assisted Yemen and is committed to helping realize peace and stability in the country.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 

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

EU steps up support on food security to drought-affected Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, including US$255 million in development funding

The EU and its member states are providing a total package of €633 million (US$698 million) in Team Europe support to address food security in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia, including €231 million (US$255 million) in development funding from the European Commission (EC).

The Team Europe package was announced at a high-level roundtable in Geneva co-hosted by the EC and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It includes €348 million (US$384 million) overall from the EC and €285 million (US$314 million) from EU member states. The EC’s contribution includes funding for humanitarian assistance, conflict management, and €231 million (US$255 million) in development funding to tackle the root causes of food insecurity.

Food security in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia is threatened by climate-induced drought and conflict in the region, which is exacerbated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian war in Ukraine.

Press release - European Commission

German draft supplementary budget adds US$1.1 billion for development ministry in response to Ukraine war

On April 27, 2022, the German government approved a draft supplementary budget worth €26.3 billion (US$29 billion) that addresses the impacts of the war in Ukraine, which complements the original draft budget for 2022, worth €457.6 billion (US$504.4 billion). The draft supplementary budget includes additional funding amounting to €1.0 billion (US$1.1 billion) for the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), both to support Ukraine directly and to mitigate the consequences of the war for low- and middle-income countries and emerging economies.

According to the Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Svenja Schulze, roughly half of the US$1.1 billion in additional funding will be used to respond to the global food crisis caused by the current war in Ukraine.

In the upcoming weeks, the parliament will debate both the original budget draft and the draft supplementary budget. A final decision on both budgets is expected in the beginning of June of 2022.

Press release – Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (in German)

News article – Evangelische.de (in German)

Norway failed to meet 2021 0.1% ODA/GNI target

Despite economic growth and Norway giving more money to humanitarian efforts than ever before, the government did not reach its target of giving 0.1% of its gross national income (GNI) to international development in 2021.
 
The OECD recently published its preliminary development funding figures for 2021. The figures showed that Norway's ODA levels fell by 11.6% compared to 2020. Despite increased support for pandemic control and Norway giving more than NOK40 billion (US$4.2 billion) in funding - its highest contribution ever - to international development, Norway's ODA total fell from 1.11% of GNI in 2020 to 0.93% percent in 2021.

The government has promised to keep development assistance at one percent of GNI. However, in 2021 Norway fell short by NOK3 billion (US$339 million).

Revised figures from Statistics Norway (SSB) show that Norway's GNI grew by over 22% last year. The increased growth is mainly the result of record-high oil and gas prices towards the end of 2021 and the reopening of society during the COVID-19 pandemic. With high petroleum revenues as a result of the war in Ukraine, Norway's economy continues to grow, and the gap between economic growth and funding levels for international development may persist into 2022.

However, Norwegian ODA levels relative to GNI are still the second-highest among OECD donors, bested only by Luxembourg.

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

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

Germany contributes US$11 million to World Food Programme in Lebanon

During her visit to Lebanon, the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Svenja Schulze, announced that Germany will provide €10 million (US$11 million) to the World Food Programme for its support of Lebanon.

Lebanon is among the countries that are most affected by the disruption of wheat supplies from Ukraine and Russia as a result of the Russian war in Ukraine. The World Food Programme is the most important partner to ensure food security and support the build-up of food resilience in Lebanon, said Schulze. The additional €10 million (US$11 million) provided by Germany to the World Food Programme will be channeled to measures that support sustainable food resources and infrastructure and provide relevant training in Lebanon, as well as to national poverty targeting programs. 

The additional contributions to the World Food Programme are dependent upon the ongoing budget discussions in the German Parliament, according to Schulze. The budget is expected to be adopted in early June of 2022.

Press release - Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (in German)

News article – Deutsche Welle (in German)

German development minister calls for global food security alliance

During the World Bank’s Spring Meeting from April 18 - 24, 2022, the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Svenja Schulze, proposed a new alliance for global food security to prevent a global food crisis caused by the Russian war in Ukraine.

Ukraine and Russia are two of the most important wheat exporters and suppliers to the World Food Programme. Following the outbreak of the war, food prices increased sharply and wheat supply plummeted, signaling a looming famine, especially for export-dependent countries in Africa and Asia. According to Schulze, the new alliance should ensure rapid coordination of efforts from government donors, international organizations, the private sector, and foundations, and provide short-term crisis support for the most- affected countries, as well as build up resilient production capacities in these countries over the long term.

Schulze presented her proposal to the group of G7 and advocated for more international support during the Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. Germany holds the G7 presidency this year. Many World Bank Governors, as well as World Bank President David Malpass, the Director of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, and the Indonesian Minister of Finance and representative of the G20 Presidency, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, supported the suggested initiative and announced their engagement.

Chancellor Olaf Schulz announced that Germany will contribute an additional €430 million (US$474 million) to support global food security during the current crisis.

Press release – Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

News article – Euroactive

EU should counter Russia’s ‘food diplomacy’, says op-ed

The EU should respond to Russia’s ‘food diplomacy’ according to an opinion piece by Benjamin Fox, an editor at EURACTIV, an independent media network focused on EU affairs.

Moscow is attempting to position the global food crisis as a consequence of Western sanctions against Russia as opposed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Fox argues that the EU should learn from its slow uptake of vaccine diplomacy during the COVID-19 pandemic and immediately support countries in Africa during the global food crisis.

Op-ed - EURACTIV

Think tank calls for more tailored approach in EU’s partnerships with Least Developed Countries

A major European development policy think tank, the European Center for Development Policy (ECDPM), has published a discussion paper calling for the EU to develop a more targeted approach to its partnerships with Least Developed Countries (LDCs) that better addresses their specific development needs. 

ECDPM published this discussion paper to provide input as the Council's current French presidency is exploring how to renew the EU’s partnership with LDCs. ECDPM doesn’t recommend an EU policy for LDCs broadly, but instead recommends the EU take a country-specific approach that takes into consideration differing contexts. The paper also recommends the EU establish a more coherent development policy, honor its commitments and strengthen support for official development assistance ODA for LDCs, and adopt measures in key policy areas, such as climate and food security.

Policy paper - ECDPM

Spain pledges US$7 million to foster nutrition in Sahel, Lake Chad

On April 6, 2022, at a high-level meeting on food and nutrition in the Sahel and Lake Chad, the Spanish government announced a €6 million (US$7 million) pledge to foster nutrition standards given the ongoing food crisis in the region due to drought, regional conflict, rising food costs, and more.

From this larger amount, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) will channel an urgent and extraordinary disbursement of €500,000 (US$551,000) to the World Food Program to help tackle the current food emergency in Mali.  

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

Italy's Joint Development Cooperation Committee approves US$200 million intervention package

Italy's Joint Development Cooperation Committee approved a package of interventions worth approximately €180 million($200 million): €22 million (US$25 million) was allocated for multi- and bi-lateral projects on food security and social, economic, and environmental development in Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans, and €158 million ($179 million) was allocated for voluntary contributions to International Organizations:

  • €85 million (US$96 million) was allocated to the healthcare sector: €54 million (US$61 million) for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, €24 million (US$27 million) to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and €4 million (US$5 million) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI);
  • €37 million (US$42 million) was allocated for sustainable development and education: €17 million (US$19 million) to The Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat (UN DESA), €7 million (US$8 million) to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), €5 million (US$6 million)to the  Global Partnership for Education (GPE), €3 million (US$3 million) to the Mediterranean and Agronomic Institute of Bari (CIHEAM/IAMB), and €3million (US$3 million) to the International Development Law Organization (IDLO); and, 
  • €27 million (US$31 million) was allocated to the humanitarian sector and to support gender empowerment: €9 million (US$10 million) to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), €6 million (US$7 million) to the International Red Cross (CICR), €5 million (US$6 million) to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), €3 million (US$3 million) to United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), and €3 (US$3 million) to UN Women.

Press release - Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (in Italian)

Spanish development leadership visits Mauritania and Senegal, prioritizes cooperation in Sahel region

On March 27, 2022, the Spanish State Secretary for International Cooperation Pilar Cancela concluded her first official visit to the Sahel Region. Cancela met with high-level government appointees from Mauritania and Senegal, two of the priority partner countries for Spain’s development policy, and participated in the 9th Water World Forum, held in Dakar from March 21 - 26, 2022, to advance solutions towards water and sanitation worldwide.

Spain’s development leadership also visited development programs supported by Spanish development cooperation in priority areas, which included rural development, food security, climate change, health systems strengthening, maternal, newborn and child health, women’s health, gender equality, and higher education.

Cancela reaffirmed the Sahel region as a priority for Spain's development cooperation. Both the current Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation (2018-2021) and the new development bill, which is expected to be adopted by June 2022, highlight Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal as key partner countries for bilateral cooperation.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (in Spanish)

EU joins eight global Coalitions for Action to transform food systems, increase global food security

In response to increasing global food insecurity, the European Commission will join eight global Coalitions for Action to support the transformation of food systems in EU partner countries worldwide. 

The alliances include government representatives, civil society organizations, researchers, and international organizations. The Commission will join Food is never waste, Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems for Children & All, School Meals Coalition, Aquatic and Blue Foods, Agro-ecology, Zero Hunger, Fighting food crises along the Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus, and Sustainable Productivity Growth as partners.

Agro-ecology will support innovation and make use of local and scientific knowledge to scale up agro-ecological practices. Zero Hunger will mobilize resources to achieve hunger reduction including by improving small farm livelihoods. Sustainable Productivity Growth will use technology and innovations to both increase agricultural productivity and enable climate adaptation.

Press release - European Commission

Oxfam Canada calls on donors to address risk of drought-related extreme hunger in East Africa

As many as 28 million people across East Africa face severe hunger if the March rains fail, and Oxfam Canada is calling on governments especially from grain exporting countries, including Canada, to take urgent action.

Oxfam Canada warns that with the war in Ukraine disrupting supply chains, global food systems, and international assistance funding, there is a danger that the international community will not respond adequately to the escalating hunger crisis in East Africa. Oxfam Canada is calling for a large-scale mobilization of international assistance to avert catastrophe and to help the 21 million people already facing severe hunger in the midst of conflict, flooding, and an ongoing unprecedented two-year drought in countries across East Africa, including Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and South Sudan.

While Canada endorsed the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Crises Compact, it has not translated these promises into the urgent funding needed. Oxfam Canada is calling on the government to translate its promise into action and mobilize additional international donors to address the growing risk of mass famine.

Op-ed - Oxfam Canada

Australia provides $47 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia will provide A$65 million (US$47 million) in emergency humanitarian assistance for Ukraine. This includes A$8 million (US$6 million) for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to help protect displaced girls and women from violence and provide reproductive health services. A$10 million (US$7 million) will be provided through the World Food Programme (WFP), and A$10 million (US$7 million) through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership of non-government organizations.

Donations will be made tax-deductible to approved NGOs supporting Ukrainian refugees in Romania, Poland, and Hungary.

Press release – Prime Minister of Australia

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