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The Italian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Emanuela del Re, met with the Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley. In their meeting, Del Re expressed appreciation for WFP's work and confirmed Italy's strong support.
Del Re also announced that Italy plans to increase the contribution to WFP for 2020, in particular for the programs run in Italy's priority areas such as Libya and the African Sahel region.
The cabinet of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has approved the new 'Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation', which aims to increase Spain’s public and private investments in research and development from the current 1.2% of the gross national income (GNI) to 2.1% of GNI by 2027.
The new strategy outlines six priority areas of intervention: health; culture, creativity, and inclusive society; human security, inequities, and migrations; digitalization, industry, space, and defense; climate change, energy, and mobility; and nutrition and the environment.
The Italian Council of Ministries approved the new triennial guidelines document for 2019-2021. The document outlined Italy's cooperation priorities for the coming years; 75% of Italian cooperation resources will be focused on the priority areas given in the document. The remaining 25% will go toward other sectors and debt treatment operations.
The identified priorities are:
- Food security and nutrition;
- Health (including health system strengthening, the fight against pandemics, access to immunization, and noncommunicable diseases);
- Cultural cooperation and protection of cultural heritage;
- Migration (including strengthening and promoting the social, economic, and political inclusion of all, and facilitating orderly, safe, regular, and responsible migration and mobility of people);
- Protection of the environment (including management of natural resources, and the fight against climate change);
- Inclusive and sustainable growth;
- Fighting against all kind of discrimination;
- Supporting efforts to promote conflict resolution through peace processes; and
- Supporting the global partnership for sustainable development.
The document also identified the 22 priority countries for Italian cooperation, given by region:
- Africa: Egypt, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, and Mozambique;
- Middle East: Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine;
- Balkans: Albania and Bosnia;
- Latin America: Cuba and El Salvador; and
- Asia: Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Pakistan.
Following the recent explosion in the port of Beirut, Sweden has decided to increase its support for victims of the devastation by close to SEK17 million (US$2 million). In addition to its previous grant to the Swedish Red Cross (SEK5 million; US$537,000), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has decided to provide new funding to Save the Children (SEK5 million; US$537,000), the International Rescue Committee (SEK9 million; US$967,000), and Action Against Hunger (SEK3 million; US$322,000).
"Vulnerable families should receive cash grants so that they can pay rent and have somewhere to live, but also to afford repairs to their destroyed homes”, said Carin Jämtin, Sida's Director-General. "We focus on supporting children and young people who are at risk of being exploited in different ways and, for example, being forced into child labor. The needs remain very large."
In collaboration with local partners, Sweden is also working to improve access to food and livelihoods. In addition, small business owners will receive cash grants to support them in restarting their businesses.
In total, Sweden has now provided almost SEK22 million (US$2 million) in direct support to Lebanon since the explosion.
Japan will provide US$4 million (¥500 million) to improve food security and $1 million (¥100 million) to strengthen the healthcare system of the Republic of Niger.
According to a Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release, approximately 80% of people in Niger make a living from agriculture. However, the worsening security situation has increased the number of internally displaced persons, obstructing farming. As a result, the Republic of Niger has designated 27% of agricultural areas as at risk for shortages. In cooperation with the US, Japan will provide food assistance to improve the food security.
On March 19th, the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Niger. Although the government is trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Japanese government sees the lack of medical equipment as hindering the response. Therefore, Japan will help strengthen Niger’s healthcare system by providing equipment such as ambulances and patient monitors.
Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has announced funding for ten new research projects examining the impacts of COVID-19 on nutrition and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. The projects will expand on existing IDRC funded initiatives and involve understanding, measuring, and documenting the impact of COVID-19 and responses to COVID-19 on the following subjects, in partnership with the following organizations:
- Food security and nutrition in Kenya - Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization;
- Resilience of the fish value chain in Malawi - University of Malawi;
- Staple food value chains in Zimbabwe - Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project;
- Trade of food between Tanzania and the East African Community partner states - Economic and Social Research Foundation;
- Gender implications and youth resilience in agribusiness - United States International University Africa;
- Food security in Johannesburg - PRICELESS South Africa;
- Food production and supply in Kenya and Uganda -National Agricultural Research Organization;
- Local food production in Nigeria - Centre for Population and Environment Development;
- Household food systems in West Africa - SOCODEVI; and
- Informal food economy resilience in Dakar - Consortium pour la Recherche Économique et Sociale.
Japan will provide US$2 million (¥250 million) in food assistance to Cape Verde
According to a Japanese Government press release, about 10% of the total land in Cape Verde is cultivated, and the country imports about 85% of grains. Since the drought in 2016, approximately 37% of the population is facing food shortages. These funds will be used to provide food assistance and improve the country's overall food situation.
Japan will provide ¥250 million (US$2 million) in food assistance to Guinea-Bissau through the World Food Programme (WFP).
In Guinea-Bissau, natural disasters, flood damage, and a lack of agricultural machinery have led to chronic food shortages. About 70% of people live below the poverty line, and about 25% are undernourished. These funds aim to improve food conditions by providing food such as potatoes, canned fish, and beans.
The US State Department issued a report claiming that the effect of the Trump administration's Mexico City policy -- also referred to as the global gag rule -- had not affected most grants.
The rule, officially named 'Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,' prohibits foreign NGOs who receive US global health assistance from providing any abortion services, including referrals and counseling. The Trump rule, which expanded restrictions on the previous Reagan-era law, is estimated to affect more than 1,300 global health projects worth approximately US$12 billion in US assistance.
The State Department's review claimed that only 8 out of 1,340 awardees opted out of the policy. Critics of the policy were quick to point out that while the number of grantees that opted out was small, they are very consequential providers, representing hundreds of millions of health care services. The report also acknowledged that the policy has resulted in "a gap or disruptions to delivery", additional costs, and delays in implementation. Sub-Saharan Africa was the region most affected.
Advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights also expressed concern about the policy's effect on other health care services, such as HIV/AIDs, nutrition, and malaria. A representative from the Guttmacher Institute called the policy a US foreign assistance weapon "to attack sexual and reproductive health and rights. While numerous studies have documented the policy’s harms, there is no evidence — none — that the global gag rule has had any positive impacts.”
Norway will support Lebanon with an additional NOK45 million (US$5 million) in the aftermath of the explosions on August 4, 2020. Increasing its financial contribution to meet the new humanitarian needs in Lebanon, Norway's total contribution to Lebanon amounts to NOK70 million (US$8 million).
In recent years, Norway has given significant funding to Lebanon and for 2020, funding was planned at around NOK470 million (US$51 million). The contribution is targeted at the need for continued political and economic reform in Lebanon, including the fight against corruption but will now also include medical assistance for those injured in the explosion, as well as food and shelter for the many who have lost their homes.
Norway will also provide 40 tons of medical equipment and is in the process of entering an agreement with the World Food Program to provide NOK40 million (US$4 million) to ensure the necessary food support to the people affected. The government has also raised the possibility of using the flexible funds through established partnerships with Norwegian voluntary organizations, such as the Norwegian Church Aid and Save the Children.
The United States Development Finance Corporation (DFC) announced a new goal to mobilize US$6.0 billion over the next three years for its 2X Women's Initiative. The initiative, first introduced by DFC's predecessor, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, has mobilized US$3.0 billion since 2018. The new focus is motivated in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a disproportionate effect on women.
The DFC is expected to work on just a few issues, including closing the gender digital divide, as well as water, sanitation, and hygiene. Geographically, the new focus will cover all emerging markets, including countries like Pakistan, where it has been more difficult to work.
The DFC made other announcements of new work including new investments in nutrition and loans to support small and medium enterprises in Honduras.
The French Development Agency (AFD) released the summary of its annual report synthesizing the 2019 activities led by the AFD group (which includes its private sector instrument, Proparco, and its technical expertise agency, Expertise France.
In total, the AFD group mobilized €14.1 billion (US$16.1 billion) in 2019, supporting 115 countries in their development efforts, a 70% increase since 2015 according to the report. Of this amount, €2.5 billion (US$3.0 billion) were allocated as grants. The annual report indicates 1,072 new projects were initiated this year.
The French development agency mobilized €477 million (US$547 million) for global health projects, €621 million (US$712 million) for agriculture and nutrition, US$1.4 billion (€1.2 billion) for water and sanitation, and €877 million (US$1.0 billion) for education and professional training.
In 2019, €740 million (US$849 million) was committed to projects with gender equality as a principal objective. 49% of AFD overall projects integrated gender as one of several goals.
The African continent received 50% of the total volume of AFD's financial support throughout the year, of which €1 billion (US$1.2 billion) was allocated to the Sahel region.
Thirty-five countries, including Argentina, Egypt, the Netherlands, Nigeria, and the United States joined the COVID-19 Food Coalition, an initiative launched in June by the Italian government and lead by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
The alliance is a multi-stakeholder platform focusing on mobilizing political, financial, and technical assistance to support the medium- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on food systems and agriculture.
The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) published a report, entitled 'Development assistance in the aftermath of the corona pandemic', in which Norad experts outline the current situation and highlight their concerns.
Documenting increased inequality, food shortages, and violence against women and children, the report indicates that the COVID-19 crisis has led to greater challenges for the very poor. Furthermore, it suggests that the pandemic has increased opportunities for corruption in many countries. Despite these increased development challenges, Norad director, Bård Vegar Solhjell, fears that many rich countries will cut development assistance as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
On July 21, 2020, the Spanish government’s cabinet (‘Consejo de Ministros’) approved several contributions to multilateral instruments and partner countries under the new €1.7 billion (US$1.9 billion) development plan, designed to address the COVID-19 crisis internationally.
These disbursements, which will be channeled as grants and loans by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the Spanish Development Promotion Fund (FONPRODE), include:
- €33 million (US$37 million) in grants to multilateral organizations such as the World Health Organization, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program, UN Women, UNICEF, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
- €85 million (US$96 million) in loans to Honduras, Peru, Colombia, Mali, and Senegal (some of this funding will be disbursed in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank).
On July 21, 2020, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEUEC) released the 'Spanish Cooperation Joint Strategy to Fight COVID-19' including an official development assistance (ODA) budget of €1.7 billion (US$1.9 billion) to be spent in the period 2020-2021.
According to this new strategic plan, the MAUEC will support middle- and low-income partner countries in the global response to and recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Priority interventions outlined at this plan include:
- Strengthening public health systems and guaranteeing universal access to essential health goods such as vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics for COVID-19;
- Supporting the most vulnerable populations, with a special focus on nutrition, water and sanitation, education, and gender equality; and
- Fostering socio-economic recovery in partner countries that are disproportionally affected by the crisis.
In addition, the strategy names gender, the environment, and not leaving anyone behind as cross-cutting priorities.
The European Commission will provide €65 million (US$73 million) in humanitarian assistance to countries in Southern Africa to support their COVID-19 response measures. The funding will target food assistance, disaster preparedness projects, and support for children’s education, alongside COVID-19 prevention, preparedness, and healthcare. Funding from this assistance package will go for humanitarian projects in Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Press release - European Commission
On July 14, 2020, the Spanish Council of Ministers approved 2020's annual ‘Progress Report of the 2030 Agenda’.
Drafted by the Ministry of Social Affairs, the report gives an overview of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Spain, outlining several measures adopted by the Spanish government at the domestic level, such as the launch of a new bill law on Climate Change and Energy Transition, but also internationally, which are mostly related to the COVID-19 pandemic response.
Citing the newly released report ‘The State of Security and Nutrition in the World 2020’ (SOFI 2020), German Development Minister Gerd Müller has announced budget increases for the special initiative ‘ONE WORLD - No Hunger’ in 2021.
The report presents the latest estimates and trends in food insecurity, malnutrition, and hunger at both the global and regional levels and is jointly produced by the five UN agencies: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to this year’s report, 690 million people around the world are hungry, an increase of 10 million in one year and 60 million more than five years ago.
In addition to the €200 million already allocated to food security through the COVID-19 response package, the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) plans to increase funding for the special initiative ‘ONE WORLD - No Hunger’ in 2021, Müller said. The initiative aims to improve the nutrition of 4.6 million people by 2022.
The SOFI 2020 report underscores that the world is not currently on track to eradicate hunger by 2030, a cornerstone of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). If recent trends continue, the number of undernourished people in 2030 will exceed 840 million people. A preliminary assessment in the report further estimates that the pandemic could tip an additional 83 to 132 million people into hunger.