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Canada increases focus on stabilization, peace-building with US$36 million for projects in Middle East, Africa, Central Asia

On May 11, 2022, Global Affairs Canada announced CA$47 million (US$36 million) in funding for 15 projects in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. These projects, funded through the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program and the Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program, are aligned with Canada’s and the Global Coalition’s ongoing efforts to bolster peace and security in multiple regions.   

The projects receiving this funding focus on countering extremism, supporting women’s movements, clearing explosive hazards, strengthening judicial systems, strengthening independent and accountable media, and supporting social cohesion. 

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

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)

Canada announces US$181 million to support people affected by conflict in Syria

Canada participated in the sixth conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region on May 9 and 10, 2022, with the intention of addressing the critical needs of millions of people across the region amid the ongoing Syrian conflict. Canada announced that it would commit CA$229 million (US$181 million) in funding for humanitarian and development assistance to Syria and the region this year.

CA$60 million (US$48 million) of the funding will specifically support development assistance in Syrian, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. The funding will focus on supporting accountable governance, empowering women and girls, advancing gender equality, improving the quality and sustainability of gender-responsive services including health and education, fostering economic growth, and addressing climate change.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

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) 

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

Canada allocates US$27 million to support food security, human rights, civil society in Ukraine

On May 9, 2022, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Kyiv, Ukraine, where he met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. During the visit, he announced CA$35 million (US$27 million) in additional investments to support the redevelopment of Ukraine in response to the ongoing Russian invasion.

The Prime Minister announced the following support to Ukraine:

  • CA$25 million (US$19 million) through the World Food Programme to address food security in Ukraine;
  • CA$10 million (US$8 million) in funding to support human rights and civil society in Ukraine, including:
    • CA$2 million (US$2 million) to the United Nations Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund;
    • CA$3 million (US$2 million) to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor and document human rights violations; and
    • Over CA$1 million (US$775 thousand) in digital emergency support for civil society in Ukraine.

Press release - Prime Minister of Canada

Canada's 2020-2021 international assistance focused on gender equality, global health, says report

Canada recently published its annual report on international assistance for 2020-2021, which provides an overview of Canada's global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a summary of Canada’s work to advance the priorities set out in the Feminist International Assistance Policy and the 2030 Agenda, and Canada's commitment to global partnerships.

Key highlights of Canada’s international assistance in 2020-2021 included:

  • Canada’s leadership role in the ACT-Accelerator and the COVAX Facility, committing CA$1.3 billion (US$1.0 billion) to support access to COVID-19 tests and vaccines;
  • Providing close to CA$1.2 billion (US$930 million) to meet the humanitarian needs of approximately 115 million people; and 
  • Supporting the empowerment of women and girls through CA$375 million (US$290 million) in development assistance specifically to advance gender equality around the world.

The report highlighted that Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Mali were the top 5 recipients of Canada’s international assistance in 2020-2021. It also found that global health and nutrition, and climate and environment were the top-funded action areas of the Feminist International Assistance Policy.

Report - Global Affairs Canada

UK parliament urges government to prioritize women and girls in reduced ODA budget in Pakistan

The UK parliamentary committee on international development has called upon the UK government to use its reduced country ODA budget for Pakistan to focus on assisting marginalized groups like women and girls and, religious minorities.

The committee, which published a new report on UK ODA to Pakistan, highlighted that between 2015 - 2019, Pakistan was the single largest recipient of bilateral UK ODA. However, in 2020 it dropped to seventh place with an annual UK ODA budget of £200 million (US$268 million). The report illustrated how the UK via past programming had a positive impact on helping women and girls and religious minorities via its education and economic empowerment programs; but, progress made by these projects has been put in jeopardy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and cuts to the UK ODA budget. The report urged the UK government to use its smaller ODA budget to protect the gains made in these programs, focusing on girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment in hard-to-reach communities and by supporting other programs like nutrition and sexual and reproductive health which indirectly support these goals.

The report also called upon the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to continue to support the work of Pakistan’s National Commission on the Status of Women and its National Commission on Human Rights.

In order to improve the effectiveness of UK ODA in Pakistan, the report ultimately urges the UK to communicate its policy objectives clearly to its partners via its Integrated Delivery Plan.

Report – UK Parliament

UK commits US$20 million to Global Financing Facility

The UK Minister of State for Asia and the Middle East, Amanda Milling, tweeted that the UK has committed £15 million (US$20 million) to support the Global Financing Facility (GFF), a global mechanism for supporting low- and middle-income countries to invest in women, children and adolescent health.

The commitment was made at GFF’s ‘Reclaim the Gains’ meeting in Washington, DC on April 22, 2022, which saw international development providers, including the UK, provide an additional US$500 million in total to GFF. The impact of COVID-19 has severely restricted access to health services; GFF reported that coverage of lifesaving health interventions for women, children, and adolescents in 36 GFF countries dropped up to 25% in the first year of the pandemic.

Tweet - Amanda Milling

Press release – GFF

Canada commits US$8million to World Bank's Childcare Incentive Fund

Canada, alongside Australia and the United States, launched a new program, the Childcare Incentive Fund, together with the World Bank and foundation partners to support quality, affordable childcare in low- and middle-income countries.

The fund will catalyze at least US$180 million in new funding in the next 5 years to support childcare in low and middle-income countries and provide evidence on the impacts of quality childcare on women’s empowerment. The Fund will match country investments in childcare on a $1:$1 basis, up to US$10 million per country. Canada has committed up to CA$10 million (US$8 million) thus far.

Press release - The World Bank

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)

Canada announces US$57 million to respond to drought in Horn of Africa

At a high-level roundtable on the drought in the Horn of Africa, Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s Minister of International Development, announced over CA$73 million (US$57 million) in funding for gender-responsive development assistance to meet the needs of people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. 

The funding is being distributed to these three countries, as the drought conditions they are facing could result in over 20 million people needing emergency food assistance in 2022. The funding will address hunger, acute malnutrition, water and sanitation, medical care, and other critical needs of crisis-affected populations. The funding will also support climate action, education, and women’s economic development and empowerment. 

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Canada announces US$31 million to support essential health services for women, children in low-income countries

On April 22, 2022, Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s Minister of International Development, announced CA$40 million (US$31 million) in additional funding to the Global Financing Facility’s (GFF) “Reclaim the Gains” campaign to support critical health services in low-income countries. 

The funds will help lower-income countries improve health systems, reverse the impact of COVID-19, and create long-term improvements for the health of women, adolescents, and children. Canada is a founding partner of the GFF and a co-chair of the campaign, and this funding announcement brings Canada’s total contribution to CA$190 million (US$149 million). 

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Spanish development leadership prioritizes gender equality in policy-making

On April 21, 2022, Spain’s State Secretary for International Cooperation, Pilar Cancela, outlined gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment as a cross-cutting priority sector for Spanish development policy.

During her intervention at Plan International’s event, ‘The impact of humanitarian crisis on girls and adolescents’, held in Madrid, Spain, Cancela stated that Spain’s development policy seeks to advance real and effective gender equality worldwide. In turn, she underlined the importance of strengthening interventions to protect girls in humanitarian contexts and provided specific examples in Afghanistan and Ukraine.

In February 2021, the Spanish government released the ‘Guidelines for a Feminist Foreign Policy’ to incentivize development cooperation programs aimed at fostering gender equality. To date, however, there is not any specific roadmap detailing how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEC) plans to implement this strategy, and Spain has not made any relevant financial announcement for women.

The Spanish development NGO, Oxfam Intermón, released the report, ‘Beyond Words: For A Feminist And Transformative Feminist Cooperation’, in February of 2022 with specific recommendations for the Spanish government to increase ODA to gender-related programs.  

Press release – MAEC (in Spanish)

Beyond Words – Oxfam Intermón (in Spanish)

Op-ed criticizes Canada’s lack of action to address human rights violations in Ethiopia

An op-ed from Open Canada criticized Canada for continuing to pursue business interests in Ethiopia while failing to address the human rights violations in the ongoing civil war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. 

Canada has issued statements expressing concerns over reports of violations in Ethiopia but has refrained from directly rebuking or penalizing these violations. The civil war and associated famine have caused approximately one-half million deaths in northern Ethiopia, and the conflict has been characterized by ethnic cleansing, weaponized rape, and the murder of around 50,000-100,000 unarmed civilians. 

Canada voted in favor of an EU-tabled UN Human Rights Council resolution ordering an independent probe of abuses in Ethiopia’s civil war. Meanwhile, Canada has continued to pursue commercial interests in the region ravaged by human rights atrocities by investing in rights to gold mines. Global Affairs Canada invested in enhancing Ethiopia’s mining sector, with a six-year CA$15 million (US$12 million) program launched in partnership with Ethiopia's Ministry of Mines and Petroleum.

Dr. Getachew Assefa from the University of Calgary hosted a panel discussion on Ethiopian current affairs where he stated that Canada’s lukewarm stance on Tigray was “un-Canadian,” and questioned Canada’s commitment to “feminist foreign policy” since it has failed to act despite the tens of thousands of women in Tigray being subjected to weaponized rape.

Op-ed - Open Canada

Canada’s International Development Research Centre announces new research projects to improve sexual, reproductive, maternal health in Africa

Canada’s International Development Research Centre selected seven new projects to advance sexual, reproductive, and maternal health innovations in Ghana, Gambia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Malawi, and South Africa using gender-transformative approaches.

Gender-transformative research involves generating evidence to address gender inequalities to create lasting social change. The in-country-led teams will work over three years in the seven countries to strengthen participatory and community-based approaches, and inform global action to address the root causes of poor sexual, reproductive, and maternal health outcomes.

Press release - International Development Research Centre

Think tanks based in Spain, Africa gather to advance women's empowerment

On April 8, 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAEC) organized a discussion session between think tanks based in Spain and Africa aimed at sharing ideas on how to advance women's empowerment on the African continent.

Earmarked under two recent milestones of Spain’s international development activities, the Guidelines for a ‘Feminist Foreign Policy’ and the ‘Focus Africa 2023’, the meeting served to launch an informal network of African and Spanish think tanks that will work together in order to foster evidence-based, strategic studies around women's empowerment and the women, peace, and security agenda.

The meeting was hosted and facilitated by the Spanish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ángeles Moreno Bau.

Seven think tanks based in Africa participated in the meeting, including the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), the Timbuktu Institute, the Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA), the Research and Analysis Group for Development (GRAAD), the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), the Western Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC).

Six think tanks based in Spain participated in the meeting, including the Royal Institute Elcano, the Alternativas Foundation, the Barcelona Centre for International Studies (CIDOB), Oxfam Intermón, the African Studies Group, and the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies.

Press release – MAEC (in Spanish)

Germany, UN Women, ILO host G7 Care Conference focused on paid and unpaid care work

On April 7, 2022, Germany, UN Women, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) jointly hosted a G7 Care Conference in Berlin. The event provided a platform for global delegates to discuss the important issue of paid and unpaid care work in international development.

The event marked UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous's first official visit to Germany. While in Berlin, Bahous met with German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze, who voiced her commitment to intensifying Germany's focus on gender equality in development cooperation and ensuring women’s full participation in decision-making at all levels. Bahous and Schulze also discussed their shared priorities including gender-sensitive responses to the war in Ukraine and supporting women in Afghanistan.

Press release - UN Women

Tweet - Sima Bahous

Japan reaffirms commitment to support women and girls at UN Women Donor Roundtable and G7 Care Work Conference

Kentaro Uesugi, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, attended the third UN Women Donor Roundtable and the G7 Care Work Conference to reaffirm Japan’s commitment to supporting women and girls.

Uesugi participated as a panelist at the G7 Care Work Conference where he stated that Japan intends on continuing to support development cooperation to reduce the burden of unpaid work for women. He also committed to working with UN Women to achieve gender equality in Japan and internationally.

Gender equality remains one of Japan’s key ODA policies, and the country has made significant contributions over the past few years, including US$3 billion from 2016 to 2018.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

European Parliament calls for strengthening EU cooperation with partners on R&I in climate change, health, gender mainstreaming

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the European Commission’s May 2021 Communication on its Global Approach to Research and Innovation (R&I) that calls for strengthening EU cooperation with lower- and middle-income countries on R&I in areas such as climate change, health, and epidemic preparedness, as well as better integrating the gender dimension in R&I.

The resolution highlights the need to promote gender equality in R&I implementation and content and urges the EU to seek synergies between its R&I cooperation and the EU’s external action programs. 

Resolution - European Parliament

Strategy - European Commission