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COVID-19 vaccines could be ineffective in 12 months without proper distribution, according to report by Australian advocacy groups, NGOs, businesses

Tim Costello, from the campaign group End Covid For All, in conjunction with 11 partner organizations, released the major report, “A Shot of Hope - Australia’s role in vaccinating the World.” Costello warned that current COVID-19 vaccines could become ineffective in approximately 12 months if vaccinations in low-income countries continue to lag.

He urged the Australian government to commit an additional A$250 million (US$183 million) for vaccines in vulnerable countries. The report also proposed measures to advance vaccine equity and called for Australia to provide a further $50 million (US $37 million) to address vaccine hesitancy.

News article - Channel 7

Report - Micah

Japan provides US$76 million to promote digital sector, social and economic development in Cambodia

Japan will provide ¥750 million (US$7 million) to develop the digital sector and ¥7.1 billion (US$69 million) to advance social and economic development in Cambodia.

While Cambodia has a flourishing textile and clothing industry, the Cambodian government aims to advance high-value industries, especially using digital technology. Japan will provide ¥500 million (US$5 million) for a Computerized Numerical Control machine and ¥250 million (US$2 million) for a Global Navigation Satellite System in Cambodia, targeting the digital sector.

Although the population of Seim Reap, Cambodia is growing, the water supply rate is only 25%, the lowest level of any major city in Cambodia. Japan has loaned ¥6.3 billion (US$ 61 million) to expand the water supply in Seim Reap. In addition, Japan will provide ¥250 million (US$2 million) for concrete compressors and material testing equipment, ¥400 million (¥3 million) for training equipment for factory production lines, and ¥200 million (US$1 million) for equipment to detect landmines.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

South Korean development agency cuts ODA budget for Afghanistan by 80% in 2022

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) submitted a budget proposal to the South Korean National Assembly which includes an 80% budget cut in official development assistance (ODA) for Afghanistan in 2022.

While KOICA initially planned to allocate KRW4.7 billion (US$4 million), it ended up requesting only KRW1.0 billion (US$1 million), due primarily to the instability of ODA project implementation under the Taliban regime. KOICA is said to be monitoring the local situation and will follow the government's direction on Afghanistan policy and assistance.

News article – Yonhap News (in Korean)

Further reducing discretionary development spending, UK Treasury may include US$5.0 billion of IMF Special Drawing Rights as ODA

The Guardian is reporting that the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, is highly likely to recycle some of the US$27.4 billion of its allocation of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) special drawing rights (SDRs) to low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) by counting the funds as official development assistance (ODA).

This move could result in US$4.0 - 5.0 billion of the UK’s ODA budget funneling to the IMF over the coming years, reducing the amount of funding available for other life-saving ODA programs.

The IMF agreed to release US$650.0 billion of its SDRs as a global fighting fund to help countries with the economic and social fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

SDRs are an international reserve asset belonging to the IMF that can be exchanged for one of five international currencies (USD, Euro, Japanese Yen, Chinese Yuan, and British pound). The share of SDRs a country receives is based on its contributions to the IMF, which is ultimately determined by the country’s economic size. As a result, high-income countries receive the largest portion of SDRs. The UK’s share of the fund amounts to US$27.4 billion and the UK is likely to recycle around 75% of its allocation, passing it to LMICs who are most vulnerable using IMF concessional financing. 

Under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) rules, 30% of IMF concessional lending is permitted to count toward ODA; it is reported that the UK will count the maximum of 30% of the lending as ODA this year. According to ONE UK, the development NGO, the recycled funding could amount to as much as US$4.0 - 5.0 billion in UK ODA in the coming years. Former Conservative Development Minister Andrew Mitchel is highly critical of the potential move, noting that many other IMF member states will provide these finances to low-income countries in addition to their ODA budgets.

Given the significant cuts to the UK's ODA in 2021 as a result of the government’s decision to reduce the budget to 0.5% from 0.7% of the UK’s gross national income (GNI), the move could further reduce discretionary ODA spending.

News article - The Guardian

Independent watchdog outlines steps to ensure UK development assistance fully aligns with Paris Agreement

The UK’s development assistance watchdog, the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI), published findings of a rapid review concerning the alignment of UK development assistance with the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement is an international treaty aimed at limiting climate change and supporting low- and middle-income countries' climate change adaptation and response capacities. The UK government committed to comprehensively aligning its development assistance with Paris Agreements in 2019. While the rapid review commends the government for making this commitment, it calls for a greater level of ambition in meeting its goal and urges the government to ensure alignment is a focal point in its forthcoming International Development Strategy.

ICAI praises the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) for developing four tools to support alignment, which are mandatory for all new programs as of April 2021. These tools, ICAI finds, reflect emerging best practices and involve: a climate risk assessment; shadow carbon pricing; a fossil fuel policy; and alignment with partner countries' climate mitigation and adaptation plans. However, ICAI notes that while the tools are important in addressing climate change, they are not enough to comprehensively align with the Paris Agreement. ICAI also calls for the UK government to scale up its focus on selecting and investing in programs that will expedite the transition to low-emission climate-resilient development.

ICAI highlights that the tools are not mandatory for a large proportion of the official development assistance (ODA) budget, which is exempt from their application and reduces their effectiveness. ICAI additionally questions whether the FCDO has sufficient capacity to apply these tools across an expanding proportion of its ODA budget, given the UK government’s commitment to double its International Climate Finance budget over the next five years.

Finally, ICAI criticizes the UK's reporting process for assessing the alignment of UK development assistance to the Paris Agreement, noting that the procedure is unclear and lacks transparency. The report suggests that the government should confirm key metrics for assessing its progress to alignment and commit to publishing these on a regular basis to improve accountability.

Review - ICAI

European Commission proposes US$530 million top-up in 2021 budget to support global COVID-19 vaccination efforts

The European Commission proposed to amend the 2021 EU budget to give a €450 million (US$530 million) boost to the Neighborhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI - Global Europe) to accelerate the global COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

The EU committed to sharing 250 million vaccine doses and is prepared to provide an additional 200 million doses to lower- and middle-income countries through COVAX, the global COVID-19 vaccine procurement facility, by mid-2022. To donate the additional doses, the EU will need €1.3 billion (US$1.5 billion), of which €850 million (US$1 billion) can be leveraged from the current budget. An amended budget will provide the additional financing needed to fill the gap by mobilizing the EU Flexibility Instrument.

Q&A - European Commission

Draft amending budget - European Commission

Canada donates more than 750,000 COVID-19 AstraZeneca doses over two-month period

Canada has donated 762,080 doses of its surplus AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to countries in South America and the Caribbean in the last two months and has plans to donate more doses of mRNA vaccines in coming weeks. 

The donated AstraZeneca doses were distributed to 6 countries at the end of this summer: Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, Ecuador, Barbados, and Peru. Donations were made through bilateral agreements, separate from Canada’s contribution to the COVAX global vaccine initiative, through which it has pledged an additional 40 million doses. 

News article - CBC

AECID leadership discusses Spain’s new development policy at cooperation dialogue

The new director of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), Antón Leis, participated in the event ‘Dialogues for a Transformative Cooperation’ on October 7, 2021. The event was organized by the development NGO umbrella organization ‘la Coordinadora’ at the Congress of Deputies.

Leis elaborated on the reform of Spain’s assistance system to address challenges in the global development space. He explained the primary aspects of the new law for development cooperation, which the government will send to parliament in the coming weeks.

The three pillars of the new bill are:

  1. Teamwork and collaboration;
  2. Dialogue and consensus; and
  3. Strong decision-making, including development finance and significative budgetary envelopes for Spain’s Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

France announces US$30 million fund to support democracy on African continent at New Africa-France Summit

France organized the "New Africa-France summit" in the southern French city of Montpellier on October 8, 2021, which included 5,000 participants from the African continent and France for a one-day summit.

For the first time ever, the summit did not convene African heads of state but rather civil society actors, such as academics, activists, NGOs, startups, and sportspersons.

French President Emmanuel Macron discussed current issues shared by France and the African continent, which included controversial topics such as French military interventions in the Sahel region, support to dictatorships, and the end of the West African CFA franc. 

France announced the creation of a fund to support democracy, which has been allocated €30 million (USD$35 million) for the next three years.

Press release - French presidential website (in French)

Japan provides US$3 million to Kenyan agriculture infrastructure, focusing on conversion of organic waste into insect feed and fertilizer

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) invested US$3 million in Sanergy, a U.S. company that collects and transforms organic waste into insect feed, organic fertilizer, and biofuel.

In Nairobi, Kenya approximately half of waste is dumped illegally, and waste disposal sites can only process 0.5 million m3 of the 1.8 million m3 waste brought into sites. Additionally, while agriculture, forestry, and fisheries comprise about 30% of GDP and 40% of employment, limited feed and fertilizer resources have impeded the expansion of farming production.

With private sector investors such as AXA IM Alts, Novastar Ventures, and Finnfund, JICA will invest in Sangery to help with waste management and agricultural development in Kenya. JICA will work with various public and private investors and leverage its network to solve social problems not only in Kenya but in other countries on the African continent.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Spain’s ODA at 0.28% of GNI in 2022, well below 0.5% goal, according to NGOs

Reacting to the Spanish government's recently released budget proposal for 2022, development NGOs congratulated Prime Minister Sánchez’s cabinet for planning to increase official development assistance (ODA) by approximately €400 million (US$471 million). However, they also highlighted that Spain’s development spending is well below average for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) donors and far from the Spanish government's commitment to increase ODA to 0.5% of the country’s gross national income (GNI) by 2023.

According to la Coordinadora's calculations, Spain’s ODA will amount to €3.5 billion (US$4.1 million), or 0.28% of GNI in 2022. The proposed budget would represent an overall increase of 12% in ODA compared to government estimates for 2021.

Development NGOs welcomed the €101 million (US$119 million) increase to the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation's (AECID) budget as well as the new ODA envelope consisting of €293 million (US$345 million) for COVID-19 vaccines.

La Coordinadora called upon the Spanish government to continue increasing development financing with specific measures such as providing low- and middle-income partner countries with one-half of the €11.0 billion (US$12.9 billion) assigned to Spain as Special Drawing Rights by the International Monetary Fund.  

Press release – ‘la Coordinadora‘ (in Spanish)

Sweden adopts new development cooperation strategy in Western Balkans, Turkey

On October 7, 2021, Sweden adopted a new development cooperation strategy for Turkey and the Western Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

The strategy, which will be implemented by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Swedish Institute, Folke Bernadotte Academy, and Consulate General of Sweden in Istanbul, covers the period between 2021 and 2027 and comprises a total of SEK 5.6 billion (US$645 million). Through the program's implementation, Sweden primarily seeks to strengthen conditions for human rights, democracy, the rule of law, gender equality, inclusive economic development, as protection of the environment.

As one of the largest bilateral development partners in the Western Balkans, Sweden’s support complements that of the EU, which includes supporting countries' reform efforts and their EU rapprochement.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Canada must do more to address humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, critics say

Since Canada’s federal election is over, critics at Canada’s Institute for Research on Public Policy are calling for urgent policy change in response to the Afghan crisis.

The organization created a post-election to-do list for the Afghan crisis, which includes urgent action to:

  • Get people out: Canada should intensify its diplomacy work to encourage the Taliban to allow safe passage out of Afghanistan;
  • Increase government-assisted refugees: With Canada recently committing to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees, at least half should be government-assisted refugees;
  • Speed up the resettlement process: Fast track Afghan refugee claims in Canada;
  • Clarify the new humanitarian program: The government announced a promising new program to resettle vulnerable Afghans, including women leaders, human rights advocates, and LGBTQ+ individuals, but the government must do more to communicate the eligibility and processes of the program; and
  • Increase international assistance: Identified as the most important task on the to-do list, the Canadian government must increase humanitarian aid for organizations working on the ground in Afghanistan and in neighboring countries, such as Pakistan and Turkey, which are experiencing large migration flows from Afghanistan.

Op-ed - Institute for Research on Public Policy 

US releases five-year 'End Malaria Faster' strategy, following WHO approval of groundbreaking malaria vaccine

The United States Presidential Malaria Initiative (PMI) released its new malaria strategy for 2021-2026, the same day the World Health Organization recommended the use of a new malaria vaccine. 

Although global health experts hailed the new vaccine - the result of decades of work - the US strategy cautioned the vaccine as a panacea and emphasized that other measures still need to be part of the solution. 

The US malaria strategy has five main approaches: 

  1. Outreach in hard-to-reach populations; 
  2. Strengthen and expand community health systems; 
  3. Ensure that malaria services are resilient to other health shocks and climate change; 
  4. Invest in local partners to lead the malaria fight; and 
  5. Ensure innovation to end malaria faster. 

Overall, the End Malaria Faster goals are to prevent new cases, reduce malaria deaths and illness, and hasten the elimination of malaria in PMI partner countries.  PMI will work in countries that account for 80% of the malaria burden with a goal of saving more than four million lives and averting over one billion cases by 2025.

News report - Devex

Report - PMI

Australia will partner with Pacific Island countries to improve agriculture quality and biosecurity

Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Zed Seselja, announced that Australia will partner with Pacific Island countries and the international consulting organization, DT Global, to enhance agricultural trade and improve biosecurity. The program will assist producers in the Pacific in finding new markets and improve the quality of their products.

The Australian Department of Agriculture will also participate in the program, which will address regional pests and diseases like African Swine Fever and the Fall Army Worm. Improved biosecurity will enable Pacific Island producers greater access to the New Zealand and Australian markets.

Press release - Minister for International Development and the Pacific

Japan provides US$37 million untied loan to improve energy efficiency in Dominican Republic

Co-financed with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Japan will provide ¥3.9 billion (US$37 million) in untied loans to improve energy efficiency in the Dominican Republic. Specifically, the loans will be used to install LED streetlights on public roads, which will promote energy conservation, reduce greenhouse emissions, and promote sustainable economic development.

The untied loan consists of the 6-month Japanese yen (JPY) LIBOR interest rate (the average interest rate London banks are prepared to lend one another in Japanese yen with a 6-month maturity) with 105 basis points, a 40-year repayment period, and a 12-year grace period.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

EU ministers agree on joint position for COP26, focusing on climate finance for mitigation and adaptation strategies

Ministers in the Council of the EU adopted conclusions establishing the EU’s joint position for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, including a call for increased international climate finance mobilization that better balances mitigation and adaptation action.

Combined, the EU and its member states are the world’s largest providers of both development assistance and climate finance, providing more than one-third of global public climate finance.

Conclusions - Council of the EU

UK parliamentary report estimates ODA budget will drop by US$4.8 billion in 2021 to total US$14.6 billion

The UK parliament released a new report - ‘Reducing the UK’s aid spending in 2021’ - which estimates that the total official development assistance (ODA) budget for the UK will be £10.9 billion (US$14.6 billion) in 2021 compared to £14.5 billion (US$19.5 billion) in 2020.

The budget has been reduced as a result of the government’s decision to reduce its ODA from 0.7% of UK gross national income to 0.5%. The estimate is based on the UK government’s independent Office for Budget Responsibility’s March 2021 economic forecasts and is larger than the £10.0 billion (US$13.8 billion) amount set out by the UK Chancellor in his 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review.

The report notes also that in April 2021, the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) announced how it would spend its £8.1 billion (US$ 10.9 billion) ODA budget in 2020 - 2021. The funding is allocated around seven key policy priorities; it includes £1.3 billion (US$ 1.7 billion) to address the COVID-19 pandemic and support global health resilience and £0.9 billion (US$1.2 billion) for humanitarian preparedness and response. 

The report also notes that in September of 2021, the FCDO published its annual report, which included the plans for country-level ODA spending in 2021 - 2022. This report shows that the FCDO will allocate ODA to 39 countries and territories in 2021 - 2022. In 2019, the UK funded bilateral programs in 136 countries and territories; the former Department for International Development (DFID) funding focused on 46 countries and territories. Of those 46 countries which received bilateral ODA in 2019, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Ukraine, and Eritrea are currently not listed as receiving ODA from the FCDO in 2021 - 2022.

The report notes that the FCDO emphasizes that funding allocations have not been finalized yet.

Report - UK Parliament Website

Dutch government pledges US$87 million to CGIAR at Global Citizen Live concert

The Dutch Government announced it will donate €75 million (US$87 million) to CGIAR for 2022-2024 to help develop sustainable food systems, support smallholder farms, and improve water management. 

The Dutch donation was announced by Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, simultaneously with the European Commission and Belgian government pledges during the Global Citizen concert on September 25, 2021.

Press Release - CGIAR

Japan provides US$315 million to improve oil quality in Iraq

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provided ¥32.7 billion (US$315 million) in loans to upgrade the Barash Refinery in Iraq. This loan is one-third of the tranche following the ¥42.4 billion (US$408 million) loan in October of 2012 and the ¥110 billion (US$1.0 billion) loan in June of 2019. 

Although Iraq has the fifth-largest oil reserve worldwide, its domestic oil market depends heavily on other oil-producing countries. This project will upgrade the existing oil refinery and install a new Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) Complex. The FCC complex will allow Iraq to meet international environmental standards and will contribute to the economic development of Iraq.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency