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Japan provides US$200 million loan to Afreximbank for COVID-19 relief efforts

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a loan agreement for up to US$200 million with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

Afreximbank is a financial development institution composed of 51 member states which support African countries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, Afreximbank has provided loans to increase local capacities for manufacturing vaccines and medical products.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Africa, with decreases of 1.7% and 1.1% in Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa respectively. The COVID-19 crisis also highlighted insufficient medical infrastructure and access to medical and pharmaceutical products throughout the continent.

The loan will be used to develop manufacturing lines, supply bases, and medical and health facilities.

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Spain AECID launches ‘Salud COVID’ program to foster health systems strengthening in partner coutries

On April 7, 2022, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) announced the launch of the new ‘Salud Covid’ program, which will aim to support public health systems in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in low- and middle- income partner counties.

With an initial budget of €4 million (US$4 million) that will be entirely disbursed in 2022, the program will start focusing on Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, and Paraguay. Among other interventions, this program will support vaccination campaigns for COVID-19 in partner countries.

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

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

Amid Ukraine crisis, Canada should boost international development spending to avoid food crises in Africa

The Institute for Research on Public Policy warns that the aftershock of the war in Ukraine, combined with climate change and the ongoing pandemic, could prove catastrophic for the world’s most vulnerable people. The Institute notes that there are several things Canada can do to help solve this crisis, including investments in international development, trade, and economic recovery.

Russia and Ukraine supply about 50% of Africa’s wheat imports, and for Eritrea, Egypt, Benin, Sudan, Djibouti, and Tanzania, that number is more than 70%. Furthermore, the World Food Programme (WFP) gets half of the wheat it distributes in humanitarian crises from Ukraine. Despite the WFP being Canada’s largest development assistance partner, Canada is only its fifth-largest donor. Canada could significantly step up its investments in international development towards the WFP to make a concrete difference, and avoid food shortages across Africa.

This urgent need for development assistance comes at a time when Canada’s investment in international development has continued to fall short. For every $100 of national income, Canada invests just 31% in international development, short of the 70% goal that other G7 countries have met. With new international development pledges in the government's 2022 budget, Canada can show meaningful increases in international development investments. Canada should also work with multilateral and diplomatic partners to increase global co-operation in this time of need.

Op-ed - Institute for Research on Public Policy

Canada announces US$65 million to address food crisis in Sahel, Lake Chad regions

At a high-level meeting on the food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions, Harjit Sajjan, Canadian Minister of International Development, announced over CA$82 million (US$65 million) in funding for gender-responsive development assistance to help avert famine in the regions.

The funding will address acute malnutrition, food insecurity, health, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in the region. The funding is being distributed to 14 different projects and organizations, including:

  • CA$40 million to UNICEF between 2021 and 2027 to improve health care systems’ provision of nutrition services to vulnerable children, adolescent girls, and women in Mali; and, 
  • CA$16 million to the World Food Programme between 2022 and 2025 to support vulnerable populations in Burkina Faso through the development of greener and more inclusive income-generating activities. The project focuses on supporting women and communities exposed to socio-economic and climatic shocks that have impacted their nutritional status.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Canada’s International Development Research Centre publishes novel study on countering information disorder in low-income countries

The International Development Research Centre funded a newly released report entitled, 'Meeting the Challenges of Information Disorder in the Global South' which reveals approaches that are being used to counter information disorder in low-income countries.

The 18-month scoping study explored various methods used to meet the challenges of misinformation and disinformation, with special attention on how the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the problem. This ground-breaking study brings together researchers from low-income countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

This study fills some key research gaps, because while information disorder is a widespread problem in low-income countries, existing research is still dominated by experiences in donor countries.

Main findings of the report included: 

  • Numerous fact-checking organizations are active in low-income countries, many of which have recently been established due to the rise in disinformation and misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Fact-checking organizations in low-income countries have well-established responses to target audiences in disinformation and misinformation campaigns; and
  • Media literacy campaigns are among the most commonly used strategies to combat disinformation.

Fact-checking organizations faced three common problems: 

  1. Lack of funding, which makes long-term viability and sustainability uncertain; 
  2. Structural issues related to difficulty in accessing reliable information and data and inadequate legal support and protection; and 
  3. Harassment, threats, and accusations of corruption for fact-checking organizations which receive international funding in highly polarized political climates. 

Recommendations for further research and next steps included:

  • Encouraging more research on information disorder in low-income countries that uses in-country expertise and modeling;
  • Moving beyond digital platforms to oral networks to engage with ethnographic work on disconnected or remote communities; and
  • Collaborating between organizations within and across regions by topical areas and trends rather than geographical location. 

Report - International Development Research Centre

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

South Korea provides US$1.2 billion concessional loan to Cambodia as symbol of strengthened bilateral friendship

The South Korean government promised to provide an additional US$1.2 billion in economic development cooperation funds to Cambodia from 2022 to 2026.

Koo Yun-cheol, South Korea’s Minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination (OPC), met with Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister to discuss economic cooperation between the two countries. The additional loans will be used for priority sectors, and the two also discussed the upcoming fourth round of official development assistance (ODA) negotiations. This partnership will contribute to strengthening cooperation among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

News article – Dongponews (in Korean)

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)

British LGBTQ+ groups boycott UK's conference on LGBTQ+ rights following legislative U-turn on conversion therapy

More than 100 British LGBTQ+ organizations announced that they will boycott the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s (FCDO’s) first-ever global LGBTQ conference – Safe To Be Me - scheduled for June 27- 29, 2022.

The conference, the largest event of its kind, aimed to make progress on legislative reform, tackling violence and discrimination, and ensuring equal access to public services for LGBTQ+ people. However, British LGBTQ+ organizations have announced they will boycott the conference in response to the UK government’s last-minute decision to exclude a ban on conversion therapy for trans people in forthcoming UK legislation, and only ban it for gay or bisexual people.

British LGBTQ+ organizations argued that if the UK government cannot respect all LGBTQ+ people’s rights, then it should not be convening such a conference on the international stage.

News article – The Guardian

Safe to Be Me Conference - UK Government

Biden postpones second global COVID-19 summit

United States President Biden's second summit on COVID-19 has been postponed again. The meeting, which Germany is co-hosting, was originally scheduled for March and was then pushed to April due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  The administration is also still trying to secure an additional US$5 billion in funding for global COVID-19 vaccine delivery, which has been stalled in Congress. 

Biden held the first summit in September of 2021.  At the time, he pledged that the US would contribute an additional 500 million vaccine doses along with hundreds of millions of dollars to help with immunizations to be implemented through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He also sought commitments from other countries to provide more resources. 

The additional money that the Biden administration has recently requested to help increase vaccination rates in eleven low-income countries in Africa has yet to be approved by Congress. Originally, USAID was asking for US$19 billion to carry out that new program, but even the reduced US$5 billion in additional funding for the global response remains uncertain. 

News report - Politico

European Commission launches Global Gateway cooperation projects with Niger, Ivory Coast, Ghana

European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen traveled to Niger, Ivory Coast, and Ghana to launch EU partnerships under the EU’s new Global Gateway investment initiative. 

Urpilainen announced several Global Gateway cooperation projects with these partner countries, including projects focused on sustainable cocoa, agricultural water management, climate, governance, security, vocational training, and education. She also announced €300 million (US$339 million) in 2021 funding from the EU’s development instrument, the Neighborhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) - Global Europe, for Niger. 

Urpilainen launched the following projects:

  • The first €58 million (US$66 million) was allocated to the Ivory Coast through Team Europe initiatives on sustainable cocoa production, low carbon transition, and security;
  • An additional €25 million (US$28 million) was allocated to a regional program to support best practices for sustainable plantations in Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Cameroon; and,
  • An EU contribution of €45 million (US$51 million) went toward a joint project with France to build irrigation infrastructure in Northern Ghana.

Press release - European Commission

Canada and UK announce call for concept notes for Climate Adaptation and Resilience initiative, valued at US$44 million

Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) announced a call for concept notes for their Climate Adaptation and Resilience (CLARE) initiative. 

The call seeks to identify transdisciplinary teams to conduct research related to CLARE’s three research themes: understanding climate risk, risk-informed early action, and developing in a changing climate. The initiative supports research that enables socially inclusive and sustainable action to build resilience to climate change on the African continent and in the Asia-Pacific region. 

The funding includes smaller project grants of up to CA$1 million (US$1 million) and larger project grants of between CA$6-8 million (US$5-6 million) for up to 42 months. The initiative seeks to fund approximately eight smaller and eight larger projects for a total of up to CA$56 million (US$44 million). Concept notes may be submitted until June 7, 2022. 

Press release - International Development Research Centre

UK launches US$119 million education program in Tanzania

The UK Minister for Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, Vicky Ford, announced that the UK government will provide US$119 million in development assistance to support improved learning outcomes for Tanzanian children, with a focus on girls, disabled children, and children living in deprived areas during her first trip to Tanzania.

The program, which is called Shule Bora, intends to help 4 million children in Tanzania access quality education. Funding will be aimed at supporting teachers and helping the Tanzanian government to maximize funding for educational outcomes.

The UK government reported that its education-focused development assistance helped over 15 million children across the world between 2015 and 2020, including 8 million girls.

Press release – UK Government

After long delay, US announces pilot countries, regions under Global Fragility Act

In 2019, the United States Congress passed the Global Fragility Act (GFA), which created a new approach to both conflict prevention and stabilization in fragile states. The new law required the administration to name the country and regional pilots by December of 2020, a deadline that was missed by the former Trump administration.

A year and a half after the deadline had passed, the Biden administration named Haiti, Libya, Mozambique, and Papua New Guinea as the first four countries and designated coastal West Africa as the first region. The next step is the creation of a comprehensive 10-year plan for each of the countries and coastal West Africa. The focus will be on working with local and regional stakeholders, including civil society, both to address emerging threats and to build resilience with the goal of preventing and controlling violence and instability.

News report - Devex

South Korea strengthens partnerships with Cambodia, Sri Lanka as part of 'New Southern Policy'

Koo Yun-cheol South Korea’s Minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination (OPC), visited Cambodia and Sri Lanka to strengthen their official development assistance (ODA) cooperation partnerships.

Yun-cheol met with high-level officials from the two countries to discuss potential ODA in the form of grants or loans.

South Korea and Cambodia agreed to expand ODA cooperation to support digitization.

South Korea also aimed to strengthen COVID-19 prevention in Sri Lanka as health-related ODA.

The visit aligned with South Korea’s New Southern Policy which highlights Cambodia and Sri Lanka as priority partners.

News article – News1 (in Korean)

Japan establishes new institution to deploy vaccines during crises, allocates US$1.8 billion for R&D

The Japanese government established the Strategic Center of Biomedical Advanced Vaccine Research and Development for Preparedness and Response (SCARDA), a new institution responsible for delivering safe and effective vaccines during public health emergencies. The government also announced plans to invest ¥51.5 billion (US$452 million) to prepare development sites and ¥150.4 billion(US$1.3 billion) for vaccine research and development (R&D).

SCARDA will support public-private partnerships and provide quick, flexible funding during emergencies. The organization’s goal is to achieve the Group of 7’s “100 Days Mission” of deploying safe and effective diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines within 100 days of a pandemic.

News article – The Japan Times

Additional funding for global COVID-19 relief stalls in US Congress

The proposed US$5 billion for global COVID-19 vaccines, which was initially part of a US$15 billion COVID-19-related assistance package, has run into opposition in the US Congress. The money, which was originally included in the large omnibus funding bill that funds the US government for the remainder of FY2022, was pulled at the last minute over concerns about the domestic COVID-19 part of the deal. Now, the current deal is set at US$10 billion and has stripped all of the global vaccine money. 

Negotiations continue in the Senate, with ongoing discussions of restoring at least some of the international aid funding -- although that figure is in the range of US$1 billion rather than US$5 billion. A number of House Democrats have committed to pushing for more international assistance, even if it comes at the cost of domestic COVID funding. 

News article - Politico

Women Together Lead initiative will provide US$221 million for gender equity in Southeast Asia

Australia’s 2022/23 budget included a new commitment to assist women in Southeast Asia - the Women Together Lead initiative. The initiative will help improve the rights of women and girls, increase women’s leadership, and build economic empowerment for women. 

It parallels a similar Pacific Women Lead package, previously announced by Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Maurice Payne.

The Women Together Lead package will cost A$300 million (US$221 million) over five years. The 2022/23 budget commences on July 1, 2022.

Press release – Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Australia's 2022 - 2023 budget commits additional US$62 million to COVAX

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced that A$85 million (US$62 million) and a minimum of 10 million vaccine doses will be provided to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment to assist global vaccination efforts.

This 2022 - 2023 budget measure would take Australia’s total financial contribution to COVAX to A$215 million (US$158 million).

Advocates campaigned for an A$250 million commitment by Australia to COVAX.

Press release – Minister for Foreign Affairs