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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

Australian ODA will likely increase if opposition Labor Party wins next election

The Australian National University’s Development Policy Centre analyzed the potential implications of an Australian Labor Party win in the 2022 government elections on official development assistance (ODA).

The Labor Party’s platform commits to eventually achieving a 0.5% ODA/GNI (gross national income) target. The Labor Party has also committed to increasing its ODA relative to GNI each year in office, starting with its first budget.

If successful in the next election, the Labor Party could push 3 possible outcomes for ODA. Labor could simply maintain the ratio at the current level - approximately 2% ODA/GNI. Secondly, Labor could meet its platform commitment and increase the ratio by 0.01% annually. Finally, Labor could increase the ODA/GNI ratio to 0.3% over the next 6 years; this option would require Labor to win 2 election cycles.

Any of the above outcomes would have significant implications for  Australia’s ODA. The first - and least expensive - option would add an extra A$1 billion (US$720 million) to the annual ODA budget after 6 years.

By comparison, the current Coalition government is likely to maintain Australian ODA levels in real terms, which would not include temporary increases put in place to respond to COVID-19. These temporary measures, enacted as COVID-19 response mechanisms, will expire soon.

Report – Development Studies Centre

France should rethink development, military, humanitarian policies in Sahel region, say NGOs

NGOs published a manifesto calling for a renewal of France's development and military policies in the Sahel region after a series of conferences organized by NGOs including CARE France, Oxfam France, Secours Catholique, Tournons la Page, and CCFD-Terre Solidaire, along with the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS); the conference included keynotes from government representatives, civil society, and other stakeholders and addressed France's military, diplomatic, humanitarian, and development actions in the Sahel region.

Nine years after the launch of Operation Serval in Mali and ahead of the French presidential elections, due to take place on April 10 and 24, 2022, NGOs called on candidates and French authorities to:

  1. Reinforce the democratic control of external military operations;
  2. Promote better governance based on democratic values and accountability;
  3. Support the protection of human rights and human rights defenders;
  4. Promote international humanitarian law and the fight against impunity;
  5. Intensify France's humanitarian response;
  6. Conduct a transparent, efficient, inclusive, and coherent development financing policy (Countries in the Sahel region only account for 13% of France's bilateral ODA); and, 
  7. Initiate collective memory work on the relations between France and countries in the Sahel region.

Report - CCFD Terre Solidaire

Japanese survey finds 72.2% of respondents support increased ODA for global healthcare

Friends of the Global Fund, Japan launched a survey which found that 72.2% of respondents believe that official development assistance (ODA) for infectious diseases and healthcare should be increased.

The survey, entitled “Japan's International Cooperation for Infectious Diseases,” aimed to elucidate changes in the public's understanding of infectious diseases and international cooperation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey results were released at the same time as the Japanese government announced an 8.9% reduction in ODA for the 2022 fiscal year. Despite being one of the world’s leading ODA contributors, Japan has been criticized for failing to meet the United Nations’ target of allocating 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) to ODA.

Press release – Friends of the Global Fund, Japan (in Japanese)

Japan enacts record high US$944 billion budget for FY2022, reduces ODA budget by 8.9%

Japan enacted a record high ¥107.6 trillion (US$944 billion) budget for the 2022 fiscal year (FY2022). However, the government reduced its overall contributions to official development assistance (ODA).

While the general ODA budget increased by 0.2% to ¥561.2 billion (US$4.9 billion), overall ODA contributions decreased 8.9% from ¥2.69 trillion (US$23.6 billion) in 2021 to ¥2.45 trillion (US$21.5 billion) in 2022. 

The government noted its ODA budget specifically targeted toward COVID-19 countermeasures and addressing other global issues:

  • Grant assistance: ¥163.3 billion (US$1.4 billion);
  • Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) operating budget: ¥151.8 billion (US$1.3 billion);
  • Voluntary contributions to international organizations (for Universal Health Coverage among other initiatives): ¥33.9 billion (US$298 million); and,
  • Mandatory contributions to international organizations: ¥101.2 billion (US$888 million).

News article – The Japan Times 

Report – Ministry of Finance Japan

Canada announces US$66 million to support health services, green infrastructure, economic growth in Ghana and Senegal

On March 21, 2022, Canada’s Minister of International Development, Harjit Sajjan, concluded a visit to Ghana and Senegal where he announced more than CA$83 million (US$66 million) in funding to support ongoing COVID-19 responses and critical development and health services.

The assistance will support Ghana, Senegal, and other African nations as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19, strengthen health systems, improve access to sexual and reproductive health care, support access to nutritious food, stimulate economic growth, and advance a green economy. The assistance will be allocated to 9 projects, including:

  • CA$20 million (US$16 million) to the World Food Programme to provide food and nutritional assistance in Senegal in response to COVID-19;
  • CA$10 million (US$8 million) to Transparency International for inclusive service delivery, which will support access to education and health services in Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Rwanda and Zimbabwe; and,
  • CA$8 million (US$6 million) to iDE Canada for “Her Time to Grow”, which supports rural women working in the agricultural sector in Ethiopia, Ghana and Zambia.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Press release - Global Affairs Canada 

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

Fabio Cassese appointed General Director of Italian International Cooperation

Fabio Cassese is the new General Director of Italian International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Before becoming General Director of the Ministry, Cassese served as Ambassador to Jordan, Deputy Director of Development Cooperation, and as a delegate at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

Cassese defined his priorities for Italian cooperation in an interview; in his opinion, Italy must invest in humanitarian crises like those in Ukraine and Afghanistan, while simultaneously continuing to invest in the fight against COVID-19 and supporting international multilateral actors like COVAX.

Interview – DiRE

New report shows that ODA cuts could cost UK up to US$568 million in lost exports

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), an independent UK-based think-tank, released a new report which assesses the macro-economic effects of the UK government’s decision to reduce its official development assistance (ODA) budget from 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) in 2020 to 0.5% in 2021. ODA cuts could result in losses to the UK’s own economy ranging from between £322 million (US$432 million) and £423 million (US$568 million) in lost exports over the next three years if economic spill-over of providing effective ODA to low-income countries is taken into account.

Development cuts are estimated to result in a direct loss of £14.2 billion (US$19.1 billion) in UK ODA over a three-year period, representing negligible savings for UK public spending (0.4% of total UK managed public expenditure) but will have a significant impact on partner countries’ economies. The report demonstrated that every £1 (US$1.3 dollars) of effective ODA given to partner countries can provide recipient regions with the equivalent of £2.98-£5.31 (US$4.0 - US$7.1 dollars) in goods and services when the full macro-economic impact of ODA is taken into account. 

The report made a compelling case for the UK to rethink its decision to cut the ODA budget, given the value of money-effective ODA for both partner countries and the UK economy.

The report warned that the UK would probably not re-instate its ODA to 0.7% ODA/GNI in 2024 - 2025. The UK government stated in 2020 that it would temporarily cut its ODA to 0.5% ODA/GNI in 2021 and would return to providing 0.7% ODA/GNI when two fiscal conditions are met:

  1.  The UK is no longer borrowing for day-to-day spending; and,
  2. The UK ratio of underlying debt to GDP is falling.

The UK’s Annual Budget and Spending Review in 2021 indicated that the conditions may be met in 2024 - 2025. The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer indicated that the government has set aside funding to enable the UK to return to 0.7% ODA/GNI in 2024 - 2025 if the conditions are met.

However, this report cast doubts on the assertion, demonstrating that the last time the UK economy met both of the conditions simultaneously was 20 years ago, in 2001. Since 1975, the UK has only ever met both of the conditions simultaneously eight times. The report calculated that the chances of the UK meeting the two conditions by 2025- 2026 is only 50%, creating high uncertainty over the future trajectory of UK ODA levels.

Report – NIESR

News article – The Guardian

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

USAID launches localization pilot projects in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador

The Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Samatha Power set an ambitious goal to increase locally-led development to 25% by 2025. USAID's localization effort is being piloted in the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and is known as Centroamerica Local.

Migration to the United States has increased significantly over the last few years due to increases in poverty and crime in the region. Centroamerica Local is a five-year, US$300 million project focused on empowering local organizations in order to both understand and address the drivers of migration into the US.

A joint report issued by USAID and the Migration Policy Institute sought to understand how best to invest in local leaders and local organizations as agents of change to create a true partnership, rather than a typical donor-recipient one. Combining this approach with development strategies that address migration needs and employment opportunities will not only curtail the flow of migration but could reduce the need for large-scale investments.

News report - Devex 

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

EU and European governments plan to reallocate humanitarian assistance from other crises to support Ukraine, warns Oxfam

Oxfam has warned that some European governments and the EU are planning to reallocate funds to support efforts to address the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine at the expense of other crises, such as those in Timor-Leste and Burkina Faso.

Oxfam was particularly concerned that EU countries will spend their Official Development Assistance (ODA) budgets domestically to pay for costs in-country to respond to the refugee crisis. In 2015, refugees came to Europe from Syria and other countries at unprecedented rates; donor countries ended up counting the temporary sustenance costs to support refugees as 11% of their ODA. 

News article - Euractiv

Australia and Indonesia co-chair first Southeast Asia dialogue of women leaders

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister and Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs co-chaired the first Southeast Asia dialogue of women leaders; women from the private sector, civil society, and government participated.

The dialogue focused on the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for a gender-inclusive recovery in the region, recognizing the disproportionate effect of the crisis on women and girls.

Women leaders were tasked with ensuring that women were empowered and had equitable access to resources in the recovery process. 

The co-chairs proposed that the inaugural dialogue should be an annual event, which would improve collaboration on achieving gender equity and addressing key issues for women in the region. 

Indonesia will host G20 meetings in 2022, as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) ministerial meeting on women.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs 

Japan partners with AUDA-NEPAD to develop resilient healthcare systems in AU

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) partnered with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) to develop the Home Grown Solutions (HGS) Accelerator. The project aims to support local companies that are dedicated to improving healthcare systems in Africa, with the pilot phase having been launched in East Africa.

The HGS Accelerator is unique in that it is not limited to startups, but is open to small- and medium-sized businesses as well. Support for businesses selected to participate in the program is tailor-made by consultants in collaboration with the business owners. In 2021, five companies were selected from a pool of 56 applications, and all experienced strong growth. In 2022, the program will be expanded, and 15 companies based in the African Union will be selected. 

Press release – Japan International Cooperation Agency

Spain and Mauritania to strengthen bilateral cooperation

On March 18, 2022, the Spanish State Secretary for International Cooperation, Pilar Cancela, and the Mauritanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at fostering bilateral cooperation in science, education, and culture.

The signature of this new partnership agreement, which will operate until the end of 2024, preceeded State Secretary Cancela’s upcoming visit to Mauritania and Senegal. The Sahel region is among the geographic priorities of Spain’s development policy.

Press release – MAEC (in Spanish)

Norway temporarily suspends payments to multilateral organizations, reallocates money within humanitarian budget for Ukraine

According to Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Minister of International Development, Norway has decided to temporarily suspend its payments to multilateral organizations due to the war in Ukraine. The suspension originally covered all payments from Norad, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation; however, Minister Tvinnereim has decided to reverse the decision and impose a temporary suspension on all development assistance payments.

The instruction to temporarily suspend payments only applied to multilateral organizations such as the World Bank and the UN. Hege Hertzberg, Deputy Secretary-General in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it is unclear whether it will be necessary to re-prioritize within the development assistance budget; however, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked Norad to postpone new payments until they have a better overview of the situation in Ukraine.

Norway decided to allocate NOK2 billion (US$228 million) in funding for the crisis in Ukraine. However, in a written answer to the Parliament, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anniken Huitfeldt, said that the government will allocate NOK1.8 billion (US$200 million). The remaining NOK250 million (US$20 million) will be covered within the existing humanitarian budget. The Ministry has made it clear that the announced humanitarian funding towards Ukraine will not come at the expense of other long-term development efforts and humanitarian crises. 

However, former Minister of International Development, Dag Inge Ulstein (Christian Democratic Party) criticized the Government`s decision to take money from the humanitarian budget. He says it is an unjustifiable policy to reduce humanitarian funding, especially since low-income countries are trying to rebuild themselves after the pandemic. Low-income countries are also facing a famine crisis and other crises due to the war in Ukraine. 

News article - Dagens Næringsliv (in Norwegian)

News article - Vårt Land (in Norwegian)

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Spain's Sánchez announces €23 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine - Spain's largest-ever humanitarian package

On March 18, 2022, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Misotakis met in Rome, Italy, to define a Southern Europe common position regarding increasing energy costs as well as to discuss the Ukrainian crisis ahead of the EU Council, which will be held on March 24 and 25, 2022.

Sánchez took advantage of the meeting to highlight Spain’s full support of Ukrainian refugees. In addition, he announced a €23 million (US$26 million) humanitarian assistance contribution to support Ukraine. According to Sánchez’s office, ‘La Moncloa’, this is the largest humanitarian package Spain has ever sent to a partner country.  

Press release – la Moncloa (in Spanish)

South Korea’s president-elect establishes ODA pledges focusing on domestic interests

The 20th president-elect of South Korea, Yoon Suk-yeol, presented official development assistance (ODA) pledges which prioritize national interests in implementing international development assistance.

People’s Initiative for Development Alternatives (PIDA), a South Korean watchdog CSO, set out predictions for the new president’s international development cooperation policy based on his pledges.

In order to 'pursue diplomacy suitable for national dignity', the president-elect's diplomatic policy will aim to enhance South Korea's dignity on the world stage. Only one pledge specifically mentioned ODA and connected it to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were described vaguely. Suk yeol's ODA policy focuses primarily on improving a country's economic status, which aligns with South Korea's national interest.  

PIDA suggested that a more detailed ODA policy is needed during Suk-yeol's tenure. Suk-yeol’s international development cooperation seems to put national interests first in its agenda, which is concerning for many ODA practitioners.

PIDA also called for South Korea's ODA policy to be as consistent as current President Moon Jae-in’s New Southern and New Northern Policy. 

News article – Ohmynews (in Korean)

Leaked draft EU research work programs for 2023-2024 includes focus on pandemic preparedness

Leaked draft work programs for Horizon Europe, the EU’s research program, for 2023-2024 include a strong focus on pandemic preparedness for the program’s health cluster. 

The program includes calls for proposals related to the new European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), including medical devices, protective equipment, diagnostics devices, understanding vaccine induced-immunity, and viruses with epidemic potential.

The five themes for the health cluster include: 

  1. Staying healthy in a rapidly changing society (includes topics on aging, non-communicable diseases, mental health, and children and adolescent health); 
  2. Living and working in a health-promoting environment (includes the impact of climate change and environmental pollution); 
  3. Tackling disease and reducing disease burden (includes non-communicable diseases, pandemic preparedness, rare diseases, and antimicrobial resistance, as well as HERA-specific topics); 
  4. Ensuring access to innovative, sustainable, and high-quality health care (includes access to care, health care workforce, environmentally sustainable health care systems); and 
  5. Unlocking the full potential of new tools, technologies, and digital solutions for a healthy society (includes data, modeling and simulations, bio-printing, and digital health technologies).

The work program includes an action to provide a grant awarded without a call for proposals to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Initiative (CEPI) although it does not mention the award amount. 

Another action will allow the mobilization of research funds to respond in the event of a public health emergency. The grants will be awarded without a call for proposals should circumstances call for it.

News article - Science|Business