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Norway sends emergency medical team to Haiti after earthquake

In response to Haiti’s urgent need for medical assistance following a devastating earthquake, Norway is supporting the country with an emergency medical team.

Haiti has experienced massive devastation caused by an earthquake, and damage was intensified by a tropical storm that arrived two days later. 

Norway will support Haiti's recovery operations with an expanded emergency medical team called Nor EMT. This team includes health, logistics, operations, and security personnel. After Norway has completed the medical mission, the gear will be donated to the Haitian medical system. 

Nor EMT consists of expertly trained personnel, which can treat more than 100 patients per day. The team can be quickly deployed to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters and serious outbreaks of disease if the UN,  EU, individual countries request assistance.

Press release – Norwegian Government 

Majority of UK's US$27.5 billion IMF-issued Special Drawing Rights should go to LMICs for COVID-19 recovery, says UK civil society

In a historic decision, on August 23, 2021, International Monetary Fund (IMFS) members agreed to allocate US$650.0 billion worth of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) – the IMF’s international reserve currency – to member states to help them recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic and social impacts.

The funding is allocated to countries based on their contributions to the IMF which, in turn, is based on the size of their economy. This means US$400.0 billion will be given to high-income countries and just US$21.0 billion will be given to all low--income countries (LICs) and a further US$230.0 billion to middle-income countries.

A group of UK civil society organizations (CSOs), including Oxfam, Christian Aid, and the Bretton Woods Project, are arguing that this historic decision represents an opportunity for the UK to use the majority of its SDRs to help those LMICs most in need. The CSOs are calling upon the UK government to provide 75% of its IMF-issued US$27.5 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to LMICs to help them to build back better following COVID-19. The group also says the transferred SDRs should be provided to LMICs debt-free and should be additional to the UK’s ODA budget and international financial commitments. 

The UK has agreed in principle to deliver some of its SDRs to LMICs, but the CSOs are concerned it is not enough and will be delivered in ways that could burden LMICs with extra debt. There is also concern by the group that the UK could count part of its SDRs towards its ODA budget, depriving many countries of what could be truly additional resources.

The CSOs argue that in order for the UK government to maximize the impact of its SDR allocations for LMICs it should:

  • Allocate at least 75% of its SDR allocation, or equivalent in hard currency, within the next 12 months to LMICs (the UK appears to be planning to channel only 10-20% of its SDRs at present);
  • Ensure the funding is provided in the form of debt-free financing, with a preference for grant-based financing;
  • Ensure funding is not tied to countries meeting IMF imposed economic policy conditions;
  • Consider channeling some support to multilateral initiatives such as COVAX, which could be done by deploying UK foreign reserve currencies as the inflow of SDRs is received to open up opportunities to fund entities that are not member states of the IMF; and
  • Ensure that all UK SDR allocations to LMICs are additional to existing UK ODA and climate finance commitments.

Press release - Bretton Woods Project

Top US officials recommend steps to stregthen global health security, amendments to WHO's International Health Regulations

In an article, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra outlined four critical steps that leaders should take to strengthen global health security.

  1. Modernizing global institutions: the working models and resources of essential global institutions must be modernized, with the World Health Organization (WHO) as a top priority, and including regional and multilateral development finance banks.
  2. Updating international laws and norms: international agreements that govern technologies, public health, intellectual property, and information sharing should be evaluated for their effectiveness in regulating the global pandemic and post-pandemic legal, and socioeconomic environment.
  3. Sustained global financing: long-term funding is needed to address the economic and health repurcussions of the COVID-19 crisis and to prevent and respond to future pandemics, for which the US will support the creation of an international intermediary fund.
  4. Transparent, accountable governance: global leaders must improve governance with an emphasis on transparency and accountability to ensure the free exchange of data and science.

In working to establish these pillars of pandemic response, Blinken and Becerra wrote, leaders must commit to health equity to ensure that people at all income levels have access to the resources and care that is needed.

Finally, the article offers recommendations for specific amendments to the WHO's International Health Regulations, last updated in 2005, which would strengthen the laws of all 196 signatory countries.

Op-ed - JAMA

G7 leaders support UN-led international humanitarian response in Afghanistan, call on Taliban government to uphold international human rights

The UK, as President of the G7 in 2021, hosted a virtual leaders’ meeting of the G7 on August 24 to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan. 

The leaders, delivering a statement from the meeting, called for a cessation of all violence, and agreed to support an UN-led international humanitarian response. The G7 leaders also called upon the new Taliban-led government to uphold international human rights particularly for women and girls and uphold international humanitarian law.

The UN has estimated that 18 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan following the collapse of the government and the Taliban takeover, as US and UK troops withdrew from the country. The UN has also warned that the violence in Afghanistan must stop, noting that if current trends continue, Afghanistan could record the highest-ever number of documented civilian casualties, since the UN’s began collecting annual data on these figures.  

The UK has agreed to increase its official development assistance (ODA) to Afghanistan to £286 million (US$384 million) and has committed to receiving 20,000 Afghan refugees over the next five years. It also has an Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) which was launched on April 1, 2021 and will remain in place until November 2022, that offers any current or former locally employed staff working for the UK government in Afghanistan (that is assessed to be under serious threat to life) to be offered relocation to the UK.

G7 Leaders' statement - G7

News article - BOND

US watchdog questions Feed the Future's performance and assessment process

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent US agency, issued a report that questions how Feed the Future (FTF), the largest US global food security program, measures its accomplishments.

The primary criticism is that, although The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) - the lead US agency responsible for Feed the Future - and other partner agencies collect data, there are very few initiative-wide indicators.  The GAO report states, “Specifically, only three of 40 performance indicators both (1) were clearly linked to the initiative's overarching goal and (2) had measurable targets.” USAID challenged the analysis, claiming in part that the initiative is rather broad, making it difficult to set overall indicators and measurable targets. 

The GAO provided 8 specific recommendations to improve how USAID works with FTF partner countries and makes suggestions to standardize the process they use to assess and report on program performance. Key targets include improving data quality and using comprehensive monitoring tools to evaluate FTF programs.

Report - GAO

News report - Devex

Japan provides US$36 million for health education, maternal and child health in Pakistan

Japan provided ¥312 million (US$3 million) for human resource development and ¥3.4 billion (US$33 million) for maternal and child health facilities in Pakistan, totaling ¥3.8 billion (US$36 million).

To strengthen mutual understanding and nurture the relationship between Japan and Pakistan, the funds will contribute to educational exchange; twenty Pakistani officials will obtain a Master’s or Doctoral degree in Japan.

Funds will also be used to establish a new Maternal and Child Health Center at Liaquat University Hospital and supply medical equipment in the Sindh Province of Pakistan, which currently lacks adequate child and maternal health systems and faces a shortage of hospital beds for newborns and children.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

South Korea to provide US$100 million concessional loan for Colombia’s Green Growth policy

South Korea’s Eximbank will support Colombia’s Green Growth policy for sustainable economic development by investing up to ₩117 billion (US$100 million) through the bank's joint loan program with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Also, with Korea hosting the P4G Summit in 2021 and Colombia hosting the P4G Summit in 2022, the two countries agreed to cooperate on climate crisis response.

News article – The Guru (in Korean)

South Korean national research institute makes recommendations for Afghanistan assistance following US withdrawal

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), a South Korean national research institute, published a report with recommendations for the South Korean government in supporting Afghanistan after the US withdrawal from the country.

Operating on the assumption that South Korea will halt its official development assistance (ODA) program to Afghanistan, KIEP recommended that the Korean government:

  • Continuously monitor Afghanistan and its neighboring countries’ situation and develop a new foreign strategy;
  • Strengthen communication and cooperation with international organizations to resume ODA to Afghanistan since South Korea has a large share of grants channeled through international organizations; and
  • Establish its position on Afghanistan refugees and develop a relevant strategy.

News article – Financial News (in Korean)

France donates 10 million COVID-19 vaccines to African Union through COVAX

African Union member states will receive 10 million additional doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines over the next three months thanks to a new partnership between the French government and the African Union.

Vaccines donated by France (AstraZeneca and Pfizer) will be allocated and distributed through the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Trust initiative (AVAT) and COVAX, to allow the transfer of RNA vaccine technology on the African continent, and to support the production of vaccines in South Africa.

This donation is part of a pledge made by France to donate 60 million vaccines in the framework of the G7 under its UK presidency and was acknowledged by President of South Africa, Cyril Rampaphosa, as a valuable contrition to the continent's effort to tackle the pandemic.

Press release - French Presidency (in French)

Sweden suspends all ODA to Afghanistan, will channel increased humanitarian assistance through UN

On August 23, 2021, a week after the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) submitted its situation analysis to the Swedish Government. All Swedish support for Afghanistan has already been suspended and, as per the report recommendations, Sweden will channel increased resources for humanitarian assistance through the United Nations (UN) going forward.

"We are suspending all Swedish support or part of the support that has gone to strengthening the Afghan state and which may involve resources for the new government in Kabul, directly or through other actors. No such new decisions are made either," said Maria Lundberg, Head of the Afghanistan Unit at Sida.

Nevertheless, activities focusing on impact, accountability, and peace-building may still be implemented even if directed to or delivered in cooperation with state actors, within the framework of the goals set by the Swedish Government for its development cooperation with Afghanistan.

In the analysis, Sida concluded that most of its partners in Afghanistan will be able to continue providing support to the Afghan people in areas such as health, education, and safety of the civilian population.

Lundberg continued: "Sida works intensively and in dialogue with our partners to continue working for the good of the civilian population in Afghanistan and to protect the progress made over the last 20 years. Now many organizations need increased resources to ensure the safety of their employees. Our assessment is that more support needs to go through the UN and that parts of development aid in 2021 will be distributed to humanitarian aid."

Press release – TT (in Swedish)

European Council President calls for cooperation, investment, reform at G20 Compact with Africa conference

Citing the unequal impacts of climate change and the consequences of COVID-19, European Council President Charles Michel used his speech at the G20 Compact with Africa conference to call for increased cooperation on financing for investment in infrastructure and human capital. 

Michel urged countries to reallocate special drawing rights to those that need them the most, and for reforms in Europe to remove bureaucratic systems in Africa to increase stability and improve the investment environment. 

Speech transcript - Council of the EU

Video - Council of the EU

Sweden pledges US$91 million to Tanzanian education sector

Sweden initiated a project using a results-based approach to support the education sector in Tanzania amounting to SEK 760 million (US$91 million).

The project continues previous support, which amounts to approximately SEK 1.2 billion (US$143 million) since 2015. The renewed funding will span five years and corresponds to approximately 2% of Tanzania's total budget for basic education over the project period.

Evaluations demonstrate that Swedish official development assistance (ODA) during the previous project period contributed to improved resource allocation within the education system as well as ensuring that girls spend additional years in school.

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) is implementing the World Bank's Program-for-Results Financing (PforR) system for the first time for this project. The project is being carried out in collaboration with the World Bank and DFID.

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

Press release – TT (in Swedish)

Presidents of Rwanda, Senegal, European Commission, and EIB issue joint communiqúe with CEO of BioNTech committing to sustainable vaccine production in Africa

Following a meeting on sustainable vaccine production in Africa at the sidelines of the G20 Compact with Africa conference in Berlin, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Senegalese President of Macky Sall, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, EIB President Werner Hoyer, and CEO and co-founder of BioNTech Uğur Şahin issued a joint communiqúe to support BioNTech’s plan to manufacture potential future malaria and tuberculosis vaccines from the company’s candidates in Africa.

BioNTech is exploring co-locating its manufacturing with the WHO’s upcoming vaccine hubs in Rwanda and Senegal. The company will collaborate with the Africa CDC under the Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing program.

BioNTech’s work on malaria vaccines is a part of the eradicateMalaria initiative led by the kENUP Foundation.

Press release - EIB

Norwegian institute launches learning lab to promote knnowledge sharing for effective development assistance

Development Learning Lab (DLL) is a new initiative from Chr. Michelsen's Institute (CMI), the Norwegian School of Economics, and the University of Bergen to contribute to more effective development assistance by closing knowledge gaps. By producing insights, comparing programs, gathering relevant research, and measuring effectiveness, the lab will work to assist organizations and states in decision-making on future programs. 

Through collaboration with Norwegian Church Aid and Save the Children, CMI has observed that it is difficult for organizations to create the most effective projects when they do not have access to research on how the programs work. The DLL will have a structure that allows actors who work with the same topic, such as civil society organizations, UN organizations, Norad, and embassies, to sit together and learn from each other's experiences and learn from the research-based knowledge summary that DLL prepares.

Article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

South Korea expands concessional lending to Inter-American Development Bank, deepening Latin American partnerships

Minister Nam-ki Hong of South Korea’s Ministry of Economy of Finance signed an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to expand the joint loan facility program from US$300 million to US$500 million by 2025.

This increase signals the deepening collaboration between South Korea and Latin American partner countries, primarily due to increasing development needs and the South Korean private sector’s engagement in the region.

News article – Yonhap News

Canada announces US$40 million in additional humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan

On August 26, 2021, the Government of Canada announced CA$50 million (US$40 million) in humanitarian funding for Afghanistan and stated that it will be ready to respond to further UN or Red Cross appeals for support.

The funds will provide life-saving assistance, such as food, medical assistance, clean water, and sanitation. Canada's contribution will be allocated through trusted humanitarian partners, including the World Food Programme, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN High Commission for Refugees, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. 

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

In aftermath of earthquake and political unrest, US pledges additional assistance to Haiti

The Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Samatha Power, announced an additional US$32 million in assistance for Haiti to help that country respond to the devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake.  

The funding will be for urgent life-saving assistance, including food, water, health, and shelter. Power emphasized that the assistance will be done in partnership with the Haitian government. “Perhaps the most important lesson [from 2010] is that no development agency and no army or diplomatic corps can just import a perfect humanitarian response from afar. You need local expertise and local leadership to reach communities in need.”  This emphasis on locally-led development is a priority for the USAID Administrator.

The announcement of the new round of assistance was made in a joint appearance with interim Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Henry defended his government's response to the earthquake which has been exacerbated by the fallout of the murder of Prime Minister Moise and gang-related violence. Henry said that steps were being taken to provide safe passage to humanitarian workers and to hold those responsible for the killing of Moise to account.  

News report - AP

UK environmental development assistance effectively targets key drivers of deforestation and biodiversity, says watchdog review, but lacks unifed strategy

The Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI), the UK’s independent development assistance watchdog has reviewed the UK government’s development assistance aimed at halting deforestation and biodiversity loss. The review gives the government a green-amber rating, which indicates that the approach is, on the whole, being delivered well, but that some areas require greater work.

ICAI estimates that the UK government spent £580 million (US$790 million) in bilateral assistance commitments related to deforestation and biodiversity loss. The government also has a £220 million (US$290 million) International Biodiversity Fund aimed at protecting endangered species and areas and a £100 million (US$134 million) Biodiverse Landscapes Fund to protect mangroves and forests.

The Review praises the UK for targeting its programs towards the most relevant drivers of deforestation and biodiversity loss. It also compliments the UK for using its global voice to influence multilateral funding bodies in a positive way.

However, the review does note that the UK lacks a coherent overarching strategy for its work on addressing deforestation and biodiversity loss and recommends the UK creates a single strategic document for guiding funding in this area. The review also finds that while coordination across government can be good, there is room to improve it at the country level. Finally, the review notes that there is not enough systematic evaluation of these types of programs and that successful pilots could be scaled up.

Review - ICAI

Australia spent US$12 million on global health through domestic medical research fund

Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) has been reviewed by Associate Professor Lesley Russell to assess its first four years of operation.

The Fund was established to eventually spend A$1.0 billion (US$739 million) annually to fund “groundbreaking health and medical research” into diseases that were a burden to Australians. However, A$16 million (US$12 million) was allocated for global health research – including an initial small contribution to CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. The remaining funds for global health research focused on antimicrobial resistance.

The Fund has provided A$58 million (US$43 million) for COVID-19 research, but progress was hindered by the lack of COVID-19 patients available for the research. The government’s Health Department noted that Australia had spent A$374 million (US$274 million) from all sources on research into COVID-19 vaccines and treatment.

Press release - Croakey

Australia caps annual spending for the Medical Research Future Fund

Stuart Robert, Australia’s Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, introduced legislation to streamline the Medical Research Future Fund Act (MRFF), which would set an annual maximum disbursement by the fund of A$650 million (US$483 million).

Robert stated that this budget limit would provide confidence in the fund and certainty in future financial planning.

The MRFF was established in 2015, and the Fund's investments provide grants for significant medical and health research projects. This research has included initiatives related to global health, particularly antimicrobial resistance, and a contribution to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

Report - Department of Health