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African Union to receive 1.4 million COVID-19 tests from German Development Ministry

As part of its Emergency COVID-19 Support Program, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) will provide a total of 1.4 million COVID-19 tests to the African Union to support it in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pointing to the 20,000 new infections currently reported every day on the African continent - twice as much as last month's rate – German Development Minister Gerd Müller underscored Germany’s solidarity with its partners and the importance of a global response to beat COVID-19.  

The first batch of test kits was handed over to the African Union by the BMZ’s Epidemic Preparedness Team on Wednesday, July 29, 2020.

Press release - BMZ

EU delivers 1,000+ tons of medical assistance to Africa, Asia, Americas through Team Europe's Humanitarian Air Bridge

The EU has delivered more than 1,000 tons of medical assistance to areas in critical need in Africa, Asia, and the Americas to support their COVID-19 responses.

The supplies were transported through the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge, which offers air transport capacity to support humanitarian assistance logistics. The air bridge flights are a part of the ‘Team Europe’ collective effort on behalf of European institutions and EU member states to support partner countries’ COVID-19 responses. 
Press release - European Commission

Japan provides US$3 million for COVID-19 response in Jordan

Japan announced that it will provide ¥400 million (US$3 million) for health and medical equipment to strengthen Jordan’s response to COVID-19.

In Jordan, COVID-19 has worsened the economic situation, and nationwide surveillance and countermeasures create a burden for the existing medical system. Therefore, the Japanese government sees an urgent need to increase response capability, including the provision of medical equipment and the strengthening of its health care system.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Australia and US reaffirm commitment to collaboration on health security

During the annual Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), the United States' Secretary of State and Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister reaffirmed their joint commitment to global health security and their intention to strengthen their countries' cooperation in this sector. During the consultations, they outlined a number of activities to be part of their joint plan, including:

  • Convening a second Southeast Asia Health Security Donor Coordination Meeting later in 2020;
  • Building biosurveillance and biosecurity capacities in the Indo-Pacific to enhance the region's ability to respond to infectious disease outbreaks
  • Improving hygiene conditions, reducing the sale of wildlife, and other measures to lessen the risk of zoonotic disease transmission;
  • Strengthening pandemic preparedness in Indonesia and improving public health emergency response capacity in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar; and
  • Supporting the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) with the development and distribution of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to improve vulnerable groups' access to vaccines.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

Australia's defense spending likely to be 16 times greater than ODA by 2030

A recent announcement by Australia's Prime Minister suggests that the country's defense budget will continue to grow until 2030. Meanwhile, Australia's budget for official development assistance (ODA) has been frozen until the fiscal year (FY) 2022/23, after which development spending will be indexed to inflation.

This means that the ratio of Australia’s spending on defense as compared to its spending on development assistance will reach an unprecedented level by 2030. For the last 50 years, Australia's defense funding has exceeded spending on ODA by around 5 to 8 times. It is now projected that by 2030, Australia's defense spending will be 16 times higher than ODA.

Blog - ANU Devpolicy Blog

South Korea contributes US$5 million to Indonesian COVID-19 response

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) announced that it will provide US$5 million (KRW6 billion) in official development assistance (ODA) to support Indonesia’s comprehensive response to COVID-19.

The funds will be used to meet Indonesia's requests including medicine and quarantine support, capacity building of medical staff, and support for the Red Cross. KOICA will also set up drive-through testing facilities and offer medical and analytical equipment.

Indonesia is a priority partner country of South Korea’s ODA and partner country of South Korea’s New Southern Policy.

News article – Yonhap News (in Korean)

UK Department for International Trade launches new Tech for Growth program to support expanded access to financial services

The UK Department for International Trade (DIT) launched on July 27th a new 'Tech for Growth' program to support technology that can expand access to financial services. The program will be piloted in Africa, with the aim of rolling it out across South East Asia and Latin America. According to a DIT press release, the program aims in its first year to:

  • Establish a UK-Africa community – that will promote partnerships between UK and African technology and financial services companies
  • Support commercial opportunities for enhanced trade in FinTech through research and assistance to overcome key barriers
  • Support the growth of the FinTech market between Africa and the UK

Press release – UK Department for International Trade


In latest negotiations, US Senate Republicans aim low in proposed global COVID-19 funding

The US Senate Republicans unveiled their COVID-19 supplemental budget for fiscal year (FY) 2020 with a proposed US$4.4 billion for the global response. This is significantly lower than what development stakeholders had been pushing for -- US$20 billion.

The companion House bill, the US$3 trillion HEROES Act passed in May 2020, contained no funding for the global response, but the House has provided an additional US$10 billion in the FY2021 appropriations for the US global health COVID-19 emergency response.

The US$1 trillion Senate bill, called the HEALS Act, contains US$3 billion for global health. This includes funding for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, but no additional funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. There is an additional US$1 billion for the International Disaster Assistance account and some other funding for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department operating funds.

Negotiations are ongoing between the House and the Senate to resolve differences between the two supplemental appropriations. These differences are substantial but are also largely domestic in nature. Once those are resolved, Congress will also need to address the FY2021 appropriations, including funding for US foreign assistance. The fiscal year ends on September 30, 2020. 

News article - Devex

South Korea’s Unification Minister emphasizes need for humanitarian assistance to North Korea

Newly appointed South Korean Minister of Unification and former four-term National Assembly Member Lee In-Young has convened the top officials of the Ministry of Unification to highlight the need for providing humanitarian assistance to North Korea.

As one of his first acts since being appointed on July 27, 2020, Minister Lee urged that South Korea should provide humanitarian assistance for food, health, and medicine to North Korea without hesitation, particularly in light of the COVID-19 crisis. He emphasized that he plans to play an active role on the issue and also asked that the ministry staff play a more active role and propose concrete plans and ideas on the matter

News article – Seoul Daily (in Korean)

Report from Norwegian development agency raises spectre of post-pandemic cuts to global ODA

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) published a report, entitled 'Development assistance in the aftermath of the corona pandemic', in which Norad experts outline the current situation and highlight their concerns.

Documenting increased inequality, food shortages, and violence against women and children, the report indicates that the COVID-19 crisis has led to greater challenges for the very poor. Furthermore, it suggests that the pandemic has increased opportunities for corruption in many countries. Despite these increased development challenges, Norad director, Bård Vegar Solhjell, fears that many rich countries will cut development assistance as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. 

News article – Bistandsaktuelt

UK government announces US$3.6 billion cut to 2020 ODA budget

The UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, has confirmed that the UK development assistance budget will be cut by US$3.6 billion (£2.9 billion) in 2020. A package of cuts, devised to protect spending on the 'bottom billion', climate change, and girls' education has been agreed upon by the government. Raab also noted that funding supporting human rights and for research and development will be maintained.

The cuts are a result of the negative economic impact that COVID-19 has had on the UK. The UK is committed to providing 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) as ODA. Given that the UK economy is expected to contract by 10% in 2020, many in the development community were prepared for cuts; however, the depth of the cuts — which will effectively reduce the UK’s ODA budget by 20% — has come as a shock to many. There are concerns that the UK could even fall below its 0.7% commitment in 2020. Raab has defended the cuts as a prudent approach and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to meeting its 0.7% aid target.

News article - Devex

News article - Devex

Donor Tracker to host webinar on gender equality and donor finance for women's economic empowerment

Join Donor Tracker this Friday, July 24 from 15:00-16:00 (CEST) for a webinar exploring donor financing for women’s economic empowerment, featuring analysis from the Donor Tracker team and our partner, the ONE Campaign.

Gender equality, including women's financial inclusion and economic empowerment, has gained increasing attention from the international donor community in recent years; but to what extent can donors' rhetorical commitment to the issue be seen reflected in data on donors' financing for women's economic empowerment? In this Donor Tracker webinar, Kalila Jaeger and Isabela Vera from the Donor Tracker and Ebba Henningsson from ONE will guide participants through an introduction to the OECD’s gender equality policy marker, discuss the current state of donor finance for gender-related development programming, and explore trends in donor countries' spending on economic empowerment initiatives for women.

Registration - Zoom

Norwegian Labour Party leader calls for more international cooperation in global health

In a recent Op-ed, Norway's Labour Party leader and former Executive Director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Jonas Gahr Støre, argues that global health challenges cannot be handled by the health system alone. He calls on the United Nations (UN), development banks, and other key institutions to put pandemic preparedness on the top of their agenda. He also argues that the WHO should be protected — but not protected from change — and urges countries to honor their global health commitments.

Op-ed – Dagens Næringliv

European Parliament threatens to veto long-term budget cuts in European Council’s July deal

The European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning “unacceptable” budget cuts in the European Council’s deal on the short-term recovery fund ('Next Generation EU') and the next long-term EU budget (the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework or MFF). Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) say they are prepared to veto the deal if improvements are not made to the proposed MFF. 
While MEPs lauded the “historic” short-term recovery fund to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, they say it should not “jeopardize” the seven-year budget. In addition to pushing back on the cuts agreed by EU leaders to “future-oriented” programs like climate, digital, health, youth, research, and more, MEPs also demanded a clearer plan for more concrete reforms to the EU’s own resources system.
Press release - European Parliament

Resolution - European Parliament

USAID Administrator faces criticism; former Administrator calls for strong WHO

Mark Green, former Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has spoken out about the need for a strong World Health Organization and for the US to provide strong leadership in world affairs. His comments came partly in response to the exclusion of USAID from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Meanwhile, the current acting Administrator, John Barsa, has been the subject of a number of management criticisms. There have been strong concerns about the slow pace of COVID-19 funding decisions and the tying of aid flows to restrictions on the purchase of health commodities for COVID protective equipment. There have also been a number of controversial political appointments made by the White House since Green's departure. These appointments have not only been criticized by USAID career staff, but House Foreign Affairs Democrats sent a letter to Barsa calling for one staffer to be fired. Similar calls were made in the hearing before the same committee, where Barsa appeared to defend the USAID budget request for FY2021.

News article - Devex

News article - Axios

News article - Devex

Sweden increases funding for democracy and human rights by US$4 million

Following an overall decline in global funding for democracy and human rights in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the Swedish government has decided to increase its official development assistance (ODA) for actors promoting and protecting human rights and democracy during the pandemic. Sweden plans to increase its funding to this sector by SEK39 million (US$4 million); its total funding for democracy and human rights will now total SEK116 million (US$12 million).

Sweden's Minister for International Development Cooperation, Peter Eriksson, explained: "In this day and age, when we see states using the pandemic as an excuse to curtail democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, we are increasing support for civil society and its capacity to operate, not least in vulnerable environments."

The largest beneficiary — the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) — will receive an additional SEK25 million (US$3 million) in core support for its activities. Funding for the OHCHR now totals SEK90 million (US$10 million). Other beneficiaries include the European Endowment for Democracy, Independent Journalism Center in Moldova, Civil Rights Defenders Emergency Fund, and Varieties of Democracy at the University of Gothenburg.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

European Investment Bank to provide US$84 million in concessional loan to Senegal to support businesses hardest hit by COVID-19

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Senegal agreed on a fast-tracked concessional loan of €75 million (US$84 million), blended with a €6 million (US$7 million) EU-backed grant, to help banks provide loans to Senegalese businesses most exposed to the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

This loan, which is the first in Africa through the EIB’s accelerated COVID-19 economic resilience response package, will target sectors like fishing, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and retail. 
Press release - European Investment Bank

South Korea contributes US$1 million to ASEAN COVID-19 response fund

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced that it will provide US$1 million to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) COVID-19 Respond Fund.

The pledge was announced by Deputy Minister for Political Affairs Kim Gunn at the senior officials’ meeting of the ASEAN plus 3, the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN regional forum on July 20-21, 2020. During the meeting, the participants also discussed the importance of achieving economic recovery post-COVID-19 and the necessary actions to support such recovery. Deputy Minister Kim also stressed the need to prepare for the establishment of norms to promote and institutionalize cooperation infectious disease as learned from the COVID-19 experience.

Press release – South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Current OECD DAC methodology for measuring climate-related development finance "systematically" and dramatically overstates funding, says report from Canada's CIDP

The Canadian International Development Platform (CIDP) has put forth an improved method for measuring Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) climate-related development financing. The new method employs a combination of delivery channels, purpose codes, and keyword analysis to more accurately identify climate-specific projects. 

CIDP tested the new proposed method against the OECD DAC’s climate-related development finance. CIDP found that DAC estimates overstate CRDF by 38%, (approximately US$16 billion) and, specifically, that Canada’s CRDF contribution is overstated by 20% for the period of 2012-2018.

Analysis of climate finance, evelauted solely on the basis of the DAC’s upper and lower bound Rio Markers approach tends to systematically overstate donor contribution to climate finance, the report says. Therefore, Canada’s previously understood level of climate finance should be reconsidered. 

Analysis - Canadian International Development Platform

Data reveals extent of shift in Australia's development programming toward COVID-19 response

According to Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), A$280 million (US$193) of Australia's development financing has been diverted toward the global response to COVID-19. This follows the overall shift of the country's development priorities toward the COVID-19 response and recovery, as outlined in its development policy, (released in late May 2020).

Data from the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) provides transparency on A$173 million (US$119 million) of this funding, disbursed by DFAT through 28 programs since the beginning of January 2020. Around 20% was channeled through COVID-19 preparedness and recovery NGO grants in the Pacific and East Timor.

There has also been a significant reclassification of funding committed and disbursed prior to Australia's thematic shift toward COVID-19. In Indonesia for example, the Australia Indonesia Health Security Partnership has seen almost all of its A$39 million (US$27 million) in support dedicated to assisting with the COVID-19 response. A$112 million (US$77 million) in finances disbursed since June 2014 for a humanitarian program in Afghanistan has also now been assigned a 6% sectoral focus on COVID-19.

News article - Devex