Policy Updates

Each week, Donor Tracker's team of country-based experts bring you the most important policy and funding news across issue areas in the form of Policy Updates.

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MCC reaches 20-year milestone

January 23, 2024 | US, Education, Agriculture | Share this update

On January 23, 2024, the MCC, an independent foreign assistance agency established in 2004 by former US President George W. Bush, reached a 20-year milestone.

The MCC, which focuses on reducing poverty through economic growth, has led a different approach from other US foreign assistance agencies. It establishes five-year grant agreements, known as compacts, that address constraints to growth through sectoral approaches, including infrastructure, agriculture, education, and governance.

In order to qualify for MCC grants, LICs and LMICs must pass the MCC scorecard, which measures partners against 20 indicators ranging from governance, corruption, human rights, investments in health care and education, and fostering trade. Once partner countries reach eligibility, implementation of the compact is turned over to partner governments to ensure a country-owned approach to the grant.

Since its inception, the MCC has signed 46 compacts with 31 countries for a program total of US$17 billion. It has also signed dozens of 'threshold programs', which can function as MCC precursor programs to help partner countries reach eligibility. The MCC was recently granted authority to pursue regional programs and has pushed for legislation that would expand the number of potential partner countries.

The program's West African investments, which were approved in 2018, have faced setbacks since their inception following intense regional turmoil. US Senate approval of private board members has also been delayed in 2023 and 2024 by a difficult political climate in the US.

News article - ForbesNews article - DevexWeb Page - CGD

US launches program to bolster women's participation in underrepresented industries

November 16, 2023 | US, Agriculture, Climate | Share this update

On November 16, 2023, US Vice President Kamala Harris launched the Women in the Sustainable Economy Initiative during an APEC leaders meeting, announcing more than US$163 million in funding as part of the program.

The program focused on women in industries with historically low women's participation. These industries include energy, waste recycling, conservation, and waste management. Harris announced an aim to increase women's economic security in these industries, support their land rights, and create the enabling conditions allowing women to thrive.

The initiative is a multi-stakeholder effort that includes support from governments, the private sector, philanthropies, civil society, and multilateral organizations.

Press release - USAID

Australia and US commit to addressing climate crisis, clean energy supply, and food security.

October 30, 2023 | Australia, US, Agricultural R&D, Climate, Agriculture | Share this update

On October 30, 2023, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and US President Joe Biden issued a joint statement on development cooperation following a state meeting in Washington DC, US.

The statement detailed a plan to cooperate on clean energy supply chains and seek advice on clean energy cooperation and industry development from both the public and private sector. It also included plans for the development of an Indo-Pacific Zero Transition Bond, to generate funding for SMEs focused on clean energy transition.

Albanese and Biden noted the assurance that the GCF, as well as other multilateral funding agencies' resources, will remain accessible to the vulnerable states most affected by climate change, particularly small island states.

The statement noted that the US and Australia would additionally assist in the financing of submarine cable connections for Pacific Island countries.

Both countries announced plans to assist ASEAN initiatives to develop sustainable and resilient agri-food systems, including through the strengthening of regional agricultural R&D.

Government document - US Embassy in Canberra

USAID invests US$79 million in Feed the Future laboratory expansion

October 26, 2023 | US, Agriculture, Agricultural R&D, Climate | Share this update

On October 26, 2023, USAID announced that it was investing US$79 million in its Feed the Future initiative to expand its lab network with two new laboratories, as well as the expansion of a preexisting lab.

One laboratory, based at Kansas State University, will focus on developing climate-resilient crops, including staple crops such as rice, wheat, sorghum, and millet. The second laboratory, led by the University of Nebraska, will focus on its research on irrigation and water systems to help smallholder farmers identify technological solutions to reduce manual labor and increase efficiency.

A joint venture between the labs will lead a US$2 million, three-year effort to mitigate Brucelloisis infections in livestock and humans.

Press release - USAID

US pledges US$100 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza and West Bank

October 18, 2023 | US, Global Health, Agriculture | Share this update

On October 18, 2023, during US President Joe Biden's trip to Israel, the US announced that it will provide US$100 million in humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, following the October 7 attacks on Israel orchestrated by Hamas and subsequent retaliatory actions by Israel in Gaza.

The funding is slated to be provided by USAID and the State Department. Humanitarian resources will provide safe drinking water and emergency support, including food, shelter, hygiene, and health services, as well as psychological support.

Biden announced an agreement with humanitarian organizations to open a channel to allow assistance to reach people in need. The assistance will be provided through US partners, including the UN.

Speech - The White HousePress release - USAID

US withholds wheat delivery in Yemen over diversion concerns

October 12, 2023 | US, Agriculture | Share this update

On October 12, 2023, it was reported that the US is withholding tens of thousands of tons of wheat originally destined for Yemen in an effort to strengthen UN negotiations with Houthi rebels, who are currently suspected of diverting food assistance from its intended recipients as an incentive to recruit soldiers.

WFP negotiations to ensure that the food assistance reaches those most in need have stalled. The WFP has acknowledged the possibility of pausing all food assistance to Yemen if agreement with Houthi leadership is not met.

The US recently paused food assistance in Ethiopia over findings that the assistance was regularly stolen and resold on the commercial market. The US restarted assistance flows after agreements with the Ethiopian government ensured that needy populations would be the final recipients of food assistance.

News article - Devex

US announces US$558 million in humanitarian assistance packages

September 21, 2023 | US, Agriculture, Gender Equality, Climate, Global Health | Share this update

During the 78th UN General Assembly from September 5 to 19, the US pledged a total of US$558 million in humanitarian assistance to countries around the world.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced US$116 million in humanitarian assistance to Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the surrounding area to help Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar. The funding brought total US assistance to the region to US$2.2 billion since the beginning of the Rohingya crisis in 2017.

USAID announced that it will provide an additional US$130 million to assist in the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, providing emergency food assistance, health, WASH, protective services, and other relief. USAID also announced an additional US$247 million of humanitarian assistance to countries across Africa to address protracted humanitarian crises and natural disasters. The assistance will be provided to the Central Sahel region along with Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Togo, and Zimbabwe.

USAID also announced US$53 million for Angola, Kenya, and Madagascar in humanitarian aid to help respond to drought impacts exacerbated by climate change. The support will include emergency WASH services and other emergency aid, as well as assistance to help build resilience against climate shocks.

Finally, the US began airlifting US$11 million in humanitarian assistance to help those in Libya devastated by the floods from Storm Daniel. The funding is in addition to the initial US$1 million provided by the US directly after the floods. The US will work with the World Food Program, the UN High Commission on Refugees, and other international and local entities to provide medical, food, shelter, psychosocial support, and other assistance to help the thousands of people affected in the flood areas.

News article - ReutersPress release - USAIDPress release - USAIDPress release - USAIDPress release - USAIDNews article - The Hill

US invests US$10 million to prevent food loss, waste

September 20, 2023 | US, Agriculture, Gender Equality, Climate | Share this update

On September 20, 2023, the US launched USAID's Food Loss and Waste Accelerator through the US's Feed the Future Initiative, which is planned to help reduce food loss and waste.

The new initiative is slated to focus its efforts on youth- and women-led businesses to provide co-financing for climate-smart investments. The initiative will also work with local governments on policies to address food loss and waste, which will generate economic savings and reduce methane emissions.

Press release - USAID

Norway, US launch agricultural SME fund in Africa

September 18, 2023 | Norway, US, Agriculture | Share this update

On September 18, 2023, Norwegian Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim and USAID Administrator Samantha Power launched Financing for Agricultural SMEs in Africa, a new multi-donor fund designed to unlock financing for agricultural SMEs on the African continent.

The fund was announced at an event with Power, Tvinnerim, US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Kenyan President William Ruto, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, US International Development Finance Corporation CEO Scott Nathan, and Acumen CEO Jacqueline Novogratz.

Tvinnereim stated that Norway will provide an initial commitment of US$35 million through the Norad. The US will contribute with a matching commitment through USAID.

Norway and the US aim to reach a total of US$200 million through additional donor contributions, potentially catalyzing millions more in commercial financing by reducing investment risk.

The fund was suggested to have the capacity to support 500 agricultural SMEs and 1.5 million smallholder farmers, benefiting approximately 7.5 million people. The fund will also support approximately 60,000 private sector jobs.

The fund is the first mechanism with the aim of mobilizing private capital on a large scale exclusively for the agricultural sector in Africa. Ruto gave the fund a warm welcome and underlined that investments in agriculture in Africa were the most effective way to reduce poverty.

Tvinnereim noted that the fund will reduce risk for private investors and trigger more private capital. She described the fund as an important step towards self-sufficiency and reduced import dependence for African partner countries.

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian)News article - Panorama nyheter (in Norwegian)

EU, US announce cooperation on Trans-African Corridor

September 9, 2023 | US, EUI, Climate, Agriculture | Share this update

On September 9, 2023, the EU and US announced new cooperation on the Trans-African Corridor during the PGII event of the G20.

The EU and US agreed to support Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zambia in conducting feasibility studies for a greenfield rail line spanning from Angola to Zambia. The partners indicated that development of the rail line would include investments in digital infrastructure and support job growth in the vicinity.

The partners also indicated that cooperation could also take the forms of support to:

  • Smallholder agricultural production;
  • Renewable energies; and
  • Economic development, such as support for SMEs.
Press release - European Commission

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US$ amounts are cited directly from sources; in the absence of an official conversion, they are calculated using the previous week's average of the US Federal Reserve's daily exchange rates.

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