This week in development…
U.S. Development Policy/International Organizations
- The United Nations has requested $1 billion for the first half of 2015 in order to eradicate Ebola in West Africa, especially for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the “epidemic has started to turn.” Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Dr. David Nabarro, the UN Special Envoy on Ebola announced on Wednesday the new appeal for increased aid focused on re-establishing important social services and improving the security of individuals in the region.
- Andrew Lansley, the former UK Health secretary and leader of the House of Commons, is a potential appointee for the role of UN relief head. Lansley faces intense opposition from more than eighty major disaster-relief NGOs globally, who are concerned that his candidacy is driven by his political positioning and that his lack of inexperience could be a serious impediment to the disaster-relief sector. The 80 international relief organizations implored UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to establish a panel of experts to help him select the candidate, a move which could hurt Lansley’s prospects.
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) released a statement on Thursday with new data suggesting that private sector services and a rising care economy are expected to provide employment for more than a third of the global workforce over the next five year period. Many public sector services that comprise the service economy, such as health care, education and administration, will be important employment resources. This shift signals the changing role of policies to support enterprise and the labor force. It also illustrates an amplified engagement with opportunities interconnected to new technologies.
- To tackle local level corruption, the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco – city planning organization created by the Government of Maharashtra in India) launched a dedicated vigilance web link on January 16 to combat corruption within the organization. Residents of Navi Mumbai who come across any Cidco official demanding a bribe can lodge complaints directly against the officer on the website. The vigilance page, which is linked with Cidco’s official website, provides detailed instruction on how to lodge a complaint. Corruption in India is a major issue that adversely affects its economy – in 2014 India ranked 85th out of 175 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
- With 189 complaints, Vietnam is ranked second on the list of World Bank clients against whom there are corruption allegations, with the transport, information communication and technology, and water sectors being the biggest offenders. Vietnam has received around $80 billion in ODA funds in the past 30 years, with a large portion being allocated to infrastructure projects related to transport, seaports, airports, and urban development. This raises significant concerns over how much of this money was actually used for the purposes it was intended to.
- According to a leaked report, obtained by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists, the seemingly benign aid program funded by the UK government and run by the World Bank in Ethiopia is facilitating a controversial resettlement scheme driven by the Ethiopian government. The initiative, known as ‘villagization’, aims to relocate 1.5 million rural families from their homesteads to villages across Ethiopia. Since its launch in 2010, the program has been the center of allegations of rape, physical assaults, forced evictions and disappearances.
- The African Development Bank announced on January 22nd a new collaborative partnership with MasterCard which will seek to increase financial inclusion in the region at country levels. The partnership will focus on inclusive growth and the application of digital financial services. It will target previously excluded populations and increase knowledge-sharing functionalities across various sectors including academia, policy and commercial to foster better economic development.
- Zimbabwean Thomas Zondo Sakala, a 31-year employee of the African Development Bank, has been backed by the Zimbabwean government and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for the position of President of the AfDB. Mr. Sakala faces competition from seven other candidates from countries including Chad, Ethiopia, Cape Verde among others. Sakala left the AfDB in October 2014 prior to which he was a member of the Bank’s Senior Management Team spearheaded by President Donald Kaberuka, who is due to step down in May.
- On Tuesday the International Monetary Fund’s director for the Western Hemisphere announced Latin America’s 2015 growth forecast has been downgraded due to economic anxiety in the region. The forecast growth for Latin America is 1.3%, down 0.9% from the October 2013 forecast. The IMF has pointed to “economic contraction” in Venezuela and Argentina while Brazil will face growth at 0.3% in 2015. The IMF report did provide a positive outlook for northern Latin America.
- Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) signed an agreement to extend their partnership into new areas of collaboration, including climate change adaptation, renewable energy and energy efficiency. The stakeholders also emphasized the need to develop new financial mechanisms to promote climate-smart agriculture and reduce emissions from land use change, deforestation and forest degradation. Germany is the top contributor to the IDB’s Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Initiative, with more than $21 million committed since the fund’s inception.
Middle East/North Africa
- In offering his condolences, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has praised the developmental legacy of late King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud upon his death on Friday morning at age 90. Mr. Ban noted the King’s contributions to promoting inter-faith dialogue and his generosity in providing support on humanitarian and developmental terms globally. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) also issued a statement praising King Abdullah’s notable contributions to development including his past donations for Syrian refugees and the conflict in Iraq.
- The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Kingdom of Morocco have signed a memorandum of understanding to promote knowledge sharing, and capacity building to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The memorandum aims to support growth and social progress as well as promote Islamic banking in Sub-Saharan countries to enable them achieve sustainable development by involving the Moroccan public and private enterprises in the implementation of IDB-funded development programs.
- Devex released an article last weekend written by the Center for Global Development’s Owen Barder, where he refutes media reports that UK development agency, the Department for International Development had spent money badly. DfID had to spend an extra $1.5 billion in November and December 2013 to hit the government’s target of spending 0.7 percent of gross national income on official development assistance. The British media characterized this move as a waste of money and unnecessarily profligate end-of-year surge.
- Finance ministers in the European Union are due to discuss on January 27th the decision of whether or not to provide Ukraine with additional aid. If passed, the plan would equip Ukraine with an additional 2.5 billion euros and could save the country from potential bankruptcy. This funding would be a revision of a proposal earlier this month by the European Union to loan 1.8 billion euros. The increase in funding is motivated by a rise in the situation in Ukraine’s severity. At present, Ukraine is largely relying on a programme funded by the International Monetary Fund in order to sustain its current war against pro-Russian separatists.