2020's top Pro reads: USAID spending, Germany's aid changes, and AfDB leadership tension

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2020 marked a turning point for many organizations, changing the ways they conduct business and accelerating the shift to digital across the development sector. Our reporters, working remotely from across the globe, continued to track and cover the latest changes and major events impacting the globaldev community.

For our Devex Pro subscribers, we covered key leadership changes at the U.S. Agency for International Development, followed the state of U.K. aid, and zoomed in on issues such as debt relief for low-income economies and Zambia’s default. We also ran a special series, The New Rules of Development Travel, exploring how the humanitarian and development sectors could operate in a world with limited travel, and published “The Climate Finance Challenge,” a report digging into the financing needed to achieve global climate goals.

In response to your interests, some of our top-read coverage includes Germany's planned aid changes, profiles of the top U.S.-based corporate and private foundations investing in development, and corruption allegations at the African Development Bank.

Here’s a look at some of our most-read Devex Pro stories of 2020:

1. Half of USAID's spending goes to 25 organizations. Who are they? The U.S. Agency for International Development wants to diversify its contractors to work with more local entities. But what does the data say?

2. Who is John Barsa, the new head of USAID? When John Barsa took over USAID in April, his international development resume was short, but he was well connected within President Donald Trump’s administration. We explored what that would mean for an agency poised to respond to a global crisis.

3. What does the Adesina affair mean for AfDB? Old tensions over power heated up at the African Development Bank as it headed toward an election. But in the end, the bank’s president, Akinwumi Adesina, was cleared of ethical wrongdoing.

4. Germany plans sweeping changes to aid. We reported exclusive details on Germany's plan to cut support for 25 countries and streamline its funding priorities.

5. Top US-based private foundations investing in development. We analyzed the funding data to compile a list of the 10 leading U.S.-based private foundations giving to international development. We also analyzed the top U.S. corporate foundations investing in development.

6. Interactive: Gates Foundation's 2019 funding trends and COVID-19 response. Early in the COVID-19 crisis, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the response. Data from March already suggested the foundation was on track to exceed total grants for 2018 and 2019.

7. How much does USAID spend with local partners? As part of its framework focusing on the “journey to self-reliance," USAID wants to spend more through locally led partners. We explored the data to reveal the current state of play.

8. What is the World Bank without international travel? For years, the World Bank has faced questions about its liberal travel policies and budgets. Now the institution's leaders are asking how it can continue to provide global expertise and supervision at a time when travel is nearly impossible.

9. Why DAI is joining forces with an investment bank. In November, development consulting group DAI announced it had taken the unusual step of acquiring a majority stake in an investment bank. Devex spoke to the people involved in the deal to learn why.

10. Did the UK's 0.7% aid spending commitment backfire? The United Kingdom's commitment to spending 0.7% of gross national income on aid protected the budget during the austerity years — but it also attracted criticism.

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