Deadly cholera outbreaks, G20 tensions and a family planning conference: This week in development

Flags of G-20 members in front of the Steigenberger Hotel in Germany. Photo by: European Commission

While G-20 leaders gather in Germany for a tense summit, uncertainty mounts around funding for family planning, the resources needed to address the world's deadliest cholera outbreak and Europe's response to the arrival of refugees. This week in development news.

The cholera outbreak across Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia is threatening hundreds of thousands of children, and funding and security are urgently needed to address the outbreak and rising rates of malnutrition, according to the United Nations Children's Fund. Yemen is currently experiencing the worst outbreak, with an estimated 260,000 suspected cases and more than 1,600 deaths — a quarter of whom have been children. The limited aid response in Yemen is exacerbating conditions amid an ongoing civil war, with a failing economy and health system and a shortage of clean water, as Devex reported. In Somalia, 1.4 million children are suffering from malnourishment; while in South Sudan, many fear the cholera outbreak could worsen during the rainy season. Supplies and funds are insufficient: in Yemen, just one-third of the funding needed has been fulfilled, according to U.N. data, and the World Health Organization has received only $18.2 million of its requested $64 million through the end of the year.

Five years after the United Kingdom pledged to make contraceptives available to an additional 120 million women and girls worldwide by 2020, the government — together with other donors, foundations, NGOs and new public and private actors — will gather again next week to celebrate progress at the London Family Planning Summit. But the question will also be asked: why are we only one-third of the way to hitting the mark? Advocacy groups expect additional funding announcements, but will nonetheless be eager to hear whether and how governments and the private sector will step up to fill the gap in funding left by U.S. President Donald Trump's reintroduction of the global gag rule on reproductive health funding. Australia pledged to prioritize gender equality with a target of 80 percent of aid directed at gender issues — but investment of the aid budget thus far has not matched this policy. It is considered unlikely that the Australian government will make a new financial contribution at the summit, despite its ambassador for women and girls attending.

World leaders from some of the 20 biggest economies are gathering in Hamburg, Germany, for the two-day G-20 summit, where global development issues are set to play an elevated role compared to previous summits. The German government expanded the agenda to include climate change, global health, partnerships with African countries and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. But questions over the United States’ future global leadership role and the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to foreign aid are likely to overshadow attempts at new commitments. Tensions between world leaders are also high amid uncertainty about the future of the Paris Climate Agreement, perilous migration and global health situations, and North Korea’s increasingly provocative behavior. Stay tuned for Devex’s on-the-ground reporting and catch up on our series that examines Germany as an emerging power in global development.

The 29th African Union Summit came to a close this week. Featuring discussions between several African heads of state, it even received a guest appearance from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus before assuming his Geneva-based post on July 1. Among the highlights of the week include the signing of a roughly $8 million partnership with New Zealand. This agreement serves as the basis for the establishment and implementation of the “New Zealand-Africa Geothermal Facility," which will provide affordable, clean energy solutions to East African countries. During the summit the official DotAfrica domain also launched, allowing organizations, companies, and individuals connected with the African community and markets to register their businesses during an open registration period.

The Italian government threatened to close its ports to humanitarian rescue ships, turning them away to other countries during a surge in arrivals of refugees and undocumented migrants, with more than 12,000 landing in Italy over the course of a single weekend, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The threat sparked an emergency meeting of European ministers in Paris on Sunday, resulting in a promise to create a “code of conduct” for NGO-operated ships in the Mediterranean, alongside options for increased support to Libya, where most of the migrants are departing from. The details of the code are to be discussed at a meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, this week, but NGOs warned it risks limiting their ability to save lives. Around 80 percent of migrants traveling across the Mediterranean this year have landed in Italy, with the government saying it is not receiving enough support from the rest of the EU. Europe has been directing increasing levels of development aid toward the goal of reducing undocumented migration in recent times — sparking deep controversy among European NGOs, as Devex has reported. More than 2,000 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration, including 50 who are missing after a boat sank this week.

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About the author

  • Anne Paisley

    Anne Paisley is a former senior manager of editorial planning and production at Devex, where she oversaw Devex’s newsletters, website, and editorial production team. Prior to joining Devex in 2015, Anne was the managing editor at the Center for American Progress. She has previously held positions at CNN, the U.S. Department of State, and Cambridge Associates. She earned a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and Asian studies from George Washington University, including a semester abroad at Peking University in Beijing.