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THE GREAT DIVERGENCE

The potential introduction of “vaccine passports” could drive a new era of access constraints, unequal opportunity, and global hierarchy, Andrew Green reports. Making COVID-19 vaccination a prerequisite to travel — at a time when access to vaccines is severely skewed — has met strong opposition from some global health advocates.

• As of last week, of the 905 million vaccine doses that had been administered, only 0.2% had gone to people in low-income countries.

• If the vaccinated are allowed international travel — as French President Emmanuel Macron promised on Sunday specifically for U.S. citizens — it could deny residents of low-income countries where vaccines aren’t available access to educational and economic opportunities, and reward citizens of high-income countries that have hoarded the world’s limited doses.

• World Health Organization officials have warned about issues of both equity and efficacy with vaccine passports, and the head of Africa CDC, Dr. John Nkengasong, has taken a clear position against them.

Read: How 'vaccine passports' could exacerbate global inequities

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DOUBLE BURDEN

By 2030, over 1 million Nigerian children ages 5-19 will be living with obesity. Across the African continent, 18.4% of women and 7.8% of men live with obesity — up from 12% and 4.1% respectively in 2000.

Paul Adepoju reports for Devex on the challenge of tackling a growing obesity problem on a continent where food crises are often viewed through a lens of undernutrition, malnourishment, and famine. Part of our Future of Food Systems series.

JOB SEARCH

“Here’s the bottom line: There is absolutely no chance that we are going to be able to address this dynamic, … long-standing problem unless we create jobs in Central America." 

— Ricardo Zúñiga, U.S. special envoy to the Northern Triangle

 Zúñiga said Monday that the region must improve trade with Mexico, simplify customs procedures, and have a more even distribution of labor flows between countries.

Teresa Welsh reports on the private sector’s role in Central America’s immigration dilemma.

LAB REPORT

Ann Mei Chang, former head of innovation at USAID, has three recommendations for members of Congress to boost innovation in U.S. foreign assistance.

1. Authorize a chief innovation officer and a chief digital officer at each U.S. development agency.
2. Direct a pool of earmarked funds for research and development.
3. Shift toward measurable results versus predefined activities.

Catherine Cheney reports on lessons for USAID’s innovation agenda.

LESSONS LEARNED

In February, a severe winter snowstorm led to catastrophic power outages in Texas, leaving millions without access to electricity for days. For energy policymakers around the world, the lessons of the Texas fiasco should inform their own planning for extreme weather events, write Ashvin Dayal of The Rockefeller Foundation and Michael Webber from the University of Texas at Austin. One answer: self-reliant microgrids powered by renewable energy.

Opinion: Texas' power outages were avoidable. Here's what we can learn

NOT MINCING WORDS

A group of independent U.N. human rights experts on Monday excoriated a recent U.K. report on race and ethnic disparities, which they described as, an “attempt to normalize white supremacy.”

“In 2021, it is stunning to read a report on race and ethnicity that repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies into conclusory findings and ad hominem attacks on people of African descent,” the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent wrote in their assessment of the report.

IN OTHER NEWS

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce this week the country's new carbon emission reduction target: a 78% cut by 2035. [The Guardian]

Since the start of 2021, the number of children arriving in Mexico en route to the U.S. has massively increased from 380 to 3,500. Half of those children were unaccompanied. [Al Jazeera]

Climate activist Greta Thunberg on Monday donated €100,000 ($120,000) to the COVAX Facility, as she called for an end to vaccine inequity. [France 24]

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About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.