Devex Newswire: Small UK charities see funding ‘wiped out’

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Samantha Power will be sworn in today as administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Every day seems to bring news of another hit to U.K. global development leadership, and Will Worley has been chronicling the latest fallout from the U.K. aid cuts. This time the victims are a collection of smaller funds — organizations that believed their funding was safe.

• Small charities make up an estimated 95% of the U.K. development sector, but the U.K. government is slashing its Small Charities Challenge Fund, which supports organizations with a turnover of less than £1 million. That includes a program in Bangladesh called “Reach, Teach, Transform Lives,” which is helping educate girls who were forced into domestic labor.

• “It was fantastic to be able to think we were secure. … Our charity [has] been undermined by the government, who have written to me after complete silence,” says Annette Zera, chair of trustees at the UK Bangladesh Education Trust, which runs the program. The charity says that because it was told U.K. funding was forthcoming, it didn’t fundraise privately for the first time ever and now may need to close entirely.

• A U.K. aid impact grant that funds pre-primary education in Tanzania was given 90 days to close, as were reproductive health programs in Kenya, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Water and sanitation projects across Africa and Asia are similarly believed to have been told to close.

Exclusive: Girls' education hit as UK small charities funding 'wiped out'

Devex Pro: Meanwhile, France’s new development law does more than just nudge the country toward the 0.7% spending target by 2025. Join us on May 10 as we go inside the French aid changes.

TIKTOK CHALLENGE

Global development organizations cannot ignore the power of social media — more than 3.8 billion people spend an average of almost 2.5 hours on these platforms daily. But they can also easily find their messages drowned out by the noise of constant content. We took a look at how development agencies are making themselves heard in new ways.

Devex Pro: How to rise above the noise on social media 

ANGELS WITH DEMONS

“DFIs are providing capital to funds predominantly investing in white founders. That’s crazy. You can’t come and tell me you’re investing in Africa, and your investment strategy is basically a neocolonial strategy. There has to be a reckoning.”

— Sangu Delle, chairman at Golden Palm Investments Corp.

Less than 1% of international humanitarian funding and just 5.2% of U.S. foundation funding for Africa goes to organizations led by Africans, according to the African Visionary Fund.

Catherine Cheney reports on how the development community can drive more money to African founders.

+ Get the inside track on how business, social enterprise, and development finance leaders are tackling global challenges by signing up to our weekly Devex Invested newsletter.

BARGAINING POWER

Five years after the Grand Bargain on humanitarian effectiveness and reform, Lisa Cornish reports that donors are falling short on one key commitment. Signatories agreed to direct 25% of humanitarian assistance to local and national actors by 2020. Instead, “absolute volumes sent directly to local and national actors ... dropped significantly in 2019, down 30% from 2016 when the Grand Bargain target was set,” according to a new report.

Read: What's stopping localization in the humanitarian sector?

POWER UP

As the Samantha Power era begins at USAID, here is a quick Devex reading list to get you caught up on what may be the highest-profile leader the agency has ever had.

• After President Joe Biden announced his plan to nominate Power, Adva Saldinger and I spoke to development experts about what it might mean for USAID.
• Ahead of her nomination hearing, Power shared her views on U.S. leadership in the COVID-19 response.
• Biden’s decision to elevate the USAID administrator to a permanent seat on the National Security Council’s Principals Committee could spell a bigger role for the agency in foreign policy debates.
• During her confirmation hearing in March, Power struck a bipartisan tone while laying out her four biggest priorities for USAID.
• On Thursday the U.S. Senate voted 68 to 26 to confirm Power as the 19th USAID administrator. Only one Senator voiced concerns about her appointment.

Power is scheduled to deliver remarks at 3 p.m. ET today.

IN OTHER NEWS

G-7 countries have agreed on a $15 billion package to send 40 million girls from low-income countries to school. [BBC]

Ahead of the Asian Development Bank annual meeting, over 20 NGOs have signed a statement calling on the bank to halt funding fossil fuel projects. [Reuters]

The combined effect of the pandemic and the political crisis in Myanmar could put 25 million — nearly half of the country's population — in poverty by 2022, according to a UNDP report. [VOA]

WHO has given Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine approval for emergency use, as the drug-maker announced its plan to expand production to turn out 3 billion doses by 2022. [Al Jazeera]

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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.