Sweden has dismissed the director-general of the Swedish International Development Agency, Anders Nordstrom, and ordered a major revamp of the aid agency. Meanwhile, the French Development Agency has a new chief in Dov Zerah, who succeeds Jean-Michel Severino.
The U.S. unveiled a National Security Strategy May 27 that aims to improve U.S. engagement in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan and encourage governance reforms in international financial institutions. Cross-cutting issues such as climate change, hunger, health, humanitarian crises and the Millennium Development Goals feature prominently in the new, sweeping blueprint. In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week proposed consolidating the budgets of the U.S. Agency for International Development and departments of State and Defense into a single national security budget. Experts recommend that the U.S. reform its internal systems on managing and implementing global development policies to support its security strategy, with one arguing that the U.S. can learn from the U.K. when it comes to integrating security and development strategies.
In a recent trip to Bangladesh, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah pledged increased food and agricultural investments in the Asian nation. The Millennium Challenge Corp., meanwhile, approved new threshold programs for Liberia and Timor-Leste, and advised Tanzania to meet the 2013 deadline of spending its USD700 million compact. U.S. Ambassador to Senegal Marcia Bernica reminded Senegal to boost its anti-graft efforts to keep its MCC compact while the U.S. Congress explored how to support Sudan’s peace process through humanitarian and development assistance.
The African Development Bank reconfirmed Donald Kaberuka as its president and approved a 200 percent capital increase during the AfDB annual meeting May 27-28, where climate change was also heavily discussed. The bank endorsed a grant for private-sector development in Central Africa and launched the USD600 African Capitalization Fund to support the continent’s banking system. The lender announced that it more than doubled its operations in 2009 to 8.06 billion unit of account (USD12.6 billion).
Development experts convened in various meetings over the past week. In New York, UNICEF Executive Director Tony Lake told at the agency’s executive board, which met June 1-4, that reaching the world’s “forgotten” children is crucial to reducing global poverty. UNICEF saw a funding decline in 2009. Some 52 countries agreed on a framework to channel funding for forest conservation projects in the developing world at the Oslo Climate Forest Conference. Billionaire investor George Soros committed USD50 million to help save forests worldwide, a day before the May 27 forest conference. Meanwhile, familiar rifts were exposed at the most recent round of United Nations climate change talks in Bonn, Germany.
Donors backed existing funds and created new ones to support a host of causes. The World Bank-administered Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery has secured more than USD125 million in pledges from donors while five financial institutions agreed to pool their resources to set up a new specialist microfinance fund called Rural Impulse II. The European Commission will establish its own multi-donor trust funds to allow for coordinated and prompt financial assistance in crisis and post-crisis situations. European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs is pushing for the review of the European Development Consensus and use of budget support.
Haiti will improve the quality of its primary education, and delivery of basic services and infrastructure in rural communities through two grants from the World Bank worth a total of USD27 million. The Washington-based lender announced that it has canceled the remaining USD36 million debt of Haiti.
In U.K., Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered the Department for International Development to publish online all its international development projects starting January 2011. The Cumbria Development Education Center accusedDFID breaching public-private rules after the U.K. aid agency decided to suspend funding for the charity’s three-year program to educate leaders on global citizenship. Kenya, meanwhile, will continue to benefit from British aid in areas such as trade, tourism and development. The British government will implement a “full audit” of which nations should continue to receive U.K. aid, Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell said. U.K. Minister of State for International Development Alan Duncan traveled to Asia, inspecting several U.K.-backed projects in Nepal’s Morang district May 28.
Here’s another twist in the dispute over Canada’s funding of women’s groups: News reports suggest that the Canadian International Development Agency actually suggested to the country’s Conservative government earlier this year that abortion was key to improving maternal health abroad, before seemingly changing course and reject funding for abortion.
This week, Canada suggested to G-8 leaders that it would earmark 1 billion Canadian dollars (USD947 million) to beef up maternal and child health in poor nations – if others chip in too. The U.N. Development Fund for Women, or UNIFEM, as well as the Global Environment Facility, will also receive funding boosts from Canada. The Canadian Council for International Co-operation, however, isn’t as lucky: The regime-critical NGO association is preparing to close offices because it has failed to secure financing from the Canadian government.
In Australia, the debate over AusAID management and consultant fees continued. AusAID director-general Peter Baxter told lawmakers that technical assistance, which tends to go towards consultants, will make up a smaller share of total development assistance this year. AusAID consultant Bryant Allen, meanwhile, told ABC News that high wages are needed to encourage experts to work in high-risk areas.
The Australian government said it will not provide aid to Zimbabwe unless President Robert Mugabe steps down. Zimbabwe has received USD3 million in donor financing in the first quarter of 2010, which is 0.4 percent of its annual foreign aid target. The European Commission, though, announced an USD8 million initiative aimed at vaccinating children in Zimbabwe against measles.
High-level appointments included:
- Heraldo Munoz, United Nations assistant secretary-general, as well as assistant administrator of the United Nations Development Program and director for its regional bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean