From #PanamaPapers to World Health Day: This week in development

By Michael Igoe 07 April 2016

The so-called Panama papers, leaked from Panama-based wealth management firm Mossack Fonseca, name names — including heads of state — in the web of offshore transactions that shield companies from their tax obligations. Photo by: Фото Москвы Moscow-Live.ru / CC BY-NC-SA

The #PanamaPapers provide civil society organizations with new ammo to tackle tax evasion, the race for United Nations secretary general heats up, and World Health Day shines the spotlight on a growing “double burden.” This week in development news.

In the fight to recapture tax revenues from wealthy businesspeople and redirect them toward poverty alleviation and development, advocacy groups have a new ally: millions of leaked documents. The so-called Panama papers, leaked from Panama-based wealth management firm Mossack Fonseca, name names — including heads of state — in the web of offshore transactions that shield companies from their tax obligations. The leak adds fuel to developing countries’ demands that the future of development finance is as much about global economic fairness as it is about domestic resource mobilization.

The incidence of diabetes has increased fourfold since 1980, according to the World Health Organization. On Thursday — World Health Day — the WHO shined a light on the alarming health effects of changing diets and lifestyles around the world. The prevalence of diabetes is now higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries, and development organizations are grappling with how global health and food security expertise can combine to tackle this worsening global epidemic.

The United Nations secretary-general race just got more crowded. Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and former prime minister of New Zealand, announced her candidacy Monday. Clark becomes the eighth candidate to enter a race that many think — and hope — could see the first woman appointed to the U.N.’s top spot in the organization’s 70-year history.

With its request for $1.9 billion from Congress still unanswered, the White House announced it will redirect more than $500 million left over from Ebola response programs to combat the spread of the Zika virus. Over 60 percent of the funding will be spent domestically in the U.S., and the rest on “aid to other countries for programs including educational campaigns, maternal and child health efforts, and mosquito management,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Speaking of leaked documents, new information came to light this week that could influence an ongoing lawsuit against the United Nations on behalf of 1500 Haitians, who say the organization’s peacekeepers negligently brought cholera with them to the country in the aftermath of the 2008 earthquake. The leaked report documents “a series of alarming problems in several UN peacekeeping bases including sewage being dumped in the open as well as a lack of toilets and soap,” the Guardian reports.

Join the Devex community and access more in-depth analysis, breaking news and business advice — and a host of other services — on international development, humanitarian aid and global health.

About the author

Igoe michael 1
Michael Igoe@AlterIgoe

Michael Igoe is a senior correspondent for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers U.S. foreign aid and emerging trends in international development and humanitarian policy. Michael draws on his experience as both a journalist and international development practitioner in Central Asia to develop stories from an insider's perspective.


Join the Discussion