Jim Kim's 2nd term and a Zika budget breakthrough: This week in development

By Michael Igoe 29 September 2016

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim discusses health service delivery in Tianchang, Anhui, China. Photo by: Wu Zhiyi / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

A shakeup in the United Nations secretary general race and the beginning of a new era for Colombia. This week in development news:

The U.N. secretary general race has a new candidate: Kristalina Georgieva, the Bulgarian European commissioner for budget and human resources. Georgieva’s entry into the race comes on the heels of Monday’s straw poll, which saw António Guterres — the former high commissioner for the United Nations refugee agency — come out on top, while Irina Bokova — a fellow Bulgarian and the director general of UNESCO — finished a disappointing sixth. Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boiko Borisov announced the country’s nomination of Georgieva at a cabinet meeting, saying, “We consider that this will be a more successful nomination,” according to Reuters. With Guterres as the current front-runner and Georgieva now a strong — albeit late — challenger, the odds are good that the next U.N. chief will come from a strong development background. Georgieva also appears to represent the best chance for a woman to assume the U.N.’s top job for the first time in history. Russia, a permanent member of the security council with veto power over candidates, is known to support the appointment of an Eastern European as secretary general, but may not back Georgieva given her role at the EU, which has enforced sanctions against Russia. The next, and final, straw poll will happen on Oct. 5.

After seven months of feuding the U.S. senate has agreed to a short-term spending plan that includes $1.1 billion in funds to combat the spread of the Zika virus. The bill includes $394 million for the Centers for Disease Control and prevention to prevent, prepare for, and respond to Zika virus and other vector-borne diseases in the U.S. and internationally. It also includes $387 million for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, $152 million for the National Institutes of Health and $10 million for U.S. Agency for International Development operating expenses. According to NPR, $397 million of those funds will be used to develop a vaccine for the virus. Previously, the Zika support had been caught in a battle over whether some of the funding could go to Planned Parenthood, the women’s health and family planning organization.

Jim Yong Kim has been appointed to serve another five-year term as president of the World Bank, nine months before his current term expires on June 30. Kim, the U.S. government’s nominee — and the only person to enter a three week contest for the position — secured unanimous agreement from the bank’s executive directors, who announced his reappointment on Tuesday. In Kim’s meeting with the executive directors, he told them his “highest priority” will be “institutional stability and deeper staff engagement,” according to a World Bank press release. That is no small task considering the staff’s lack of confidence in bank senior leadership — as reflected in recent staff engagement surveys — and a feeling both inside and outside the institution that the process to reappoint Kim was not designed to foster a competitive, merit-based selection.

The government of Colombia and the FARC rebel group signed a peace deal Monday, which will be voted on in a national referendum on Oct. 2, and could put an end to the longest war in the Western hemisphere. At that point, the hard work of reconciliation will begin, as the government faces the immense task of reaching out to rural, formerly rebel-held areas that have had little contact with public officials in decades. The government has made big promises to communities that have been cut off from social services and national development initiatives while the war raged on. “The first point of the six-point agreement lays out plans for vast agricultural land restitution, rural infrastructure projects, the extension of public services to the countryside, and a host of other poverty-reducing measures in far-flung towns and villages. Victims are also promised millions in reparations and socio-economic aid,” Elizabeth Dickinson reported for Devex in July. Donor support will be critical to Colombia’s success in fulfilling these promises, and many eyes are on U.S. support to the country as it transitions from the security-focused Plan Colombia to a reconciliation and development-oriented Peace Colombia strategy.

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About the author

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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.


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