Obama's last SOTU, Ebola's last gasp: This week in development news

By Michael Igoe 14 January 2016

Ebola survivors in Freetown, Sierra Leone show off their certificates declaring them Ebola free. This week, the World Health Organization announced the end of the two-year Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Photo by: Dominic Chavez / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

As one disease outbreak ends, United States President Barack Obama vows to tackle another. Your rundown of the stories making headlines in global development this week.

The “Obama bump” could be coming…

…to a development initiative near you. The American president dedicated a significant chunk of his final State of the Union address to global development issues, and even said that he would ask Congress for funding to do something big on the global health stage – eradicate malaria. Obama also credited “development workers” with helping stem the Ebola tide in West Africa, though many pointed out it was front-line health workers in Ebola-affected countries who did the heavy-lifting. And the president recommitted to leadership on global climate change, praising the “ambitious” COP21 agreement and calling for more investments in renewables.

Speaking of Ebola…

…it’s over! On Thursday the World Health Organization announced the end of the two-year Ebola outbreak in West Africa.* After 42 consecutive days of no reported cases of the virus, Liberia, the last country of three most-affected, has been declared Ebola-free. Now the focus is on what the global health and development community learned from this disastrous outbreak, and how priorities like “global health security” can be incorporated into a new development agenda. Initiatives like the World Bank and WHO Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility will try to do exactly that.

In Israel, a thin line…

…between civil society freedom and government repression. A new NGO “transparency” bill looks a lot like other examples from a growing list of governments cracking down on civil society freedom. The new legislation, which has drawn criticism from U.S. diplomats and Israeli activists, would require organizations that receive more than 50 percent of their funding from foreign governments to publicly identify themselves as foreign agents.

The world’s “first global think tank”…

…is opening up a branch in New Delhi. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace announced this week that Carnegie India will open in April this year, the century-old institution’s first new branch since the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy opened in Beijing in 2010. Devex will connect with the center’s newly-named director, Raja Mohan, to hear about his plans to raise a new voice in Indian development, security, and international trade discussions.

Two up, two down…

...at the World Bank Group. Brazil’s former Minister of Finance Joaquim Levy will replace Bertrand Badré as the World Bank’s chief financial officer. Badré faced heat when details of his $94,000 salary bonus surfaced at the same time tensions were mounting over the “strategic staffing exercise” he was tasked with managing. Two months after announcing that Jin Yong Cai would step down as CEO of the International Finance Corp, the bank has appointed another Chinese national to a high level post. Shaolin Yang will assume the role of chief administrative officer and managing director, a new position “created to bring together the functions of organizational strategy, budget and planning, and information and technology, among other responsibilities,” according to the IFC.

*Editor’s Note: After publication, a new case of Ebola was confirmed in Sierra Leone. The WHO warns that such flare-ups could continue.

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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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