Trump's World Bank nominee, Venezuela's aid standoff, and UK aid standards: This week in development

People hold placards as they wait for the arrival of trucks with international humanitarian aid in Cucuta, Venezuela. Photo by: REUTERS / Marco Bello

Ivanka Trump launches a new women’s empowerment initiative, DFID gets better marks than its government counterparts, and tensions mount over aid delivery to Venezuela. This week in development:

President Donald Trump announced David Malpass as his nominee to be the next president of the World Bank on Wednesday. Malpass is currently the undersecretary of treasury for international affairs and a former chief economist at the investment bank Bear Stearns, which collapsed during the global financial crisis. While he has frequently criticized the World Bank for what he sees as a pattern of unsustainable growth and a habit of unjustified lending to emerging economies such as China, Malpass also played a key role in brokering the $13 billion capital increase deal last year that secured new resources for the bank. The nomination of a person so closely aligned with the Trump administration and its policy views will likely add fuel to an ongoing debate about America’s hold over the top job at the world’s most influential development bank — and some believe it could provoke other shareholders to put forward alternative nominees. The next bank president will replace Jim Kim, who built a controversial legacy around efforts to expand the bank’s priorities, while spearheading internal reforms that many bank employees strongly opposed.

Good news for the U.K. Department for International Development, but bad news for its government counterparts. A new study by the ONE Campaign found that DFID was the only aid-distributing branch of the U.K. government to score well on poverty focus, effectiveness, and transparency. “Some parts of government don’t adhere to these principles. As the Treasury is deciding who gets what in this year’s spending review, they shouldn’t allocate any more aid to departments which don’t deliver ‘real aid,’” said Romilly Greenhill, the ONE Campaign’s U.K. director. ONE’s index is not the first to suggest declines in the quality of U.K. aid, but it is the first to disaggregate aid quality across different governmental departments. On a green, amber, red rating system, DFID was the only department to achieve green marks on all three categories.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is positioning humanitarian supplies in Colombia on the border with Venezuela, despite President Nicolas Maduro’s refusal to allow shipments to enter. On Wednesday, amid an escalating political standoff over control of the country, Maduro blocked a bridge along the aid route, despite calls from the opposition to let it in. Maduro has refused international aid for years as basic supplies such as food and medicine remain scarce inside the country and millions of Venezuelans flee. A large number of countries — including the U.S. and the Lima Group, a regional body — have recognized opposition leader Juan Guiadó as Venezuela’s interim president. On Wednesday, USAID explained in a statement that, “the U.S. government is procuring and pre-positioning assistance requested by President Guiadó's team, and calls on the Venezuelan security forces to allow these urgently needed supplies to enter the country.”

On Thursday, the White House launched a women’s empowerment initiative spearheaded by Ivanka Trump, senior adviser to the president and first daughter. USAID will allocate $50 million to support the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative — or W-GDP. That money will create a new fund, which “aims to help 50 million women in developing countries realize their economic potential by 2025,” Ivanka Trump wrote in the Wall Street Journal. The initiative is in line with the Trump administration’s foreign assistance strategy, “which emphasizes investments that produce measurable results and help recipient countries become self-reliant,” Ivanka Trump wrote. In September, when Devex first reported on plans for the new initiative, Trump described it as an “umbrella” effort to consolidate a range of individual projects under three strategic pillars: vocational education and skills training; promotion of women entrepreneurs; and barriers that bar women from economic participation.

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.