USAID tackles discrimination, while Venezuela's crisis deepens: This week in development news

By Michael Igoe 27 October 2016

One million vaccines have been delivered to Haiti to help combat the rise of cholera in the southwest of the country, following the passage of Hurricane Matthew over the region. Photo by: Logan Abass / U.N.

While Venezuela’s crisis deepens, its government blames the C.I.A., and the United Nations fights cholera in Haiti with its hands tied behind its back. This week in development news.

French authorities dismantled and cleared the unofficial migrant camp in Calais known as the “jungle,” relocating nearly 6,000 people to other parts of France since the demolition began on Monday. The unofficial shanty town hosted more than 7,000 migrants — most of whom arrived in the past five years hoping to reach the U.K. While the relocation process has so far been relatively peaceful, volunteers in the camp worry that tension will grow as the area empties out. Earlier this year, Devex spent a few days in the Calais settlement to gain a first-hand view of its ramshackle humanitarian infrastructure. Despite the relatively peaceful — and voluntary — closure and resettlement, reports surfaced that up to 100 unaccompanied minors remained overnight in the dismantled camp.

Venezuelan government officials might be tempted to blame the United States for their current health, economic and food security crises, but it will be a tough sell. The country’s worst economic downturn in modern history — triggered by plummeting oil prices — has led to a humanitarian crisis much worse than the government has so far acknowledged. “Grocery store shelves are empty; pharmacies have nothing in stock; hospitals lack resources or personnel to treat patients; and gang violence is spiraling,” reports Devex associate editor Elizabeth Dickinson. The government has also shown its inability to deal with usually preventable diseases such as diphtheria, and the country’s institutions have been so deeply shaken that even if humanitarian supplies flooded into Venezuela, it’s unlikely they would provide much immediate relief.

The United Nations is scrambling to prevent a cholera surge in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew — at the same time as it is trying to act on its “moral responsibility” to make amends for introducing cholera to the impoverished island nation in the first place. David Nabarro — the secretary-general’s special advisor leading the cholera response effort — told Devex the U.N. is waging its battle “with our hands tied behind our backs.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has pledged to compensate Haiti’s cholera victims to the tune of $400 million but does not have enough money to deliver that compensation package, Nabarro said. On top of that, the U.N. needs additional funds to tackle the hurricane-induced threat, he said. “It is not very helpful to design such schemes if we don’t have any money,” Nabarro, who is one of six candidates vying to lead the World Health Organization, told Devex.

The U.S. government has a new policy to stamp out foreign aid discrimination. The U.S. Agency for International Development is instituting a new rule that explicitly prohibits contractors from discriminating against foreign aid beneficiaries on the basis of any factor — including race, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. “This isn't just the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do. To achieve lasting and transformative progress, economies must deliver for everyone, and governments must take into account the full range of citizen voices. That's when societies thrive, and communities abound with opportunity for all,” said USAID Administrator Gayle Smith in a statement.

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