Weekly roundup: Top international development headlines

Weekly roundup: Top international development headlines

Delta variant spreads to 132 countries, low-income countries’ pandemic recovery needs and humanitarian support to migrants in Lithuania. Here is what you missed from last week’s headlines in the international development sector:

COVID-19 infections rise, Delta variant spreads to 132 countries

The latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed a “substantial” uptick in the Americas and the Western Pacific, which jumped 30 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

This contributed to a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus deaths overall, which climbed by 21 percent compared with last week, to more than 69,000. If these trends continue, WHO noted that the cumulative number of cases reported globally could exceed 200 million in the next two weeks.

Regionally, South-East Asia also reported an increase in new infections, albeit at a much lower rate of three percent, compared to the previous seven days. The number of new deaths increased in all regions apart from Europe, where fatalities were similar to the previous week.

WHO said that over the seven days, the highest number of new cases was reported in the United States, which saw more than half a million new infections, representing a skyrocketing 131 percent increase.

This was followed by Brazil – 324,334 new cases; Indonesia – 289,029 new cases; the United Kingdom – 282,920 new cases; and India – 265,836 new cases. The global total of 194,608,040 confirmed COVID-19 includes 4.1 million deaths.

EU helps channel humanitarian support to migrants in Lithuania

Following a request for assistance from Lithuania, the European Commission is helping European countries send support through the European Civil Protection Mechanism.

Lithuania asked for help following increased arrivals of migrants and asylum seekers coming from the Middle East and Africa and entering Lithuania via the border with Belarus.

Already 12 countries have offered support such as tents, beds, and generators. The Commission coordinates the delivery and finances up to 75% of the costs for transporting the assistance.

Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management said: “Lithuania’s border is an external EU border, which is currently experiencing an unprecedented influx of migrants and asylum seekers. These people, many of the vulnerable, need urgent support such as food and shelter. The European Union and the other Member States will not leave Lithuania in this difficult situation alone. Already many EU countries have offered support and we are ready to send more help as needed.”

Stepping up to meet low-income countries’ pandemic recovery needs

Low-income countries have been hard hit by the pandemic. Their large financing needs are only likely to grow as they deal with the crisis and its economic aftermath. The IMF has approved a far-reaching package of support that would expand their access to financial assistance at zero interest rates while providing stronger safeguards against taking on debt they cannot handle. For these efforts to succeed, economically stronger member countries will have to play their part.

A rapid, unprecedented response
The pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the economies of many low-income countries: output growth stopped or reversed, living standards declined, poverty increased, and a decade of solid progress is now threatened.

The IMF responded with unprecedented speed and scale. Financial assistance to 50 low-income countries reached $13 billion in 2020 compared to an average of $2 billion a year pre-pandemic: a more than sixfold increase. It also provided $739 million in grant-based debt service relief to 29 of its poorest and most vulnerable members.

Three-quarters of the new lending came from the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT)–the IMF’s vehicle for zero-interest loans to low-income countries. The lion’s share was in the form of emergency disbursements with limited conditionality focused on ensuring transparent use of the resources to address pandemic-related needs.

As they entered the pandemic with limited financial means, IMF assistance was crucial for many low-income countries to support lives and livelihoods.

DevelopmentAid Editorials


Pandemic viewed as impacting unevenly global trade

With travel and transport services being particularly affected, COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on the global trade of goods and services according to the WTO’s 2021 Annual ReportWTO member countries imposed restrictive measures which aimed to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic which, in turn, involved restrictions on trade although many of these measures were subsequently lifted by mid-October 2020.

Check the full article here.

South Africa’s protests: poverty, inequality and looting

If there is one word to currently describe South Africa, “chaos” would be appropriate. In recent weeks, protests have broken out across several provinces in South Africa triggering huge levels of robberies and burglaries and causing dozens of deaths.

Check the full article here.

Venezuelan migration crisis – overview

The number of Venezuelan migrants has recently reached another record, as this Latin American country is devastated by a humanitarian crisis, forcing increasingly more people to flee, mostly towards South, to other countries of the region.

Check the full article here.

Here’s what else has happened


Haiti: Even before President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in early July, the already politically unstable Caribbean country was in turmoil. Last year, it had to contend with COVID-19; Tropical Storm Laura, which killed dozens, damaged thousands of homes, and destroyed crops; and intensifying gang violence that has forced nearly 20,000 to flee.

USAID: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power helped to kick off the Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign at the Corporate Council on Africa’s U.S.-Africa Business Summit. As announced by Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director for Africa Dana L. Banks and reinforced by Department of Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo, the campaign is a targeted effort to elevate and energize the United States’ commitment to trade and investment with countries across the African continent under the Biden-Harris Administration.

COVID 19 in Thailand: Switzerland is helping Thailand to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Swiss Humanitarian Aid dispatched 100 respirators and more than a million antigen tests to Bangkok. The provision of this aid coincides with a tour of Southeast Asia by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis that will include a visit to Thailand.

UNICEF: UNICEF and Sinovac have signed a long-term agreement for the supply of the CoronaVac inactivated virus vaccine against COVID-19 on behalf of the COVAX Facility.

Reports


Full trade recovery at risk without equitable vaccine roll-out

The report highlights that world trade and output have recovered faster than expected since the second half of 2020, after falling sharply during the first wave of the pandemic. Strong monetary and fiscal policy support from governments, and the arrival of effective vaccines against COVID-19, have been important factors in the rebound. Leading indicators point to a sustained expansion of merchandise trade in the first half of 2021.

Travel & Tourism can help eradicate human trafficking

The report is released with support from the Carlson Family Foundation and builds on WTTC’s Human Trafficking Taskforce, which was launched in 2019 at its Global Summit in Seville, Spain. With its report ‘Preventing Human Trafficking: An Action Framework for the Travel & Tourism Sector, WTTC aims to strengthen cooperation across stakeholders and share best practices to raise awareness about how the sector can and does, make a difference, to proactively address this global crime.

Open trade policies vital to support growth in solar energy, highlights new booklet

Solar PV has become a pillar of low-carbon sustainable energy strategies, with the cost of electricity generated by PV plants declining by 77% between 2010 and 2018, according to the publication titled “Trading into a bright energy future: The case for open, high-quality solar PV markets”. Trade and the globalization of the solar PV market have been major factors in driving the decrease in the prices of the technology as manufacturers are better able to source goods and services from competitive suppliers.

Events


The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Solving Current Development Challenges: Opportunities and Risks | Webinar

📅 2 September 2021 🕒 3 PM (Brussels Time) / 9 AM (Washington DC Time)
Virtual

DevelopmentAid is inviting you to join for an exciting free webinar on The role of AI in solving current development challenges: opportunities and risks.

During the webinar, it will be possible to learn more about AI, its role in international development, and the associated risks and opportunities. Furthermore, due to the interactive nature of our online event, it will be possible to address specific questions to our speakers and build a constructive discussion.

Speakers

Zaki Khoury is a Senior Digital Development Specialist at the World Bank. His focus is on helping governments to advance their data-driven digital economy, providing thought leadership on enabling policies for digital infrastructure of the future (AI, 5G, Cloud), strengthening digital government platforms, and supporting investment operations in East Asia, Middle East, and Africa regions. He is an active leading contributor to the work on AI for Development and Data Governance knowledge initiatives. Dr. Khoury holds a PhD in Planning (UdeM), an MSc in Economics (UCL), and a BSc in Engineering (AU). He has also continued his executive education in Business (Harvard) and Management (McGill).

Katya Klinova is the Head of AI, Labor, and the Economy Programs at the Partnership on AI, where her work focuses on designing mechanisms for steering AI progress towards expansion of access to good jobs and improving working conditions along the AI supply chain. Prior to that, Katya’s worked at the UN Executive Office of the Secretary-General on preparing the launch of the Secretary General’s Strategy for New Technology, and at Google in a variety of managerial roles, where she was responsible for launching and driving worldwide adoption of Google’s early AI-enabled services. Katya holds an MPA in International Development from Harvard University, a B.Sc. cum laude in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from Rostov State University, and a Joint M.Sc. in Networks and Data Science from University of Reading, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, where she was a Mundus Scholar.

Host: Ion Ilasco, External Relations & Events, DevelopmentAid

Register for the webinar!

Trade beyond COVID-19: Building Resilience | Virtual

📅 28 – 30 September 2021
Virtual

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented health crisis with far-reaching socio-economic effects. It has increased poverty and deepened inequality across the world – with women, youth, and children the most affected. According to the ILO, global employment losses stood at 114 million jobs relative to 2019, with the highest number of losses affecting women (5% decline) and young workers (8.7%). Job losses and subsequent loss in income have had far-reaching consequences, including increased stress and mental illness, greater domestic violence, and fewer children going to school.

The World BioEconomy Forum 2021

📅 18 – 20 October
Pará, Brazil

The World BioEconomy Forum is pleased to announce that its Forum 2021 will be held in Belém, in the State of Pará, Brazil from 18 – 20 October 2021. Belém is located in the Amazon region of Brazil and will give the Forum the opportunity to highlight the region as of fundamental importance to the global circular bioeconomy. The event will bring together high-level speakers and experts from around the world highlighting Belém and the Amazon region for essential debate on sustainable development.