Weekly roundup: Top international development headlines

04 April 2022

Weekly roundup: Top international development headlines

Why the Ukraine crisis will ripple well beyond Europe, the climate crisis and hunger, a third of the world remains totally unvaccinated against COVID. Here is what you missed from last week’s headlines in the international development sector:

Why the Ukraine crisis will ripple well beyond Europe

Thousands of lives have been lost, nearly four million refugees have fled fas cities, and neighborhoods are reduced to rubble. The human suffering in Ukraine has horrified the world as the needs of the innocent and the vulnerable are there for all to see.

But, this crisis will cause waves of need and deprivation in corners of the world far from Europe, in places you probably have not even considered, pushing the world’s hungriest further into crippling poverty. Conflicts remain a key driver of food insecurity in the world. The wider fallout of the crisis in Ukraine will be far-reaching and devastating, especially for countries dependent on food imports and aid, such as Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan.

The trouble doesn’t end there. The Ukraine crisis has magnified already rising fuel, fertilizer, and freight costs, and is estimated to double or triple the prices of staple foods. Dramatically increased prices of bread, rice, pasta, and cooking oil will force aid agencies, such as World Vision and the World Food Program, to source wheat from elsewhere at greatly inflated prices. With the extreme funding shortages across many humanitarian responses, aid organizations will be forced to make the impossible choice – which hungry child eats and which does not.

The true test of the human will be if the international community stands behind these millions of children at the risk of brutal death.

The climate crisis and hunger

2021 was the third-costliest year on record for climate-related disasters, totaling US$329 billion in economic losses and accounting for four mega- disasters with response costs of over US$ 20 billion.1 More frequent and intense droughts, floods, and storms were reported across the globe leading to widespread food insecurity, crippling agricultural production, devastating livelihoods, and forcing people from their homes.

At the same time, WFP supports communities to:

    • Anticipate climate hazards before they turn into disasters by using early warning systems to trigger pre-positioned financing for preventative action;
    • Restore degraded ecosystems that serve as natural shields against climate impacts;
    • Protect the most vulnerable with safety nets and insurance against climate extremes;
    • Energize schools and communities through access to cleaner cooking methods;
    • These solutions prioritize climate action in the most vulnerable and fragile contexts, accelerate adaptation solutions at scale and drive innovation at the nexus between humanitarian and development action. They also promote integration, recognizing that protection from climate impacts is most effective when multiple adaptation initiatives are combined.

In 2020, WFP implemented climate risk management solutions in 28 countries, benefiting more than six million people. As an experienced risk manager with extensive programmatic reach, WFP has the field presence and operational readiness to scale up protection against climate impacts for millions of people.

A third of the world remains totally unvaccinated against COVID

A third of the world’s population has yet to receive a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including a shocking 83 percent of all Africans, said the head of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The UN health agency chief laid out five strategic areas governments need to focus on, and invest in:

    • Surveillance, laboratories, and public health intelligence;
    • Vaccination, public health and social measures, and engaged communities;
    • Clinical care for COVID-19, and resilient health systems;
    • Research and development, and equitable access to tools and supplies;
    • And finally, coordination, as the response transitions from emergency mode to; long-term respiratory disease management.

Equitable vaccination remains the single most powerful tool at the world’s disposal, to save lives, Tedros reminded. Striving to vaccinate 70% of the population of every country remains essential for bringing the pandemic under control, with priority given to health workers, older people, and other at-risk groups.

DevelopmentAid Editorials

Could the war in Ukraine spark new epidemics of polio, COVID-19 and other diseases? | Experts’ Opinions

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dominates the informational space in the world, the second anniversary of the COVID-19 outbreak has passed by almost unnoticed. Undoubtedly, the war and the humanitarian crisis that accompanies it are dramatic and painful with over 3 million refugees having fled the warzone in the first three weeks of the war. However, before the attack was unleashed by Russia on February 24, 2022, Ukraine was dealing with what seemed to be a polio outbreak with one child paralyzed and another 19 having been infected.

Check the full article here.

Ten solutions to stop human trafficking

Human trafficking is a widespread yet hidden phenomenon that affects millions of children, women, and men of all ages. For some, this cruel practice brings billions of dollars in income while for others it brings pain, humiliation, and slavery. Being a woman or a child from a dysfunctional environment greatly increases the risk of becoming a victim of traffickers. For decades, humanity has fought human trafficking and, while reducing poverty is crucial to eradicate this practice, in modern societies it is becoming more and more challenging to fight the “demand”. What are some of the solutions that could bring an end to human trafficking?

Check the full article here.

Report Overview: The Global Philanthropy Environment Index 2022

Philanthropy refers to selfless acts of kindness that are intended to help others in need. It plays an important role in supporting global development efforts to alleviate the consequences of ongoing socio-economic challenges. The latest data on private philanthropy compiled by the OECD highlights that for the 2016 – 2019 period, the world’s largest 200 foundations channeled US$42.5 billion towards development efforts, an amount equal to the combined aid budgets of France and Germany in 2020. A recent report on the state of the global philanthropic ecosystem for the 2018-2020 period found that about 62% of all the economies analyzed have a favorable philanthropic environment compared to 60% for the previous three-year period. In this context, Northern Europe, North America, and Western Europe are the regions with the highest GPEI scores.

Check the full article here.

Here’s what else has happened

UK: The UK is set to commit a further £286 million of emergency UK aid to the Afghan people to provide life-saving food and emergency health support. The new money is announced ahead of the UN Afghanistan Conference, which will bring together international allies to raise vital funds for humanitarian aid, as well as protect women and girls and support stability in the region.

UN: Only a tiny proportion of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in developing countries, leading to a widening gap between rich and poor, says the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in a new study released this month.

EU: During the Afghanistan Pledging Conference, the Commission will announce €113 million in EU humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people, addressing the urgent needs in Afghanistan and the region. This includes €18 million allocated in Iran and Pakistan this year.


Political leaders and corporate titans put profit and power ahead of people, betraying promises for fair recovery from pandemic

Wealthy states colluded with corporate giants in 2021 to dupe people with empty slogans and false promises of a fair recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, in what amounts to one of the greatest betrayals of our times, said Amnesty International, as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. Amnesty International Report 2021/22: The State of the World’s Human Rights finds that these states, alongside corporate titans, have in fact driven deeper global inequality. It details root causes including noxious corporate greed and brutal national selfishness, as well as neglect of health and public infrastructure by governments around the world.

New OECD report shows loans to SMEs hit new heights during the pandemic, as small firms face renewed pressures during the recovery

A new OECD report, “Financing SMEs and Entrepreneurs 2022: An OECD Scoreboard” shows that outstanding SME loans increased significantly during the first year of the pandemic. The median stock of SME loans increased by 4.9%, the highest upturn registered since the OECD Scoreboard was created 10 years ago1. This was underpinned by a strong increase in government-provided loan guarantees (up 110% y-o-y in 2020), debt moratoria, as well as direct lending to SMEs (up by 17% y-o-y in 2020).

With 23 countries yet to fully reopen schools, education risks becoming ‘greatest divider’ as COVID-19 pandemic enters third year

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, 23 countries – home to around 405 million schoolchildren – are yet to fully open schools, with many schoolchildren at risk of dropping out, according to a new UNICEF report released.  Are children really learning? features country-level data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related school closures on children, as well as an updated analysis of the state of children’s learning before the pandemic. It points out that 147 million children missed more than half of their in-person schooling over the past 2 years. This amounts to 2 trillion hours of lost in-person learning globally.


Local Resilience to climate change and COVID-19: No one left behind in urban resilience building

📅 4 April 2022
Online/ Geneva

Cities around the world are battling the Covid-19 pandemic against a backdrop of various shocks, pressures, and rising vulnerabilities, all while attempting to prioritize justice, the economy, and climate action in their recovery strategies. Progress on sustainable development must be re-energized in the face of the worst global economic crisis in nearly a century. Now is the time for national and municipal governments to re-establish themselves as stronger, fairer, and more environmentally friendly than before.

Link for registration

Asia and the Pacific Transport Forum 2022

📅 5 – 7 April 2022
Sorrento, Italy

For the second time in the pandemic era, ADB is hosting Asia and the Pacific Transport Forum to discuss how transport will work in a changing world.

Link for registration.

Explore Opportunities in Audit, Investigations and Evaluation at the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) | Webinar

📅 6 April 2022 🕟 2 PM (Brussels Time)/ 8 AM (Washington DC Time)

DevelopmentAid, in collaboration with OIOS, invites you to join an exclusive outreach webinar on “Exploring Opportunities in Audit, Investigations and Evaluation at OIOS”. This session offers an exciting opportunity to learn more about the work of OIOS within the United Nations and to gain valuable insight into the process of becoming a competitive applicant. Join us for a panel discussion with our UN experts in the fields of audit, investigations, and evaluation from around the globe.

Link for registration

The Break COVID Now Summit

📅 8 April 2022

The Government of Germany will co-host a leader-level meeting aimed at helping raise at least US$ 5.2 billion in urgent financial support for COVAX, including US$ 3.8 billion in donor funding for lower-income countries supported by the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (Gavi COVAX AMC).