Weekly Roundup | Top international development headlines

Weekly Roundup | Top international development headlines

Growing food insecurity in Haiti, millions at risk from cholera and fewer than half of UN aid convoys reached Gaza’s north. Here is what you missed from last week’s headlines in the international development sector.

Growing food insecurity in Haiti

Across Haiti, nearly half of the population – approximately 4.9 million people – are grappling with hunger levels that have reached or exceeded crisis levels. Weeks of unprecedented violence have closed the airport and shipping in Port Au Prince, paralyzing the nation’s capital and largest city and having devastating impacts throughout the country.

Food, fuel, and other essentials aren’t reaching markets, and hunger levels are rising across Haiti as fewer commodities arrive in Port-au-Prince for distribution nationwide.

Haiti imports between 50% to 85% of its food—depending on the crop, the season, and the situation on the ground—which means that thousands in this impoverished country are particularly vulnerable to inflation and price volatility in international markets. Even before the current crisis, inflation over the last two years reached 48% and it only continues to increase.

Weakness in the gourde, Haiti’s currency, and the additional costs of security mean consumer prices for major food products are significantly higher than in neighboring countries. While limited aid is making its way into the country by helicopter, that approach is not a long-term solution as it is extremely complex, expensive, and unsustainable.

Millions at risk from cholera due to lack of clean water, soap and toilets, and shortage of cholera vaccine

Immediate action is needed to stem an unprecedented multi-year upsurge in cholera cases worldwide, according to the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision. Actions include investing in access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene, testing and detecting outbreaks quickly, improving the quality of and access to healthcare, and fast-tracking additional production of affordable oral cholera vaccine (OCV) doses to better prevent cases.

The ICG manages the global cholera vaccine stockpile. The group includes the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent SocietiesMédecins Sans Frontières, UNICEF and WHOGavi, the Vaccine Alliance, finances the vaccine stockpile and the delivery of OCV. ICG members are calling for governments, donors, vaccine manufacturers, partners, and communities to join in an urgent effort to halt and reverse the rise in cholera.

Gaza: Less than 1 in 2 UN aid convoys allowed into northern zones this month

Less than half of the UN aid convoys planned for Gaza’s hunger-ravaged north have made it so far this month, despite repeated appeals from the international community to ramp up relief to more than one million people on the brink of starvation, UN humanitarians said.

In its latest update, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that the first two weeks of March saw just 11 out of 24 missions “facilitated” by Israeli authorities. “The rest were either denied or postponed,” OCHA continued, noting that five convoys were refused entry and eight were postponed.

“Facilitated missions primarily involved food distributions, nutrition and health assessments, and the delivery of supplies to hospitals,” OCHA said, repeating warnings that “humanitarian access constraints” continue to “severely affect the timely delivery of life-saving assistance, particularly to hundreds of thousands of people in northern Gaza”.

DevelopmentAid Editorials

Fact Chronicles | Addressing the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar

Myanmar’s descent into civil conflict, triggered by the post-election military coup on February 1, 2021, has plunged the nation into a deep humanitarian crisis. The coup led to the detention of prominent political figures including the head of state, Aung San Suu Kyi, and sparked nationwide protests that were met with violent suppression by the military. This tumultuous turn of events escalated into a full-scale civil conflict in this embattled Asian state with a population of nearly 55 million, resulting in widespread displacement, loss of life, and an ever-deepening humanitarian catastrophe.

The 2021 coup brought to an end a decade of reforms launched by democratically elected governments and the country returned to face the atrocities it had witnessed under its previous military government from 1962 to 2011 when massacres, discrimination, sexual violence, forced labor and displacement turned Myanmar into a poverty-stricken isolated nation.

Read the full article.

UNICEF struggles to help Zimbabwe to fight cholera and improve children’s welfare | Exclusive Interview

Zimbabwe is likely to face yet another tough year ahead as severe droughts have also been forecast for 2024. This is expected to further impact the quality of children’s nutrition, a troublesome issue now that over 80% of children have already been reported to lack sufficient vitamins and minerals for healthy development and growth. Coupled with the ongoing cholera outbreak, which has badly hit children aged under 5 and young people under 19, the situation is turning increasingly grim.

Against this backdrop, Dr. Alex Adjagba, the head of Health and Nutrition for UNICEF Zimbabwe, gave an exclusive interview to DevelopmentAid to provide first-hand insights into topical humanitarian issues and the contribution of UNICEF to improving the state of affairs during its more than 40 years of working in the country.

Read the full article.

The impact of population growth on sustainable development

A growing population can place stress on the environment, transportation, and the provision of natural resources like water, food, and energy in situations when governments fail to think strategically or are late to implement adequate adaptative reforms. The ineffective management of natural resources can result in their scarcity and environmental damage, both of which are detrimental to initiatives aimed at encouraging sustainable development.

Read the full article.

Here’s what else has happened

IFAD: In a significant move to address the triple COVID, conflict and climate crisis in the Sahel, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has established a Multi-Donor Funding Facility (MDFF) which will channel funding to the existing Joint Sahel Programme in Response to the Challenges of COVID-19, Conflict and Climate Change (SD3C).

UNOPS and World Bank: The project brings hope to communities affected by the war by rebuilding essential logistics infrastructure. UNOPS has delivered 12 sets of modular bridges, totaling a length of 475 meters, to the State Agency for Restoration and Development of Infrastructure of Ukraine.

EU and Norway: The EU and the Kingdom of Norway signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to launch a strategic partnership to develop sustainable land-based raw materials and battery value chains. This is an important building block and another tangible result of the EU-Norway Green Alliance, announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister of Norway Jonas Gahr Støre in April 2023.

IFRC: Mongolia is enduring its most severe winter in nearly half a century, grappling with the devastating effects of Dzud. Since November last year, extreme weather has enveloped 76% of the nation in White Dzud and Iron Dzud conditions. These conditions cover grazing areas with deep snow and ice, critically limiting access to food for livestock.


Water crises threaten world peace

The United Nations World Water Development Report 2024, published by UNESCO on behalf of UN-Water, highlights that tensions over water are exacerbating conflicts worldwide. To preserve peace, States must boost international cooperation and transboundary agreements.

Sustainable bond market posts strong growth in ASEAN+3 economies

The sustainable bond market of member economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Japan, and the Republic of Korea expanded by 29.3% last year, outpacing the 21% growth of the global and euro-area sustainable bond markets, according to a new report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Outstanding sustainable bonds in these economies, known collectively as ASEAN+3, reached $798.7 billion by the end of 2023 and accounted for around 20% of global sustainable bonds, according to the latest edition of Asia Bond Monitor, released.

UN report details ‘climate of fear’ in Russian occupied areas of Ukraine

Russia has instilled a pervasive atmosphere of fear in the occupied regions of Ukraine, perpetrating egregious violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in an attempt to cement its control, according to a new report from the UN human rights office, OHCHR, released.

Based on over 2,300 testimonies from victims and witnesses, the report details measures taken by Russia to impose Russian language, citizenship, laws, court system, and education curricula in the occupied areas, while at the same time suppressing expressions of Ukrainian culture and identity, and dismantling its governance and administrative systems.


EU Road Safety Conference 2024

📅 16 April 2024
Dublin, Ireland

The EU Road Safety Conference on 16 April 2024 is an opportunity to engage with EU Member State authorities and all stakeholders on the progress being made in implementing the Safe System approach and achieving the goal of halving road deaths by 2030.

In particular, it will allow participants to assess the state of play of road safety in the EU as we approach the mid-point of the EU Road Safety Policy Framework. It will also offer a forum for analysis and exchange between senior EU policymakers and the wider European road safety community.


Our Ocean 2024 Conference

📅 15- 17 April 2024
Greece, Athens

The ocean plays a key role in human existence; it is essential for survival and prosperity. It provides food, regulates the climate, and generates most of the oxygen the world breathes. It also serves much of the world’s economy, supporting sectors from tourism to fisheries and international shipping.


2024 Global Anti-Corruption & Integrity Forum

📅 26 – 27 March 2024
Paris, France

Democracies are under unprecedented internal and external pressures, and efforts to uphold integrity are more important than ever. Threats of foreign interference, the rise of artificial intelligence, and the speed and scale of climate change are giving rise to new corruption risks and increasing pressure on integrity frameworks.