Monday, 29 June 2015


The chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Development, Linda McAvan, has warned nongovernmental organizations that they have “a lot of work to do over the summer” to ensure solid outcomes at the third International Conference on Financing for Development next month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“We know it’s going to be a battle to get agreement at Addis,” McAvan said at an event that Bond — a network of U.K.-based NGOs — held in London. “NGOs need to be lobbying their governments for a good outcome — both the ministers that went to the meeting of EU development and cooperation ministers recently in Brussels, and those going to Addis.”
At last month’s meeting in Brussels, development ministers set out the bloc’s position for July’s Addis conference. The ministers renewed their collective commitment to an official development assistance target of 0.7 percent of gross national income, but failed to support the European Parliament’s recommendation to achieve this by 2020.
Instead, the target deadline for the target was pushed back to 2030 — within the time frame of the post-2015 agenda.
“Britain lobbied hard for 2020, but NGOs and grass-roots organizations need to put pressure on ministers from other countries — particularly the French and German ministers — to help create the climate in which governments can take the necessary decisions,” McAvan said.
The DEVE chair also urged the development community to lobby the U.K. government to collaborate on resolving migration issues facing southern European states, which she said were otherwise unlikely to support Britain’s push to prioritize development aid over “firefighting” their economic crises and influx of asylum seekers by boat.
“The Italians, I can imagine, won’t be lectured by the U.K. about supporting the 0.7 percent target when they see the failure to solve problems around migration,” she told Devex. While Europe is trying to agree on a response to these migration issues, refugee camps have started developing in Italy and neighboring France.
Eliza Anyangwe (left) of the Guardian’s Global Development Professional’s
Network and Linda McAvan MEP (right), chair of the European Parliament’s
Committee on Development during a question-and-answer session at the
Bond #EYD2015 Breakfast. Photo by: Bond

“They have to be pushed,” McAvan stressed.
The development community therefore needs to “make some noise” and convey to the ministers that they will be made accountable for whatever they say and agree on in Addis — and that includes the migration issue.

The Bond event at EU House brought together academics and implementers to explore better ways of communicating development within the sector, and to policymakers — something Bond CEO Ben Jackson said was sorely needed. Given the economic crisis in Europe, he said there is “very real temptation” to turn inward and push for the “charity begins at home” mantra.
“It’s important as a community of NGOs that this refocuses our minds not just on the campaigning agenda and the policy change agenda, but also on the long-term, perhaps less glamorous work of just going out there and winning the case,” Jackson said.
McAvan agreed on the pressing need for development organizations to share research and impact findings with policymakers, especially ahead of the U.N. meetings in New York and Paris later this year.
“I often meet academics who are doing great work around issues like climate change, but when I ask what their plans are to share their findings with policymakers, they often say that’s not their job — their job is to do the research,” she said. “If this information stays within the academic world, it doesn’t get utilized.”
The DEVE chair said it was equally important for NGOs to push leaders toward signing up to stronger commitments on good governance.

“Not much work has been done on this because it’s a difficult issue diplomatically to talk about,” McAvan said, “but we have to have honest debates on why country X does better than country Y, how one government has improved development outcomes, and what was done to trigger those outcomes.”

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


The USAID office at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. USAID lifts IRD’s suspension
The U.S. Agency for International Development has lifted its suspension of International Relief and Development, the nonprofit placed under investigation in January for alleged financial misconduct.
Ben Edwards, USAID senior adviser and chief spokesman, told Devex that “an issue was raised when preparing to respond to [IRD’s] lawsuit.” Edwards told Devex USAID plans to correct the issue and re-conduct the review of IRD’s financial activities immediately.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 stipulates that “the suspension and debarment officer may not report to or be subject to the supervision of the acquisition office or the Inspector General,” the text of the law says. At the time of IRD’s suspension, the SDO was head of the Acquisitions Regulation Office.
USAID has taken the position that while it was technically compliant with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 at the time of IRD’s suspension, “in an effort to enhance and elevate the independent authority of the [suspension and debarment officer],” Edwards told Devex, it has moved the SDO to a different department and lifted IRD’s suspension.
It’s because of what legal experts who spoke with Devex describe as a “conflict of interest,” that USAID will re-conduct the review of IRD’s finances.
“In response to concerns raised about compliance with the NDAA,” Edwards told Devex, “USAID has decided to immediately conduct a new review of IRD’s ‘present responsibility’ to manage taxpayer funds.”
But having an SDO in acquisitions is not so uncommon, regardless of USAID’s interpretation of the law, according to Steven Shaw, senior counsel at Covington and Burling LLC and a former debarment and suspension official for the Department of the U.S. Air Force.
“If it’s your job to debar contractors who are not responsible, and it’s also your job to award contracts, in my view that’s definitely a conflict — but it’s true of a lot of agencies,” Shaw said.
USAID’s decision to move the SDO came two full years after the National Defense Authorization Act came into effect and only days after IRD filed a lawsuit against the agency. David Robbins, another former debarment official and Government Contracts Department Chair at Shulman Rogers LLC told Devex he feels confident that IRD’s actions spurred the agency to change tack.
“I haven’t heard, in my experience, of an organization filing a suit and actually changing where the officer sits,” Robbins said, adding that change in an agency following a complaint or lawsuit from one of its contractors is “extremely rare.”
“How often do you have an agency say, ‘We weren’t doing a good job’? It’s dramatic,” Robbins told Devex. “And if they follow through on it, it’s also very refreshing.”
In a letter seen by Devex addressed to IRD President and CEO Roger Ervin, USAID acting Assistant Administrator Clinton White wrote, “Just a few days before filing suit, IRD submitted additional information attempting to demonstrate present responsibility. USAID would like to fully review and consider that additional information. IRD is hereby requested to submit any supplemental information that it believes relevant to the matter of its present responsibility on or before June 29, 2015.”
Said Robbins of the potential likelihood of a second suspension: “Resuspending would be foolish and I don’t think they could do it again.”
In an email to Devex, IRD’s Ervin said the nonprofit was “focused on moving forward, serving beneficiaries and innovating for the future,” expressing his excitement about “doing more with less” and building a “very, very new business model previously unseen in the development sector.”  

Robbins suggested that the new investigation would likely take around a month.

Friday, 12 June 2015


By Ben Kangwa
Digitization is the current trend in broadcasting the world over, Zambia included. Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcasting is far more efficient, allowing better picture, clear sound quality and improved programme presentation.

 It is expected that DTT will have the potential to increase the amount and variety of television content. It will also afford the industry opportunities for interactive broadcasting as the television sets will now do much more than receive signals such as perform the tasks of computers and telephone handsets. This implies that TV sets will be able to provide access to the internet - add to the list, enhanced applications such as the electronic programme guides.

On the side of broadcasters, digital broadcasting equipment will enable the simultaneous transmission of a minimum of 20 Standard definition channels using MPEG 4 compression on one frequency that used to transmit only one programme or channel in the analogue transmission. In the case of Zambia, this shall mean that in each location in Zambia, one digital transmitter shall be capable of carrying all existing analogue channels from ZNBC , ZNBC TV2,  Muvi TV, MOBI TV, TBN, CBC and others simultaneously.

 For this reason, there will be no need for all broadcasters to have to put up their own transmitters, multiplexes and network. It is also worth noting that a sizeable number of people in Lusaka, the Copperbelt and Livingstone have been accessing Digital Terrestrial Television through GOtv services, which as we understand is an undertaking between ZNBC and Multi-Choice.

 Malolela Lusambo is Director of Technical Services at ZNBC and says, “The quality of the picture residents experience on the GOtv platform is basically the arrangement that Zambians will also enjoy, unless otherwise due to technical hitches, save for content.”
For this reason, various benefits of digital transmission make digital broadcasting imperative for television and radio. This is why the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) recommended, in the Regional Radio Communications Conference of 2006, also known as the RRC-06,that all countries were required to move to Digital Broadcasting by the year 2015.
 This conference also resolved that the (ITU) would not protect any anologue television broadcasting, meaning analogue TV signals will be susceptible to interference from different transmitters thus suggesting an Analogue Switch Off.

In order to regularly update Zambian stakeholders such as the Public and Private media on the implementation of Digital Terrestrial Television broadcasting transition, the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) organized a Stakeholders’ Meeting  at Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka themed ‘Digital Migration’ on 13th May, 2015. The workshop addressed Policy makers, Regulators, Broadcast Engineers, Broadcast Managers and officials from both Public and Private Broadcast Media.
 Power point presentations were made by the IBA, the Zambia Information and Communications Authority (ZICTA) the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC- the public broadcaster) and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services (MIBS) that suggested “Zambia will fully implement the first phase of Digital Terrestrial Migration along the Line of Rail and that other broadcasters would be able to transmit their content through ZNBC.”

It should be observed that the public broadcaster launched the Digital Terrestrial Television test transmission in January, 2015 at ZNBC, as a first step to mark the full roll out of Zambia’s digital process. The Second and Third Phases would be done at the same time - the installation of studio equipment at the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation and roll out of Digital Transmitters in the Provincial centres as well as areas beyond the Provincial Centres.

It is worth noting that as June 17, 2015 draws nearer, it will become increasingly important for the public broadcaster to respond to changes in the media environment much faster. The public broadcaster will certainly need to build ties with its audience by offering more services through a range of different platforms by ensuring that it reflects the views of its audience and show that it is accountable for its actions.

From a programmes creation point of view, Digital Terrestrial Television will create growth for local content production as well as skills development. Put simply, many channels for the public broadcaster will require more quality content and more skilled personnel to produce the content. More TV channels will also create an opportunity for the public broadcaster to tell the Zambian story across different platforms as in Business, Culture, Education, Health, News, Social Development and Sports.

With analogue “free” broadcasting on the way out, Pay TV providers have already timely rushed to fill the gap with a primary strategy of investing in local talent. Multi-Choice Zambia in March, 2015 organized a Producers’ Forum meeting at which M-Net Africa and DStv announced the launch of “Zambezi Magic”, a new channel that will showcase content from Malawi to Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia to use the platform as an opportunity for film makers and producers in the SADC region showcase their content.

 Mr. Ndelela Sichizya, Marketing Manager at DStv-Zambia says, “What we would like is for filmmakers to see this as an opportunity to showcase their content across the region and we are looking forward to a longer and more sustainable relationship with producers.”
The content offering is from M-Net Archive to introduce local content from across the SADC region as channel viewership grows and in light of the changing consumer preference that is gradually shifting from international to local content as well as the global shift from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television.
It should be mentioned that two years earlier, in 2013, Multi-Choice launched M-Net and Super Sport studios in Kenya to enable the two content providers download and upload content straight to South Africa for bouquet selection, while the first Africa Magic Channel, which has since grown to eight channels across Africa, and whose objective is to ensure local talent is harnessed and promoted on its channels, was pioneered in Nigeria in 2003.
In Zambia, the first commercial operation using the Digital Video Broadcast standard – DVB-T2 was rolled out in June 2011, in a partnership between GOtv, a product of Multi-Choice and the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, representing one of the most advanced Digital Terrestrial Television broadcast system and infrastructure in Africa. With it came a bouquet called GOtv Extra, offering Zambian television viewers access to 24 channels, including, among others SuperSport Select2, Telemundo and M-Net Movie Zones.

Not to be out done and left out in the competition, MUVI TV started offering two new channels in December 2013 and now offers a total of eleven channels. These are MUVI TV, MUVI Africa Unite, MUVI Nyimbo, MUVI Muviz, MUVI Prism Africa, MUVI Nkani, MUVI Combo, MUVI Bakadoli, MUVI Emmanuel, HC Zambia and MUVI Novela. The expansion of the eleven channels facilitates the provision of enhanced entertainment, religious and education programmes. They are beamed on the latest MPEG 4 decorders, preparing the station for Digital Terrestrial Television. CEO of MUVI TV Steve Nyirenda believes Digital Terrestrial Television will enable all homes in Zambia benefit from the  quality of Digital TV.
As the June17, 2015 deadline draws nearer, when all television broadcasters in Zambia will move to Digital Terrestrial Television, the television landscape will definitely move to the next level technically. Undoubtedly, this new situation will change the habits of the population. The latter have to equip themselves with television sets capable of receiving high quality picture and high quality sound. It will afford viewers more programming choice and more optimum utilization.

More channels will also mean more competition, more local content accessible via broadband internet and a mix of satellite free-to-air and TV bouquets as well as potential revenues and more skilled labour.
The writer is a Broadcast Journalist/Media Consultant

Saturday, 6 June 2015


At least four journalists have been attacked in Nigeria, and one forced to flee his state, in the past week, according to news reports and one of the journalists. The attacks occurred in the same week that the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote an open letter to new President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office on May 29, calling on him to take steps to ensure journalists are able to work freely without the fear of reprisal.
"President Muhammadu Buhari's administration has an early opportunity to follow through on its pledges to promote freedom of the press," said Peter Nkanga, CPJ's West Africa representative. "We urge authorities to immediately investigate these attacks and prosecute the perpetrators to the full extent of Nigerian law, sending a clear message that violence against journalists will not be tolerated."
Joseph Hir, a reporter for the independent Daily Trust newspaper, told CPJ he was forced to flee Nassarawa State on May 29 after he was attacked that day by individuals wearing shirts supportive of Umaru Tanko al-Makura, the re-elected governor of Nassarawa State, as the governor took his oath of office. Hir said that before he was attacked, he received phone calls from individuals he said were acquaintances of al-Makura who told him the governor was unhappy with a story Hir published on May 23. The story questioned the political relevance of Nassarawa State in the national affairs of Buhari's political party, the All Progressives Congress. Hir also said he was told by colleagues once he had fled that he should not to return to Nassarawa State.
Hir was beaten until he was comatose, news reports said. He was treated at a local hospital for bruises and injuries to his abdomen.
When called for comment, al-Makura told CPJ he would respond to questions via text message. CPJ's follow-up text messages seeking comment were not immediately answered.
On June 3, Kamarudeen Ogundele, a correspondent for the independent daily newspaper Punch, was beaten and his clothes torn by dozens of individuals he said were supporters of the governor of south-western Ekiti Stateand his political party, the People's Democratic Party, according to news reports. Ogundele said he had been taking photographs near the state parliament building of women praying for peace following an attempt by the PDP supporters to prevent lawmakers of Buhari's political party, the All Progressives Congress, from entering the building. Ogundele said he identified himself as a journalist but he was beaten, hit, and kicked until police intervened. He said his phone was seized in the attack.
The governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, later apologized for his supporters' actions and condemned the attack, according to news reports.
Victor Akinkuolie, a correspondent with the state-owned The Hope newspaper, said that police in Ondo State on June 2 beat him until he was comatose, according to news reports. Akinkuolie said he followed an alternate route after he saw a police car parked in the middle of the highway, disrupting traffic. He said officers followed him in their car, told him to stop and get out of his vehicle, and then beat him. According to the local news website Pulse, the attack was an attempt by police to "deal with" Akinkuolie, who has exposed police intimidation in the past.
A senior police officer at the local station said he would investigate the attack and ensure that appropriate action was taken, according to news reports.
On June 1, police attacked Muhammad Atta-Kafin-Dangi, the head of news for the state-broadcaster Radio Nigeria, after he covered a protest by commercial motorcycle riders in Gwagwalada, a suburb of the capital, Abuja, according to news reports. Kafin-Dangi said he was beaten, kicked, and pushed. He also said he showed his press card to the Gwagwalada police chief, who accused him of covering the protest without permission, news reports said. CPJ was unable to obtain contact information for the Gwagwalada police chief.
Buhari has pledged to take disciplinary steps against security officers who commit violations. On March 17, before the elections, he said in Abuja that if he won the presidency, "the Nigerian media will be free under our [All Progressives Congress] government." In a June 3 letter to Buhari, CPJ called on the president to follow through on public assurances he gave during his inauguration speech on May 29, in which he said he would ensure law enforcement authorities operated within the constitution.

Security forces are the most frequent perpetrators of violations against the press, according to the Lagos-based International Press Centre, which found that Nigerian police and security forces were responsible for 24 of at least 32 cases of attacks on journalists between November 2014 and February this year. No one has been brought to justice, the IPC said. CPJ has also documented physical attacks, threats, and intimidation of local and international journalists seeking to cover the news.

Friday, 5 June 2015


Humanitarian aid workers have long sought to spark reform within a sector resistant to change — one guided by bureaucratic international bodies criticized for being far removed from the people they’re designed to serve.

Volunteers unload from an aircraft humanitarian supplies

for Typhoon Haiyan victims in Guiuan, Philippine

Now, with the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, less than a year away, U.N. officials are taking a critical look at humanitarian finance mechanisms in an effort to redefine how humanitarian aid is designed and implemented.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month appointed a high-level panel on humanitarian financing that will analyze funding gaps and inefficiencies and submit recommendations for reform in November.
Is financing the key to meaningful change?
For at least a decade, humanitarian professionals have grappled with how to shorten country dependence on humanitarian aid, how to bolster local capacity for emergency response and how to bridge the gap between humanitarian and development work.
But despite efforts to spur significant change in the humanitarian sector — to guard against local reliance on multilateral and bilateral emergency funding — such challenges remain all too visible when disasters strike.
For the first time this year, total multilateral humanitarian funding requests could cross the $20 billion mark, said Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, chief of the policy development and studies branch at the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, this week in Washington, D.C..
That’s up from just $3 billion 11 years ago, the U.N. official added.
“Humanitarian aid … has become an internationally organized safety net for millions of people,” Strohmeyer said, speaking on the occasion of the Emerging Humanitarian Frontiers Conference at the American Red Cross headquarters.
The secretary-general noted last month that the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has more than doubled since 2004 to over 100 million.
In 2014 alone, the number of internally displaced persons was 11 million — more than the population of New York City, Strohmeyer added.
And the average humanitarian appeal is now up to seven years, according to the U.N. official.
“We need to be, from the outset, much more outcome and exit driven,” Strohmeyer said. “We have to redefine success. Success is not every year to generate more money and more services for the same people. That’s perpetuating [dependence].”
For Strohmeyer, financing is one critical component for much-needed shifts in policy.
“Humanitarian financing can affect some of that policy change that I don’t believe the system itself … is capable of,” Strohmeyer told Devex.
The U.N. official likened the current method of financing to a “junkie-dealer” relationship between humanitarian agencies and donors — a system that fosters too many vested interests and makes reform difficult to achieve despite widespread recognition of the need for a different approach.
Strohmeyer explained that the current humanitarian finance model provides funds for international organizations on behalf of a country, but that the country itself gets nothing. Strohmeyer also highlighted the fact that there is no conditionality on the funds — no requirement to have an exit strategy or a multiyear plan. For Strohmeyer, such a model is not sustainable.
Nigel Fisher, senior adviser for humanitarian policy and complex crises at The KonTerra Group, echoed this sentiment — stressing new risk factors that are adding to the demand for humanitarian aid, such as climate change, urbanization, pandemics and terrorism.
“[Such risk factors] are resulting in vastly increased vulnerabilities and needs, which we can’t meet by continuing business as usual. They’re straining our capacities, our credibility and our financing,” Fisher said during Monday’s conference.
What’s needed, according to Strohmeyer, are new financing facilities that provide accessible funds not only to international organizations, but also to local civil society and to local first responders. Such a model jives with the widely recognized idea that resilience building post-disaster or conflict requires the heavy participation of local partners. This is especially evident now in Nepal as that country rebuilds following a massive earthquake in April.
Conditions should also be attached to humanitarian funds, according to Strohmeyer, in order to ensure a multiyear strategy and an exit strategy.
Strohmeyer suggested that the United Nations would consider working with the World Bank to collaborate on such funding mechanisms.
For Fisher, the broader community of development professionals should play a role in communicating the capacities of local responders to deal with crises before disasters happen.
“We must find a way of persuading our development colleagues to catalog — before crises break out and as part of their standard operations — the capacities of [local organizations] … and to identify their needs for support and to strengthen their capacities,” Fisher said.
Regardless of how it’s accomplished, strengthening and understanding local resilience to crises could fundamentally change how humanitarian aid is carried out.

“If the international humanitarian community starts to get a better handle on such local capacities, we’ll be better able to distinguish where and how we need to intervene when crises arise,” Fisher said. “Perhaps in a major way. Perhaps in a lighter supportive role. Perhaps not at all.”

Wednesday, 3 June 2015


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — the world’s largest private foundation — will spend $776 million over the next six years to fight malnutrition, a strong signal of support for a historically underfunded sector, according to the foundation’s leaders.
A cook distributes lunch to students at the Young Tajudeen
Agbangudu Primary School in  Nigeria

Co-chair Melinda Gates announced the new pledge — and its accompanying new program strategy — Wednesday at the European Development Days, the European Commission’s development forum held annually in Brussels, Belgium. In her remarks, Gates highlighted nutrition’s chronic underrepresentation in global development budgets and called on other donors to step up their own commitments.
“I know of no other problem in the world that does so much damage yet receives so little attention,” Gates said.
Undernutrition is responsible for more than one-third of global child deaths. One in 4 children are stunted due to malnutrition, which means their bodies and cognitive functions never fully develop.
In recent years — and particularly since the food price crisis in 2008 spurred a wave of global food shortages — health and development experts have raised louder and louder alarms about a global nutrition problem, and donors have begun to reorient programming with nutrition interventions in a more central role. Still, according to Gates, less than 1 percent of global foreign aid spending goes toward nutrition.
“We have been no different from most other funders. We never paid enough attention to nutrition. That is changing today,” Gates said Wednesday.
Gates added the foundation’s commitment will “unlock even further resources” from a matching pledge issued by the United Kingdom. At the Nutrition for Growth conference Britain hosted in 2013, the government committed to match every 2 pounds in new funding for nutrition with 1 pound of its own, up to a maximum 280 million pounds — roughly $430 million.
“We are planning to take advantage of that commitment today and we encourage other donors to take them up on the offer, too,” Gates said.

Is nutrition’s identity crisis over?

For years it has been both a blessing and a curse that nutrition programs operate at the intersection of a number of different sectors, Shawn Baker, the Gates Foundation’s director of nutrition, told Devex at the Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, D.C., in April.
Health, agriculture, education and others play roles in building working food systems that deliver nutritious commodities to communities. That means nutrition programs can be relevant components to a wide range of public services — and budget lines. Yet while these other sectors are likely to enjoy political leadership at the national level, a “ministry of nutrition” is not something countries typically establish.
“If you’re not very purposeful about making sure that nutrition is an explicit part of their mandate, agenda and accountabilities, then it always becomes a niche intervention instead of a mainstream intervention,” Baker told Devex.
Within the Gates Foundation’s own organizational structure, nutrition programs previously worked “opportunistically” at the intersections of other programmatic priorities.
“Institutional positioning matters at any organization,” Baker said, and the foundation has made moves to reposition the sector within its programming.
Nutrition was previously not a director-level position, and Baker described the foundation’s nutrition portfolio as “one of the smallest program strategies” — significant since Gates aligns its budgets against its strategies. That changed about 18 months ago when Baker and others undertook a process to scale up the foundation’s ambition for its nutrition programs, culminating with Wednesday’s announcement in Brussels.
“Malnutrition is a quiet catastrophe. You can’t see it in the same way you can see diarrhea or malaria or pneumonia, or the other health problems that poor children face,” Gates said.
In many countries stunting levels are so high it becomes the norm, Baker told Devex.
“Families don’t recognize it. Communities don't recognize it. Decision-makers don’t recognize it. If you’re deficient in vitamin A or iron … it’s invisible,” he said.
The new strategy will focus initially in five countries where there is “a particularly large burden of malnutrition” — Gates listed Nigeria as one country where the foundation will roll out its new programs — and around two major goals: to increase coverage of proven interventions and to develop new ones through investments in upstream research.
“One thing we’re particularly excited about is much more purposeful collaboration with our agricultural colleagues,” Baker said, describing a joint body of work on improving food systems, to make food production more intentionally oriented to better nutrition.
“I think that’s quite a big shift for the foundation,” he added.
Gates’ new strategy will also look to improve the evidence base for nutrition interventions through support for a forthcoming Lancet series on breast-feeding, for example. The foundation will continue to play an advocacy role, engaging both with international donors to prioritize investments in nutrition, and also with high-burden countries to ensure their own domestic resources target nutrition improvements.
“The end game is really that domestic resources need to take up more and more of the burden of addressing these problems,” Baker said.

Food security and nutrition will be on the agenda this weekend at the G-7 summit in Germany, and with one month remaining until the Financing for Development Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Gates’ nutrition commitment, advocates hope, will be the first of many.

Monday, 1 June 2015


When Australia sets foot at the U.N. headquarters in New York next week for the annual conference discussing the rights of people with disabilities, it will come armed with a new six-year strategy.
Following the announcement of deep cuts to the Australian aid program, Canberra last week unveiled “Development for All 2015-2020,” its updated strategy to strengthen disability-inclusive development beyond 2015, focusing particularly on the Indo-Pacific region.
This strategy builds on the Australian aid program’s previous six-year disability policy, which ended in 2014. The first blueprint was recognized internationally for its innovation, and this new road map incorporates best practices and lessons learned from implementing the previous strategy.
There are three key focus areas under the new strategy, which together aim to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities in developing countries.
1. Enhanced empowerment, leadership and decision-making in community, government and the private sector.

2. Reduced poverty for people with disabilities.

3. Improved equality in all areas of public life, including service provision, education and employment.

“As well as focusing on inclusive education and infrastructure, the new strategy also considers inclusive humanitarian action and disaster risk reduction, and governance issues,” DFAT explained to Devex. “The strategy also recognizes the diversity among people with disabilities, and seeks to explore options for increased inclusion of people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities.”
While the new strategy focuses heavily on the Indo-Pacific region, in line with Australian aid policy, “the aim is to make aid investments across all country and regional programs as inclusive as possible and as opportunities arise,” DFAT clarified.
Sophie Plumridge, executive officer at the Australian Disability and Development Consortium, welcomed the new strategy. She said it made the important connection between the cycle of poverty and disability and gives people with disability and their representative organizations a strong voice.
“Australia is taking leadership in raising the profile of disability inclusion by working with people with disability and ensuring their voice is heard,” she told Devex. “Everyone has individual needs and the new strategy recognizes that disability is part of human diversity and people with disability can both benefit from and participate in development.”

Evidence-based policies and programs

Although Development for All is not a new policy, the strengthened strategy likely means DFAT implementing partners might have to deal with greater and more stringent requirements for proposals and reporting.
Making Performance Count,” the performance framework for Australian aid, already requires country and regional programs to ensure people with disabilities will have access to the same opportunities as others. Reporting requirements are however expected to have a stronger disability focus, following Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s announcement that one of the strategy’s goals is to improve data collection by “gathering reliable, internationally comparable data on people with disabilities.”
The performance indicators are still a work in progress, but DFAT said they will be developed and refined “for use as appropriate in country- and investment-level monitoring and evaluation frameworks.”
Despite the strong data focus in developing and managing the impact of Australia’s aid programs on people with disabilities, however, DFAT said public reporting of this information will be through traditional annual reports, midterm reviews and a final evaluation of the strategy.
“High-level findings will be publicly shared in DFAT’s ‘Performance of Australian Aid’ report. Major reviews on disability-inclusive development in the aid program, including a midterm review and final evaluation of the strategy, will be made available online when completed,” DFAT said.
But releasing information at a high level misses the opportunity for Australia to share its knowledge and experience with nongovernmental organizations, the private sector and international aid agencies.
“It is pleasing to see that the strategy will be reviewed and evaluated,” Plumridge said. “However, data and monitoring of all mainstream development programs is necessary to understand how investments are including people with disability.”

Converting a strategy into results

The release of the updated strategy, according to Plumridge, reinforces the notion that including people with disabilities in Australia’s aid program is essential to overcome poverty and address inequalities. The strategy, she noted, provides a good opportunity to continue investing in building the capacity of DFAT and the wider sector on disability-inclusive development.
A class for children with disability under The Inclusive Education
pilot program at the Ngele'ia Primary School in Tonga.

And while the promised ambassador for disability-inclusive development never materialized — Canberra announced in 2013 that it will be appointing the world’s first such ambassador — DFAT explained that “all Australian Ambassadors, high commissioners and diplomatic officers have a role in promoting disability-inclusive development as a policy priority for Australia’s international engagement.”“What’s encouraging is that we are moving away from asking why we should be including people with disability to how,” she told Devex.
The Australian government considers its role in advocating for people with disabilities in developing countries critical and will continue to sharing knowledge on the world forum.
“DFAT will engage internationally to share our experiences and advocate for greater attention to be given to disability issues by governments, donors, the private sector and multilateral organizations,” DFAT said.