Tuesday, 28 July 2015


The United Kingdom’s aid budget may be sealed by law at 0.7 percent of gross national income, but the governing Conservative Party is looking beyond the country’s Department for International Development to make efficiency savings wherever aid goals aren’t being met.
U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Secretary of State George Osborne

Chancellor George Osborne told reporters last week that he intends to examine the increasing amount of aid coming out of departments other than DfID — including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and ministries of defense and education — to make sure U.K. aid, as he put it, is “really saving lives.”
In the midst of a governmentwide hiring freeze and stinging cuts to the domestic budget, concerns are mounting that DfID and other agencies could buckle under the pressure to administer the comparably hefty 0.7 percent allotted to foreign aid. Aid groups and DfID officials are largely supportive of Osborne’s call for increased scrutiny, hoping the measures will bridge the gap in oversight between DfID and other aid-administering departments, over which DfID has no jurisdiction.
“All U.K. aid, regardless of the government department that spends it, must be focused on poverty reduction,” Joanna Rea, head of public affairs at the Overseas Development Institute, a U.K.-based think tank, told Devex.
“A clear cross-Whitehall approach to international development would ensure that DfID can maintain oversight of aid spending in all government departments.”  
Osborne’s call for greater oversight comes as conservative media outlets across the U.K. take aim at aid, accusing the government of rushing money out the door to multilaterals like theGlobal Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis in order to reach the 0.7 percent goal. And there are ongoing allegations of questionable spending too, in particular directed at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The FCO has come under fire repeatedly in the past three years, notably for allegedly funding the construction of a water park in Morocco and hosting theater workshops in Ecuador.
“We welcome this review into overseas aid which builds on DfID’s relentless drive for value for money,” a DfID spokesperson wrote in an email to Devex.
“Whether through increasing ministerial oversight, reducing consultancy costs or inviting the private sector to compete for better results, we’re ensuring every pound is being spent as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
The last three years have seen an annual 1-2 percent increase in aid flows from non-DfID departments, Rea and others told Devex, most recently with aid funds moved into capital spending.
At the same time, sources at Publish What You Fund added that there is disputing evidence of whether aid has become more fragmented across departments and to what degree, but acknowledged it is a valid concern in the development community. DfID oversees around $17 billion annually, while the FCO controls around $543 million.
“The U.K. has reached its aid target, which is a real achievement, but we need to refocus now on improving the effectiveness of U.K. aid spending,” Amy Dodd, director of the U.K. Aid Network told Devex.
“This means a hard look at how aid-spending departments perform, ensuring that they are held to the same high development standards as DfID and improving the coherence of development work across government.”
The problem of coordinating oversight of all aid spending is a recurring concern for members of the U.K. aid community, many of whom hope DfID will take the wheel in administering aid across the government.
Alison Evans, chief at the Independent Commission for Aid Impact alluded early this month to a strong potential for “turf wars” between departments over aid spending. “If you’ve got a department that is essentially sitting on a ringfenced budget of that nature that’s been written into law, they absolutely have to take the leadership on this,” she said, speaking to the Guardian.
“Without a very clear strategic vision for how official development assistance needs to be delivered in the U.K., there’s going to be potential possibly for some loss of turf,” she said.
Justine Greening, the U.K.’s secretary of state for development expressed frustration in June over the FCO’s choice of projects, which subsequently led Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to initiate an investigation into his department’s aid spending.
Despite broad consensus around the issue of aid effectiveness, Osborne’s pledge to ensure U.K. aid is “saving lives” has some in the global development community worried about how the government will assess its aid efforts.
“There are some contexts in which it is easier to demonstrate ‘saving lives’ than in others, but putting figures to this can be tricky,” Farah Nazeer, director of policy and campaigns atBond — a U.K. membership body for nongovernmental organizations — told Devex.
“It is easier to show the ‘improvement in people’s lives’ which is what most aid spending does,” Nazeer said. “For more entrenched issues such as influencing a government policy or international climate negotiations to bring about institutional change, then this becomes more challenging.”
Officials from several U.K.-based development organizations told Devex that while the measures posed little to no immediate threat to their own budgets, there is concern that the cost-cutting ethos could spill over into an upcoming review of the government’s partnerships with CSOs.

Worries that increased government pressure on aid efficiency could miss the nuances of aid effectiveness come just as Greening announces the terms for the forthcoming Civil Society Partnership Review, a DfID-led assessment of CSOs engaged with the U.K. on implementing foreign aid projects.

Friday, 24 July 2015


The Ebola crisis in West Africa thrust health systems into the spotlight. But spotlights have a tendency to move quickly, from one front-page priority to the next.
Patients and medical staff at the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Guatemala.
Public opinion has a big role to play in focusing attention. Strengthening health systems and preventing future epidemics are goals more likely to rise on the political agenda when citizens in donor countries think they are important. A new poll commissioned by the World Bank suggests that’s exactly what people think.
Ebola has faded from the headlines, and many within the global health community feared public support for epidemic prevention would decline alongside infection statistics. Rarely has a disease ever shed such clear light on the systemic factors of a health disaster, and global health professionals seized the opportunity to press for health systems investment in under-resourced countries.
But as has been the case with many outbreaks in history, success in combating crisis can be its own worst enemy. The crisis ends, and so does the attention to it — but maybe not this time.
According to the World Bank-commissioned poll carried out last month by the consulting firm Greenberg Quinian Rosner Research in France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, the majority of respondents support investments in health systems in developing countries in order to prevent the spread of future pandemics.
The poll surveyed 4,000 people across the five donor countries. It included participants from the general public as well as so-called opinion elites — those with university degrees who closely follow global news.
Eighty percent of elites and 77 percent of total participants felt investments in clinics and medical personnel in developing countries help prevent the spread of epidemics to their own countries. Two-thirds of elites and 58 percent of total participants felt that in order to protect their countries from future pandemics, their governments need to invest in developing countries. And 76 percent of elites and 69 percent of total participants said investing in health care in developing countries saves the world money by containing or preventing epidemics.
“We find these findings extremely important,” Tim Evans, senior director for the Health, Nutrition, and Population Global Practice at the World Bank, told journalists Wednesday.
Evans explained that understanding how the public perceives infectious disease threats is critical when approaching policymakers about financing.
“I think these results suggest the public would support policymakers — and those who make decisions on finances — to have a more continuous, focused look at these episodic events,” he said.
In addition to suggesting public opinion remains favorable to health systems strengthening, the poll showed that respondents are concerned about future disease outbreaks and believe their own countries and the international community at large is not well-prepared enough to respond.
In a list of 10 global concerns, “global health and epidemics” ranked behind only “terrorism” and “global climate change.”
“This survey shows that the public sees global infectious disease outbreaks as a serious threat, and they want leaders to take action to prepare for the next potentially deadly epidemic,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said.
Donors have directed funds to health systems strengthening in Ebola-ravaged West Africa. The United Nations established a High-Level Panel on the Global Response to Health Crises, and the World Bank, World Health Organization and others have partnered on a Pandemic Emergency Facility.

As attention shifts toward the sustainable development goals — and how the international community can finance their implementation — public opinion could prove a valuable piece of supporting evidence to wield. For the time being, health systems strengthening continues to pass the popularity test.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


The recent progress report on neglected tropical diseases confirms what all development actors know yet few do: country ownership leads to success and sustainability.
The progress report on NTDs shows country leadership means
greater sustainability

In 2008, Square Mkwanda found himself in a quandary: international pharmaceutical companies had just donated millions of dollars worth of drugs to treat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in his native Malawi but the civil servant had no money to distribute them and they were stockpiling in the ministry of health’s warehouses. “I thought, what am I going to tell pharmaceutical companies? That I let billions of kwachas’ [Malawi’s currency] worth of drugs expire because we couldn’t spend just a few millions to distribute them?”
So he talked to his minister of health and they managed to free up enough funds to distribute the drugs in eight districts. By 2009, the distribution programme had reached all 26 districts and was entirely funded by Malawi. Seven years on, Mkwanda, who is the lymphatic filariasis (LF) and NTD coordinator at Malawi’s ministry of health, proudly announced that Malawi has interrupted transmission of LF (pdf), the second country in Africa to do so.
Leadership like that demonstrated by Malawi was one of the key themes in thethird progress report of the London declaration on NTDs, produced by the consortium Uniting to Combat NTDs and released at the end of June. The report said: “Endemic countries are demonstrating strong ownership and leadership, in variable financial, political and environmental circumstances, to ensure their NTD programs are successful in meeting 2020 targets. Countries are achieving elimination goals, more people are being reached, and the drug donation program for NTDs, the largest public health drug donation program in the world, continues to grow.”
In the wake of the Ebola crisis and in preparation for the sustainable development goals, these success stories are important best practice examples for the global health community as it rethinks how to effectively deliver sustainable programmes. Recognising the opportunities for lessons learned, the World Health Organisation called the elimination and control of NTDs a “litmus test for universal health coverage (UHC)” – one of the targets of the new development agenda.
Other countries are joining Malawi to take charge of their public health initiatives. Bangladesh, the Philippines and India are now financing 85%, 94% and 100% of their NTD programmes respectively. Motivated by growing evidence of the impact of NTDs on child development and productivity (and as a result on economic growth) 26 endemic countries met in December 2014 to sign the Addis Ababa NTD Commitment, in which they agreed to increase domestic investment for NTD programme implementation. The Addis commitment was an initiative of Ethiopia’s minister of health Kesetebirhan Admasu. Explaining why more governments are showing interest in this work, Admasu said: “NTDs are not only a health agenda, but a development agenda too, for which the poor pay the highest price.”
These country-owned programmes come in different guises but at the heart of every successful one is an integrated, multi-sectoral approach. Ethiopia for instance requires that every partner working on trachoma implement the fullSAFE strategy – Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial Hygiene, Environmental Improvements – and not just the ‘S’ or ‘A’, on which development programmes tend to focus.
Brazil decided to include NTDs in its national poverty reduction programme, which has other development targets such as education, water and sanitation. Municipalities, who implement the programme, are given free rein to tailor interventions to best suit their circumstances (a peri-urban municipality would have different issues from an Amazonian location for instance). 
Other countries used the single funded programme they had – onchocerciasis in Burundi’s case – as the building block to a fully integrated, multi-disease programme. There the ministry of health put in place a dedicated NTD team and worked with national and international partners to build a national programme that has been immensely successful. By end of the programme in 2011, national prevalence of schistosomiasis had been reduced from 12% to 1.4%. 
Country ownership doesn’t just encourage policymakers to come up with strategies to reach their entire populations with health interventions but it also enables them to practice good resource management. Mkwanda says that NTDs brought good discipline at the ministry of health. “As with NTDs, we sit and budget. And we do not segregate diseases – integration isn’t just for NTDs, it’s for the whole essential care package.” 

The story gets even better as countries in the global south, such as Brazil and Nigeria, are not just coming up with their own programmes but also funding others’. Marcia de Souza Lima, deputy director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases says the new funding streams will guarantee that NTD programmes outlive traditional support (a large proportion from philanthropic foundations) but she concedes it also makes them susceptible to leadership change – although recent elections in Brazil and Nigeria suggest this hasn’t been the case. 

Friday, 17 July 2015


By Ben Kangwa

The 2015 Zambia International Trade Fair was held in Ndola between the 1st to the 7th of July, 2015. The theme for the 51st Fair was “Prosperity through Business Reforms and Linkages”. Sixteen foreign countries had confirmed their participation in the show. The countries included China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Japan, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The Trade Fair was officiated by President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Edgar C. Lungu and his Kenyan counterpart His Excellency, President Uhuru Kenyatta on 4th July, 2015.

On the sidelines, the Zambia International Trade Fair partnered with the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) to host the second Business Forum, the first of which was held in 2014. The Forum was highly interactive and dynamic whose plenary sessions were enriched with presentations, inputs from government, private sector and expert perspectives.

 The Forum brought together policy makers, business Chief Executive Officers, diplomats and participants from Non-Governmental Organizations to interact and debate issues and in so doing create a business networking environment. Topics and discussions anchored by this writer included marketing, banking, business, investment, infrastructure, energy and education. Segments of discussion were sponsored and supported by Stanbic Bank, the Energy Regulation Board and the Zambia State Insurance Corporation and other Cooperating partners.

 At a panel discussion session themed “National Prosperity Through a Transformed Public Private Relationship: Moving Zambia Forward”, on 2nd July, 2015, at which Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Margaret Mwanakatwe officiated, she  said, “This Forum provides me and colleagues from Government with an opportunity to interact and exchange views with you the business community at large. You will agree with me that it is through such valuable platforms that networks are created among the business community, regulators and service providers.”

She told her audience that the Government was making strides in providing an enabling business environment and that it had embarked on programmes aimed at reducing the costs of doing business through the implementation of various business reforms. Notable was the “Industrialization and Job Creation Strategy which, she said, “is aimed at transforming the industrial sector and would create more than one million formal jobs in the next five years. Further, she revealed that her Ministry was in the process of reviewing the Commercial, Trade and Industrial Policy in order to come up with two separate policy documents namely the Industrial Policy and the Commercial and Trade Policy in line with international best practices that will ensure that industry and trade issues are comprehensively addressed.

“In this regard, my Ministry has since developed a zero draft Industrial Policy that has since been subjected to stakeholder consultation before finalization. The review of the Trade Policy is ongoing and will be completed soon,” she added.

Indeed, the conference also provided a platform for experience sharing by international speakers such as Professor Kenneth Mwenda who is Program Manager and Executive Head of the Voice Secondment Program at the World Bank in Washington DC. In his paper “Public-Private Partnerships: The Case Of Zambia”, Professor Mwenda observed that PPPs are typically medium to long term arrangements between the public and private sectors whereby some of the service obligations of the public sector are provided by the private sector, with clear agreement on shared objectives for delivery of public infrastructure or public services.
He further observed that since the PPP Act of 2009 was enacted, according to the Zambia Development Agency on its website dated January 2014, “there has only been one PPP Agreement signed between Government and the private sector.” And that the agreement was for the Redevelopment of Long Acres Lodge into a Five-Star Hotel, a shopping Mall, Conference centre, Office Complex and related infrastructure. The agreement was signed with Thuthuka Group International of South Africa.

In his presentation, Professor Mwenda also said although the political leadership in Zambia had made pronouncements and expressed desire and optimism to use the PPP arrangement to deliver public infrastructure and services, the country required political champions to drive the PPP agenda.

The Professor also gave examples of PPPs in Zambia in the Health Sector citing the Ultra-modern Center of Excellency Hospital in Lusaka and the three Diagnostic Health Facilities in Lusaka, Livingstone and on the Copperbelt.
The Transport Sector included the E-Governance programme, the Chingola-Solwezi-Lumwana-Jimbe Railway line, the Kazungula-Livingstone railway spur, the Nseluka-Mpulungu railway spur and the Tazara line in Chipata. Others mentioned were the Solwezi via Kasempa-Kaoma-Mongu to Katima Mulilo road, Njanji commuter, operation of train services between Chipata and Mchinji and the Kafue Lions Den.
In the Agriculture Sector, he mentioned the development of Kalumwanga Farming Block as well as the development of the Luena Farming Block while in the Energy Sector was the development of Kabompo mini-hydro, Kalungwishi and Mombututu mini-hydros.

From his perspective, the Director in charge of PPP at the Zambia Development Agency, Henry Sakala  first gave a historical background of the previous PPPs as in Zambia Railways which was concessioned to Railway Systems of Zambia, the Mpulungu Harbour which was concessioned to Agro-Fuel and the Lubarma Market which was concession by the Lusaka City Council. He also informed the audience that the current PPP Projects include the Itezhi Tezhi Hydro Power between Tata and Zesco which is expected to produce 120 MW of power, the Kafue Gorge Lower being promoted by Zesco and is expected to produce 750 MW of power. Other projects include Major Trunk Roads, for instance Livingstone-Kafue, the Chirundu-Kafue-Lusaka Road and the Lusaka Ndola road which have been advertised by the Road Development Agency (RDA) to make dual carriage ways and then be tolled. He also mentioned that the Zambia International trade Fair would be turned into an ultra- modern facility to allow continuous year round activities.

During the question and answer segment  as to what the benefits of Public Private Partnerships are in infrastructure development, the PPP Director said PPPs could help create more jobs in infrastructure and related services, adding, “Infrastructure investments has the potential to create more jobs quickly while providing a foundation for future economic growth and employment. He further said PPPs could also help develop local private sector capabilities through joint ownership and that they could create  sub-contracting opportunities for local firms in areas such as civil works. The Stanbic Bank CEO Charles Mudiwa explained all about Risk Management Process in banking and how the economic climate and markets can be affected by exchange rates and interest rates. He mentioned that banks such as Stanbic Bank were willing to engage with business partners where possible.

As for Rob Stokes, a leading South African entrepreneur who is a founder and group Chief Executive Officer of Quirk SA who was also a speaker on a topic specifically titled “Marketing”, he confidently spoke about the role of Digital Marketing Strategy, Market Research, Content Market Strategy, Social Media, On-line Advertising in promoting business. Earlier, he gave a background of how he started his business into one of the largest Marketing Services Groups on the African continent.
Much later, Marius Krige, a South African expert involved with Information Technology and Finance Services for more than 20 years, also gave a talk  entitled “Harnessing the changes in the Financial Services: the Good, the Great and the Ugly of Technology Integration.” He focused on the impact and role of IT in shaping and changing various payment strategies and products.

On the panel was the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) Director of Technology and Engineering Patrick Mutimushi, Fabian Hara Regional Manager at the Bank of Zambia based in Ndola and Leonard Mwanza from the Bankers Association of Zambia. Following this discussion was yet a presentation by the Bank of Zambia Deputy Governor in charge of Operations Dr. Bwalya Ngándu on the topic “Are Banks Meeting the needs of Corporate Zambia?” The two discussions were timely and drew a lot of questions from the audience during the question and answer segments.
The presentations were later followed by an interesting discussion on Energy. The title was, “Transforming the Energy Sector”. In his submission, Zesco Senior Manager- Patrick Mwila submitted that the current load shedding in the country was as a result of the lower water levels at the Kariba Dam and Itezhi- Tezhi that were affecting power generation.
Energy expert Andrew Kamanga on the same discussion empathized with Zesco on the water level situation but stated that it was time to look at non-hydro- power investments to enhance the security supply of power that would enable the country have a fall- back position. He said renewable energy would address some of the energy challenges the country was facing.

“With only three percent of the rural population and less than half of the urban population connected to the national power grid, we are seriously facing enormous energy challenges as a country that are in turn making us back track in development, “he said.
Director Economic Regulation at the Energy Regulation Board Alfred Mwila who first gave an overview of the Energy Regulation in Africa, in the SADC Region and finally in Zambia. He also noted that Zambia and neighbouring countries had for some time been facing challenges in meeting energy requirements thereby implementing load shedding.
The Business Forum also hosted discussions on the “Role of Education in Economic Development” whose session was addressed by the Permanent Secretary Education, Science, Technology Vocational Training and Early Education, Dr. Patrick Nkanza. The discussants included Zambia Chamber of Mines Industry Training Manager, Francis Mulimbika, Zambia Qualifications Authority (ZQA) Chief Executive Officer, Miriam Chiyaba, Director General of the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA), David Chakonta and Higher Education Authoritry (HEA) Interim Director General, Emmanuel Lutelo.

All said and done, the ZITF Business Forum was quite informative and educative as it provided a platform for policy makers, business executives, academicians, NGOs and diplomats to share ideas and experiences in a manner that encouraged networking. As Patrick Chisanga,the Board Member of the ZITF as well as Director-General of the Zambia Development Agency put it, “The Forum has been successful and it is our intention to make it much better next year.”

The writer is a Broadcast Journalist/Media Consultant


For aid for trade advocates, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the third International Conference on Financing for Development is likely welcome news — it mentions trade 53 times and includes a section on the importance of trade in reducing poverty.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, World Trade Organization
Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development Secretary-General Angel Gurría at day
one of the fifth Global Review of Aid for Trade held from
June 30 to July 2 in Geneva, Switzerland.

When many of those working on aid for trade issues gathered at the start of this month in Geneva, Switzerland, for the fifth Global Review on Aid for Trade, it was seen as a critical moment to rally people behind the issue and carry that momentum through to the summits in Addis Ababa, New York and Paris. Addis seems to have been an important next step.
“It’s important in a way go back to basics,” said Arancha Gonzalez, the executive director of the International Trade Center. “Trade is a bit forgotten in the big discussion. … What I sense is people all of a sudden realized here we have a great means of achieving this goal of eradicating poverty” in a way that is fiscally responsible and can combine traditional official development assistance with the private sector and domestic resource mobilization.
When about 1,000 government, donor, NGO, private sector and other representatives gathered in Geneva for the Global Review, the goal was not to create an outcome document but rather to share best practices and lessons learned to tackle the challenge of trade barriers and find ways to unleash some of that income. It was also set to serve as something of a rallying moment and reactions to the events seem to be mostly positive.
“Clearly, to travel along the path of inclusive, sustainable growth, we must do more to bring down high and excessive trade costs,” World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevedo said.
And why are trade costs important?
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that trade costs are up to 17.5 percent higher due to poor or inadequate border procedures that restrict trade. According to OECD estimates, even a 1 percent reduction in global trade costs would increase worldwide income by more than $40 billion, most of which would go to developing countries.


While the goal wasn’t a negotiated document, the Global Review did play host to several announcements and donor commitments.
Australia released its newest aid for trade strategy, which included a commitment to spend 20 percent of its aid budget over the next five years on aid for trade.
The U.S. Agency of International Development and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative meanwhile announced that it would help form the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation — an international public-private sector coalition designed to streamline border management in developing countries as part of the implementation of the new WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. Concluded at the ninth WTO ministerial conference in Bali, the TFA was amended late last year to allow members to “formally accept” the agreement through domestic legislative processes.
The alliance will formally launch in December at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
The United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, UPS, Samsung and the Borderless Alliance have all signed on, and the International Chamber of Commerce, the World Economic Forum and theCenter for International Private Enterprise will host the alliance in its early stages.
“WTO member governments cannot implement the TFA alone,” USAID Associate Administrator Eric Postel said in a statement. “They need to forge new approaches to fully deliver on the vast potential of streamlining border management. One critical new approach to this is partnering with the private sector.”
The alliance will create a framework for international and local businesses, especially small and midsize businesses, to partner with government to create and implement trade facilitation reforms.
The WTO launched a new phase of the Enhanced Integrated Framework, with help from a donation from Norway, that will allow the body to continue to support the least-developed countries. A pledging conference for the EIF will be held in Nairobi at the start of the ministerial.
The bolstering of the EIF is important because there has been “huge” interest from LDCs to invest more into trade capacity building and develop their trade potential, Gonzalez said. When the first Global Review was held, LDCs were much less aware about the role of using trade as a tool to tackle poverty than they are today.
In following the discussions, several key themes emerged — a greater focus than ever before on women’s economic empowerment and reducing trade barriers for women, and as Gonzalez indicated, an emphasis on improving trade in the least-developed countries.
The conference “was granular, which is good because we need to make sure the palette of options ahead of policymakers and companies is varied,” Gonzalez said.

Work ahead

Trade has often been a contentious issue for the development community in the past, especially when it comes to dedicating public monies to what some have said is the purview of the private sector. But it seems a shift in attitudes is underway, with trade likely to play a key role in the post-2015 agenda planning and implementation.
However, there is still a lot of work to do not only to change attitudes and prove the worth of aid investments in trade, but also to ensure implementation of the policies on a local and global level.
In his remarks at the Global Review, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said promoting freer and more inclusive trade is a critical part of the bank’s plan to end extreme poverty, a policy perspective that marks a personal shift for him.
“I say this knowing that, for some, the argument that trade helps the poor has been controversial,” he said. “Yet our best evidence suggests that, when countries are effectively integrated into regional and global markets, their poorest citizens can reap substantial benefits.”
The two critical objectives that must be included to ensure that the poor benefit are expanding opportunities for low- and middle-income countries to participate and reducing trade costs. Among the lessons the community has learned is that trade benefits countries when it creates ways for their poorest citizens to connect to global markets.
It’s not only about global markets — regional markets can present significant opportunities. But nontariff barriers often slow business or make trade prohibitively expensive for small enterprises.
The Borderless Alliance, which works to increase trade across West Africa by harmonizing trade rules, reducing delays and lowering costs of doing business across the region, is working to tackle nontariff barriers and encourage implementation of existing policies.
Its co-founder and re-elected president, Ziad Hamoui, said that while economic communities in West Africa often have a set of common policies and directives, these aren’t implemented in practice.
The Borderless Alliance has found that bringing together businesses and government representatives helps push progress forward. It also runs initiatives to reduce nontariff barriers, including border information centers and tariff barrier-reporting websites. Recently, it has been working on professionalizing the trucking industry, which Hamoui said should reduce some of the existing challenges as well.
A lot of the future investment, policy changes and government commitments hinge on the implementation of the TFA at the December ministerial. Two-thirds of WTO members must ratify the agreement for it to go into force, and while efforts are underway, it appears too early to know if the target will be met.
The ITC is supporting 40 countries that have requested help to move forward with ratification to implement the agreement.

“Aid for trade is delivering, but as with any such initiative, we need to remain flexible and open-minded about how it can do more, and what the future priorities should be,” WTO’s Azevedo said in a statement at the Global Review.

Thursday, 16 July 2015


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the Global Civil Society
Forum held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
This week, the United Nations is holding the third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. One of the major development conferences this year, Addis will likely see new initiatives, commitments and partnerships all geared toward its overarching goal: finance the sustainable development goals.
Devex is on the ground at the headquarters of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, talking to high-level representatives from donor agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector. We’ll provide continuing updates on the buzz from the weeklong meetings on this running blog, so check back regularly.

What we know so far:

● The Addis Tax Initiative is launched to support domestic resource mobilization.
● The ONE Campaign is launching data.org.
● The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commits to creating a Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance Network, or CHAMPS, as well as building a Global Health Analytics Platform.
● The European Union joins Power Africa, and pledges to allocate 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion) in grants from the 2014-2020 budget to support power generation and electricity access across sub-Saharan Africa.
● The Islamic Development Bank has increased funding for activities related to the SDGs to $150 billion in the next 15 years, almost double the amount it spent for the MDGs.
● The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data will be launched, and the United States will be a founding member.
● The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and U.N. Development Program launched a new initiative that will provide tax audit assistance to developing countries.
● The World Bank and International Monetary Fund announced a joint initiative aimed at strengthening tax systems in developing countries. Civil society organizations meanwhile are wary that the creation of an intergovernmental regulatory body on taxes may not materialize.
● Major international financial institutions announced plans to make $400 billion available in the next three years to finance sustainable development goals.
● The Gates Foundation committed $75 million to the World Bank-managed Global Financing Facility Trust Fund to tackle maternal and child health. This and additional commitments by other bilateral donors bring total mobilized resources for the cause under GFF to $12 billion.
● Canada invests $40 million to jump-start a new partnership between GFF and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which aims to mobilize private sector resources for maternal, newborn and child health.


10:38 p.m., July 15
An agreement has been reached
After a lengthy debate into the night an agreement has been reached at the third International Conference on Financing for Development. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was agreed to by the 193 U.N. member states in attendance.
The United Nations called the agreement a “milestone in forging an enhanced global partnership” in a statement, but civil society didn’t quite see it that way.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that the agreement is a critical step forward.
“The results here in Addis Ababa give us the foundation of a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development that will leave no one behind,” he said in the statement.
Members of civil society are disagreeing with that assessment.
The Action Agenda contains more than 100 concrete measures and addresses multiple sources of finance and covers a range of issues, including technology, science, innovation, trade and capacity building.
Among the key issues highlighted in the document are commitments about domestic resource mobilization and aligning private investment with sustainable development in part by setting the right incentives.
But what’s missing — and what had stalled negotiations — is the creation of a U.N. global tax body. As a result, the OECD will continue to be the intergovernmental body that adopts global tax standards.
Civil society organizations, which were pushing for the tax body, are disappointed in the outcome.
“The decision is an appalling failure and a great blow to the fight against poverty and injustice,”ActionAid’s international tax power campaign manager Martin Hojsik said in a statement. “It means that developing countries, which are losing billions of dollars a year to tax dodging, are not being given an equal say in fixing unjust global tax rules.”
Civil society representatives criticized the deal as the powerful developed countries not wanting to cede power to other countries.
“Rich countries decided to maintain a system where money goes from south to north, but the rules follow the opposite route,” said Pooja Rangaprasad of the Financial Transparency Coalition.

Civil society also expressed concerns that the negotiations were not conducted in good faith and didn’t give developing countries a true voice, which sets a bad tone for the post-2015 and climate negotiations.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


The humanitarian and development communities have long been the “frenemies” of international aid. But with a growing strain on resources, is it time to break down the walls between them and forge a stronger, more willing partnership?
Camps, such as this one in Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
have traditionally been viewed as a humanitarian concern, but displacement
also has a big impact on a country's development, especially in the case of
protracted crises.
Whole departments, funding streams and staff are locked into these very separate classifications. Although development programmes complement – and can even reduce the need for – emergency aid response, there is little actual crossover between the two.
paper produced for the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank in December last year observed that while humanitarian assistance has kept many people alive, it has also left large numbers stuck in aid dependency.
Development agencies, on the other hand, have not done enough to “focus on… the most vulnerable people in fragile states and protracted crises,” the report noted.
The resilience agenda – a concept that has emerged in recent years to bridge the gap – has broken down some of the barriers between the two communities.
But, the report said, there is still “a tendency for individual donors and agencies pursuing their own agendas, rather than collective action and alignment behind a common analysis, vision and plan of action.” 

So where is the middle ground?
This question is back on the agenda as governments, policymakers and aid organisations gather in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa this week to discuss how to pay for the soon-to-be-ratified post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The third UN Financing for Development (FFD3) summit will focus on ways to secure funding from new types of actors, especially in the private sector, as well as on improved tax collection, multilateral development banks in emerging markets, and new mechanisms such as risk financing.
Similar discussions about how to get more money are going on among humanitarians in the run-up to next year’s World Humanitarian Summit (WHS).
And yet they are happening largely in parallel to the FFD3 debate, despite obvious opportunities for joined-up approaches.
Sandra Aviles, a senior advisor on programme development and humanitarian Affairs at the FAO, hoped that humanitarians paid attention to what was going on in Addis Ababa this week but wasn’t confident they would.
“There is still this notion that there are two pots of money; that development is going to do this and humanitarians are going to do that,” Aviles, who is also part of the Future Humanitarian Financing (FHF) initiative, which is looking at new approaches for emergency aid funding, told IRIN.
“Unfortunately, humanitarians were not collectively engaged with Sendai [the UN Disaster Risk Reduction conference held in March], or with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and they have not collectively engaged with Addis.”
Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah has a foot in both camps through his role as secretary general of global civil society network CIVICUS and as a member of the newly formed UN high-level panel on humanitarian financing.
“Much more needs to be done to bring the development and humanitarian actors together to work more efficiently,” he said. “Whether that’s in thinking about how we can use common data platforms, all the way to that handshake between humanitarian relief and development action.
“Sometimes sitting in discussions about humanitarian financing, it does feel like I am learning about a totally different community. There is a different language and very different approach.”

Intimately connected
In an interview with IRIN, Bertrand Badré, managing director and chief financial officer (CFO) of the World Bank Group – regarded as a member of the “development” camp – outlined why he believes the two sectors are “intimately connected” and why they should be working together, especially towards more shared financing solutions.
“Humanitarian crises are really shocks, whether they are connected to war or to natural disasters. At the World Bank, we are not involved directly in humanitarian activities, such as managing refugee camps, but our job is to improve the readiness and capacity of a country to face shocks,” he explained.
“You can’t stop an earthquake from happening, but what is in our power is to make sure the affected country is more prepared to deal with the consequences better and faster and at a lower cost.”
Displacement – previously seen as solely an emergency aid problem – is another area where the World Bank, and other development actors, are starting to become more engaged, particularly around notions of livelihoods, economic integration and resilience-building.
In Jordan and Lebanon, the bank is supporting the governments to manage the economic impact of hosting millions of Syrian refugees, and under the lender’s Global Program on Forced Displacement it has also worked with the authorities in Azerbaijan and Colombia.
“Development actors are slowly starting to realise that protracted displacement has an impact on development,” explained Manisha Thomas, head of the secretariat of the Geneva-based Solutions Alliance, formed last year to seek out partnership responses to protracted displacement.
“People have woken up to the fact that if you want to reduce poverty, you need to take displacement into consideration,” she added. “The whole theme of the SDGs is ‘leave no-one behind’, and that has to include displaced populations as well.”

Rachel Scott, team leader of the conflict, fragility and resilience development co-operation directorate at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), agreed that a “much more complementary approach” was required, particularly in the case of displacement.
“Changes are needed on both sides. We have to look more holistically at our response. Humanitarians shouldn’t be only analysing the basic physical needs of human beings,” she said, but also considering well-being factors such as economic needs and social cohesion.
Development actors, meanwhile, should be “looking at national policies such as the right to work, and taking the burden away from the economy, and finding long-term solutions for displacement by changing government policies, and eventually reducing case-loads.”
Debate over the parameters of the two sectors is nothing new, far from it.
It’s had various labels, including the “relief to development continuum” or Linking Relief Rehabilitation and Development (LRRD). Since the 1990s there has been an extensive body of literature on why the two sectors should – but in many cases have failed to - work better together.
“The humanitarian/development discussion has been on the table for longer than I can remember,” said Thomas, of Solutions Alliance.
 “Although there is definitely a difference in cultures in how humanitarians and development actors work, I don’t sense a huge amount of resistance about doing more together, I think it’s more about how to figure out how to make this work in practice.”
One major barrier to more joined-up thinking is that humanitarians subscribe to four defined humanitarian principles: humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
Development funding is meanwhile governed by accords, such as the 2005 Paris Declaration, which stipulates aid should go to governments in terms of developing capacity and helping build institutions.
Lydia Poole, an independent aid policy consultant, told IRIN this can sometimes be “extremely difficult” for humanitarian actors, who in certain situations, particularly conflicts, “may have a difficult relationship with the state” and so feel joint programming wouldn’t work.
“Humanitarian funding is a very precious resource that enables you to operate in a principled manner in highly contested settings, so I don't think we should be diluting that and spreading it too thin across this ever-growing scope of programming ambition.”

FundingThat the funding streams – for the above reasons, as well as administrative and bureaucratic issues – have largely been kept separate is another explanation for the cultural divide between the two sides and their staff.
Necessity is the mother of invention; funding – or rather the lack of it – may also end up bringing the development and humanitarian worlds closer together.
Simultaneous protracted conflicts such Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic and South Sudan, on top of natural disasters like the earthquake in Nepal, have left emergency aid organisations scraping around for cash.
“The financing discussion is definitely one that is driving this move to bring development actors into a displacement response much earlier, and I think it makes sense,” said Thomas, pointing to the example of investing in the water systems of a refugee hosting country rather than continuing to pay out to fix temporary latrines.
But, she added, “It’s important that this doesn’t become only about money and that we don’t lose sight of the end goal of humanitarian and development actors working together to bring their collective strengths to the table in order to be able to deliver better solutions to those in need.”
Sriskandarajah, who is in Addis Ababa this week to chair an event about humanitarian funding, agreed that financing could lead to better cooperation.
“Financing is a great vehicle for bringing the two sides together,” he said. “Both sectors are seeking out new partners and new types of financing, and these new models are not going to worry about our sectors and sub-sectors. They are just going to want to get the job done.”
Badré, of the World Bank, told IRIN: “We have to stop finding opposition to one another, it doesn’t make any sense.

“We are not in competition with humanitarians, we are here to complement and support their actions. Everybody is in their own silo, but we have to really connect and agree, and accept, that more and more we can work together.”