How $168 billion in development money flows around the world

You’d think that most foreign aid would be reserved for the world’s poorest countries, but that’s not actually true.

For example, according to the advocacy group ONE, the U.S. only gives one-third of its foreign aid to the least developed countries in the world.

This is the kind of information you can unearth with a new tool, called D-Portal, run by a U.K. nonprofit called Development Initiatives. The site tracks development aid flows around the world, showing which countries are donating and receiving money and how it’s being spent. It shows the U.S. gives the most aid every year ($27 billion in 2013 or about 16% of the global total), followed by Japan ($24 billion) and the European Union ($16 billion).

The site uses data from the International Aid Transparency Index and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and gives a sense of whether inbound resources are leading to positive results. It’s a useful tool: You can create country profiles showing income and spending and see how countries are performing on several development metrics (e.g. the number of residents who still live in poverty).

In a recent report, Development Initiatives said many social programs are severely under-funded in developing countries. Across all least developed countries, only 20% of costs are financed.

[Excerpts of Co.Exist article by Ben Schiller]

UN appeals for $500 million in humanitarian aid for Iraq

The United Nations launched an appeal on Thursday for half a billion dollars in international aid to tackle a worsening humanitarian crisis in Iraq triggered by the conflict with Islamic State militants.

Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said the United Nations would be forced to slash or shut down more than half its aid operations in Iraq without an immediate injection of new funds. “In the months ahead the humanitarian situation is going to get worse … By the end of 2015, 10 million Iraqis are likely to need some form of life-saving assistance,” Grande said, launching the appeal at the European Parliament.

Violence has already forced nearly 3 million Iraqis from their homes, the U.N. says. Grande said more than 4.4 million Iraqis needed food as key agricultural areas, including large parts of Iraq’s cereal belt, had fallen under Islamic State control.

World Health Organisation Director-General Margaret Chan said public services for health, water, and sanitation, were collapsing. “Crowded, unsanitary conditions bring a high risk of infectious diseases, especially for the millions who have been internally displaced … Cases of measles are now being reported from all 18 governorates. Cholera is endemic,” she said.

In Geneva, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres called for U.N. and other aid agencies to “get out of their comfort zone” and reach tens of thousands of Iraqis who have fled fighting and are in desperate need of aid and health care in areas including north of Mosul, south of Kirkuk and the outskirts of Baghdad.

[Reuters]

Australia’s record as humanitarian world leader ‘has deteriorated’

Australia has lost its standing as a world leader on humanitarian issues after taking a hardline approach to asylum seekers, a senior US official has said.

Anne Richard, the assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, said on Wednesday that there had always been a “strong tradition” of the US, Canada and Australia taking the lead in tackling humanitarian issues. “That sense that Australia is in the forefront has deteriorated a bit in the last few years,” she said.

Richard met Australia’s ambassador for people smuggling issues, Andrew Goledzinowski, during an emergency international summit on the plight of thousands of Burmese and Bangladeshi caught in an asylum seeker standoff in the Andaman sea. Richard was evasive on whether Australia’s policy to turn back asylum boats had, at least in part, contributed to the standoff.

“The US takes a different approach,” she said, pointing to the policy of assessing protection claims on-board the vessels in which asylum seekers flee. The US approach of ensuring that people have an opportunity to state their case for protection “is needed throughout the region”.

About 2,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants are still stranded at sea somewhere between Burma and Malaysia, Thomas Vargas, from the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) in Indonesia, said.

The US has a long-standing program to resettle Burmese refugees, many of whom are Rohingya. It took about 1,000 Burmese refugees in the past three months, making Burma one of the top three countries of origin for the US refugee program. Shortly after the high seas standoff made headlines, the US stepped in with an offer to resettle some of the people fleeing their homelands.

The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, has refused to resettle any of the stranded Rohingya, even if they are found to be refugees.

[The Guardian]

EU draws fire for failing to set date for 0.7% aid target

The EU has come under fire for failing to set a deadline for its own financial commitments to aid, a move that activists say could threaten wider talks on funding an ambitious development agenda.

A critical funding summit in Addis Ababa in July is meant to agree how to finance development priorities for the next 15 years. The sustainable development goals (SDGs), which will replace the millennium development goals when they expire this year, will be ratified in September. But campaigners say that, without concrete progress in Addis Ababa, the entire process is in jeopardy.

A meeting last week of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council on Development  set out the EU’s vision of a new global partnership for sustainable development, including a renewal of member states’ pledges to commit 0.7% of gross national income to aid. But it gave no concrete deadline.

Concord, the European confederation for relief and development, described the pledge as “vague and non-binding” and said 2020 should be the new deadline.

Donor nations have generally failed to fulfil the promise made at the Gleneagles G8 summit of 2005 to meet the UN target. Only five countries – Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark and Britain – achieved the 0.7% level in 2014.

[The Guardian]