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Four global development news stories you need to know about

Written by Annie Duncan

September 17, 2019

At LIDC, we’re always on the lookout for the most interesting news, innovations and research in international development. Here’s our pick of the latest developments to keep an eye on.

1) Brexit: how will it impact on international development goals?

There could be far-reaching consequences for international development in the event of a no-deal Brexit. British NGOs may no longer be able to pursue their advocacy at a European-level. As a result, this would affect both coordination and EU policy. It also means that they would no longer be eligible for EU funding. Revoking freedom of movement could also affect the international development workforce in the UK, many of whom are EU citizens. UK-based international development organisations who wish to prepare for 31 October, whatever the outcome, should read Bond’s Brexit resources for a deeper understanding of the issues at stake.

2) Tackling the DRC’s Ebola outbreak 

Confirmed Ebola cases reached almost 3,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by the end of August, prompting the World Health Organization to urge all partners to implement the Strategic Response Plan (SRP-4) to address the epidemic. With 13 million people in the DRC already considered ‘food insecure’, the Ebola outbreak threatens to affect access to food. The SRP-4 is a five-pronged plan that comprises the following measures:

  • Rapidly detecting and isolating cases
  • Intensifying multidisciplinary public health actions
  • Strengthening community engagement
  • Strengthening the health system and coordination with partners
  • Creating synergies between public health, security, humanitarian, financial and operational readiness actors

3) Climate emergency and conflict in Somalia

Somalia is facing a ‘climate emergency’, as it struggles to recover from the 2017 drought. More than 2 million people are experiencing severe hunger and another 3 million are food insecure. What’s more, the ongoing conflict between al-Shabab and government troops exacerbates the situation. However, it appears that Somalia has avoided being affected by proposed sanctions on al-Shabab. Kenya had urged the UN to impose counter-terrorism sanctions on al-Shabab, which had been placed on al-Qaeda and Islamic State. However, six UN Security Council members blocked the move on 28 August, as it would effectively criminalise humanitarian aid. This is because many humanitarian organisations have to coordinate with al-Shabab in delivering assistance.

4) Amazon: New flame, old game

Fears over the number and severity of fires in the Amazon have recently dominated international news, with French President, Emmanuel Macron, spearheading international efforts to tackle the issue. Macron and his G7 partners also agreed to release 20 million euros for the Amazon, most of which will be used to send fire-fighting aircraft. Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, initially rejected this offer, on the grounds that it appeared ‘colonialist’, but the government later agreed to accept the aid on the condition that it could administrate the money itself.

Some commentators interpreted Bolsonaro’s response to the G7’s assistance, as an attempt to push an anti-imperialist agenda at an unsuitable moment. Nevertheless it did reignite debates over the role of international aid, and the recipient country’s sovereignty. Leaving aside the questions of whether the €20 million pledged is sufficient, or whether consumers might be better placed than governments to reduce deforestation in the Amazon, the controversy seems to be of a simpler, yet no less pressing matter. As the world reacted to Bolsonaro’s announcement that Brazil would accept the aid on the condition that it decide how it is spent, the real question to be answered is: at what point do the ends justify the means?

Annie Duncan is a postgraduate student in SOAS’ MSc in Migration, Mobility & Development programme and an early-career ID professional.

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