Pacific Humanitarian Pathway, Debt Relief, Development will change, and more.

Posted on 14 April 2020

+ Pacific Humanitarian Pathway - will it work?

Access and delivery of humanitarian aid have been restricted in the Pacific region during COVID-19. Regular humanitarian supply chains, such as those that would be used to respond to TC Harold, can't get through because of border closures across the Pacific. 
Last week the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders invoked the Biketawa Declaration and announced a new Pacific Humanitarian Pathway.

Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and Prime Minister of Tuvalu Honourable Kausea Natano said that “The Biketawa Declaration recognises that in time of crises, all actions must be taken on the basis that all members of the Forum are part of the Pacific Islands extended family. This, I believe is the Pacific way.”
The Pacific Humanitarian Pathway allows for fast-tracked customs clearance for medical supplies, and special agreements to allow charter flights for emergencies, and will be overseen by Forum foreign ministers, the Pacific Community (SPC), the Forum Secretariat, and the World Health Organisation and other relevant UN agencies, and regional law enforcement and legal agencies.

However, concerns remain that the Pathway may not necessarily support humanitarian response needs, such as those countries dealing with the impact of TC Harold right now.

There has also been a call from Pacific civil society to use existing mechanisms for delivery as much as possible, rather than creating new layers of bureaucracy.

+ COVID-19 geopolitics in the Pacific

Leadership happens on the frontline, nationally, and locally, and COVID-19 provides a critical test for regional leadership in the Pacific.

"The Pacific is a contested arena between China and US allies such as Australia. It was inevitable that pandemic diplomacy would emerge as either a fault line or a site of cooperation in the fight against COVID-19," writes Massey University's Anna Powles and Jose Sousa-Santos in a new article, COVID-19 and Geopolitics in the Pacific'

"This could have long-lasting implications for Australia’s ‘Pacific step up’ and New Zealand’s ‘Pacific Reset’, as well as for the credibility of other regional actors such as the United States."

But more importantly, the region’s own leadership, including the regional response coordinated through The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) will b funder the spotlight.

Meanwhile, Terence Wood in DevPolicy, asks how should Australia and New Zealand respond to the COVID-19 crisis in the Pacific?.

"Rising debt doesn’t provide grounds for aid cuts -  The debt the stimulus packages will bring (in Australia and New Zealand) will be too large to be addressed through aid cuts......Our NGOs have an important role to play. They need help to do this."

+ How will COVID change development?

Devex have asked  21 leaders and big thinkers to share their insights and predictions for how COVID-19 might transform the fields of global health and development.

Highlights include:

  • As developing countries struggle to get vital medical equipment, governments will re-think supply chains. There will be a "surge of nationalism with respect to the need to produce pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and equipment domestically," writes Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala chair of the board at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and Nigeria’s former minister of finance.
  • Aid budgets will be at risk as rich countries have a new excuse for nationalism, isolationism, anti-immigration policies.
  • The old model of aid is over. "The North-South paradigm is definitely over. The monopoly that traditional “development actors” have had in the last 40 years will quickly erode," writes Jean Van Wetter, director general at Enabel, the Belgian development agency.
  • China will emerge as a bigger donor - not just to the 'South'. Chinese charities are distributing masks to European governments.
  • Humanitarian access will be challenged with cuts in air traffic and closed borders.
  • The power of the multilateral system has been eroded as countries turn to local governments for help.
  • The State is back
  • Innovation will accelerate. 

CID Webinar: Financial advice during COVID-19

CID is hosting a webinar tomorrow, Wednesday 15 April at 3.00 pm, with Craig Fisher, one of New Zealand’s leading experts.
We are scrambling to come to terms with the new normal under COVOID-19 as we adjust budgets, cut costs, re-think income streams, and manage cash flows. Can we apply for the wage subsidy if we have reserves? What are our reporting requirements now? How do we survive financially? And what if we can’t?
Craig Fisher is a Fellow Chartered Accountant, and one of New Zealand's most respected financial experts, with 30 years experience in audit and assurance and business, working all over the world. He is also the Chair of Fred Hollows and has shared his passion for good governance and management expertise with the Not-for-Profit sector.

Join the Zoom event here, and find more details here.

+ 'Decades of anti-poverty gains eroded': Oxfam

The economic shocks and subsequent ongoing recession could drive more than 400 - 600 million people into absolute poverty -  an effective erasure of decades of anti-poverty gains. 
Oxfam’s new report ‘Dignity Not Destitution’ presents fresh analysis which suggests between 6- 8% of the global population could be forced into poverty as governments shut down entire economies to manage the spread of the virus. This could set back the fight against poverty by a decade, and as much as 30 years in some regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa. 
The Oxfam report draws upon a working paper published by the UN University; Estimates of the impact of COVID-19 on global poverty’. Global poverty could increase for the first time since 1990 and reverse the world’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals
“The devastating economic fallout of the pandemic is being felt across the globe. But for poor people in poor countries who are already struggling to survive there are almost no safety nets to stop them falling into poverty,” says Jose Maria Vera, Oxfam International Interim Executive Director.

Oxfam calls for a broad ‘Economic Rescue Package For All’ that would enable poor countries to support their communities through various actions like cash grants, and the immediate cancellation of USD$1 trillion of developing country debt payments in 2020.

+ Who's funding the COVID 19 response?

Devex looks at who is funding responses.

Since March 24, an additional 324 COVID-19 funding initiatives have been announced, adding $6.3 trillion to the response total. 

Here's Devex's look at the updated numbers and where the money is going. 

Global funding support to prevent, combat, and recover from the impacts of COVID-19 continues to grow. An analysis of Devex funding data between January 1 and April 5 lists 569 initiatives worth $10.9 trillion.

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+ Debt relief is urgent - public and private

The Brookings Institute has called on OECD governments to urgently implement debt relief for developing countries about to suffer the 'third wave' of COVID-19 (after Asia, the EU and other OECD countries have seen numbers rise).

COVID-19 has spread increasingly rapidly throughout Africa, with more than 7,000 confirmed cases and 294 deaths across 45 countries and two territories as of April 7.

"Unless the continent urgently receives more assistance, the virus will continue to cut a deadly and remorseless path across it, with ever grimmer health and economic consequences. As an essential first step, therefore, we call for immediate debt relief for African countries in order to create the fiscal space governments need to respond to the pandemic."

"Furthermore, we believe that this should be matched by parallel treatment regarding private and commercial debt, which now accounts for a significant share of many African countries’ external debt."

Economic Policy-Response to COVID-19

A group of leading development economists pulled together by Tony Blair's Institute for Global Change have developed an Economic Policy-Response Observatory to save lives and livelihoods. It maps the latest developments in countries around the world responding to COVID-19

They have also published a paper on Exit Strategies, outlining the options and trade-offs on the road to exiting lockdown, in a way that limits health damage while allowing the economy to revive.

The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change exists to equip political leaders and governments with practical support and policy solutions. 

+ COVID-19's threat to humanitarian responses

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, says that COVID-19 ould pose one of the most far-reaching threats to human rights in modern times. Bachelet  also reiterated UN Secretary-General Guterres warning that it threatens not only human rights and development, but also "enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict."
The protection of humanitarian assistance for the 100 million people living in emergency situations remains critical. Spokesperson Jens Laerke stressed a month ago; “To stop COVID-19 anywhere, it must be stopped everywhere…the global humanitarian response is an act of global solidarity. It is also an act of enlightened self-interest.”
All areas of humanitarian operations are critically affected by COVID-19 response efforts. The Norwegian Center for Humanitarian Studies has identified four thematic areas that have emerged thus far: 

  1. Health infrastructure and health information
  2. Exacerbation of existing vulnerabilities
  3. Refugees and other migrants
  4. Access and delivery of humanitarian aid.

+ A vaccine in 1 year -  How realistic is that?

The mumps vaccine—considered the fastest ever approved—took four years to go from collecting viral samples to licensing a drug in 1967.

National Geographic looks at how likely it is that we'll get a vaccine soon. 

There is some good news:

"Drug companies and universities are now racing to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, with at least 62 efforts currently underway, according to the World Health Organization. Experts are optimistic that a vaccine will prove successful, based on early evidence that coronavirus patients can produce antibodies, the proteins in the blood that attack and neutralize viruses."

If we're going to fast track a vaccine, the world needs to come together, as it did for Ebola.

"The Ebola vaccine was developed in Canada, transferred to academic researchers and biotech companies in the U.S., and ultimately manufactured in Germany. Now, thanks to widespread vaccination, the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak may finally be over.

+ ICVA virtual NGO fora exchange

CID is joining the ICVA Virtual NGO Fora Exchange later this week. This is an opportunity to discuss how NGO networks are supporting membership to prepare for and respond to ongoing or new humanitarian crises during the COVID-19 emergency. Agenda items likely to include:

  1. Response Planning – Supporting Collective Approaches by NGOs
  2. Remote Management 
  3. Upholding Quality, Standards, Accountability
  4. Advocacy with Donors
  5. Duty of Care Considerations

Proposed time for the call is Thursday, 16th April at 1pm.

+ Aid donations under cyberattacks

Have you noticed an increase in phishing emails related to the pandemic?

At CID we have, and this seems to be a global trend for many NGOs and Aid agencies.

While we are all still adjusting to the new reality, 'attackers are hoping to benefit from money intended for the pandemic response and capitalize on weaknesses caused by the disruption', writes Devex.

“Attackers are taking advantage of the fear, confusion, and stress that people are experiencing during the pandemic by sending phishing, smishing [fraudulent text messages], and other types of attacks designed to capitalize on these fears,” says Mercy Corps' chief information officer. 

WHO said it is experiencing double the normal amount of cyberattacks as scammers “take advantage of the COVID-19 emergency” by sending fraudulent email and WhatsApp messages in an attempt “to steal money or sensitive information".

Catholic Relief Services' Vice President adds "cybersecurity requires a three-pronged approach covering people, processes, and technology — and that people are typically the weakest link, especially when overwhelmed or distracted, as might currently be the case".

+ COVID-19 Resources 

 Events During Lockdown
+ CID Activities
  • CID Webinar 'Get your COVID-19 legal questions answered' held
  • TC Harold Humanitarian Network coordination daily meetings
  • Board meeting preparation 
  • Op-ed developed and published by the NZ Herald
  • Other media to advocate on behalf of the sector (ZB radio etc)
  • Charities Services, and UN/ ICVA Working Group meetings relating to Covid-19
  • CID Survey: Capacity Snapshot for COVID-19 Response report produced
  • CID Humanitarian Network COVID-19 weekly catch up
  • CEO-MFAT catch up
  • Daily COVID-19 CID updates compiled and shared on our website
  • Webinars/podcasts/online events in planning


Health Pacific Islands Humanitarian Aid Economy