Aid Buzz (March 13): Bob Carr | TB treatment in PNG | UN IFAD | World Vision ‘terror link’ | and more

Written by Jonathan Pryke

Bob Carr: The new face of Australian Aid

With the announcement of Bob Carr as the new Foreign Minister (and subsequent head of Australia’s burgeoning aid program), questions are beginning to spread about what this will mean for the future of AusAID and the aid budget. Directors from both Oxfam and World Vision Australia have sounded off their support for Senator Carr, with World Vision Director Tim Costello stating he was particularly pleased to hear Senator Carr identify the Asia-Pacific region as an immediate priority once he assumes the role of Foreign Minister. ACFID has also welcomed the news. Annmaree O’Keefe outlines some of the challenges for the new Minister here, and Stephen Howes does the same on our blog here. It is likely that Australia’s continued bipartisan commitment to increasing aid to 0.5 per cent of gross national income will be heavily reliant on Senator Carr’s engagement with and interest in the aid program.

AusAID strengthens TB detection and treatment in PNG

The temporary clinics in the Torres Strait to combat TB, sponsored by AusAID, closed down last month. It has been revealed, however, in the Senate Estimates questioning that the TB clinics will actually continue in the Torres Strait but simply under a different name month (see here from page 81 [pdf] for the extensive questioning on the situation during the Estimates). AusAID Director General Peter Baxter also opened a temporary tuberculosis (TB) isolation ward on 22 February, which forms part of a wide range of initiatives being funded by AusAID to support Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) health authorities to reduce the threat of TB infection in PNG and the Torres Strait. The temporary ward at Western Province’s Daru Hospital will be used until a permanent ward upgrade and extension, part of an $8 million AusAID package, is completed later in the year. AusAID’s TB program was also brought up in the AusAID Senate estimates mid last month (available here from page 81 [pdf]). Devpolicy will also be hosting a forum on May 23rd at the ANU to discuss TB control in the Torres Strait region (registration information to come).

Australia considers re-joining UN IFAD to strengthen global food security

AusAID recently announced that it will look to expand its efforts to help the world’s most vulnerable fight hunger as it seeks to re-join the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Calls for public submissions on the proposal for Australia to re-join IFAD were advertised nationally on 4 and 25 February with submissions to form part of a National Interest Assessment. Submissions are now officially closed. Further details of AusAID’s proposal can be found here.

AusAID and World Vision accused of aiding terrorist-linked NGO

Last month, Shurat HaDin (the Israeli Law Centre) wrote to both World Vision Australia and AusAID alleging the Gaza-based Union of Agricultural Work committees (UAWC), whom AusAID channels support to through World Vision, is a subsidiary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). World Vision was quick to announce that it had frozen dealings with the UAWC, as the link was investigated. World Vision was involved in a five year $5 million dollar deal with UAWC to improve food security. It has since been announced earlier this month that World Vision will continue working with the UAWC as AusAID dismissed the terrorist link. Shurat HaDin has since threatened legal action, through both Australian and American criminal and civil courts, and sternly criticized AusAID and World Vision for their continuing support of the UAWC.

In brief

Former Minister Kevin Rudd provided this farewell address to AusAID staff on March 2nd.

AusAID announced on Tuesday 28 February the release of the ‘Aid Advisory Services Standing offer Request for Tender’. The request includes 17 categories in a range of areas, with applications closing May 1st.

Make Poverty History will be will be hosting a number of public forums and exhibitions across Australia in March and April to bring further awareness to the aid program and its activities.

On March 8 (International Women’s Day) CARE Australia released a new report on the successes of a program that has empowered women and reduced child stunting in Pakistan. The report is summarised on our blog here.

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) recently released its submission [pdf] to the 2012-2013 Federal budget containing 26 recommendations for the Government.

The Australian has criticized AusAID’s new ‘Australian Civilian Corps’, saying it needs to be refocused after attracting too many older men who are either unable, or unwilling, to deploy.

The Humanitarian Leadership Program, funded by AusAID and developed by Save the Children and Deakin University (where it is based), has been launched to give aid workers the opportunity to develop skills in the management of natural disasters.

Jonathan Pryke is a Researcher at the Development Policy Centre.

Jonathan Pryke

Jonathan Pryke worked at the Development Policy Centre from 2011 as a Research Officer and Blog Editor, and left in mid-2015 to take up the position of Melanesia Fellow at the Lowy Institute. He has a Master of Public Policy/Master of Diplomacy from Crawford School of Public Policy and the College of Diplomacy, ANU.

1 Comment

  • It’s worth knowing more about the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in three important areas.

    The first is the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). As a subsidiary body of the UNCCD, the Global Mechanism (GM – http://www.global-mechanism.org/en/About-Us/Who-we-are) supports developing countries to position land as an investment priority at the national and international levels. In addition, the GM provides countries with specialised advice on accessing finance for sustainable land management from a range of public and private sources, both domestic and international.

    IFAD has hosted the GM (http://www.ifad.org/partners/gm/index.htm) since its beginning in 1998.

    The second is IFAD’s support for microfinance – very small loans to the poorest of our world’s poor. According to the 2012 State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report, over the last 13 years, the number of very poor families with a microloan has grown more than 18-fold from 7.6 million in 1997 to 137.5 million in 2010. Assuming an average of five persons per family, these 137.5 million microloans affected more than 687 million family members, which is greater than the combined populations of the European Union and Russia.

    The third is IFAD in Afghanistan. Currently, IFAD has a limited presence in Afghanistan, with its “Rural Microfinance and Livestock Support Program”, which seeks to improve the livestock sector and generate income for poor rural households.

    IFAD has noted that poverty in Afghanistan is closely related to:
    • the high illiteracy rate in rural areas, where 90 per cent of women and 63 per cent of men are unable to read or write;
    • rural people’s dependance on livestock and agricultural activities for at least part of their income;
    • inadequate land ownership and access to land;
    • lack of irrigation infrastructure.

    The poorest rural people include small-scale farmers and herders, landless people and women who are heads of households. There are an estimated 1 million Afghan widows. Their average age is 35, and 90 per cent of them have an average of four or more children. Without the protection of a husband, widows suffer from social exclusion in Afghanistan’s patriarchal society. Many widows have no choice but to become beggars.

    Children aged five or under are the most vulnerable segment of Afghan society. As many as 50 per cent of them suffer from chronic malnutrition. A great promise remains to be fulfilled from the 1990 World Summit for Children in New York – putting children first for resources.

    The nations in Afghanistan must leave Afghanistan a better place for its men, women and children.

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