Covid-19: time to unleash the power of international co-operation

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By Mario Pezzini, Director, OECD Development Centre and Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary General on Development


This blog is part of a series on tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) in developing countries. The OECD is compiling data, information, analysis and recommendations regarding the health, economic, financial and societal challenges posed by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please visit our dedicated page for a full suite of coronavirus-related information.


Development co-operationThe rapid spread of the dire human, social and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis shows just how interconnected we are. International co-operation has become –literally– vital.

A health crisis has set off a global economic crisis, where shocks on the demand and supply sides are combining in an unprecedented scenario. Many developing countries are bracing themselves. While Europe is struggling to contain and cope with a spiralling number of cases and fatalities, the effects in countries where health systems are already weak, economies are highly dependent on global demand, and strict containment policies are more difficult to implement, could be even more disastrous.

Major outbreaks in developing countries could cause the collapse of weak health systems and expose gaps in social protection programmes, especially in Africa, where so many schemes rely on official development assistance. A humanitarian crisis may be in the making: travel restrictions affect the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and infections in refugee camps – largely hosted in developing countries – will be difficult to fight. The ILO estimates that 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide, possibly more, as the majority of workers in developing countries are in the informal economy. Continue reading

Lessons from coronavirus for the future of ‘aid’

By Jonathan Glennie, Senior Fellow,  Joep Lange Institute


This blog is part of a series on tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) in developing countries. The OECD is compiling data, information, analysis and recommendations regarding the health, economic, financial and societal challenges posed by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please visit our dedicated page for a full suite of coronavirus-related information.


 

Beijing airport tarmac by Cory Doctorow
Beijing airport tarmac. Photo by Cory Doctorow

In December 2019 cases of a little-known disease called coronavirus were reported in Wuhan, a city in China with a population of about 11 million. As of 20 January 2020 there were 282 confirmed cases of the virus, 278 of which originated in China. Less than three months later, over 3,400 people in Italy were dead. Countries all over the world are gearing up for long periods of lockdown as a global pandemic takes hold. If ever proof were needed that health concerns in one country require a coordinated and well-funded global response, this is it.

What does this tell us about the future of global cooperation? The next chapter in the story of the China−Italy coronavirus relationship is equally relevant. On 13 March China sent a planeload of experts and medical supplies to Italy, including masks and respirators. Italy is one of the world’s richest countries (average income, US$34,480); despite rapid advance over the past decades, China is still much poorer (average income, US$9,770). Continue reading

When COVID-19 Comes to Africa

By Arkebe Oqubay, Senior Minister and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, distinguished fellow at the Overseas Development Institute and the author, most recently, of African Economic Development: Evidence, Theory, Policy and The Oxford Handbook of Industrial Hubs and Economic Development


This blog is part of a series on tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) in developing countries. The OECD is compiling data, information, analysis and recommendations regarding the health, economic, financial and societal challenges posed by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please visit our dedicated page for a full suite of coronavirus-related information.


 

covid19-africaThere is no telling how long it will take to bring the COVID-19 coronavirus under control, or how many people will be affected. But African governments, in cooperation with communities and international actors, can take steps now to limit the damage – and lay the foundations for a healthier, more resilient future.

Addia Ababa – The COVID-19 coronavirus – which has now spread to more than 100 countries – has pushed the world into “uncharted territory,” according to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom. So far, Africa has recorded relatively few infections, but there is no reason to believe this won’t change. When it does, the results could be catastrophic.

One need only recall the West African Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016 to comprehend the potential damage. The hardest-hit countries were Guinea (with 3,814 cases and 2,544 deaths), Liberia (10,678 cases and 4,810 deaths), and Sierra Leone (14,124 cases and 3,956 deaths). Moreover, since August 2018, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has faced its own large-scale Ebola epidemic, with more than 3,444 cases and 2,264 deaths (as of March 10, 2020). Continue reading

Social protection systems: not simple, but worth the effort

By Alexander Pick, Economist, OECD Development Centre


Check out the upcoming international conference Together to achieve Universal Social Protection by 2030 for more on this topic


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School kids in Kabupaten Karimon, Indonesia. Photo: Shutterstock

A systematic approach lies at the core of universal social protection. However, it is not immediately obvious what the term means, or why it is so important. After all, do we not take other systems for granted, like the system of government or health and education systems?

A social protection system must reflect the needs of the people it covers — ideally the entire population, throughout their lives and whatever their income — and it must incorporate the full range of different programmes that exist as well as the multitude of institutions involved. It must also harness different financing mechanisms for sustained and sustainable expansion. The fundamental objective of a social protection system is to get these moving parts working together to ensure coordination and coherence – to fill gaps, avoid duplication and optimise resource allocations to provide effective coverage against the most important risks people face. Continue reading

Gender equity starts at the dinner table

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Adolescent girls are the most at risk of not being able to access a nutritious diet. Ensuring they do is key to economic development, peace and stability


By David Beasley, Executive Director, World Food Programme


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


girls-eatingImagine a family sitting down for a meal – a father, a mother who’s nursing a little baby, a school-aged boy and an adolescent girl. Who has the most on their dinner plate? Maybe Dad, since he’s the biggest and has a physically demanding job. Then the boy – I had two of them and sometimes it was amazing how much they could eat. Then after that, the two slimmest: Mom and daughter, right?

But this so-called cultural norm is exactly the opposite of what ought to happen, and that’s why a new focus on the nutrition needs of adolescent girls could make a big impact on the future of so many developing nations around the world.

Adolescent girls, even more than boys, require the most nutritious diet possible, loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, along with meat, fish and dairy to give them the key vitamins and minerals that help them to grow. Unfortunately, in far too many areas, the needs of adolescent girls are rarely prioritised. Continue reading

Promoting innovation: Lessons from the Global Fund

By Guido Schmidt-Traub, Executive Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network

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Since its inception in 2001, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has become a highly respected pooled financing institution that scores top marks in independent reviews.1, 2

It has disbursed some USD 40 billion in grants for complex disease control and treatment programmes in fragile and non-fragile countries alike.

Success was far from assured in 2001, as developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, faced a perfect storm of surging HIV/AIDS, multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis and surging malaria deaths. Control and treatment interventions were available in high-income countries, but no one knew how to tackle the diseases in resource-poor settings. In particular, HIV/AIDS treatment was deemed impossible in Africa and was outside recommended approaches for tackling the disease.3

The Global Fund was designed precisely to tackle the lack of quality programmes and implementation mechanisms in developing countries. All too often, however, it is seen as just another funding mechanism. Many reviews lump it together with other multilateral mechanisms and trust funds.4

This is a mistake. The Global Fund has unique design principles that set it apart from bi- and multilateral financing mechanisms with the notable exception of Gavi.5

Continue reading

Infrastructure, jobs, good governance: Bringing Africans’ priorities to the G20 table

By Michael Bratton, University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and African Studies at Michigan State University and senior adviser to Afrobarometer, and E. Gyimah-Boadi, Executive Director of Afrobarometer and the Ghana Center for Democratic Development

 

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Beyond the limelight and the headlines, the recent Group of 20 (G20) summit accomplished an important piece of business by launching the Compact with Africa. The next step is crucial: negotiating the priorities that the compact will address.

One key concept is that the compact is with – rather than for – Africa, implying that it will rely on true partnerships to pursue mutually agreed-upon goals.

With its contribution to a “20 Solutions” document presented to the G20 by a consortium of think tanks, the pan-African research network Afrobarometer is working to ensure that the compact will take into account what ordinary Africans say they want and need.

Continue reading