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'Temporary Basic Income' could slow COVID surge, provide lifeline for world’s poorest

UN #SDG News - 23. Juli 2020 - 11:00
The immediate introduction of a Temporary Basic Income for the world’s poorest people could slow the current surge in COVID-19 and enable close to three billion people to stay at home, according to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report released on Thursday.
Kategorien: english

'Temporary Basic Income' could slow COVID surge, provide lifeline for world’s poorest

UN ECOSOC - 23. Juli 2020 - 11:00
The immediate introduction of a Temporary Basic Income for the world’s poorest people could slow the current surge in COVID-19 and enable close to three billion people to stay at home, according to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report released on Thursday.
Kategorien: english

Africa’s varied COVID landscapes

INCLUDE Platform - 23. Juli 2020 - 9:12

There is not a single African COVID-19 trajectory, but rather multiple, distinct risk profiles. Recognizing this can facilitate a better understanding of and response to the pandemic threat in Africa.

The number of reported COVID-19 cases in Africa has been steadily increasing since the first confirmed episode in Egypt on February 15, 2020. Since May 1, the number of reported cases has been doubling every 3 weeks. Africa’s experience with past pandemics suggests the fight against the novel coronavirus is still in the early stages of what is likely to be a multiyear challenge.

Precise analysis of COVID-19 in Africa continues to be hindered by limited testing and reporting of cases. There is a wide variance in testing capacity, commitment to testing, and reporting of coronavirus cases and deaths. As a result,  countries that are undertaking the most tests or reporting the highest number of cases may not necessarily match those countries most impacted or at risk from the pandemic.

Recognizing these data limitations, it is noteworthy that the pattern of reported transmissions of the coronavirus in Africa is shifting over time. At the outset of the pandemic, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies mapped out a series of nine risk factors reflecting levels of international exposure, urbanization, demography, fragility, and governance that collectively represent the varied vulnerabilities to the pandemic faced across the continent. In the earliest phase of the pandemic (through May 1), reported cases were most strongly correlated with three primary factors—international exposure, size of urban population, and strength of health sector—underscoring the influence of external contact and ability to test for the virus.



Since that time, and once COVID-19 had emerged in all 54 African countries, the influence of international exposure has slowly diminished, and transmissions have become more dependent on internal risk factors. Presently, the size of urban population, relative age of total population, and level of press freedom have emerged alongside  international exposure as the risk factors most closely correlating with reported cases across the continent. As the scatterplots show, South Africa stands out in the number of reported cases with 43 percent of the continental total. Vitally, however, the Africa-wide correlations of key risk factors remain robust even when South Africa is excluded.

The takeaway is that as in-country transmissions grow, each country’s unique risk profile will become increasingly relevant in shaping the course of the pandemic. Recognizing the vulnerabilities—and strengths—that these different risk profiles represent, therefore, is central to mitigating the effects of COVID-19.


Africa’s Diverse Risk Profiles

Examining the spread of COVID-19 in Africa since its onset shows there is not a single African coronavirus trajectory. Rather, there are multiple, distinct patterns of experience in grappling with the pandemic, reflecting the continent’s great diversity. To better appreciate these varied COVID-19 experiences, the Africa Center has created a typology of seven COVID-19 profiles in Africa. These are based on a combination of factors: size of population, dimensions of urban landscapes, magnitude of conflict and displacement, demography, and governance. While certain countries could arguably fit more than one profile, by organizing countries into groups with similar features, the Africa Center aims to facilitate a more precise analysis of the COVID-19 threat on the continent—and ultimately deepen understanding of how best to mitigate its effects.


Gateway Countries

Gateway countries have among the highest levels of international trade, travel, tourism, and port traffic on the continent. Not coincidentally, this group is distinctive in that it accounts for 64 percent of all reported COVID-19 cases and 69 percent of reported deaths on the continent, even though it represents just 18 percent of the total population. This category includes some of Africa’s largest countries and economies. In other words, this group was exposed early and widely to the pandemic and has been fighting to bring the transmission under control from the outset. This group also has a relatively large segment of their populations in urban areas, including the megacities of Cairo and Johannesburg-Pretoria. The Gateway category is similarly typified by some of the strongest health systems on the continent. Therefore, these countries have, by and large, been proactive in conducting tests and reporting cases throughout the crisis. To this point, Gateway countries represent approximately 53 percent of all tests conducted on the continent.

Less well recognized, this group also has a median population age that is nearly a decade older than the African norm—28.5 vs. 20—contributing to the vulnerability of these populations once exposed to the virus. This category also has a relatively low level of press freedom, with some, notably Algeria and Egypt, having arrested journalists for reporting on COVID-19. These restrictions have likely reduced awareness of and trust in these governments’ communications, thereby hindering the effectiveness of a response to the pandemic. In fact, this group scores an average 17.5 out of a possible 20 in risk vulnerability along the 4 factors most strongly correlated to reported cases—international exposure, urban population, age, and press freedom. The African median for these 4 factors is 11.

Complex Microcosms


The Complex Microcosms category represents countries with large urban populations, widely varying social and geographic landscapes, and complex security challenges—reflections of the great diversity seen across Africa. The average population size in the Complex Microcosms category (87 million) is larger than any of the other categories, and these countries, on average, occupy territories of 1.1 million square kilometers. They also have urban populations that are in the top quintile across Africa. Many of their inhabitants live in densely populated informal settlements, making them particularly susceptible to the rapid transmission of the novel coronavirus. As many of these individuals work in service roles such as drivers and domestic staff, they are in daily contact with other social networks, highlighting their vulnerability for exposure and transmission. Yet, reported cases of COVID-19 for this profile represent only 13 percent of Africa’s total, even though the category comprises 35 percent of the total population.

Part of the seemingly more muted effect of the pandemic in this group is that it has relatively lower levels of international exposure than the Gateway countries, which resulted in a slower initial transmission of the virus. Moreover, the Complex Microcosms have younger populations than the African median, on average. This demographic feature is likely mitigating against the most devastating effects of the pandemic. The more moderate current vulnerability is reflected in the Complex Microcosms’ median risk factor of 13 out of 20 for the 4 most strongly correlated factors.

Still, this group has higher levels of risk on other important factors that are likely to make them vulnerable for the duration of the crisis. Namely, these countries have relatively weaker health systems, which limits the capacity for testing, reporting, and responding to transmissions. In other words, there is likely significant undercounting of COVID-19 cases among the Complex Microcosm countries. Moreover, four of the five countries in this category have active conflicts and all five have high levels of refugees and internally displaced persons. In addition to being a potential accelerant of transmission, conflict is a major distraction for governments attempting to mobilize resources to stem the flow of the virus. The large numbers of forcibly displaced populations, moreover, present a unique risk of rapid transmissions that could quickly devastate these already vulnerable groups while also advancing the spread of COVID-19 within these countries. The growing number of reported outbreaks within refugee and internally displaced persons communities in Africa underscore these risks. As a consequence of these and other vulnerabilities, the Complex Microcosms have the highest level of total risk factors (35 out of a possible 45) of any of the groups reviewed. Therefore, these countries could very well become concentrations for transmission as the pandemic unfolds.

Stable Hubs


The Stable Hubs category represents countries with populations of between 20 and 50 million that serve as regional economic centers. A defining feature of the countries in this group is that they do not face active conflict. Reflective of the baseline nature of this group is that their risk factors closely mirror the African median. As such, the Stable Hubs face a lower COVID-19 vulnerability than the Gateway or Complex Microcosms groups given the former’s relatively smaller and less dense urban populations, as well as comparatively more robust independent media. This group is further distinct from the Gateway category in that it has a moderate level of international exposure, limiting the flow of transmissions from outside the continent.

The relative stability of this category enables these countries to dedicate more attention and resources on the COVID challenge. Some countries in this category, such as Uganda, face greater vulnerability as a result of the sizable forcibly displaced populations they are hosting. Overall, however, the Stable Hubs’ lower levels of international exposure, smaller urban populations, relative youth, and more open media environment represent a risk factor total of 11.5 out of 20 among the 4 most correlated variables.

While less vulnerable to COVID-19 risk factors than some of the other profiles, this group is noteworthy for its range of government transparency. In fact, there is an inverse relationship on these governance factors and reported cases of the coronavirus. In other words, relatively more transparent countries like Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal are reporting considerably higher numbers of cases than Angola, which has among the lowest levels of reported cases per million people on the continent. Accordingly, lack of transparency coupled with health systems too weak to conduct sufficient tests could enable a surge in transmissions in some of the Stable Hub countries without timely public awareness and responsiveness.


Clustered Cities / Fragile States


The Clustered Cities/Fragile States category of Africa’s COVID-19 exposure reflects the nearly dozen African countries, mostly in the Sahel and Greater Horn, characterized by having dense urban areas, while also facing an active conflict or large forcibly displaced population. This combination is not coincidental as instability tends to drive people into towns and cities. The end result is a compounding mixture of risk factors, including dense urban populations, weak public health systems, and a strain on resources to combat both the pandemic and security concerns.

Urban density may not immediately jump to mind when thinking of many countries in this category. Their median population is only 14 million, and many of these countries have wide expanses of sparsely inhabited territory. Yet, a disproportionately large share of the population in these countries lives in cities and towns. With an average of 4,200 persons per square kilometer living in urban areas, this group has the highest level of urban population density on the continent, comparable to cities like Bogota and Kabul. This level of population density creates a COVID-19 transmission risk similar to more urbanized countries, even though, at the national level, countries in the Clustered Cities/Fragile States category are among the least densely populated in the world.

The COVID-19 risk for this category is compounded by the fact that most countries in this group are facing some level of active conflict. Moreover, all are hosting significant numbers of displaced populations (averaging 6.5 percent of the total population). These factors make these countries more vulnerable to rapid—and potentially undetected—transmissions. Further exacerbating the pandemic challenge for this group is that most of these countries also have relatively weaker public health systems, contributing to the limited amount of testing and reported cases (and uncertainty over the seriousness of the threat). Relatively low levels of transparency and press freedom, furthermore, create an environment where an upswing in transmissions would go underreported, potentially facilitating a wider spread.

These potentially dangerous risks are mitigated by this group having among the lowest levels of international exposure and youngest age cohorts on the continent. These characteristics contribute to the Clustered Cities/Fragile States group’s risk factor total for the 4 most correlated variables of a relatively modest tally of 10 out of 20. This is mirrored by the 11 countries in this profile accounting for only 6 percent of reported COVID-19 cases in Africa, even though they comprise 12 percent of Africa’s total population. Nonetheless, the underlying risk factors for this group make it vulnerable to a sudden shift.

Small/Open and Small/Restricted


The Small/Open and Small/Restricted categories have very similar COVID-19 risk profiles with regard to their structural features. They comprise nearly two dozen African countries with a median total population of 5.5 million people, relatively small urban populations and urban density, similar median ages, and low levels of international exposure. Moreover, these two groups are relatively stable with low levels of conflict and forced displacement. In short, their collective COVID-19 vulnerability is relatively low, which is borne out by the relatively smaller number of reported cases compared to total population (6 vs. 11 percent of African totals).

The important difference between these two smaller population groups is in their governance. The Small/Open category reflects those countries within this typology that have stronger press freedom and transparency. The Small/Restricted category captures those that fall below the median on the combination of press freedom and transparency measures. Given the vital importance of information for educating the public, building trust, organizing collective action, identifying and responding to cases, and adapting to the shifting realities of the pandemic, this distinction is a defining feature of each group’s COVID-19 risk profile.

This difference in governance is mirrored by their divergent COVID-19 experiences. Countries in the Small/Open group have, on average, been conducting 30 percent more COVID-19 tests as the Small/Restricted group (43,673 vs. 33,593). Despite this, countries in the Small/Restricted group have reported 75 percent more cases and cases per million people (348 vs. 201).

In short, Small/Open countries appear to be testing more and flattening the curve of transmissions more rapidly than the Small/Restricted countries. A high level of transparency, for instance, is cited as a key factor in enabling Tunisia to dramatically reduce the number of cases it has faced.

Low Transparency



The final category of African COVID profiles are those countries—Tanzania, Burundi, and Eritrea—that are not actively testing or reporting on their coronavirus cases. As a result, it is very difficult to say with any confidence how seriously the pandemic is affecting these countries. To the extent that they are reporting, Tanzania, Burundi, and Eritrea indicate that their cases per million of population are 8, 16, and 41 respectively. The African median is 189 cases per million. Using this as a baseline suggests the actual caseload in these 3 countries could be anywhere from 5- to 24-fold higher than currently reported. While not included in this category given their more consistent reporting, other African countries with notably limited reported cases per million include Angola (12 cases per million), Uganda (21), Mozambique (34), and Zimbabwe (51).

As African economies gradually reopen, the risk of transboundary transmissions via travel and cargo means the lack of reporting by any given country has consequences for their entire region. National disparities in testing and reporting of cases, public education, and treatment of individuals who are exposed, in turn, inhibits regional coordination.

Ironically, with relatively low international exposure and youthful populations, the countries in the Low Transparency category are not necessarily at high risk. In fact, the median risk factor total for the 4 most correlated factors is only 11 out of a possible 20, placing it at the same level as the Small/Restricted profile. However, by not conveying the seriousness of the threat to their populations and taking precautions, these countries may be significantly amplifying the scale of the problem they face.



This analysis highlights the importance of avoiding a single African coronavirus narrative. While uneven testing and reporting limits deeper analysis, several distinct COVID-19 experiences are unfolding across the continentEach of these profiles face different levels and types of COVID-19 risk. Certain profiles, notably the Gateway countries, have been most susceptible at the initial stages of the pandemic given their higher levels of international exposure. However, other categories, especially the Complex Microcosms and Clustered Cities/Fragile States groups, may have greater vulnerability over time due to their large urban populations, ongoing conflict or large refugee and internally displaced communities, and relatively low levels of transparency and press freedom.



Managing these vulnerabilities will vary by risk profile. While the levels of risk may differ across groups, continued vigilance will be needed across the continent as all categories continue to see rises in the number of reported cases. Moreover, given the risk of transboundary transmissions, vulnerability in one country creates a vulnerability for the entire region.

Countries with higher risks due to structural factors such as international exposure, large urban populations, and relatively older age cohorts will need to continue their efforts to contain transmissions among vulnerable populations. This will include continuing to limit large or high-density gatherings, especially indoors, and educate citizens on the value of mask wearing. Likewise, protections for Africa’s health professionals in what is a marathon rather than a sprint will be a vital force multiplier for keeping the wider population safe. The strength of Africa’s public health system is its community health extension networks, which emphasize prevention and behavior change. Prevention continues to be the priority response to the pandemic in Africa and, therefore, requires keeping health workers safe.



This analysis has also highlighted the compounded challenges that conflict-affected countries face in their COVID-19 responses. Political leaders and the public must navigate competing interests with limited resources to respond to both sets of threats. Large numbers of people living in informal settlements, as well as refugee or displaced persons communities, often in close quarters, represent potential hotspots for surges in transmissions for these countries. Best practice calls for proactive engagement with community leaders in these high-density settlements to apply practical steps to enhance social distancing, handwashing, alternative transportation options, isolation of individuals with symptoms, and contact tracing.

Competing pressures created by conflict can inhibit such initiatives—the rationale behind United Nations Secretary General António Guterres’ call, adopted by the United Nations Security Council, for a global ceasefire during the pandemic. The links between COVID-19 and conflict likewise should give further impetus to the African Union’s “Silence the Guns” initiative. Limits on testing in conflict-affected contexts may enable the spread of the coronavirus without it being immediately apparent. This ambiguity is further complicated by the fact that government transparency and press freedom tend to be more limited in conflict-affected countries.

Even outside of conflict zones, this review has underscored the importance of governance, transparency, and a free press for combating the pandemic. Reported COVID-19 cases tend to be correlated with more open governance. As the pandemic expands across Africa, a free press will continue to be an integral component for mitigating the outbreak by serving as an early warning system and helping to target public health responses.  Likewise, government transparency will be critical for engendering trust and compliance with the public health measures needed to slow the virus. A free press, therefore, is a crucial tool to Africa’s pandemic response and the continent’s resiliency strategy more generally.

Additional Resources This blog was first published on the website of the Africa Center For Strategic Studies. Access the original post here.


Het bericht Africa’s varied COVID landscapes verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

What the EU recovery fund means for Europe and international development

ODI - 23. Juli 2020 - 0:00
The landmark EU recovery fund is encouraging news for Europe, but there are concerns about it within the aid community.
Kategorien: english

Amid fears of worst recession in decades, urgent calls for solidarity, a united economic front

UN ECOSOC - 22. Juli 2020 - 21:52
With multilateral cooperation under strain, senior UN officials, Nobel laureates and eminent academic experts, gathered virtually on Wednesday for the launch of a new report recommending “an adjusted approach” to economic development, and a policy dialogue exploring how countries can recover from COVID-19, in ways that lead to real structural transformation.
Kategorien: english

Monitoring in German bilateral development cooperation: a case study of agricultural, rural development and food security projects

GDI Briefing - 22. Juli 2020 - 15:33

Monitoring and evaluation have gained importance in recent decades in development cooperation to increase evidence, and thereby aid effectiveness. However, the focus on measuring results needs to be coordinated with other strategically important aspects of the aid and development effectiveness agenda, such as adapting to local needs and harmonisation among development actors. Combining these different goals remains a challenge in the development community. Studies show that most donors have similar problems when measuring results. The quality of the collected data can oftentimes be questioned because data collection methods lack methodological rigor. The data collected and used is often of limited relevance for the project. Reporting by implementing agencies to BMZ focusses more on accountability than on using the results for learning. This discussion paper offers an in-depth analysis of the efforts undertaken by German bilateral development cooperation actors to measure results and in how far the reported data can contribute to increase the effectiveness of development cooperation. Thirteen projects by German implementing agencies GIZ and KfW were selected and analysed by means of project documents and interviews with staff. In addition, general monitoring and evaluation guidelines of German development cooperation were consulted. The results show that BMZ does not have a comprehensive results-based management system in place for planning, monitoring and evaluation in German development cooperation, which leads to quality challenges with regard to the collected data. Many projects do not have a comprehensive theory of change, use methodologically contestable indicators and are not able to demonstrate causality between their activities and the results measured. Indicators are often selected with only the limited involvement of partner countries, and there are challenges with using partner countries’ secondary data. BMZ has recently started a reform process with the aim of establishing a more comprehensive RBM system and providing additional guidance to projects on how to define indicators and measure results. The findings of this paper offer important lessons learnt and recommendations for the reform process.

Kategorien: english

COVID-19 and governance in Africa: emerging issues

INCLUDE Platform - 22. Juli 2020 - 14:01

COVID-19 has taken multiple narratives across the African continent. Coronavirus cases continue to rise exponentially in some countries, while others have seemingly avoided a huge outbreak. Some leaders chose to enact strict and sudden lockdowns with equally rapid reopening; others went for partial restrictions with more cautious easing. Even similar interventions have been shown to work in certain contexts but not others, with the impacts of restrictive and protective policies varying between countries and population groups. Enough time has passed to identify exemplary performers and those who are struggling, though longer term outcomes are still unknown and to some degree malleable.

In addition to looking at pre-existing risk factors, researchers are increasingly exploring governance factors to explain the discrepancies in COVID-related policy choices and health and socioeconomic outcomes. Governments have been given a (temporarily) expanded role in order to abate public health disasters, protect the vulnerable and stabilise economies. It is important to consider how variations in the existing quality of governance (including the capacity and perceptions of states, as captured by the World Governance Indicators) have impacted the effectiveness of African responses and, in turn, how current interventions will affect state governance going forward.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation defines governance as “the provision of political, social and economic public goods and services that every citizen has the right to expect from their state and the state has the responsibility to deliver them to their citizens”. Governance therefore encompasses authority, decision-making, participation and accountability with regard to how interventions are selected, managed and enforced.

The debates around governance and COVID-19 include whether national or decentralised responses are most appropriate in low- and middle-income countries; the particular vulnerability of resource rich economies; the abuse of citizen trust by governments; and corruption and resource misuse. Another important discussion surrounds the balance of power and responsibility between different actors, with strong cooperation occurring between CSOs, the private sector and communities on the one hand, and these actors (who often fill gaps in governance) being significantly inhibited in terms of space and capacity on the other. This article summarises some of these debates and includes evidence on the potential impact of COVID-19 on governance in Africa.


Several reports suggest that the implementation of COVID-19 measures has not been based on democratic principles. In South Africa, for example, The state cannot save us report shows how the implementation of health and economic interventions did not consider citizens as partners, right bearers and social actors. Another report claims that COVID-19 is being used to diminish democracy and governance in Africa by enabling leaders to claim power without following stipulated democratic institutions, a situation that otherwise occurs during wartime. Lack of adherence to the rule of law has also been reiterated in the report ‘How COVID-19 is putting the rule of law to the test across Africa’.

Corruption and authority

Another theme is misuse and misappropriation of resources, including those mobilised for the COVID-19 fight.  For example, in Uganda, government officials were arrested over claims of inflating COVID-19 relief food prices. In South Africa, The state cannot save us report shows that agricultural support measures tended to exclude smallholders and subsistence farmers, and that crucial food interventions have been suspended or suffered due to corruption.

Enforcement of some COVID-19 measures by police and the military has been characterised by human rights violations. The COVID-19 pandemic- a nursery for violation of constitutionally guaranteed rights report documents police and military personnel violations of constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens through torture, deprivation of dignity, inflicting bodily harm and injuries and extrajudicial killings in some Nigerian states. In Kenya, ‘Human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya’ highlights neglect of human rights principles and delayed economic and social rights enjoyment.

Civic unrest

The effects COVID-19 and its containment measures provide conducive conditions for civic unrest and conflict. The governance implications of epidemic disease in Africa report suggests that social unrest could result from COVID-19’s effect on food security, unemployment and reduced household incomes. Further, a call for coordinated governance, improved health structures and better data argues that COVID-19 is likely increase fragility which could fuel unrest and conflicts. UNECA’s impact of COVID-19 in Africa report claims that the economic and social impacts can reduce the ability to police criminal groups which could worsen vulnerability, and fuel unrest and conflicts. Relatedly, governance implications of epidemic disease in Africa reports shows that COVID-19 can adversely affect state capacity to provide public services, lead to distress and social crisis and ignite social unrest.

On the other hand, COVID-19 has enhanced multi-actor cooperation to address the pandemic. UNECA’s impact of COVID-19 in Africa reports that African civil society actors, government agencies and the private sector have worked together to address COVID-19 and its effects. The same report also reiterates that the pandemic is likely to boost Africa’s health facilities and provision, testing capacities, and strength political dialogue among stakeholders. Relatedly, from the reaffirming state-people governance relationships in a pandemic report, COVID-19 has rejuvenated the state’s role in provision of public goods through testing and hospitalization for COVID-19 positive cases, distribution of food stuffs and essential commodities to poor and vulnerable people in Rwanda and Uganda, continued supply of water and electricity in Ghana.

Further Resources The GSDRC publishes a weekly list of resources on COVID-19, governance and corruption aimed at informing and supporting development cooperation during crises. These resources cover a broad range of topics such as gender inequality, migration and refugees, perceptions of government and leadership. Find all publications here. INCLUDE also welcomes external contributions to the debate regarding knowlege sources and experiences in this area of development.


Het bericht COVID-19 and governance in Africa: emerging issues verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

False Promises: The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)

Global Policy Forum - 22. Juli 2020 - 11:14

An international study published by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Biba, Bread for the World, FIAN Germany, Forum on Environment and Development, INKOTA-netzwerk, IRPAD, PELUM Zambia, Tabio, and TOAM documents the dramatic negative impacts of the Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) on small-scale food producers in the 13 African countries the initiative focuses on.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

False Promises: The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)

Global Policy Forum - 22. Juli 2020 - 11:14

An international study published by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Biba, Bread for the World, FIAN Germany, Forum on Environment and Development, INKOTA-netzwerk, IRPAD, PELUM Zambia, Tabio, and TOAM documents the dramatic negative impacts of the Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) on small-scale food producers in the 13 African countries the initiative focuses on.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Migration and the 2030 Agenda: making everyone count - migrants and refugees in the Sustainable Development Goals

GDI Briefing - 22. Juli 2020 - 10:24

With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its guiding principle “Leave no one behind”, the international community has set itself the goal of improving the living conditions of poor and marginalised groups. In many cases, these groups include migrants and refugees. A sophisticated review process has been set up to monitor the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Here, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) play a decisive role. Migrants and refugees were explicitly included from the outset. However, this creates additional data requirements: Data disaggregated by migratory status is necessary to capture changes in the living conditions of migrant population groups within the structured review and follow up process of the SDGs. This disaggregation allows to draw conclusions about the well-being of migrants and refugees. SDG 17.18 explicitly calls for the differentiated consideration of this population group in the SDGs, where relevant, and the necessary building up of capacities for data collection and analysis.
Census data, data from national administrative registers and sample surveys are possible data sources to achieve this objective. These data sets, however, differ in their scope and extent to which they capture different types of information. Hence, each represents only a partial reality.
Five years after the adoption of the SDGs, the balance sheet is sobering: Data disaggregated by migratory status are still lacking in most countries. As a result, there is a growing danger that existing disadvantages will become more permanent or more pronounced. In line with its overarching commitment to the implementation of the SDGs, the German government should work to ensure that migrants and refugees are systematically taken into account in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda. For the remaining period until 2030 – touted as the Decade of Action and Delivery - the following recommendations are derived:
•    Harmonise migration definitions: Data collections should apply definitions and methods recommended by the UN Statistical Commission.
•    Support data collection: The personnel and financial capacities of the national statistical authorities in partner countries should be systematically strengthened.
•    Strengthen synergies: Bridges should be built between migration-specific data initiatives and thematically broader data initiatives that are closely linked to the SDG process.
•    Expand migration expertise in the SDG review process: Migration expertise should be more systematically integrated into the SDG review process than has been the case to date in order to take greater account of changes in the living conditions of migrants and refugees.

Kategorien: english

‘COVID-19 is making a global childcare crisis even worse’: UNICEF chief

UN ECOSOC - 22. Juli 2020 - 2:00
Following the release of a UN study that shows at least 40 million children have missed out on early childhood education due to measures to combat COVID-19, the head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Henrietta Fore, warned that “the pandemic is making a global childcare crisis even worse.” 
Kategorien: english

Global Protection Cluster: advocacy scoping study

ODI - 22. Juli 2020 - 0:00
Developing the Global Protection Cluster's strategy for advocacy, a key component of protection in humanitarian response.
Kategorien: english

Deforestation has slowed down but still remains a concern, new UN report reveals

UN #SDG News - 21. Juli 2020 - 18:49
Although some 178 million hectares of forest has been lost worldwide over the past three decades, the rate of loss has declined substantially during this period, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Tuesday.
Kategorien: english

The Quest for a COVID-19 Vaccine Becomes More Promising

UN Dispatch - 21. Juli 2020 - 16:10
Oxford immunologist on coronavirus vaccine: our early results look highly promising Numstocker/Shutterstock

Rebecca Ashfield, University of Oxford

A vaccine against COVID-19 is urgently needed if we’re to stop the virus spreading and prevent potentially millions of further deaths. We’re now one step closer to that goal.

We have published early results from our clinical trial of the vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (also known as AZD1222), designed by the University of Oxford and developed in partnership with AstraZeneca. The preliminary data shows that it is safe and induced a strong antibody response in all vaccinated volunteers, suggesting that an effective vaccine could be within reach.

This trial was the first time that the vaccine had been given to humans: 543 healthy adults aged 18-55 were vaccinated with a single dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. A further 534 people were given a control vaccine that gives similar minor reactions, including injection site redness and mild pain. Volunteers are having their immune response (both antibodies and T cell levels) monitored for at least 12 months, and will also be observed to see whether or not they develop COVID-19.

The preliminary data from the trial clearly demonstrates that the vaccine induces an antibody response within 28 days. This response is in a similar range to that in individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, providing encouragement that the vaccine will be able to protect the majority of people against infection.

Ten volunteers were also given a second “booster” dose of the vaccine. This increased the antibody response to even higher levels, and 100% of blood samples from this group showed neutralising activity against COVID-19 infection in a laboratory setting.

The vaccine also induced T cells that specifically recognise SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It’s encouraging to see both antibody and T cell responses, as together this is the right kind of immune response that could lead to protection against the virus. Importantly, the vaccine demonstrates an acceptable safety profile, with no vaccine-induced severe adverse events – that is, no major side-effects.

We were confident testing the vaccine in humans after encouraging trials with mice and rhesus macaque monkeys. These had shown that the vaccine was safe and induced a robust immune response. Significantly, the vaccinated monkeys were protected from severe disease after they were challenged with a much higher dose of SARS-CoV-2 than humans would encounter through natural exposure.

How does this vaccine work?

Vaccines work by training the immune system to recognise and fight off infectious agents (pathogens), such as bacteria and viruses. Vaccines do this by presenting the immune system with a readily identifiable part of a pathogen, which the immune system remembers so that it can quickly respond should it encounter that same pathogen in the future.

Most vaccines in development for SARS-CoV-2 – including this one – focus on presenting the spike protein that decorates the surface of the virus. It’s this protein that allows the virus into human cells by binding to a molecule on their surface called ACE2.

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, with its spike proteins shown in red.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Wikimedia Commons

There is a broad range of approaches to vaccine design; ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is what’s known as a viral vector vaccine. To make this vaccine, particles of a different, harmless virus (called ChAdOx1) are loaded with the portion of SARS-CoV-2 DNA that instructs cells how to build the spike protein.

When these ChAdOx1 particles infect human cells, the coronavirus DNA is then “expressed”, building the spike protein for the immune system to respond to. Importantly for vaccine safety, the viral vector can’t replicate and cause an ongoing infection.

The ChAdOx1 viral vector has been used to make eight vaccines already in clinical trials for other human diseases, including Mers (Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome), a coronavirus that is related to SARS-CoV-2.

What happens now?

Crucially, we need to demonstrate that the vaccine is effective – that it results in significantly lower (ideally zero) cases of COVID-19 in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccinated group versus the control group. Falling infection rates in the UK are an excellent outcome for the health of the nation, but may compromise the ability to show this.

If there are no cases of COVID-19 in the group receiving the control vaccine, comparing that group to the vaccinated group would be meaningless. Deliberately infecting people with the virus may be possible in future (after careful consideration of the ethical implications), but is not currently allowed.

For this reason, a second trial has been launched in approximately 10,000 UK individuals, focusing on health workers, and further trials are being conducted in Brazil and South Africa, where infection rates are much higher. The expanded UK trial will include children and older adults to estimate vaccine efficacy in these age groups. Immune responses in people over 70 are often lower than those in younger adults.

It’s essential to follow the vaccine-induced immune response over a period of at least one year, to estimate whether booster injections will be required, and if so how often. My personal prediction – based on decreases in antibody levels in individuals infected with other types of coronavirus, rather than data from the current vaccine trial – is that we’re likely to need yearly boosters, similar to annual flu jabs.

Finally, if the vaccine proves effective, rapid manufacture of potentially billions of doses would be required to supply the world. To facilitate this, AstraZeneca has already initiated a large-scale vaccine manufacturing programme, aiming to have hundreds of millions of doses with delivery starting by the end of 2020. Agreements are in place to provide the vaccine to low-income and middle-income countries and also to the UK, Europe and the US.

Rebecca Ashfield, Senior Project Manager, Jenner Institute, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Ed note. The agreement to provide the vaccine to low and middle income countries is a deal negotiated between AstraZeneca and two key international vaccine organizations and one private manufactured. On June 4th, AstraZeneca entered into a partnership with  the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness an the GAVI–the global vaccine alliance. Both entities will support the distribution and manufacture of the disease, so it can reach populations in poor and middle income countries. To that end, they have partnered with a generic vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, to produce 2 billion doses should the vaccine prove safe and effective. If this vaccine is going to be widely available around the world, it will be through these kinds of partnerships between drug manufacturers, researchers and public-private partnerships like GAVI and CEPI.

The post The Quest for a COVID-19 Vaccine Becomes More Promising appeared first on UN Dispatch.

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