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NGOs worldwide urge donor countries to increase aid in time of COVID-19, disasters

For the CSOs, this is a critical moment in the troubling context of a global pandemic, worsening economic recession, and climate emergency

Civil society organizations across the globe call for massive increases in official development assistance or aid in response to extreme natural disasters that left huge damage to lives and property in vulnerable countries, adding to the burden of struggling against the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

On November 9 and 10, the OECD Development Assistance Committee, the international forum for donor countries, will gather the political leaders for this year’s DAC High-Level Meeting.

For the CSOs, this is a critical moment in the troubling context of a global pandemic, worsening economic recession, and climate emergency. They anticipate the DAC HLM to arrive at political decisions that will reinforce the donor community’s development commitments.

“As COVID-19 unfolds, financing for sustainable development is at risk of collapse, with all resources available to developing countries under stress,” read a statement from the the DAC-CSO Reference Group.

The Group, composed of over 100 CSOs from the Global North and South, coordinates CSOs’ engagement with the DAC.

“The donor community can help resolve the debt crisis in developing countries through debt cancellations, providing grants instead of loans, and fulfilling or even going beyond the 0.7 percent ODA/GNI target,” it added.

It also called for vigilance over greater private sector involvement in COVID-19 response and in addressing climate emergency, arguing that private sector involvement “should be backed by strong principles to ensure development effectiveness.”

- Newsletter -

The demands of the DAC-CSO Reference Group include 1) Scale up ODA for COVID-19 response and recovery, 2) COVID-19 response should be toward sustainable development and underpinned by principles of development effectiveness, which should also be at the base of engaging with the private sector, 3) Implement an ambitious climate change response and commit to additional climate financing, 4) Debt cancellation particularly for countries under debt distress and to ensure that debt relief is additional to ODA, 5) Commit to a recommendation on enabling and strengthening CSOs and to the protection of civic spaces, especially as governments crackdown on human rights while using the pandemic as a pretext.

“Recent natural disasters compound systemic dilemmas that have long stunted the potential of many nations, which are also in a battle against COVID-19,” said the Group.

It cited super typhoon Goni, recorded as the strongest storm on earth, that recently ravaged some countries in Southeast Asia, while a strong earthquake left massive destruction in Greece and Turkey.

“It is important that the DAC ensures that aid reaches the poor and marginalized, those who are hit hardest by the “triple crisis” of COVID-19 – health, economic, and political crises,” said the Group.

The Group also insists on provision of grants rather than loans, especially because many countries reeling with the impact of COVID-19 are also under debt distress, as debt servicing has led to cuts in public service budgets.

“Projections on ODA commitments are alarming, based on a study by Development Initiatives, one of our member CSOs. According to OECD, external finance to developing countries declined by USD 700 billion following the outbreak of the pandemic, which is 70 percent higher than the drop in ODA commitments during the global financial crisis,” said the Group.

“This upcoming HLM is an opportunity for the DAC to show its commitment to ending systemic problems of poverty, inequality, inadequate social services, among others, that are further exacerbated by the pandemic,” it added.

“It is a chance to show readiness to undertake new measures to address systemic issues exposed by the climate emergency and the pandemic. This HLM is its opportunity to commit to building a better future for all, where people and the planet remain to be at the center of development,” said the Group.

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