From the UK’s aid cuts to the latest on COVID vaccines

Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention director John Nkengasong says widespread COVID-19 vaccination in the continent will likely only begin in the second quarter of 2021 due to the challenges involved in accessing vaccines and preparing countries for their distribution.

Related: COVID-19 vaccine work for UNICEF is about to become more intense. Here’s why.


The UK, US, and Germany have announced plans to begin COVID-19 vaccinations in their countries in December.

Related: US vaccine expert predicts life could be back to normal around May


Health experts say a series of irregularities and omissions, including a key mistake in the vaccine dosage received by some study participants, have eroded confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine candidate being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which AstraZeneca has claimed to be up to 90% effective.

Related: Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine may be trialled again after uncertain results


Aid experts, activists and some MPs have criticised the British government’s decision to cut funding for international aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of Britain’s gross national income as ‘unprincipled, unjustified and harmful’ and will have a devastating impact on millions of people around the world just as the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to undo decades of progress.

Related: Foreign Office minister resigns as Sunak cuts aid budget


British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says the UK’s future aid strategy will focus only on countries in which its ‘development, security, and economic interests align.’

Related: ‘Poverty reduction’ missing from new UK aid strategy


Aid and climate experts say the British government’s decision to cut its aid budget will alienate allies in the developing world and undermine trust in the UK going into next year’s vital COP26 talks.

Related: Pressure grows on Boris Johnson over UK carbon emissions plan


Officials from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) say the violence Ethiopia’s Tigray region will likely drive 200,000 people into neighbouring Sudan in the coming months.

Related: Aid workers in Sudan scramble to respond to tens of thousands of refugees fleeing Ethiopia


Aid agencies are urging bondholders and lenders to restructure or cancel debts owed by the Africa’s poorest countries to prevent a ‘debt tsunami’ engulfing the continent due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Development experts have welcomed president-elect Joe Biden’s nomination of U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and  the decision to restore the ambassadorship to a Cabinet-level position.

Related: With John Kerry Pick, Biden Selects a ‘Climate Envoy’ With Stature


Though US president-elect Joe Biden is expected to repeal the ‘global gag rule’ policy prohibiting recipients of US aid funding from engaging in abortion-related activities upon taking office in January, women’s health experts say the incoming administration will need to go much further to undo the damage done by the Trump administration.

Related: European Commission promises action on gender


As US President-elect Joe Biden begins the preparations to take office in January, observers say it is unclear what Biden’s election will mean for the World Bank, with some voicing concerns about the incoming administration’s relationship with Bank president David Malpass, a Trump appointee who was seen as a skeptic of multilateralism before his appointment.

Related: Opinion: DFC’s public engagement and transparency policies fail communities


Reforms to the World Health Organisation (WHO) proposed by France and Germany have drawn a mixed response from health experts, with some criticising the proposals for their lack of ambition and limited scope, and others arguing the two countries’ plans prioritise the concerns of rich countries rather than than pushing for a more autonomous WHO that could pursue a broad agenda reflecting the needs of all its member states.

Related: World leaders join forces to fight the accelerating crisis of antimicrobial resistance


New data published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) shows water shortages are now affecting more than 3 billion people around the world.

Related: ‘Immense suffering’: older people worldwide being failed by aid agencies – report


An independent review into allegations that conservation rangers supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) committed violent abuses in several countries has cleared the organisation of complicity in these acts, but criticised WWF for serious shortcomings in oversight.


Germany is set to introduce a mandatory boardroom quota for women which will require companies based in Germany to ensure women make-up 30% of the membership of their boards.