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Aid & development links: Cyclone Winston, military aid, saving Rwanda's babies, solar clean water and more

Aid & development links: Cyclone Winston, military aid, saving Rwanda's babies, solar clean water and more
Published 22 Feb 2016 

By Chloe Hickey-Jones, an Intern in the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program.

  • As a devastated Fiji begins to take stock in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston, the largest tropical storm on record in the Southern Hemisphere that hit on Saturday, the death toll has risen to at least 10. Emergency workers and international aid organisations have  reached some of the worst-affected villages.  ABC News has released Cyclone Winston’s trail of destruction in pictures
  • The OECD has redefined foreign aid to include some forms of military spending. This will allow nations to use overseas aid budgets to fund and support military and security forces in fragile countries. This support must still promote development goals. Non government organisations including Oxfam and ONE have criticised the shift, saying it will allow countries to disguise spending on defence as foreign aid, and result in further erosion of overseas aid and development spending globally.
  • Devpolicy is investigating what, if anything, could change Australian’s opinions about aid. It has conducted three separate experiments, each involving 1000 people. The results suggest the most effective way to change thinking is to use international comparisons (the UK was used in their analysis). This research was presented at the recent Australasian Aid Conference, and you can find Terence Wood's and Camilla Burkot’s presentation here.
  • Presentation slides and podcasts of the Australasian aid conference are also now available.*
  • And if you missed it, here's Annmaree O’Keeffe’s analysis on The Interpreter of Peter Varghese’s speech to the 2016 Australasian Aid Conference and how it reflected a welcome shift in DFAT’s thinking on aid and effective development assistance.*
  • MamaMia launched a Q&A series over 13 weeks, interviewing 13 Australian women doing vital humanitarian work in conjunction with the Campaign for Australian Aid initiative. Both Nichola Krey (Head of Humanitarian Affairs at CARE Australia), and Helen Szoke (CEO of Oxfam Australia) participated in the series discussing their careers in aid and development.*
  • In Timor Leste, where over half the population is under 30 and formal employment is sparse, increasing numbers of young people are becoming entrepreneurs. Timor Leste has struggled to grow a market economy after decades of conflict but Filipe Alfaiate and others are encouraging entrepreneurship as a form of social change. Read their success stories here.
  • In Rwanda, more than 15,000 community-based volunteeres, are assisting doctors in providing maternity support. RapidSMS, a programme started in 2009 allows volunteers and healthcare professionals to communicate with and monitor pregnant women and newborns. the UN estimates more than 590 000 children have been saved since the porgramme began.
  • Solar-powered water purification plants are now being used across rural Bangladesh thanks to solar cell techology designed at Lund University in Sweden. Inventor Kenneth Persson, Professor of Water Resources Engineering at Lund University, was driven by the fact that  750 million people across the globe cannot access clean and safe water, making the sustainable provision of clean water one of the most important goals for humanity. This YouTube clip has more on the invention.

*Editor's note: These links were added after this post was first published.

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