The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health ::
Holistic Development :: Sustainable Resilience
Week ending 20 December 2014

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortiums and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
Editor &
Founding Managing Director
GE2P2 – Center for Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

pdf verion: The Sentinel_ week ending 20 December 2014

blog edition: comprised of the 35+ entries to be posted below on 21 December 2014

The Sentinel will resume publication on 3 January 2015 following a holiday break.

Security Council, Adopting Resolution 2191 (2014), Renews Authorization Allowing Agencies, Humanitarian Partners Continued Aid Access across Syrian Borders

Security Council, Adopting Resolution 2191 (2014), Renews Authorization Allowing Agencies, Humanitarian Partners Continued Aid Access across Syrian Borders
UN Security Council – SC/11708
17 December 2014
Affirming that despite severe challenges in Syria the United Nations and its partners were delivering life-saving aid there, the Security Council this morning renewed for twelve months its authorization for those actors to use routes across conflict lines as well as specified border crossings.

Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2191 (2014), the 15-member body decided that United Nations agencies and humanitarian partners could continue until 10 January 2016 to, with notification to the Syrian authorities, use the border crossings at Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Hawa, Al Yarubiyah and Al-Ramtha in addition to those already in use as originally authorized by resolution 2165 (2014) (see Press Release SC/11473 of 14 July). It also renewed the monitoring mechanism created by that resolution in order to ensure compliance.

The Council reiterated that the only sustainable solution to the violence in Syria and the accompanying deterioration of humanitarian conditions was through an inclusive, Syrian-led political process. In that context, it said it looked forward to further advice from the Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, concerning his proposals on the implementation of so-called “freeze” zones.

Text of Resolution 2191 (2014) here

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah Resigns

Statement from USAID Administrator Shah
December 17, 2014
[Initial text from resignation communication outlining USAID achievements over last several years]
I want to thank President Obama for the honor of serving our country these past five years as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Thanks to his leadership and the extraordinary commitment of our nation’s development experts, America is the unquestioned leader in eliminating the scourges of extreme poverty, hunger, and child death worldwide. Recently, I informed President Obama and Secretary Kerry that I will step down as Administrator in mid-February 2015…

Chief of Agency for International Development to Step Down
New York Times | 17 December 2014
Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development and the highest ranking Indian-American in the Obama administration, announced on Wednesday that he would step down as head of the agency early next year…

Data2X Announces New Partnerships to Address Critical Gender Data Gaps

Data2X Announces New Partnerships to Address Critical Gender Data Gaps
Initiative Aims to Ignite a Gender Data Revolution to Spark Progress for Women and Girls Globally
New York, NY — December 15, 2014
Today, Data2X announced new partnerships for better data to understand and improve the lives of the world’s women and girls at an event with Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Michael R. Bloomberg, Chelsea Clinton and other key partners. The partnerships will tackle six areas where data is missing on women and girls: civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS), women’s work and employment, financial services, women’s well-being and poverty, big data, and results reporting on U.S. government foreign aid…

Since its launch in 2012, Data2X, powered by the United Nations Foundation, has served as a platform to identify gender data gaps and generate partnerships to address them. As an initial step, Data2X identified 28 gaps in global sex-disaggregated data across five domains: health, education, economic opportunities, political participation, and human security…

Today’s event kicked off the next phase of the project, focused on forming strategic gender data partnerships to tackle the gaps most ripe for action based on international momentum, ease of filling the gap and number of girls and women potentially affected…

New partnerships were announced to tackle the following types of data gaps:

:: Civil Registration and Vital Statistics
(Partners: The UN Economic Commission for Africa and the Africa Programme for Accelerated Improvement of CRVS (covering 54 countries in Africa) and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (covering 60 countries in Asia-Pacific)) Strengthened Civil Registration and Vital Statistics systems are critical to obtain real numbers on maternal deaths and causes of death, as well as marriage, divorce, and other life events of importance to women and girls. Civil registration also helps facilitate access to legal identity, which provides women and girls with the opportunity to exercise their rights. Yet poor and unmarried women in particular are least likely to register their children. This partnership will help national and regional bodies incorporate gender into Civil Registration and Vital Statistics plans through technical assistance and international and national advocacy.

:: Women’s Work and Employment
(Partners: The International Labour Organization, the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization). Last year, the International Conference on Labor Statisticians adopted new statistical standards for measuring work and employment. The new standards for the first time recognize all productive activities—paid and unpaid—as work. Full and separate measurement of both paid and unpaid work is crucial for recognizing the economic contributions of women and girls and the unpaid work they do in the family and on farms. This partnership will support the transition to using these new standards in a way that best captures women’s economic contributions and maintains comparability with previous survey rounds.

:: Supply-Side Data on Financial Services
(Partners: Global Banking Alliance for Women and the Inter-American Development Bank). Banks do not see women as a distinct client group because they lack sex-disaggregated data; as a result, women clients remain underserved. This initiative will develop a multi-level and multi-stakeholder approach to incentivize the widespread collection and reporting of sex-disaggregated anonymous client data by banks. It will be bank-driven and will commence with a Data Working Group that will outline how all stakeholders can support banks in the process of collecting and reporting sex-disaggregated data. International adoption of the recommendations and standards from this group should help to close financial services gender data gaps globally.

:: Improved Gender Data on U.S. Foreign Assistance Programs
(Partners: Millennium Challenge Corporation and U.S. Department of State/PEPFAR). A number of recent initiatives seek to improve the global availability and accessibility of the data collected and reported by all U.S. Government agencies involved in foreign assistance work. This partnership will build a technical standard to harmonize gender reporting to improve the availability, transparency, accessibility, and use of gender results data in U.S. Government partner countries. It will also sponsor an “open data challenge” to implement the standards, derive better sex- and age-disaggregated data, and train partners in the use of gender results data for decision-making.

:: Measurement of Women’s Poverty and Progress
(Partner: Government of Mexico – National Institute of Statistics and Geography). Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, INEGI, is a leader in reducing data gaps. INEGI will pilot new approaches to gender data collection and work with Data2X to disseminate knowledge and promote South-South knowledge sharing. INEGI and Data2X will explore the added value of including subjective measures of well-being for men and women along with more standard, income-based measures. This work will fill a data gap on gender, well-being, and poverty, and offer lessons learned for other countries on improving poverty measurement techniques. INEGI and Data2X will also collaborate on big data by analyzing Twitter feeds to explore gender differences in adolescent mental health.

:: Big Data and Gender
(Partners: UN Global Pulse and UN Women). Effective use of big data in development policymaking and advocacy could improve the lives of women and girls by resulting in more efficient services and programs. Research and technology development are needed to fulfill this potential and ensure that women and girls—particularly those unreached by digital platforms—are represented in big data streams. In addition, new institutional norms and safeguards need to be put in place to ensure that big data benefits are maximized while reducing the risks of harming women and girls, particularly with respect to individual privacy and sensitive datasets.
Moving forward, Data2X will help advance the existing partnerships, continue to develop new gender data partnerships and seek additional funding to reach the largest number of women and girls possible.

The Tsunami legacy – Disasters Emergency Committee

The Tsunami legacy
Disasters Emergency Committee
19 December 2014
…This week DEC member agencies Oxfam and CARE International have both released new reports on how the Tsunami influenced the changing humanitarian system. Swiss Solidarity (a fellow member of the Emergency Appeals Alliance) also launched a new evaluation of the response earlier this month.

These top ten lessons are thanks to their research:
1. Evaluating the needs of survivors quickly is crucial and this means listening to those affected and designing projects with them. We are now much better at sharing analysis and evaluations amongst ourselves. In the Philippines after the 2013 super typhoon, some member agencies worked with local people to design their own shelter kits and feedback mechanisms such as helpdesks are common place.

2. Humanitarian agencies are now much more likely to provide people with materials, grants or skills training to help them build their own home rather than build it for them. Shelter kits help people be part of their own recovery and design their own shelters according to their own needs. Some agencies work with affected people to design their own kits, acting as the advisors and advocates for new safe homes. We know that training local people to lead reconstruction and recovery increases the acceptance of the project and allows us to reach more people more quickly.

3. In the fourth year of the Tsunami response, DEC member agencies focused on helping people at-risk of emergencies prepare for the next disaster. Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction are now a core part of what we do. We help local communities map the potential risks in their area and train people in construction, conservation agriculture, micro-insurance, or early warning systems.

4. The Tsunami helped us better understand the importance of designing projects that meet the varied needs of boys, girls, women and men in emergencies. For example women were between 1.2 and 2.1 times as likely to have died as men across tsunami-affected areas. Rapid gender analysis, assessments and the collection of sex and age disaggregated data are now routine. For example in Syria CARE has been able to share information on the increased numbers of pregnancies amongst displaced women, which helps agencies provide more targeted services for pregnant women.

5. The geographical scale of the disaster and the generous international funding meant that for part of 2005, there were close to 200 international NGOs operating in Aceh province alone. Numerous evaluations showed the need for better coordination among humanitarian agencies. So the UN set up the cluster system to bring agencies together to coordinate around different sectors such as education, protection or shelter.

6. A new evaluation of the Tsunami response by Swiss Solidarity found that helping experienced small-scale entrepreneurs recover the business they lost in the disaster was very successful. It helped people restart their business and sometimes expand production. However start-up entrepreneurs without prior experience were less successful with very few start-ups continuing their new businesses. Aid agencies are now much more conscious of existing inequalities and try to make sure interventions do not exacerbate the vulnerability of marginalised groups.

7. A 2008 review of reconstruction in post-tsunami Indonesia and Sri Lanka found that community involvement is essential to building back safer, stronger communities and since the tsunami there has been a shift towards building the capacity of local organisations. For example just as Christian Aid allocated £250,000 to their national partners on Boxing Day 2004 so they could start work straight away, agencies are always striving to equip local people to respond.

8. Many have argued that the humanitarian response acted as an incentive for peace in Indonesia. This finding is supported by a 2008 survey, which found that 57 percent of Aceh’s population think the tsunami, and the response to it, had a positive effect on peace in the region. In Sri Lanka it is thought the tsunami increased tensions in the long-running conflict. In its new report Oxfam argues there is an ongoing need for humanitarian agencies to devote more effort to designing conflict-sensitive approaches that either de-escalate or at least avoid exacerbating tensions between different groups.

9. After the tsunami, CARE provided survivors with vouchers for basic food items that could be exchanged for food at pre-approved local shops. This relatively new method at the time, helped local businesses to get back on their feet but meant people could make choices about what they needed. This approach is now widely recognised as an effective way of meeting people’s essential food needs.

10. The UK Public always gives generously to disasters. The outpouring in response to the DEC’s Tsunami appeal was the largest ever but British people consistently respond to calls for support. However international government giving is declining. For the humanitarian community to continue to learn lessons and improve our support to those most in need, we need the backing from global leaders and institutions. More people are now affected by humanitarian crises and funding has to keep up with this growing need.

The Rockefeller Foundation, IFC to Create New Project Development Facility for Resilient Infrastructure

The Rockefeller Foundation, IFC to Create New Project Development Facility for Resilient Infrastructure
The Rockefeller Foundation / December 19, 2014 / Press Releases
WASHINGTON—The Rockefeller Foundation and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, are launching a project development facility aimed at unlocking private sector investment for infrastructure that helps build resilience across emerging markets.

Global institutional investors are keen to invest in infrastructure, but there aren’t enough well-structured projects. The major challenge lies in the early stages of project development. Often, governments lack the capacity to structure, negotiate, and manage complex infrastructure transactions. This is a critical bottleneck that delays and often stalls the development of projects. As a result, not enough projects are coming to market.

The Rockefeller Foundation is committing $10 million to this new facility. The facility will provide grant funding to support legal, technical, and financial advice to governments working with IFC on infrastructure projects that help cities build resilience and support poor and vulnerable people. This will accelerate the development of projects, and increase the number of bankable projects that reach financial close. The Foundation and IFC will aim to jointly raise an additional $40-$90 million from other partners, which could help the development of up to 80 medium-to-large scale projects globally.

“Governments often need sound advice to navigate complex agreements when they work with private sector companies to develop infrastructure projects,” said Karin Finkelston, IFC’s Vice President for Global Partnerships. “This partnership provides a crucial link that can help accelerate the development of bankable infrastructure projects across the world.”

This facility is part of a broader collaboration effort between The Rockefeller Foundation and the World Bank Group to expand financing solutions for resilience and infrastructure across emerging markets.

“Rapid urbanization, globalization, and the rise of extreme weather events are giving rise to a new set of shocks and stresses that threaten our collective wellbeing, so it is critical that we invest in infrastructure that builds resilience,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “We are delighted to be working together with IFC to create more bankable infrastructure projects that build resilience and help communities that are particularly susceptible to associated shocks and stresses.”

United Nations – Selected Press Releases [to 20 December 2014]

United Nations – Selected Press Releases [to 20 December 2014]
Secretary General, Security Council, General Assembly

19 December 2014
At Ebola Treatment Centre in Sierra Leone, Secretary-General Tells Caregivers ‘You Are Bringing Your Country and the Entire World to a More Hopeful Place’
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Ebola Treatment Unit in Hastings, Sierra Leone, today:
[Concluding comments]
… Ebola remains a global crisis, and we must stop it at its source. The only acceptable goal is zero cases. A single case is all it takes to start an outbreak. All of us, whoever we work for, must remain super-vigilant. Our task is to prevent Ebola from becoming endemic in the region.
The crisis will end when the last person to experience Ebola is under treatment and there is no other case for at least 42 days. To do this, there will be a constant need for reliable data, skilled professionals, good management, effective coordination, and finance.
Our task, within the UN system, is to help you locate and access these resources. We cannot rest till you have what you need to complete the task. There can be no let-up.
We need to get kids back in school, fields planted, and markets up and running again. And beyond halting Ebola, we need to build up health systems and other infrastructure that will forestall something similar occurring in the future.
We owe this to millions of people across West Africa whose lives have been disrupted and plunged into misery. We owe this to the health-care workers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in answering the call of service.
To all the people of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, I say: The United Nations has stood with you for years in your quest for development and peace, and we will continue to be your close partner now.
Thank you again for your leadership in the Ebola response. It has been an honour to see you in action here today. In your person and in your work, you are the embodiment of compassion and commitment. In bringing comfort to those in need, you are bringing your country and the entire world to a more hopeful place.

19 December 2014
Security Council, Adopting Resolution 2195 (2014), Urges International Action to Break Links between Terrorists, Transnational Organized Crime
During an all-day open debate presided over by the Foreign Minister of Chad, the Security Council called for international action to prevent terrorists from benefiting from transnational organized crime, through securing borders and prosecuting illicit networks.

19 December 2014
Acting upon Recommendation by Second Committee, General Assembly Adopts 43 Texts, Defers Action on Sovereign Debt Restructuring Framework Draft
The General Assembly, acting on the recommendation of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial), today adopted 38 resolutions — seven requiring recorded votes — and five decisions on a range of issues relating to strengthening the post-2015 agenda. Those included external debt, creation of a new international economic order, the multidimensional nature of development and poverty, South-South cooperation, liberalization of world trade, promotion of new and renewable sources of energy, and problems of countries in special situations.