5 Efforts Toward Reduction of COVID-19 Effects in Developing CountriesSince the end of 2019, the spread and containment of the novel coronavirus have been on many people’s minds. Throughout the pandemic, it has become clear that money and access to the resources necessary to combat this virus are a privilege that not all countries can afford. However, the needs of impoverished countries in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic have not gone unheard. Various foundations, organizations and governmental leaders from developed countries have made efforts to combat the effects of  COVID-19 in populations that need assistance the most. Here are five COVID-19 relief efforts in developing countries.

5 COVID-19 Efforts in Developing Countries

  1. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has long fought against global poverty by making healthcare and education accessible to those in need. This foundation has responded to the global health crisis by donating approximately $2 billion to combat the novel coronavirus worldwide. The money that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated is used for a variety of measures to combat the pandemic and its effects. Support for the endeavor of creating accurate tools to diagnose individuals with the virus within populations is one such measure. Another is the support of healthcare systems within developing countries with medical resources and front-line working personnel. A third measure is an increase in the availability of digital learning technologies within countries that are suffering further due to a lack of educational resources. The creation of a COVID-19 vaccine was also supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  2. Developing nations have come together to assist developing countries struggling with the pandemic’s secondary effects through the G20 Debt Pact. G20 countries created a debt pact in which it was agreed to write off debts that developing countries owed. Due to the expenses of the pandemic, many nations are struggling to repay debts to developed countries. This pact eased the financial burden of countries already suffering from the novel coronavirus.
  3. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is an organization that works to vaccinate populations in developing countries with limited medical resource access. As the novel coronavirus has become a present worldly concern, Gavi has recently been working to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to countries without the necessary resources to purchase vaccine doses independently. Developed countries have thus far obtained the majority of vaccines produced as a result of a monetary advantage. Gavi has urged that the vaccine be more widely distributed as the pandemic will not cease if vaccines are only available in select areas of the world. Its hope is that, by the end of 2021, efforts will allow one billion vaccines to be available to the vulnerable in developing countries.
  4. The Papal Foundation is a Catholic-based organization working to offer a helping hand to global communities. Part of the mission of the foundation is to assist those who are most vulnerable in the world, regardless of age. This foundation has fulfilled its mission with respect to COVID-19 reduction by donating $1.8 million to the impoverished in the face of this pandemic. Overall, this money goes toward providing individuals in impoverished countries with basic needs and care, as the pandemic has made resources like food and hygienic materials scarce for many.
  5. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that increased COVID-19 testing can be one of the most effective ways for impoverished countries to fight the effects of this pandemic. Increased testing allows for fewer lockdown measures put into place, which can greatly help the economies of these countries. Rapid tests are an inexpensive and effective way of testing mass amounts of people. Moreover, increased testing can help COVID-19 relief efforts by both decreasing the spread of COVID-19 in impoverished countries and increasing desperately needed funds and resources.

The needs of individuals in impoverished countries are still drastic, as many of the economies and medical systems remain underdeveloped amid COVID-19. While the effects of COVID-19 have hit developing countries harder than in other areas of the world, these COVID-19 relief efforts, along with many others, have made a positive impact in combating the virus and its secondary effects.

– Olivia Bay
Photo: Flickr

G20 Initiatives to Support the Global EconomyThe G20 is a group of 20 leading nations (19 countries and the European Union) that gather for high-level discussions on macro-financial, socio-economic and development issues on a global scale. Together, they comprise almost 90% of global GDP and 80% of global trade. This year, the G20 summit will be held from November 21-22, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Supporting the Global Economy Amid COVID-19

This October, the G20 highlighted the importance of prioritizing the global fight against COVID-19 and doing “whatever it takes” to support the global economy. As part of their plan to bring COVID-19 under control, the G20 has pledged to invest upwards of $5 trillion to support the global economy. This is in response to the widespread economic consequences of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

The U.N. has previously spoken out about the importance of the G20 coming together to develop a plan for tackling the novel coronavirus. In March 2020, the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the G20 directly in New York, saying that “solidarity is essential, among the G20 and with the developing world, including countries in conflict.” He added that the pandemic requires a “war-time plan to fight it.”

“While the liquidity of the financial system must be assured, our emphasis must be on the human dimension. We need to concentrate on people, keeping households afloat and businesses solvent, able to protect jobs,” Guterres continued.

Guterres also called for debt relief, economic and social support to developed countries and a stimulus package.

Solutions to Support the Global Economy

To support the global economy as a whole, the G20 will likely be required to heed the aforementioned requests from the U.N. Additionally, economic forecasts show that developing countries are at much greater risk of economic anxiety due to the socio-economic effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic, in contrast to developed countries which are already showing signs toward economic recovery.

The G20 has now also agreed for the first time on a “Common Framework” to handle low-income countries facing debt, which is a monumental step forward for global debt relief. This framework is expected to be finalized at the November meeting.

Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the IMF has commented on this achievement. “I am encouraged by G20 discussions on a Common Framework for Sovereign Debt Resolution as well as on our call for improving the architecture for sovereign debt resolution, including private sector participation,” said Georgieva on October 15, 2020.

The G20 has also agreed to extend the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) by six months. This means it will now freeze official bilateral debt payments until the end of 2020. The G20 has also stated that another six-month extension will be considered in April. This is significant progress from the G20’s past stance regarding the global debt agenda.

Katherine Musgrave
Photo: Flickr

Argentina's Growing Tech Hub in Latin AmericaArgentina is one of three Latin American countries in the G20 and now has a booming tech industry. Though the industry has been on the rise since the 1980s after a major Argentinian recession, growth in recent years can be attributed to a few key factors.

One reason for Argentina’s growing tech hub is President Mauricio Macri’s new market-friendly policies. President Macri has sought to use the tech sector as a source for both new growth and reduced economic reliance on commodities. Though criticized, the policies Macri has introduced have helped the country reopen access to international debt markets and incentivized entrepreneurship. The Macri administration expects that 1.5 percent of GDP will come from the tech sector because of new policies.

The new law, called Ley de Emprendedores, or the Entrepreneur’s Law, replaces a previous law where approval and financing procedures took nearly a year to complete before entrepreneurs could legally launch their companies. The policy also allocates public funding to co-invest with private funding into businesses, by the means of the Fiduciary Fund for the Development of Venture Capital. This legislation is backed by both the Association of Entrepreneurs in Argentina and the Argentina Association of Private Equity, Venture and Seed Capital.

As such, the startup technological field continues to grow with a new generation of companies. These companies include the Y-Combinater backed Bluesmart, satellite startup Satellogic which raised $20 million last year to build imaging satellites and Affluenta, a peer to peer lending platform, which raised $8 million last year.

The stars of Argentina’s growing tech hub are three internet companies located in Buenos Aires that are worth over a billion dollars: MercadoLibre, OLX and Despegar. MercadoLibre is the only internet company from Latin America that is listed on NASDAQ. As the Huffington Post states, “a startup ecosystem is flourishing” in Argentina.

Gabriella Paez

Photo: Flickr

Gender Employment Equality
At the G20 Summit 2014, leaders have agreed to tackle the persisting gender employment gap in their respective countries. The final agreement is to decrease the gap by 25 percent by 2025.

The gender employment gap varies from region to region. Developed regions generally have a lower gap, while developing regions have a higher gap. Currently in OECD countries, where the gap is one of the lowest, there is a 12 percent difference between the sustained, legal employment of men and women. In North Africa and the Middle East, where the gap is the one of the highest, there is a 50 percent difference in employment between men and women.

Ways of tackling the gap also vary region-to-region and country-to-country. Approaches include increasing access to education and childcare and making maternity leave options more attractive and widely available. More innovative approaches include things like fostering women in business and finance, creating opportunities for women in the public sector and encouraging investment in higher education for women.

Reaching the goal of decreasing the gap by 25 percent will add 100 million jobs for women across the world and add $1 trillion to the global economy.

In 2015, Turkey will take over leadership of the Summit. As the G20 country with one of the highest gender employment gaps, as well as its position at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, Turkey and its leadership will be in the spotlight on this issue. For them especially, tackling the gap will mean pulling a large number of people into the workforce, which will create opportunities for households in poverty to have another income-generator.

The G20, in an official statement, said that this agreement “will significantly increase global growth and reduce poverty and inequality.” The G20 acts, in some ways, as an agenda-setter for the rest of the world. Effects on the gender employment gap could be seen in much more impoverished areas of the world simply because it is being addressed by the biggest economies in the world market. Employing women and expanding the workforce increases generated income, possibly creating drastic, positive outcomes for poorer, smaller economies.

– Caitlin Huber

Sources: The Australian, Work Place Information, University of Toronto
Photo: Employer Rights Blog

Trillion Dollar Scandal
Extreme poverty around the world has been cut in half over the last 20 years and has a possibility of being completely eradicated by the year 2030. However, the ground that is being gained toward a better tomorrow is being threatened by what some are calling the “Trillion Dollar Scandal.”

A recent report released by the ONE campaign revealed that money is being stolen from developing countries. How? That is a great question. As the report details in depth, ONE has found that through a variety of unethical means, there have been “shady deals for natural resources, the use of anonymous shell companies, money laundering and illegal tax evasion.”

ONE’s studies show that $20 trillion is being held offshore, with $3.2 trillion being withheld from poor countries. Since a trillion sounds just like a big number to most of us, how much is it, really? A stack of one trillion one dollar bills would be 67,866 miles high or about one-third of the way to the moon. Multiply that by three. The amount money that is annually being taken from our poorest countries in the world is truly staggering.

While these estimates are jarring, they do not take into account international aid that is being given to these countries. The stolen money is coming out of their own economies, making fighting poverty ten times more difficult. ONE estimates that as many as 3.6 million deaths in the world’s poorest countries could be prevented each year if this scandal is put to an end by world leaders.

Illegal manipulation of cross-border trade is the biggest source of economic loss for poor countries. If the right steps are taken to end this Trillion Dollar Scandal, ONE suggests the money should go back and be invested in health systems and education. The money stolen from these countries could educate 10 million more children a year, provide around 165 million vaccines and help put an end to preventable child deaths.

Focused on a way to end this, ONE is hoping to get the word out before the upcoming G20 leaders meeting in November. The G20 is currently highlighting economic growth as its number one objective. Clearly though, without putting a stop to the money being stolen from poor countries, economic progress will be impossible.

ONE suggests a four step plan: first, shine light on anonymous companies. Second, publish what you pay. Third, crack down on tax evasion. Fourth, publish government data. To learn more or get involved with spreading the word to the G20, visit their website.

– Brooke Smith

Sources: ONE 1, ONE 2, The Guardian
Photo: OxFam

The Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, has expressed her desire to have women’s rights be one of the focuses at the G20 development meeting in Australia. Noting the connection between income inequality and the gender gap, Mlambo-Ngcuka suggests that tackling domestic violence and legal injustices will help empower women and introduce them as employable individuals.

Recent events in Africa and the Middle East targeted against women’s education and economic potential have deterred the expansion of women’s rights and social justice. Women being threatened for attending school and being restricted to the domestic sphere has caused concern for the future financial and economic well-being of women.

The extremism in developing nations has caused a caustic backtracking of expanding both educational and professional opportunities for women. With threats of violence against them, fewer women are likely to pursue expanding personal opportunities in the face of such adversity.

With many of the G20 nations priding themselves on an ethos of gender and economic equality, Mlambo-Ngcuka views the collaborative efforts of these nations to be a jumping-off point for discussing women’s rights.

Though women’s rights are often discussed in conjunction with other economic issues, Mlambo-Ngcuka suggests that at this summit, it should be a discussion of its own. With the marginalization of women, the economic capabilities of a country are significantly hindered since only a fraction of the labor force is being employed. Women’s talents and perspectives are being dismissed in traditionally patriarchal societies and everyone is paying the economic price.

While the G20 summits focus on international development and investment, it is also the place where women’s rights has the opportunity to come to the international conscience. With many of the world’s predominant newspapers covering the summit, women’s rights and development has the potential to become one of the hot topics of the Australian meeting.

Kristin Ronzi

Sources:, Washington Post
Photo: The Guardian

Last February, a group of G20 ministers met in Australia to evaluate and establish global growth goals for the next five years. In this meeting, they reasserted their countries’ commitment to “carefully calibrated and clearly communicated” monetary policy settings. According to a communique published following the meeting, G20 members will not allow for complacency when it comes to fostering growth measures. While specific plans have yet to be developed, the main goal is to raise the global GDP by 2 percentage points in the next five years, which promises to create millions of new jobs.

Supporting these plans, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a report outlining strategies to raise the global GDP by 2.25 percent.

Accordingly, it states that while this established goal is ambitious, it is not unrealistic. However, as recovery from the 2008 recession remains disappointing, the global economy “remains far from achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth.” Coupled with issues of demand and high levels of debt, one element of weakness remains the volatility of the financial system.

In another report, the IMF has announced that regulators have not done enough to stabilize the global banking system and protect taxpayers from another “too big to fail” situation. Banks and investment firms remain too big and too intertwined, risking another episode similar to the 2008 crisis. The risk of big banking bailouts using taxpayers’ money remains very much alive.

According to the report, regulations implemented by western governments could be “mutually destructive” and undermine their ability to address future bank failures. Moreover, policymakers have failed to make banks stand on their own. Through implicit subsidies and coordinated rescue plans, big financial institutions remain tethered to the government. In fact, accounting for the various subsidies these institutions perceive, brings the total bill close to the 2008-09 government bailouts. While in the U.S. these implicit subsidies have been limited to 70 billion a year, in the Eurozone they reach 590 billion.

The IMF acknowledges that there is substantial progress towards making the global banking system more secure, especially by forcing them to hold more capital. However, to prevent another crash, this should be coordinated along more structural reforms across countries. If not, the IMF predicts that another financial crisis could cost the Eurozone another 300 billion in bailout and the rest of the world much more in a weakening economy.

In a world where state economies are highly interconnected and interdependent, this translates in funds being diverted away from foreign assistance. While governments have to be ready to spend billions of dollars to remedy a failure in the financial system, foreign aid funding is in constant danger of being reduced. Indeed, the U.S. foreign aid budget has been reduced by almost 20 percent in the last 15 years.

To put things in perspective, between 2008 and 2009, bailouts of various banks and investment firms reached a total of 204 billion dollars, out of which only 90 billion has been repaid. This is equivalent to the annual budget of the Gates Foundation, USAID, UNICEF, PEPFAR, UNDP, World Food Program, UNCHR and the Millennium Challenge Corporation all together.

G20 member countries remain committed to creating a climate of economic stability. In preparation for the Brisbane summit next November, they aim to specifically map out reforms in response to the 2008 global financial crisis. This would entail more resilient financial institutions, ending “too big to fail,” and making the world of derivatives safer.

– Sahar Abi Hassan

Sources: The Guardian (1), The Guardian (2), CNN Money
Photo: Modernize Aid

G-20 stands for “Group of 20 [nations]” that come together every year in a different place to discuss solutions to global issues, mainly economic issues. The 20 nations included in the G-20 summit are: Australia, Japan, South Africa, France, Turkey, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Mexico, Korea, China, Canada, Italy, Indonesia, India, the EU, Germany, the UK, Brazil, and Argentina.

At their summit once a year, these nations discuss various problems whose solutions can only be reached with international cooperation. The first G-20 session (conducted in Washington D.C., USA) dealt with the economic crisis of the time.  Ever since then, the G20 has taken the responsibility of preventing further economic meltdowns with international cooperative measures. The G20 summit is also a great place to address poverty. Helping stabilize the economy and encouraging growth will result in a better economy even in poorer nations. It would help improve infrastructure, and allow smaller nations to build their nation and economy.

This year, the G20 summit, hosted by Russia, will again tackle financial and economic problems. Russia has organized its main priorities for growth in three main categories: Regulation; Jobs and Investment; and Trust and Transparency. One of the main recommendations to ensure economic growth is to confront corruption. Corruption effectively holds back progress. Especially in smaller nations, or nations where aid is necessary to build infrastructure and economy, corruption prevents funds from reaching their destination. The G-20 committee will address the issue of corruption in October. In a solution to, and an active fight against, corruption, lies the future of the fight against global poverty.

Solving economic problems will directly impact poverty; fighting poverty will result in a stronger global economy. Attempting to address economic issues with this in mind will help the international economy, and the national ones as well. The G-20 summit, which meets mainly to address these economic issues, has the potential to greatly impact the fight against global poverty.

– Aalekhya Malladi

Sources: G20, U.S. Department of State
Photo: Radio Netherlands Worldwide