Today, via the Pacific Hub, we launch our tracker of aid and assistance provided to Pacific island countries to support their responses to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic: “Coronavirus Aid in the Pacific”. It adds to our ongoing collection of commentary and analysis which is focused on the impacts of COVID-19 in the Pacific islands region.
As the realities of what a global pandemic means became clear earlier in the year, we saw Pacific island governments take swift and decisive actions to protect life in their communities. By and large this has been successful, with the overall number of reported infections across the region remaining very small, other than in some isolated cases.
The work of preparing for possible outbreaks of coronavirus and supporting individuals, communities, and businesses in weathering the associated economic storm continues. Governments have repurposed resources of their own where they are able to do so. However, maintaining levels of significant fiscal support will be challenging as we go forward.
The role of aid and assistance is a significant aspect of how governments and development partners work together to allocate resources in order to support the most vulnerable and achieve the best socio-economic outcomes in Pacific island countries.
Our aid tracker helps us monitor how countries have been supported by provision of the following forms of assistance:
- Grant financing
- Donations in kind
- Debt forgiveness
- Concessional finance
The data we have collected thus far reveals that there are numerous donors who have contributed including bilateral partners, multilateral organisations, the private sector and philanthropic bodies. This raises the very important issue of aid coordination. This is not a new one in the Pacific islands context and it is already clear that in some places, managing the transaction costs associated with multiple donors is proving a challenge.
We offer this data to policy makers, researchers and commentators for their analysis and application. By doing so, we hope to generate and contribute to a broader conversation about diplomacy, development and engagement in the Pacific islands region. We invite contributions to “Pacific Outlook” of pieces that draw on the information.
Finally, we would like to note that this is very much a work in progress. We welcome feedback from colleagues, including any items that need to be revised or corrected.
Tess Newton Cain is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Griffith Asia Institute.