ICEIDA only in Africa later this year
- the number of partner countries down by two
The Government of Iceland has decided to close down the Icelandic embassy in Nicaragua this summer, but the embassy is also ICEIDA´s country office. The closure is planned to take place 1st of August. Previously, it had been announced that ICEIDA´s operations in Sri Lanka would be terminated by mid-year. Iceland’s bilateral partner countries will therefore be two fewer this year and by late 2009 they will be limited to Africa, just as it was before 2004.
According to Sighvatur Björgvinsson, Director General of ICEIDA, the reason for the cut-down of partner countries can be traced to reduction in ICEIDA´s budget and the crash of the Icelandic Krona. Sighvatur points out that ICEIDA´s activities in the partner countries will be reduced by 36% this year, from 22 million USD in 2008 to 13 million USD this year. “The great cut back this year will result in ICEIDA only being able to hold already signed commitments, but neither financing new projects nor preparing them”.
Sighvatur says that poor countries in Africa have always been the most important recipients of Icelandic ODA and cooperation with the partner countries in Asia and Central America only lasted a few years. “Supporting African countries is in line with International emphasis and the policy of the Icelandic Government, which is to work with the poorest countries in reducing poverty and improving livelihoods. The cut down of partner countries is fully in line with the International emphasis on development cooperation to be more efficient,” he adds.
According to Sighvatur, ICEIDA will honour its commitments and continue with the geothermal project in Nicaragua due to end in 2012, even though ICEIDA´s formal stay in the country will end this summer. He says that the Government has been notified of Iceland’s decision and in the next few days they will have conversations with the Government and other co-operating parties in the country on how the closure will be executed.