Education is an important component of reducing poverty, promoting peace, and empowering individuals to participate in democratic institutions. Since 2003, primary school enrollment has increased more than 50 percent in Kenya. In recognition of USAID’s 50th anniversary working in partnership with Kenya, this video provides an overview of USAID’s education programs and particularly focuses on efforts to reach vulnerable, marginalized children.
Archives for 50th Anniversary
When we think about the economic potential of the estimated 215 million international migrants residing in countries other than their country of origin, we tend to fixate on the roughly 350 billion in money transfers sent annually to support family back home — perhaps with good reason. Remittances are a critical financial link between migrants and their family members back home, supporting the consumption needs of households and now these money transfers are increasingly going into savings accounts, towards home purchases and other asset building activities. However, while remittances are typically person-to-person private flows, we are also witnessing investments into small and medium enterprises by a new cadre of entrepreneurs from the diaspora community. Diaspora entrepreneurs are becoming important change makers in their country of origin. Having established themselves in the U.S., these dynamic individuals are now bringing back capital, intellectual expertise and business acumen to start enterprises in their countries of origin. In turn, these businesses are impacting the local marketplace with the introduction of new technology, products and services and business processes that are fostering innovation and enhancing competitiveness in the local economy.
Often outside the focus of the mainstream press, there are many examples of diaspora-driven enterprises as change agents ranging from a technology company utilizing a coding system and SMS technology to combat drug counterfeiting in Nigeria to an environmentally-friendly ferry powered by sunflower oil produced by local farmers in Uganda. At USAID, we have sought to harness this entrepreneurial drive by launching initiatives like the 2010 African Diaspora Marketplace where we partnered with Western Union to launch a business plan competition targeted to U.S. based African diaspora. Skeptics might question the role of a donor agency in providing seed capital and supporting start-up small and medium enterprises; that normally happens in Silicon Valley and not in Washington, DC right? But a paradigm shift is occurring in the development field too.
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Read the latest edition of USAID’s premier publication, FrontLines to learn more about the Agency’s 50th anniversary as well as its work in food security.
- Decades-old projects in former Soviet bloc countries show how USAID investments can nudge countries on the path to political, social and economic reward
- Before-and-after satellite imagery proves 40 years of conservation efforts in Guinea’s forests have produced densely covered forests, smartly managed agriculture and untouched wildlife habitats
- The Agency’s Horn of Africa aid delivers a one-two punch of emergency assistance and long-term support
- In developing countries, increasing food security also means increasing “girl power” as the majority of farmers are women
- And, check out photos that illustrate the best of USAID’s past and present from the latest FrontLines photo contest, where readers were asked to send in pictures to mark the Agency’s five decades (If you want in on the action, go to the Viewer’s Choice page before Nov. 18 and cast a vote for your favorite image among the official judges’ top-five picks)
Julia Gitis is a Presidential Management Fellow in the Bureau of Economic Growth, Agriculture & Trade. She recently visited Senegal, Ghana, and Mozambique with a focus on donor coordination in the field.
USAID celebrated its 50th birthday last week, thereby also celebrating half a century of successful partnerships in global development. One of the more recent and high-level partnerships in which USAID engages is with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US government foreign aid agency started in 2004. USAID and MCC collaborate closely in Washington, DC, with the USAID Administrator serving as a permanent member of the MCC Board of Directors.
In the field, USAID and MCC look for concrete ways to partner more intently on the ground. Many of these opportunities currently revolve around Feed the Future, President Obama’s global hunger and food security initiative. I recently visited USAID and MCC counterparts in three Feed the Future focus countries—Senegal, Ghana, and Mozambique—to discuss how the two agencies can better leverage each other’s resources.
In Senegal, the relationship between MCC and USAID is positive. The 5-year, $540 million MCC compact in Senegal includes a focus on rice cultivation, with opportunities to leverage USAID’s value chain programs that include seeds, feeder roads, marketing to promote local programs, and access to credit. The Government of Senegal has assumed a proactive role in donor coordination, by including USAID representatives in discussions concerning collaboration around the MCC compact. Both agencies have a strong agriculture focus in Senegal, and MCC’s investments in roads, water resource management, and irrigation systems will tightly align with USAID’s implementation of Feed the Future priorities.
In Ghana, USAID and MCC have both worked extensively in the north, where the poverty rate is twice that of the rest of the country. In direct collaboration, USAID has helped place teachers in schools that were constructed by MCC. And the two agencies have focused on investments in agriculture; one farmer I spoke with has benefited from both USAID and MCC programs and saw his crop yield increase from 2 bags of corn to 10 bags of corn per acre—after which he was able to send his kids to school. Success stories like this one illustrate the importance of the work both agencies are doing. Under the Obama Administration’s Partnership for Growth effort, Ghana was selected as one of four countries to participate in an interagency process to improve development outcomes. USAID and MCC are working closely with the Government of Ghana to identify binding constraints to economic growth. Future work in the identified sectors will likely link with USAID’s implementation of Feed the Future programming.
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The US Agency for International Development (USAID) celebrates 50 years of leadership and expertise in addressing development challenges to improve lives across the globe. Since it launched, USAID has had a rich history of supporting global health, including research and development (R&D). Some of the major breakthroughs in global health that USAID has supported include:
- Oral rehydration therapy (ORT). ORT, a treatment for diarrhea, is credited with saving tens of millions of children’s lives. USAID began supporting this effort in the 1960s. In 1979, USAID made the largest donor investment in the establishment of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, where scientists continue to conduct important R&D to improve ORT.
- Eradicating smallpox. In 1966, USAID joined the global effort to eradicate smallpox, a contagious disease that killed more than 300 million people in the 20th century. In the same decade that USAID began to fight the disease, 10 million to 15 million people contracted the disease a year, and more than 2 million people died from it. Through investing in research that adapted the mechanics of US military jet injectors for application of the smallpox vaccine, USAID played a critical role in achieving global eradication of the disease.
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October 31: Over the weekend, the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) posted audio from a town hall held to recognize USAID’s 50th anniversary. Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah was joined on stage with former USAID Administrators, who shared their unique view and experience leading America’s development agency.
November 2: In an op-ed published in A href=”/cgi-bin/goodbye?http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1111/67453.html”>Politico, former USAID Administrators highlighted the success and value foreign aid has had over the past 50 years. “Using less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget annually, the American people have demonstrated their deepest values through USAID programs. Because of the efforts of the American people, more than 1 billion people now have safe drinking water, smallpox has been eradicated and tens of millions have been saved though USAID’s famine relief efforts.”
November 3: Look to the Stars, which publishes stories on celebrities making a positive impact on the world, wrote an article on USAID’s FWD Campaign. The story highlighted USAID’s work with the Ad Council, which launched a national PSA campaign featuring Josh Hartnett, Uma Thurman, Geena Davis, Chanel Iman, and Dr. Jill Biden. The ads call on the American public to forward the facts on the famine in the Horn of Africa.
In March, I accepted an award, on behalf of USAID, from South Korea’s Health Minister to honor the legacy of a remarkable partnership between USAID (and its predecessor, the International Cooperation Administration) and South Korea that facilitated the reconstruction of Korea’s medical education, research, and infrastructure in the wake of the Korean War. At the award ceremony, I heard the inspiring personal stories of Korean medical practitioners who benefitted from U.S. assistance and went on to transform the medical field in their home country. One that sticks in my mind in particular is Bo-Sung Sim, who received training in the United States from 1955 to 1957 through the U.S.-supported Minnesota Project and went on to pioneer modern neurosurgery in Korea.But assistance in the medical field is just a piece of a much larger story – one of a productive U.S. and Korean partnership to transform a nation wracked by war into an economic powerhouse and donor partner that itself now provides aid to the world’s most vulnerable people.
Beginning in 1952, USAID supported South Korea’s aggressive growth strategy, helping the country build agriculture and industrial sectors that could fuel development. Fast forward to today. USAID no longer provides assistance to South Korea, which “graduated” from U.S. assistance in 1980. Instead, South Korea has now become a vibrant source of trade for the United States. It is currently the eighth largest market for American goods and services. The development that has taken other nations centuries has been accomplished in just two generations.
And South Korea itself has become a net donor of foreign assistance and the newest member of the “advanced nations’ assistance club” known as the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Later this month, Korea will host the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, a major forum that will bring together 2,000 delegates to review progress enhancing the effectiveness of aid, and make commitments will transform the way bilateral aid for development is delivered.
A lot can happen in 50 years, and U.S. assistance to Korea is a prime example of the power of development aid to transform lives, create trading partners, and build a future of friendship and prosperity.
For more on USAID’s support for Korea’s extraordinary development, please see our case study “From Aid Recipient to Donor.”
Note: USAID and Peace Corps are both celebrating their 50th anniversaries this year, as well as their ongoing collaboration. Both agencies have been active in Ghana since 1961. Currently, USAID is supporting volunteers’ innovative work in nutrition and food security as part of the Feed the Future Initiative.
In the very north of the Volta region of Ghana, in the Nkwanta South District, you can find the village of Jumbo #1. Almost without exception, every person in Jumbo is a farmer. Along with rearing free-range animals, they farm cassava, maize, soya beans, tomatoes, okra, peanuts, and yams. Lots and lots of yams. As a Peace Corps Volunteer I arrived in Jumbo in August 2010. One of my first observations was that the children were very small. I recognized that they were stricken with varying degrees of malnutrition. Swollen bellies, thin limbs, 2-year-olds who “used to walk” and “can’t” anymore; this is what I saw as commonplace.
Using funds from USAID’s Small Project Assistance Grant, I was able to conduct a nutrition program using the “Positive Deviant” (PD) Hearth methodology, which focuses on finding basic nutrition in the locally available foods and using those foods to make children healthier. The program seeks out a mother whose child is above average weight (the ‘positive deviant’) to serve as an example of someone who is doing a good job of nourishing her child. The remaining women in the program are selected due to the malnourishment of their own children, as determined by a weighing of every child under five. For the 145 children weighed in Jumbo, the statistics were striking: only six percent of children were a healthy weight, and 67 qualified as being malnourished enough to participate in the program.
As the Agency reflects on its fifty years of service to this nation, I recall my personal history in development, which began over fifty years ago at the International Cooperation Administration, carried on through the creation of USAID in 1961, and continues today.
At 19, I was told by the State Department that I was too young to be hired for overseas assignment. But, when I arrived in Tunisia with my husband Mel, who was assigned to the American Embassy military attaché’s office, I was hired as Foreign Service staff. The American secretary at the United States Operations Mission, or “USOM,” was required to leave the country quickly because of an indiscretion with a married local Embassy employee, and a replacement was needed immediately. I welcomed the opportunity to work after a few months of performing the functions of a diplomat’s wife, which included assisting the American ambassador and his wife at charity events, teas, lunches, receptions, and the major July 4th celebration.
Tunisia was newly independent from France (1956). The Tunisian people were educated and pro-Western, the American community was small and welcoming, and our home was beautifully situated on the beach near Carthage. Our weekends were filled with caravan trips to different beaches in the country, diggings in Carthage to find Roman mosaic tiles and other antiquities, baseball games between Embassy staff and Tunisians who learned the sport from U.S. troops during the war, and flying around the country in a small airplane piloted by my husband who had earned the country’s first pilot license (Tunisia Aviator License #4; the first three licenses were honorary).
We frequently experienced hazardous landings while avoiding camels walking on the desert landing sites or World War II temporary metal airstrips. The agency’s staff was small, dedicated, and managed a successful economic and technical assistance program, that began in 1957 until the country’s economic advances led to graduation from USAID funding in 1994. I was not surprised that freedom-loving Tunisians would be the spark that ignited the Arab Spring in the Middle East early this year, and I was especially pleased with the recent successful democratic elections in the country.
USAID’s health and population program is a top priority for USAID’s mission in Kenya. USAID works with partners in Kenya to bring health workers directly to the communities. These health workers provide information and care about HIV/AIDS and malaria programs, as well as work with community religious leaders to discuss family planning. USAID supports HIV/AIDS programs in each Kenyan province, has provided millions of treated mosquito nets to communities throughout the country, and has led a successful program that shows family planning is possible without violating religious or cultural beliefs.