submitted by Anna Gohmann
Next Wednesday, Administrator Shah will convene an innovative and first-of-its kind hi-level conference that will focus on the role that science and technology can have in development and specifically on our projects here at USAID. The conference, entitled Transforming Development through Science, Technology and Innovation and co-hosted with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the President’s Science Advisor, Dr. John Holdren, will bring together a small group of some of the nation’s pre-eminent thought leaders to launch a new era for science and technology at USAID.
While we wish we could bring everyone interested in this topic to the conference, we would like to extend you an invitation to send your thoughts on how we can best deploy cutting-edge advancements and use them to increase our efficiency, effectiveness, and success rate. That’s why we’ve created an innovative Ideascale, where you can submit your ideas and vote on the highest priority challenges in development until 12 midnight this Thursday night. Just visit transformingdevelopment.ideascale.com and let your voice be heard. We’ll incorporate the feedback we get on Ideascale into our discussion topics and conclusions.
We’re particularly interested in your thoughts on the following key sectors on which we’ll be focusing at the conference:
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Read the latest edition of USAID’s premier publication, FrontLines for these stories:
Administrator Rajiv Shah supports the new $3.5 billion Feed the Future initiative with trips to two target countries, Bangladesh and Sudan
USAID responds to two back-to-back natural disasters in Guatemala in May
In the Agency’s new science and technology office, scientific breakthroughs are being touted as a way to tackle health, agriculture and water challenges in developing countries
Preventing trade in “conflict diamonds” in Central African Republic starts with helping miners clearly establish ownership rights to diamond-rich properties
The 2010 InterAction forum draws hundreds to debate the methods, policies, goals and rationale for U.S. foreign aid
Read these stories and more in the new issue of FrontLines
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submitted by Amanda Parsons
For USAID Afghanistan civilian aid worker Laura Mendelson, tough negotiations with tribal leaders, anger from villagers and constant enemy fire are all in a days work. A Sunday Washington Post Magazine article outlines her efforts, the progress made and struggles faced by all aid providers on the ground in the war torn country.
After spending decades in exile, Saad Mohseni returned to become one of the most powerful influencers in Afghanistan. Today, he owns radio and television networks, an advertising agency, and a movie production company, among other businesses. Realizing that media messaging would be one of the most effective ways to responsibly rebuild the nation, USAID issued grants to help fund Mohseni’s work to build free press. The New Yorker and NPR profile the burgeoning media mogul and his recent successes thanks to United States support.
“Father of the Green Revolution,” Norman Borlaug established the World Food Prize in 1968. The international award recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. As 2010’s winners were announced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, together with US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah, announced the creation of the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative—a cooperative venture of USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that, as Voice of America reports, will combine the two agencies’ resources, knowledge, commitment and expertise to work together for the realization of Borlaug’s dream of feeding the world.
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At a forum organized by Global Washington and hosted by Seattle University, Maura O’Neill, USAID’s Counselor for Innovation, will participate in a discussion about Washington State’s contribution to the global development sector and will offer recommendations for improving the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance.
Administrator Shah will join Secretary Clinton at the State Department to address the 2009-2010 Jefferson Science Fellows. The ten Fellows are tenured professors assigned for one year at State and USAID. Their universities contribute to the success of this public-private partnership.
USAID will be recognizing World Population Day on July 11th. USAID’s Family Planning program is one of the success stories in U.S. development assistance. Since the launch of the program in 1965, families are better able to feed, clothe, educate, and provide health care for their children.
A community health hut is an innovative approach to ensure health services for those who don’t have the money or the transportation to travel great distances to see a doctor. USAID supports a nationwide network of nearly 1,500 huts in Senegal, staffed by almost 10,000 volunteers, covering a population of nearly two and a half million people. These often small, one or two-room structures are widely accessible around the country, including remote, rural areas where there may be no other health provider available. It is community-managed, financed and volunteer-staffed, which means it’s not government driven, but in the hands of the people. USAID began supporting these structures in the early ‘80s and since then, as the largest and most consistent donor, its support has become synonymous with comprehensive community care here. In fact, it is a very important aspect of the malaria prevention and treatment program (the President’s Malaria Initiative) and critical to family planning and reproductive health programs, all of which work hard to reduce maternal and child mortality, as part of the Millennium Development Goals.
As part of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Statesmen’s Forum, Administrator Shah will give an address on the U.S. Global Health Initiative. Dr. Shah’s remarks will focus on integration and innovation for better health outcomes. This event, held on Tuesday at 1 PM Eastern, will be webcast live.
Alonzo Fulgham, USAID’s Chief Operating Officer, will join Ambassador Melanne Verveer during the U.S. National Voluntary Presentation at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Annual Ministerial Review. Mr. Fulgham will discuss how U.S. commitments to the Millennium Development Goals are integral to the empowerment of women around the world.
Check out the transcript of Dr. Rajiv Shah’s speech at the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Annual Convention.
submitted by Jessica Scott
Administrator Rajiv Shah shared insight on his ideas for agency reform at the National Press Club June 18 luncheon. His inspiration for the changes stemmed from the extraordinary actions of his staff in response to the earthquake disaster in Haiti. The emergency teams demonstrated their versatility by purchasing food from local reserves as opposed to depending on food sent by the US. Working closely with the World Food Programme, they managed to feed approximately three and a half million people. The reform will not only focus on disbursing aid, but determining the impact it has as well as providing solid evidence to the American taxpayer’s as to the significance of their contributions.
The Helping Babies Breathe Campaign, a program implemented to prevent birth asphyxia, was announced last week in Washington. The purpose of this campaign is to educate midwives and traditional birth attendants in underprivileged countries on how to resuscitate a newborn. USAID has teamed up with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Save the Children to power this initiative. Currently, the curriculum is being offered in ten countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America through USAID maternal and newborn health programs.
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Just had a great evening of meeting and speaking with young doctors at the annual conference of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI). They’re an impressive group of professionals who are doing so much on behalf of their communities and people in need overseas.
Back in my college days in Michigan I volunteered to assist physicians in an extremely poor community in South India. This group of doctors not only treated people’s medical needs, they also created an enduring development program that improved livelihoods and strengthened the community. I was there for only a few months, but it was enough to convince me that when we put our minds together to solve some of the most difficult problems, we can be successful.
And in that context, I really appreciate what groups like AAPI are doing to create that sense of possibility.
Later, I created with my wife, Shivam, who was then my girlfriend, a Philadelphia-based youth leadership and mentoring program with chapters in several major U.S. cities that brought young people to Washington, DC to inspire them about the potential to serve. And one of our first grants was from the very organization that I just spoke with last night.
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USAID held a lively discussion this week on the connection between education and militancy in Pakistan, focused on the Brookings Institution’s newly released report, Beyond Madrassas: Assessing the Links between Education and Militancy in Pakistan.
The Brookings Institution funded and wrote the report, but we thought its release would be a great opportunity for staff from USAID and US government agencies, think tanks, academics, diaspora groups and other development partners to discuss the findings more in-depth.
USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, told the 125 attendees that the event was “part of our reform agenda here at USAID … to be as evidence-based as possible in making program decisions that get more educational results for U.S. tax dollars”.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey – USAID – Brookings Institution
Guest speaker Congresswoman Nita Lowey thanked the report co-authors, Dr. Rebecca Winthrop and Dr. Corinne Graff, saying “we know that education, especially a quality basic education, is instrumental in fostering a more peaceful society, preventing conflict, and ensuring equality between men and women.”
Afghanistan/Pakistan Task Force director Jim Bever moderated the discussion, which featured the report co-authors Dr. Winthrop and Dr. Graff, Steve Inskeep (National Public Radio), Bruce Riedel (Brookings Institution) and Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa (Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies).
Read more about the event, see the full transcript.