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USAID’s Dr. Jeff Spieler Talks Implementing Best Practices at Global Health Council Conference in Washington D.C.

Dr. Jeff Spieler, USAID’s Senior Technical Advisor on Science and Technology for Family Planning will highlight how the Implementing Best Practice (IBP) Consortium has contributed to improving reproductive health outcomes worldwide. Speakers from WHO, USAID, UNFPA, and IBP partners in the field, will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the IBP Initiative.

IBP is an initiative begun in 1999 to enhance the ability of countries to identify and apply evidence-based and other demonstrated practices that improve the quality and delivery of reproductive health services. Initiated by the World Health Organization’s Department of Reproductive Health, USAID and other partner organizations and agencies quickly signed on, including the United Nations Population Fund, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and 14 other organizations.

This Week at USAID – June 14, 2010

Currently in Dakar, Senegal, Administrator Shah will speak at the opening ceremony of a regional food security investment forum hosted by ECOWAS.  The two Deputies of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, Ambassador William Garvelink, Deputy Coordinator for Development; and Ambassador Patricia Haslach, Deputy Coordinator for Diplomacy; are also part of the U.S. delegation attending this important regional meeting.

USAID has several officials speaking at the Global Health Council’s Annual Conference, which is being held all week in Washington, DC.  Officials will speak about a range of topics related to the work of USAID’s Global Health Bureau and President Obama’s Global Health Initiative.

On Wednesday, Administrator Shah will join Secretaries Clinton and Vilsack at the announcement of the 2010 World Food Prize winners.  The World Food Prize recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

USAID Counselor, Ambassador Jim Michel, will provide comments at the State Department’s Diplomacy Briefing Series.  This half-day public engagement conference will focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.

Administrator Shah will provide remarks at the lunchtime Newsmaker Series at the National Press Club on Friday.  He will discuss the Haiti recovery effort as the six-month anniversary of the earthquake approaches, including both success stories and remaining challenges.  Dr Shah will also outline the significant reform efforts underway at USAID aimed at modernizing the Agency in order to achieve President Obama’s bold development vision and meet the Administration’s foreign policy and national security priorities.

Natural Disasters Strike Guatemala

On May 26, 2010 heavy rainfall marked hurricane season’s first occurrence, Tropical Depression (TD) Agatha, began in Guatemala and El Salvador causing enormous sink holes in downtown Guatemala City and triggering floods and mudslides in two thirds of the country’s municipalities. Many public schools were converted into temporary shelters for the homeless.

Late on the afternoon of May 27 – Pacaya Volcano, one of the three active volcanoes, erupted 25 miles south of Guatemala City and spread ash, sand, gravel and fist-sized rocks for miles. The volcanic eruption covered the City with up to an inch of debris.

These incidents provide a good overview of what happens in a disaster: U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Stephen G. McFarland issued a disaster declaration and requested emergency humanitarian assistance from USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). The United States was one of the first nations to pledge support with $100,000 that USAID’s Guatemala Mission used to locally purchase emergency relief supplies including food rations, fuel for emergency response vehicles and helicopter time to conduct need assessments. USAID/Guatemala is working with Guatemala’s National Emergency Commission and USAID/OFDA’s assessment team and food security program partners to assess the need for further assistance.

Within hours, a seven-person OFDA assessment team was on a plane. They work closely with U.S. Mission Disaster Relief Officer, Guatemala’s National Emergency Commission officials and other humanitarian groups to coordinate U.S. assistance. The Department of Defense’s U.S. Southern Command mobilized four helicopters and 40 troops that were brought in from Honduras to support evacuations, search and rescue efforts, and transport of emergency supplies to affected areas of Guatemala.

Every year, OFDA responds to more than 80 disasters at the request of countries around the world. OFDA operates on the principle that in fragile states, a disaster—even a small one—can drain already limited resources. That’s why the United States is there to help when people need it most.

Partnering with West African Countries to Fight Global Hunger

Partnering with West African Countries to Fight Global Hunger

Administrator Shah adresses the Opening Session of the CAADP/ECOWAS High Level Event

Food security is the order of business this week.  I’m here at the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) / Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) high level event in Dakar, Senegal for its review of national and regional investment plans in agriculture for West African countries. President Obama pledged $3.5 billion for agricultural development and food security over three years and a central part of that approach includes investing in country-owned plans. The United States is making a significant contribution to support the country plans for several West African countries at this review.

Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, renews our commitment to invest in combating the root causes of chronic hunger and poverty.  In Senegal, where

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USAID Responds to Polio Outbreak in Tajikistan

More than 500 million children are vaccinated each year, including in the most difficult access places in the world.

Tajikistan is experiencing its first importation of wild poliovirus into the country in 12 years and the first case in the WHO European Region since it was certified as polio free in 2002. As of June 9, 2010, there are 183 confirmed cases of polio, including 3 deaths, in Tajikistan – out of 288 total polio cases confirmed worldwide(compared to 1604 for the same time period in 2009). For each confirmed case, there are hundreds of silent infections.

USAID is working closely with the United Nations (U.N) and countries to address this outbreak. Tajik authorities plan to conduct the next round of vaccination for children ages 6 to 15 during June 15-19. The global polio eradication effort is at a critical point in time.  Since the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988, the global number of polio cases has reduced by over 99 percent.  Now, polio is endemic in only four countries (India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan) compared to 145 countries before the GPEI began.  Furthermore, GPEI’s efforts have mobilized 20 million volunteers around the world, staged mass immunization campaigns, and vaccinated about 2.5 billion children worldwide.  Cases in India and Nigeria are at their lowest ever – an indication that we can not let up on our efforts now.

Still, significant challenges remain to eliminate the persistent reservoirs of this disease including insecurity, inconsistent management and ownership by local governments, sub-optimal communication and community mobilization, and reaching newborns, minority and mobile populations. Because of the need to frequently repeat campaigns, there is often a certain fatigue about seeing yet another vaccination team knocking at the door. Yet these proactive house-to-house campaigns are the only proven way to eliminate polio from a country. And with the world being so close to wiping out polio forever, we can’t afford to give up or to settle for “almost.”

The U.S. is the largest donor to the GPEI, contributing over $1.4 billion to date. Polio eradication is also a key part of the Administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI). In 2009, President Obama announced a U.S. commitment to work with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on polio eradication during his speech in Cairo in which he called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world. Read about USAID’s approach to polio eradication. The new 2010-2012 GPEI Strategic Plan, recently endorsed by the World Health Assembly, requires a $2.6 billion budget through 2012, with a $1.3 billion funding gap.

USAID in the News

submitted by Jessica Scott

In an interview with The Washington Post, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah discussed the Feed the Future Initiative, an Obama Administration program that USAID is leading to ensure food security and end hunger worldwide. Just after taking part in a food security conference in Dhaka that will play a key role in implementing the program in Bangladesh, Dr. Shah noted that US officials have been working at a high level with the Bangladeshi government, civil society and private sector. Feed the Future will focus on improving the agricultural systems of at least 20 countries and is expected to benefit 40 million people over a decade.

This week Dr. Shah officially announced the formation of USAID’s policy planning staff. Lawrence (Larry) Garber has been chosen to head up the effort as the acting assistant to the administrator for the brand-new Bureau of Policy Planning and Learning. Garber will be one of two deputy assistant administrators in the bureau.

During a visit at the White House with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, President Barack Obama announced that $400 million of aid will be sent to Gaza and the West Bank. The majority of the funds will be distributed through USAID for housing, education and infrastructure.

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Inside USAID: Getting to Know Our Newest Bureau

submitted by Julie Kunen

An interview with Larry Garber, Assistant to the Administrator of the newly created Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) Bureau.

Q: Why has PPL been created?
Garber: Administrator Shah created PPL to serve a range of internal and external stakeholders with policy analysis, meaningful evaluations, strategic planning coordination, and a dedicated focus on using science and technology to solve development problems. Working with the Agency’s talented professionals, the Bureau will provide an informed and unified voice in inter-agency and external fora. Of equal importance, PPL will support USAID’s evolution as a learning organization that is results-oriented, and fosters interchange among policy, planning, evaluation, research, innovation, and knowledge- management activities. PPL will also promote active engagement with and learning from our national and global development partners.

Q: What will PPL be working on?
Garber: PPL staff from the Bureau’s five offices (Policy, Strategic and Program Planning, Donor Engagement, Science and Technology, and Learning, Evaluation, and Research) will support the Administrator’s priority goals and initiatives, which include a renewed focus on the MDGs; inclusive, country-led growth; science, technology, and innovation; and development in crisis situations. More generally, PPL will play a leadership and coordination role on matters of policy and strategic planning for the Agency, providing guidance and content for policy- and strategy-related dialogues that occur in interagency and other external fora.

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Dr. Scott Radloff Talks Family Planning with Actress Rachael Leigh Cook

USAID speaks with actress Rachel Leigh Cook

Dr. Scott Radloff Talks Family Planning with Actress Rachael Leigh Cook

Dr. Radloff, Director of USAID’s Population and Reproductive Health Office, took some time to discuss the importance of family planning with actress Rachael Leigh Cook at the Women Deliver 2010 Conference in Washington, D.C. this week.  Shortly before Dr. Radloff spoke on a panel titled, “Paving the Road to Maternal Health with Family Planning” he answered the many questions Rachael had about the current need for family planning in the developing world.

Earlier in the day Rachael tweeted from the conference, “Maternal mortality rates in developing countries are shocking.”

It was evident from her conversation with Dr. Radloff that she is interested in learning more about how meeting the family planning needs of more than 215 million women can play a roll in reducing global maternal mortality rates. Her interest in maternal health and family planning was echoed by the many Hollywood actresses that showed up in support of the Women Deliver 2010 conference this week.  Aside from Rachel, actresses Ali Larter, Ashley Judd, Christy Turlington, and Annie Lennox attended the conference to bring much needed visibility to women’s issues.

Football Brings Hope To South Africa

submitted by Saba Hale

Nike created a “monolithic temple for football” in South Africa to give “inspiration and aspiration to the local community.”

This week Nike celebrated the grand opening of their soccer center in Soweto, South Africa. The training facility was a gift to the communities of Soweto and Johannesburg. Andy Walker, the designer, said he wanted to create a “monolithic temple for football” to give “inspiration and aspiration to the local community.”

Nike hopes that this facility will provide the youth of Soweto a safe place to come together through soccer and inspire them to reach their full potential, not only as athletes but in their lives.  The center houses two USAID-associated project groups – Grassroots Soccer, an NGO that coaches children in football, and Right to Care.  Additionally, it has integrated both HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment on site.

We hope this state-of-the-art facility creates a legacy for future generations. The center promotes the best quality of soccer – a unifier of people and communities. The facility’s lights shine though Soweto brightening once darkened corners.

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Dr. Jill Biden visits a USAID sponsored school for girls in Kenya

A great video over at Whitehouse.gov highlights the travels of Dr. Jill Biden in Kenya and her visit to a girls school helping to give young women a brighter future.

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