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USAID radio drama informs return in Uganda

Regaining its footing after a quarter century of conflict, northern Uganda is bustling with activity. Communities are working to restore local infrastructure and citizens are going about the business of rebuilding homes and lives. However the political reality is that the political leadership wanted to expedite the return process while also provide people with crucial information to returnees so they could make informed decisions about their lives.

Radio is not only the most reliable source of information for returning communities but also serves as the medium of choice to access the information people are seeking. However radio stations also have a limited ability to deliver the kind of content needed.

To encourage people to return and help them with their rebuilding efforts, the Lamele Theatre Artists, in collaboration with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, spearheaded the production of a radio drama. Ajing Conga, Bila Pa Ladwar (I Will Strengthen My Knees – The Song of a Hunter) focuses on three families that have returned to northern Uganda and are grappling to rebuild their lives. The show is providing returnees with crucial information on education, health, culture, security, and governance.

Three stations aired the 72 episodes of the radio drama three times a week. Once the production finished, the Lamele Theater Artists took the show on the road and performed skits live in villages. The shows, some of which were revised, were well received by northern Ugandans who were able to identify with the challenges and issues portrayed.

INVOLVING HAITIANS IN THE RECONSTRUCTION EFFORT THROUGH JOBS TRAINING

submitted by Sara Lockwood

As part of our continuing series spotlighting the human face of our work in Haiti, we’d like to return to a program that we’ve already discussed here at IMPACT—the CLEARS program, that is funded by USAID and executed by our partner CHF International.

Haiti's newest generation of heavy equipment operators.

Adrien Olguine, 25, is one of 40 graduates who have been trained in operating heavy machinery and equipment by CHF International as part of USAID’s OFDAfunded CLEARS program.

Before the earthquake, CHF saw that there was a serious shortage of heavy-equipment operators in Haiti and realized that there was a tremendous opportunity to give a group of Haitians a badly needed skill-set and a chance at a better future. CHF partnered with HayTrac and set to work training 40 Haitians in how to operate heavy machinery like back-hos, bulldozers, and other equipment that would be necessary for critical new construction projects in Haiti.

Once the earthquake struck Haiti, these needs became even more acute. Graduates from the CLEARS program sprang into action and put their new skills to use clearing collapsed buildings and rubble. Here’s what Adrien Olguine, 25, one of the 40 graduates said about her ability to meaningfully contribute to Haiti’s relief and reconstruction effort:

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HOW USAID’S CANAL CLEARANCE WORK IS HELPING HAITIANS DURING THE HURRICANE SEASON

submitted by Sara Lockwood

Next week marks the six-month commemoration of the earthquake that devastated Haiti last January 12th. For the next several days, we’d like to share more information here on IMPACT about what USAID and the US Government have been doing relieve the suffering of Haitians affected by the earthquake as well as how we are tackling Haiti’s longer-term development needs with the international community and in support of the Government of Haiti. And our best gauge of our impact is what Haitians themselves are saying about our work—that’s why we’re also highlighting first-person testimonials about the work we’ve been doing.

USAID is working with partner CHF to finish clearing the Grand Canal in the Solino neighborhood of Port‐au‐Prince. The canal is one of the largest and most important drainage mechanisms in the city; left uncleared and with the onset of the rainy season, the canal would have worsened sanitary conditions in the city.

Today, we’d like to include the work of one of our partners, CHF International, to clear the Grand Canal in the Solino neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. The canal is one of the largest and most important drainage mechanisms in the city–left uncleared and with the onset of the rainy season, the canal would have worsened sanitary conditions in the city and could have posed a threat to the safety of area residents.

Here’s what Madame Moude, who was displaced along with her husband and children to a camp after the earthquake, said about the canal clearance work. She currently runs a small stall in the growing market that runs along the Grand Canal.

The smell has been so bad for so long and we are very, very happy that they’re doing this; it will be much better here now.

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Pic of the Week – Strawberries in Pakistan

USAID brings strawberries to Pakistan.

Abdul Karim sits under a makeshift shelter packing freshly picked strawberries. USAID is working with farmers to modernize their agricultural production chain, and strengthen market linkages between farmers, food producers, and exporters.

Aware of the strawberry’s potential, the Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF), a joint initiative of the Pakistani government and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), saw an opportunity to help farmers and boost the economic growth of the region with the production of such a marketable commodity.

A pilot program of the Sindh provincial government with technical support from USAID is working with several dozen farmers to modernize their agricultural production chain, and strengthen market linkages between small-scale farmers, large-scale food producers, and exporters to substantially increase agricultural incomes.

Demonstrations were given to local farmers on modern farming techniques like high-efficiency drip irrigation, as well as post-harvest handling such as proper cooling, storage and packaging of the fragile berries.

Helping Babies Breathe

submitted by Amanda Parsons

Babies across the globe, wealthy or poor alike, all face the same treacherous moment—the moment when they take their first breath. And for 829,000 babies each year, this moment is their last. These infants require help to fill their lungs with life-sustaining air and for too many poor nations, the knowledge and tools to necessary to save them aren’t available.

USAID is working with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Laerdal Medical AS, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Save the Children to correct this issue through the “Helping Babies Breathe” initiative. This international campaign aims to prevent birth asphyxia through teaching midwives and birth attendants in poor countries how to gently nudge newborns into the world of respiration.

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THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S WORK IN HAITI

submitted by Jayanthi Narain

Lighting Up Camps: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is funding an initial 75 solar lights for spontaneous settlements. USAID is working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNFPA to evaluate lighting needs in settlements and install lights where they’re needed. These solar lights will make Haiti’s displaced persons safer through a reliable and plentifully available source of energy.

Returning Homes to Habitability: As a model for future reconstruction efforts, USAID partner Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) is repairing houses damaged in the earthquake. PADF is producing a guide on training, cost analysis, and future house repairs based on this project for the Government of Haiti, and it will train builders and masons. Lessons learned from this project will be turned into post‐earthquake House Repair Guidelines specifically tailored to the Haitian context.

Reinforcing Houses: USAID has been working hand‐in‐hand with the United Nations Shelter Cluster to ensure that Haitians are prepared for the rainy season. Public outreach materials include posters in Haitian Creole such as this guide to reinforcing emergency housing.

For more information, email: usaidpressofficers@usaid.gov.

How You can help Transform Development through Science, Technology & Innovation

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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USAID Helps Put Albanian Products on the Road to Markets

Mr. Ruzhdi Koni, owner of AgroKoni Trading Company, sends off his first shipment of watermelons to a distributor in Lithuania. With USAID support, Albanian farmers and traders like Mr. Koni, are able to find lucrative international markets.

Albania is a country that produces a wealth of high-quality agricultural products and because of its geography and climate it can enter produce markets in the region and in the European Union earlier in a given year for premium prices. But that potential has not been fully met because Albania’s agriculture sector does not have adequate technological and business sophistication to be competitive.

Albanian farms are usually small, family-run operations, many of which cannot meet large purchase orders nor send their products to distant markets. Helping Albanian farmers overcome these difficulties would have an impact on reducing poverty and supporting economic development in rural areas where the poverty levels are much higher than the national average.

With USAID support, Albanian farmers, processors and traders are gaining the knowledge and skills they need to better reach regional and even international markets. Last week, USAID helped Agro-Koni, an Albanian producer of improved seedlings and consolidator, export 10 containers of early-season watermelons to Lithuania, valued at over US$50,000. The sale marks a milestone in a year-long process, where USAID’s assistance enabled Mr. Ruzhdi Koni, owner of AgroKoni, to navigate the complex process of establishing trade links with a regional buyer. Koni is preparing for two additional shipments in the coming weeks that would provide his company more than $100,000 in sales.

USAID’s five-year, Albanian Agriculture Competitiveness program is working with farmers, processors, suppliers and traders to build an integrated value-chain network that will increase the competitiveness of Albanian agriculture. Since it began in 2007, the project has had increased domestic and export sales by over 65% for assisted clients.

USAID has also published the first Albania’s Buyer Guide, a user-friendly directory with contacts for companies interested in purchasing Albanian products.

USAID’s Frontlines – June 2010


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. If you would like to automatically receive FrontLines every month, you can subscribe here.


USAID in the News June 28 – July 2

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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