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This Week at USAID – June 7, 2010

Currently leading the U.S. delegation to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Board meeting in Rome, today Administrator Shah meets with the Executive Director of WFP, Deputy Director Generals of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the President of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Earl Gast will be sworn-in as the new USAID Mission Director to Afghanistan.

Several USAID officials will be speaking at the Women Deliver Conference at the Washington Convention Center. In addition, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health, Amie Batson, and the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, will both speak at the Global Business Coalition on AIDS, TB and Malaria’s annual conference, also in Washington, DC.

USAID in the News

Submitted by Jessica Scott

Administrator Shah took part in the first ever US-India Strategic Dialogue this week. The meeting included a host of senior leaders from both sides.  Dr. Shah discussed development as part of the complex relationship between the two countries.

The final 314 American troops from Operation Unified Response were airlifted from Haiti on Tuesday. Even as troops were being pulled out of the country, they continued to work with USAID and the UN in nine camps housing Haitians who lost their homes.  The Washington Post’s editorial page commemorated the transition with a lead editorial that mentions USAID in connection with the importance of continued U.S. involvement in Haiti’s recovery.  USAID officials who have been leading this effort, including Paul Weisenfeld and Christopher Milligan, attended the World Summit on the Future of Haiti.

The USAID-Funded FIRMS Initiative is helping bridge the gap between Pakistani mango farmers and European consumers.  Pakistan exports a relatively small percentage of its mango production.  Under the FIRMS program, farmers are being trained in the best ways to pick, sort, grade, and package the

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USAID Support to Girls’ Education Helps Break Cycle of Poverty in Pakistan

Students celebrate at a new school built through USAID assistance from the American people

In many households in Pakistan, poverty and tradition prevent millions of school age children access to quality education.

Low attendance rates, inadequate infrastructure, and poorly trained teachers perpetuate theseserious gaps in education.  Despite these challenges, education is a top priority for families.

USAID/Pakistan is making schooling more accessible to girls so to help them become pillars of Pakistan’s future progress. When girls attain higher levels of education, they are more likely to improve household living standards, have smaller and more sustainable families and their children are less likely to be malnourished. In short, they are better equipped, empowered and inspired to break the cycle of poverty.

At the Interaction Forum in Washington, D.C. on June 2, USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah said “Girls’ education is one of the most valuable interventions that can be made to improve long-term social outcomes.” Read his remarks here.

USAID/Pakistan, in coordination with other donors, has embarked on a large scale program to help Pakistan increase enrollments and expand educational opportunities, improve the quality of learning, rebuild schools and increase support for higher education. To date, USAID programs ensured that approximately 900,000 school-aged children were able to attend classes.

USAID/Pakistan plans to renovate 4,000 primary schools to repair the schools, provide furniture, toilets and clear water for students throughout the country; renovate primary schools to include the middle school grades (six to eight), especially for girls; and is increasing student achievement in science, math, English and computer literacy – four critical subjects at the middle and secondary school levels, and upgrading teacher skills.

In addition, a new USAID educational outreach program through the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop will build language, problem-solving and analytical thinking skills for children across Pakistan. The project will feature puppet-based television broadcasts, complementary radio programming and a dynamic website where children can interact with their favorite puppets, live shows staged from vehicles set up as theatres will reach remote, rural areas, including conflict-affected districts. Messages will promote learning while reflecting Pakistani culture and values, based on the country’s education curriculum. Read more here.

Rebuilding Communities in Pakistan

By Zack Taylor

Khana Mohri buffalo milk producers, primarily men, developed a dairy association with USAID support. The association provides training and veterinary support to its members, and stores its milk in a chiller bought through the USAID project.

On October 8, 2005, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and AJK, killing 74,000 people and injuring 70,000. In the years since the devastating earthquake, reconstruction of the region has been an important component of the development portfolio at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Pakistan.

Read more about efforts to rebuild lives and livlihoods of the families and communities who live in this remote, mountainous province in Pakistan.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, the U.S. government mobilized all of its available resources. Military helicopters transported survivors out of destroyed cities and brought in thousands of tons of relief materials such as food, medical services, clothing, and tents in collaboration with the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team. Heavy machinery moved debris to search for victims and set the stage for rebuilding.

The close teamwork of Pakistani and U.S. governments, along

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Measured Marriage: For One 15-year old, a Chance to Finish Childhood from USAID

Due in large measure to USAID-provided health messages provided to a member of the local Village Council and leader in her community, 15-year-old Bakhtawar will be able to finish school - and growing up - before she is married.

Kanjeer, Pakistan – Bakhtawar was a good student in the fifth grade at a small school located in a Southern Pakistan village.

She enjoyed learning, laughing with her friends, and spending time with her family. But one evening, as she sat nervously in a chair beside her parents at the local meeting hall, she knew that everything about her childhood was coming to an end. No more school, no more girlfriends, no more fun.

At 15, Bakhtawar was about to become engaged to be married. Read her story here!

The impacts of early marriage are substantial not

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USAID – The Week Ahead

June 2:  Administrator Shah will be the keynote speaker at the Interaction Forum 2010, which is being held at the  Washington Convention Center.  Several other USAID officials will speak on topics such as food security and the response to the Haiti earthquake.

June 3:  Administrator Shah will give brief remarks at the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue being held at the State Department.  These remarks will propose concrete ways to further U.S.-India cooperation on common priority issues.

June 3-8: Administrator Shah will lead the U.S. Delegation to the World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Board Meeting in Rome, Italy.  It is anticipated that 3,000 people from 36 member states will be in attendance.

New Estimates Document Decline in Mortality for Children Under 5

By developing and implementing high-impact, evidence-based interventions, delivered at low cost, USAID programs reduced newborn mortality by 16 to 42 percent in 11 these countries. With USAID support, counties as diverse as Nepal, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Afghanistan have reduced under-five mortality by 25 percent in 5 to 7 years.

Death rates in children under 5 are dropping in many countries at an accelerated pace, according to a new report in ‘The Lancet’ based on data from 187 countries from 1970 to 2010. Worldwide, 7.7 million children are expected to die this year down from the 1990 figure of 11.9 million.

Global child survival programs have focused on reaching increased numbers of children with basic health interventions, which scientific research and field programs have demonstrated to reduce the susceptibility of children to serious illnesses. Vaccines, vitamin A supplements, better treatment of diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria, insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria, more education for women, reduced numbers of high risk and closely spaced births, and AIDS medicines in high-HIV prevalence countries are among the factors that have helped lower death rates. USAID has supported much of the research that identified and proved the effectiveness of high-impact interventions, from Oral Rehydration Therapy and vitamin A to community treatment of pneumonia and essential newborn care.

USAID’s work with developing country governments alongside UNICEF, the World Health Organization, World Bank, other donors, NGOs and private sector partners has contributed to successes at an unprecedented global scale. When the U.S. Child Survival program began in the early 1980s, it was estimated that almost 15 million children died each year in the developing world. Without reduced rates of mortality, the number of deaths today would be about 17 million each year. However, The Lancet report notes that, despite significant progress, the rate of decline in infant and child mortality is still not fast enough to meet the 2015 MDG target.  This underscores the importance of the Global Health Initiative’s increased focus on maternal and child health.

Lancet Series Puts Spotlight on Global Tuberculosis Efforts

On May 19th, ‘The Lancet’ released a special series on tuberculosis, which includes a series of papers and comments highlighting the need for new tools, the threat posed by drug-resistant strains, results of current control efforts and other issues about TB worldwide http://www.thelancet.com/series/tuberculosis. While treatment strategies saved six million lives and 36 million cases of the disease were successfully treated between 1995 and 2008, TB remains a severe global public health threat. TB remains second only to HIV among infectious killers worldwide today and is the third leading cause of death among women aged 15-44.

The Lancet series also focused on the broader issues that contribute to the spread of the disease. The majority of TB cases and deaths occur in developing countries. TB proliferates in close spaces, and it perpetuates poverty by striking the poorest and most vulnerable groups. Large numbers of TB cases go undetected and untreated, fueling new cases and deaths. Making matters worse, new forms of the disease have emerged that are resistant to existing drugs. According to the report, without significant investments in new technology and prevention and treatment tools, drug-resistant strains of TB could become the “dominant” form of TB over the coming decades. In addition, new approaches to diagnose TB, coupled with improved health delivery systems and stronger community awareness, are critical to earlier detection and treatment. Urgent actions are also needed to scale up effective and integrated services for TB and HIV at the country level.

On March 24th, the U.S. Government, through USAID, released its Global Tuberculosis Strategy – our blueprint for expanded TB treatment and control over the next five years. To meet our targets, we will invest in country-led plans, scale up country level programs, increase our impact by leveraging our efforts with the Global Fund and mobilize additional resources from the private sector. We will also promote research and innovation. Our investments focus on new diagnostics that will allow us to detect TB more easily, including drug resistant TB, and new drugs that will reduce the duration of TB treatment. Assisting countries to introduce these new tools into programs is also a priority.

A Postcard from Dhaka

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s visit to Bangladesh.

USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, visited Bangladesh May 25-26th to participate in the opening of the Bangladesh Food Security Investment Forum, hosted by the Government of Bangladesh and launched by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. During his visit, he met with bilateral and multilateral development partners from the UN, FAO and DFID, as well as with the Prime Minister to discuss development issues and mutual cooperation.  After addressing a press conference where he highlighted President Obama’s new Feed the Future initiative, Dr. Shah met with USAID staff working in the region.

Investing in food security with the Bangladeshi government, private sector, NGOs

Rajiv Shah - Bangladesh Food Security Investment Forum - May 2010

Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator, speaks at the Bangladesh Food Security Investment Forum in Dhaka on May 26, 2010

I’m in Bangladesh today to participate in the Food Security Investment Forum. What a crowd! The Prime Minister, Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, who has shown a strong commitment to food security, spoke this morning, as well as luminaries such as Dr. David Nabarro, Dr. Shenggen Fan, and Dr. John Mellor.

We’ve all come together in Bangladesh because this country represents a situation that we need to address now. The rising population, decreasing availability of land for agricultural production, and the growing adverse consequences due to climate change means we need to think dramatically differently about what it takes to feed the future generations in this country.

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