USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Cross-Cutting Programs

Helping Women Avoid HIV Infection and Transmission

HIV-positive and pregnant with her second child, Grace Abalo was like many other women in the developing world- in need of services to prevent her child from contracting HIV. Determined to have her baby born healthy, Grace and her husband joined a USAID-funded family support group at the health center near their home in Uganda.

There Grace learned how to access prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programs and other services that support their health in the long term, as well as strategies for positive living, safe infant feeding, and healthy child care.

“I learned why and how to adhere to cotrimoxazole prophylaxis, what antiretroviral therapy is, and which breastfeeding options would not put my children at risk of being infected,” said Grace.

Armed with knowledge and support, Grace was able to ensure her child stayed HIV negative. She and her husband continued to receive ongoing support through the network of people living with HIV/AIDS, and she has even begun to help other HIV-positive mothers take their children for testing and educates them on breastfeeding options.

With women of childbearing age accounting for more than half of the people living with HIV/AIDS, PMTCT programs are vital to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. And while these interventions are aimed at women, it is just as important to gain support and participation from their male partners. Like Grace, the support of the men in the life of an HIV-positive woman can make a tremendous difference. With education of men, comes the understanding of the disease, how it’s spread, and how to treat it. This then can result in positive changes in gender, social and cultural norms.

Across the world women just like Grace deserve a chance to have healthy babies. Through the Global Health Initiative, USAID will continue to work to provide every woman with the opportunity to have a healthy child.

Giving Girls a Chance Against HIV/AIDS

In Malawi, Chimwemwe Banda was abandoned by her parents when she was a young girl; she and her sister were left to take care of themselves. Without money to pay for basic needs or tuition, Chimwemwe was forced to drop out of school. In hopes of improving her situation, like many girls in Malawi, she entered into an early marriage— Chimwemwe was only 15 years old on her wedding day.  Soon after she married, Chimwemwe realized that life was not going to get better just because she had a husband.

Chimwemwe Banda is one of the many girls who has benefited from a Go Girls! community intervention. Photo Credit: Hilary M. Schwandt/AFP

Early marriage, along with behaviors such as transactional and intergenerational sex, contributes to girls’ vulnerability to HIV. Chimwemwe is just one of the 600 million girls living in poverty who are at increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Similarly, girls who are orphans, early school leavers, socially marginalized, and/or migrants have a heightened vulnerability to the virus. Worldwide, women and girls bear the brunt of the HIV/AIDS epidemic; according to the World Health Organization, AIDS is the leading cause of death among women aged 15-44 worldwide.

Socio-economic factors like poverty, along with gender norms such as expectations around early marriage, can lead to increased vulnerabilities that discourage girls from asserting control over the timing and circumstances of sex, including negotiating protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Most interventions to date have focused on individual-level behavioral change without sufficient consideration of the structural factors that fuel the epidemic. USAID is working to address this imbalance through the Go Girls! Initiative.

In fact, it was Go Girls! that stepped in to help Chimwemwe. With their assistance Chimwemwe dissolved her marriage. Her village developed a community mobilization team that recognized the detrimental effects of early marriage on girls, and advocated delaying marriage as a strategy for maintaining girls’ health and encouraging their educational pursuits.

Since the end of her marriage, Chimwemwe returned to school. She now leads a happier life and enjoys going to school everyday. “I feel good about being back in school,” she said. “If I had the opportunity to advise other girls, I would tell them not to marry early but to continue schooling because school is good. I am working hard at school every day so that I may have a brighter future.”

The 16 Days Campaign to End Violence Against Women: From 25 November to 10 December, USAID will post a blog each day that aims to prove a single point: The human race cannot progress when half of the world population lives without the same rights and respect afforded to its male counterpart. If you are moved by what you read and want to share, we’ve made it easy for you. Click here to find out how.

World AIDS Day 2010

On World AIDS Day, we commit to build upon our successes and continue to make smart investments that will ultimately save and improve millions of lives.  Join us this week as we highlight some of our successes and share stories of those helped by our programs.

If you’d like to learn more about the Go Girls! program, including how to access free copies of the Go Girls! program materials, contact ghcommunicationsteam@usaid.gov

 

USAID Commends Major Advance in HIV Prevention Research

Results released today from the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Initiative (iPrEx) study confirmed that daily oral use of a combination antiretroviral (ARV), Truvada, reduced the risk of HIV infection by 44 percent among men who have sex with men. This historic iPrEx trial provides the first proof of concept that oral PrEP of an ARV can prevent HIV transmission.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) congratulates the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology-UCSF, and most importantly, the 2,499 pioneering participants who volunteered for this important clinical trial on the promising results from iPrEx.  Global iPrEx is the first large efficacy study to evaluate the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men in Africa, Asia, and North and South America.

These promising results also encourage other research partners to continue working on more PrEP and microbicide options which may lead to new tools for HIV prevention.  The AIDS pandemic calls for a dynamic variety of HIV prevention methods to ensure those at risk have choices to use the one that best suits the needs of their lifestyle.

According to new UNAIDS estimates, women worldwide account for more than half of all HIV infections, and in sub-Saharan Africa continue to bear the brunt of the AIDS epidemic, USAID will continue critical research and development work in PrEP for women at high risk.  The FemPrEP clinical trial—led by FHI with support from USAID—is designed to test the safety and effectiveness of a daily dose of Truvada for HIV prevention.  Close to 4,000 HIV-negative women who are at higher risk of HIV are being enrolled in five sites in four countries: Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe; results are expected 2012.

Based on the positive results from the CAPRISA 004 trial which were released in July, USAID will continue to support the regulatory approval of 1% tenofovir gel after further confirmation of its effectiveness.  USAID is committed to ensuring the launch of a new generation of products designed expressly for women and capable of preventing the transmission of HIV.

Finding a woman-controlled method of prevention is critical in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  In line with President Obama’s Global Health Initiative, USAID is committed to focusing on the needs of women and girls in its health programming worldwide.

USAID continues to build on a solid foundation of robust science and new technologies, enabling innovation to redefine and strengthen U.S. development assistance globally.

Kabul Goes Green

Mayor Muhammad Yunus Nawandish of Kabul needed a creative solution.  He wanted to build street lamps to light the darkened city, and provide safety and security to residents and visitors.  However, with limited power generation and distribution systems, an innovative approach was needed.

Mayor Muhammad Yunus Nawandish of Kabul. Photo Credit: Abby Sugrue/USAID

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked closely with the Mayor’s office and Sustainable Energy Services Afghanistan (SESA) on a pilot program to use renewable energy to provide street lights to the 6 million people living within the city limits.  With over 300 days of sun, Kabul City is an ideal place to explore the usage of the sun to power its streets.  These solar street lights will not only provide more security and raise community morale, they will also support economic development by encouraging new nighttime commerce, and increasing civilian movement and emergency response.

The pilot program broke ground on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 in a roadside ceremony in the heart of Kabul, near the Jumhoriat National Specialized Hospital.  The ceremony was covered my local media and attended by Mayor Nawandish and Deputy Mayor Abdul Ahad, as well as senior U.S. officials.

“Lighting is essential to improving the quality of life throughout Afghanistan,” Mayor Nawandish said.  “I’m proud that Kabul is leading the way down the path to renewable energy for our country.”

The street lights are expected to be installed and operational by the end of the year and will include 28 stand-alone Solar LED street poles, providing light in one of the most critical commercial corridors.

This project represents a true collaboration between the United States Government, the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Mayor of Kabul City, and the Kabul City Working Group, a cross-cutting advisory panel dedicated to the issues and concern of Kabul.  This partnership will continue as further project sites are being identified throughout Kabul.

USAID Provides Training to Masons in Haiti

A reception in a downtown hotel in Port-au-Prince is buzzing with excitement. Fellow classmates are chatting about their plans after graduation. Many are dressed in their Sunday best to mark the proud day.

One hundred and fifty newly trained masons successfully graduated a joint program sponsored by USAID/KATA and CEMEX, a building materials company.  The program trained young people living in poor neighborhoods on how to create quality masonry blocks.  Of 150 graduates, 75 of them are people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.

“The program helps them learn valuable skills and empowers them to improve their lives and the lives of their families,” said CHF International’s Haiti Director Alberto Wilde.

The graduates underwent a three month training that exposed them to masonry best practices and techniques. They also learned entrepreneurial skills to help them start micro enterprises. All students received molding, cement, sand, and a masonry guide at the end of the program.

“When I was working under somebody else I was making 2,500 gourdes ($62.50). But with my own business I make about 5,000 gourdes ($125). Of these 5,000 gourdes I have reinvested half in order that my business grows further. Now, I am planning to have a laborer in order to have even bigger productivity,” said Alcide Delcy, age 23.

The small business created by the USAID/KATA and CEMEX graduates can help support Haiti’s economic recovery. Their training also helps support the country’s efforts to build back better as homes and other buildings are constructed using higher quality blocks.

At the ceremony, CEMEX Representative Linda Gaillard said to the graduates, “You have the training in your heads and the tools in your hands. Now go out and do your best work.”

These words were met with loud cheers and big smiles.

This Week at USAID – October 11, 2010

Administrator Shah opens a weeklong training for over 80 USAID communications staff from USAID Missions all over the world.  These communicators are in Washington, D.C. to engage with senior officials about elevating development, particularly the first-ever national development strategy issued by a U.S. President and “USAID Forward”, the Agency’s change management agenda.  Sessions featured during the week include: a meeting with staff from the National Security Council, a joint session at the annual State Department Public Affairs Officer’s conference, and a panel discussion with leading foreign policy journalists at the Newseum.

Administrator Shah travels to Des Moines, Iowa to speak at the Borlaug Dialogue, which is held each year in conjunction with the awarding of the World Food Prize.  The theme of the conference is: smallholder agriculture, “Take it to the Farmer“.  Dr Shah will focus on how you take interest in fighting poverty to the smallholder farmer.  He will also promote progress under Feed the Future, the Administration’s global hunger and food security initiative.

USAID @ the 10th Annual Mini University

Over 1,100 people descended on George Washington University’s campus today for lessons on exciting developments in the field of global health. Participants, including USAID and partner staff, students from 16 universities, government officials, and members from the five military branches, were able to choose from over 70 sessions highlighting state-of-the-art information from a variety of technical areas across the Global Health field.  Topics included: how mobile technology is transforming health programs, how health workers are able to reach populations in rural areas, and how offering family planning services can play a critical role in preventing further transmission of HIV.

Health policy expert and special health advisor to the White House, Zeke Emanuel attended the conference to highlight the importance of bringing together global health technical experts with the younger generation of leaders in the field.  He also highlighted the key role USAID will play in the implementation of President Obama’s Global Health Initiative (GHI).  Under the GHI, the United States will invest $63 billion over six years to help partner countries improve health outcomes through strengthened health systems – with a particular focus on improving the health of women, newborns, and children through programs including infectious disease prevention, nutrition, maternal and child health, and safe water.

This Week at USAID – October 4, 2010

USAID joins the global community in recognition of World Habitat Day. The United Nations has designated the first Monday in October as annual World Habitat Day to raise awareness of the need for improved shelter and highlight the connection between human health and housing.  This year’s Habitat theme is “Better City, Better Life.”

Administrator Shah travels to Columbia University to address their Business School’s Social Enterprise Conference.  Dr Shah will focus on how USAID is pursuing innovative models by working with the private sector and leveraging social enterprise.

USAID’s Global Health Bureau along with the George Washington University Center for Global Health will host the 10th Annual Global Health Min-University.  Over 1,000 people will attend more than 50 unique sessions to learn evidence-based best practices and state-of-the-art information across the global health field.

USAID @ UNGA: “Science Fair” Reveals New Promise for Water and Technology

Submitted by Chris Holmes

USAID and the New York Academy of Sciences are currently hosting a display of innovative technology at New York City’s  Millennium Hotel. The hotel is just around the corner from the United Nations. This is General Assembly week and participants at the UN activities are filtering into the display room to, as I am doing, look, listen, learn, and let their minds run to possible applications in their respective fields.  This is a unique event that certainly stands out among a packed schedule this week.

I work in the water sector and so I was drawn, in particular, to three technology displays.

The first was KickStart, a hip powered pump structured to leverage the power of one’s hip to power a suction pump. The pumps retail at $34 a piece, are in place throughout Africa and according to Ken Weimar, Senior Development Officer of San Francisco, California based KickStart, the pump has helped 100,000 successful small businesses. Ken was delighted to be able to display his technology, noting that: “This is a very exciting time. I have never been able to get this close to the UN in General Assembly.”

Right next to Ken’s display was a booth featuring DTI-r Design Technology and Irrigation technology. This was remarkable: any kind of water- salt, brine, waste water- is placed in long plastic like tubes about a foot underground. Water vapor is released into the ground from the exterior of the pipe, irrigating root systems. The technology was developed with support from Launch, an initiative formed by USAID, State, NASA and Nike.
The technology can be placed near sea water, where sea water can be piped into the tubing and crops grown in sand. Mark Tomkin from DTI announced today  that his conpany just signed a global exclusive licensing agreement with DuPont. Mark told me he is on his way tomorrow to install a major million meter system in Jordan, using ground water.

And finally, I discovered a group of entrepreneurs, working for Bicilavadora,  which makes a portable power pedaled washing machine, part of a bicycle hooked up to a metal drum with ripe netting inside which serves a washing machine. The machine is operating in Peru. I asked one of the team where do they get the water, how do they reuse and dispose of the water?  My thoughts led to their getting water from a KickStart pump, using their waste water to grow crops using the DTI irrigation system.  Everything is connected.  Great changes are ahead and USAID is leading the way.

USAID @ UNGA: Innovating to Save Lives

Guest Blogger Krista Donaldson
CEO of D-Rev: Design Revolution

Here’s a test.  You have 20 seconds to list the scientific and technological innovations that have had a positive, lasting impact in the developing world since the Marshall Plan.  And be specific – “Green Revolution” is not allowed.

Technology and innovation drive economic growth, and can remarkably increase standards of living.  As USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah notes, innovative products can leapfrog development problems that otherwise might take generations to address.  (Are cell phones near the top of your list?)

D-Rev: Design for the Other 90%, the organization I run, designs and delivers high-quality products to improve peoples’ health and incomes. We are a technology incubator that seeks market-driven solutions to pressing global problems.  The Science, Technology and Innovation Forum on September 22, co-hosted by USAID and the New York Academy of Sciences,will highlight our and other organizations’ innovations that are saving lives and empowering families economically.  Some of the inventions here will be on your list; others should be soon.  D-Rev will showcase a pipeline of low-cost, high-quality medical devices that prevent brain damage in or death of newborns with severe jaundice.

Writing your list, did you pause?  There are many organizations solving pressing problems with innovative technology and design thinking: iTeach is improving healthcare in KwaZulu-Natal by working in public hospitals and with traditional healers; KickStart’s treadle pumps in East Africa are growing a new middle class; Samasource is building capacity by outsourcing work to poor communities and refuge camps; and the Aquaya Institute is bringing clean water to Asia and Africa through sustainable for-profit business models.  But still there is work to do. The lists of breakthrough products and approaches must be longer, because innovation in our globalized age can address most – if not all – of the Millennium Development Goals.  Three things, however, need to happen for organizations to successfully launch successful products.

Technological innovation drives economic growth and increased standards of living so that societies can address their own development issues.

STI development cycle: Technological innovation drives economic growth and increased standards of living so that societies can address their own development issues.

  1. Donors must be agile. Innovation in development is like innovation anywhere – it requires investor agility and risk-taking.  To move products faster from the labs to the market, and scale successes from communities to countries, we need condensed funding cycles that promote action and rapid iteration starting at the seed stage.
  2. Design is not just about the product. It is critical to support the work surrounding the design of the product: ensuring user needs are understood, and what is required to sustainably deliver and scale the product.  Too many products aimed at development never seem to go anywhere.  They might be donated, installed – and then never used. For example, seed funds are needed to understand users, environments, existing solutions, markets, delivery and repair infrastructures, scaling potential – before a product is designed.

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