February 23CNN reports that USAID is sending a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to New Zealand in the wake of the 6.3-magnittude earthquake in Christchurch.
February 23AFP reports that in a written statement, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah offered his condolences to the people of New Zealand. “On behalf of the American people, I wish to convey our sympathy, thoughts and prayers to the people of New Zealand who have been affected by this devastating earthquake.”
By Rebecca Gustafson,
USAID/OFDA Press Officer with the New Zealand Earthquake response DART
Members of USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team, from Los Angeles County Urban Search and Rescue team, before departure for Christchurch, New Zealand Photo: Rebecca Gustafson/USAID
I started getting calls about the terrible earthquake in Christchurch almost immediately after it happened. It was clear that the devastation was great. My heart went out to those who lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods, and I couldn’t help but wonder if USAID would send a team to help those searching for survivors.
The office I work for at USAID is one most Americans have not heard of. With a staff of 250 people based around the world, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) is smaller than many of the bands of the U.S. Military, but with an important mandate, to save lives and alleviate suffering. We are charged with leading the U.S. government’s response to international disasters, maybe 70 or so natural disasters and complex emergencies each year, on behalf of the American people.
So when information on the quake in Christchurch began to filter in, we immediately started discussing possible international assistance and what we could provide if needed. USAID has agreements with two of the most skilled Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams in the world — Fairfax County Virginia Fire and Rescue Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department — who are always ready to deploy in the aftermath of an earthquake or other catastrophic disaster. We reviewed the options through the night and stood ready to respond should it be needed.
Knowing there is significant search and rescue capacity in the region that is best placed to assist in Christchurch, I went to work Tuesday morning thinking it would be another busy day in the office. It is a good thing I am always packed and ready to deploy because I, along with five of my OFDA colleagues, was headed to Christchurch just after noon.
We are meeting up with the Los Angeles County Urban Search and Rescue team and then heading directly into Christchurch. Once on the ground, we will immediately go into rescue mode. Our USAR team will join forces with the USAR personnel from New Zealand and other international teams they train with all year to assure that every place a survivor might be found is thoroughly searched.
Our USAR team will have more than 70 highly trained technical experts and a cargo aircraft full of equipment to aid in making rescues in collapsed buildings and structures. Most of the team members were part of the international effort that rescued more than 130 people from the rubble in Haiti, and we hope to save some lives in Christchurch.
So when you see the awful pictures coming out of New Zealand, and you wish you could do something to help — know that you already are. USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance is fully funded by the American taxpayer, and we are going to do our best to make a difference in Christchurch and wherever else our help is needed.
If you want to further assist those in Christchurch, please make a cash donation to a reputable organization working in the disaster zone.
To get up to the minute updates on the US search and rescue efforts in Christchurch, follow me on Twitter @DARTgirl and @USAID
** UPDATE Feb. 24, 2011 1:50 p.m.**
U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand David Huebner welcomes the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) on their arrival in Christchurch, New Zealand, to engage in search and rescue activities following the recent earthquake.
USAID sponsors Afghan participation in Domotex—the premier international carpet trade show, featuring some of the best internationally produced hand-made carpets and kilims. For three years, USAID’s role in promoting Afghan carpet dealers has generated millions of dollars in exports. Photo: USAID/ASMED
More than 32 million Pakistani children under the age of 5 are immunized against polio during February’s National Immunization Days. Since 2003, USAID has contributed $1 million per year to both the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF to fund their participation in National Immunization Days. Photo: USAID
The U.S. and Afghan governments sign a memorandum of understanding to train Afghan civil servants to improve the delivery of government services. The one-year, $84 million program will train up to 4,000 civil servants in Kabul and 12,000 more over the next two years in all 34 provinces. Training focuses on five core public administration functions: financial and project management, human resources, strategic planning, and procurement. Photo USAID/Afghanistan
Administrator Rajiv Shah meets with Pakistan government officials on the best role for USAID and development during a Pakistan development roundtable. At the event, Shah and Shahid Rafi, secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Water and Power, sign implementation letters confirming joint efforts to upgrade three Pakistani thermal power stations in Guddu, Jamshoro, and Muzaffargarh. Refurbishing the power stations will increase power to Pakistan by 315 megawatts, enough to power nearly 400,000 homes. Photo: USAID
Salam Watandar, a USAID-funded Internews media service, launches a new Pashtu-language television channel targeting audiences in south and east Afghanistan. The service offers news, current affairs, and cultural programming in two 90-minute peak-hour blocks. In addition, the first 22 Kabul Education University students receive master’s degrees in education.
During his first official visit to Pakistan from April 11 to 15, Shah emphasizes “a commitment that USAID, and on behalf of our entire portfolio of foreign assistance here, that we would do things differently going forward in order to be better partners, deeper partners, and more respectful partners of the government of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan and Pakistani institutions.” Among the trip’s highlights are a meeting with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, and a press conference that draws more than 80 Pakistani and international media outlets. Photo: USAID
USAID hands over the National Women’s Dormitory at Kabul University to the Ministry of Higher Education. The dormitory will provide safe and secure living space for 1,100 women and girls. Around the same time, another 40 midwives graduate from the Hirat Institute of Health Sciences. USAID trained midwives to help the country address what is estimated to be the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Photo: U.S. Mission, Kabul
After their shops and inventory were destroyed by insurgents earlier in the year, 81 shopkeepers at the Foroshgah-e-Borzorg Shopping Center in Kabul receive USAID grants ranging from $2,000 to $4,000.
Responsibility for the 105-megawatt Tarakhil Power Plant is officially transferred to the Afghan government. Completed on May 31 by USAID, Tarakhil has the capacity to provide electricity for up to 600,000 residents in Kabul whose houses are connected to the North East Power System. Photo USAID/AIRP
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson issues a disaster declaration in response to extraordinarily heavy rainfall and flooding that begins in northern Pakistan in late July. The flooding drifts south to Sindh province, affecting an estimated 18 million people in every province. More than 75 percent of affected families are located in Sindh and Punjab provinces, and 1.7 million homes are destroyed. Widespread flooding is reported in 82 of Pakistan’s 122 districts.
In coordination with the Pakistan government and other relief agencies, USAID responds quickly to the devastation wrought by the floods. USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) immediately sends water treatment units and Zodiac boats to help rescue stranded people. A Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) soon arrives to assess conditions, transport relief supplies, and help meet the immediate needs of millions of people affected by the floods in Pakistan. Photo: AFP
The Agricultural Development Fund is established through a $100 million USAID grant to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock to lend to financial and non-financial intermediaries, who in turn will lend the funds to farmers for agricultural inputs to expand production. Kabul University officially opens a herbarium, providing Afghanistan a new research tool for studying the country’s vulnerable botanical heritage. Photo: Texas A&M University PEACE Project
Shah visits flood-ravaged Pakistan to assess the situation on the ground and determine the next steps for USAID. The first high-level U.S. government official to visit Pakistan, he travels on a C-130 airplane packed with plastic sheeting and other humanitarian commodities from OFDA, observes the USAID-supported World Food Program distributing meals, meets with donors, and consoles flood victims, including women and children who tell Shah that they have “lost everything.” Photo: Farooq Naeem/AFP
The Kabul Women’s Farm Service Center opens as one of seven centers in Afghanistan, the only one tailored for women farmers. More than 10,000 Afghan women will benefit, and the center will offer high-quality seed, fertilizer, animal feed, tools, machinery, greenhouse supplies, and other products. Photo: USAID
The U.S. government signs an agreement with the government of Pakistan to begin using the first tranche of funds under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, which pledged a $7.5 billion, five-year assistance package for Pakistan. The agreement also launches USAID’s new business model to increase the role of local organizations in carrying out U.S. assistance programs. Over the lifespan of the Act, USAID expects to increase the share of programs implemented by local organizations to approximately 70 percent. Photo: USAID/Pakistan
On Sept. 18, Afghanistan holds the first Wolesi Jirga (parliamentary) polls since 2005. At stake are 249 seats in parliament in the country’s first Afghan-led parliamentary polls since the fall of the Taliban. Over 6,000 Afghan observers are mobilized to monitor all provinces. Photo: USAID
October marks the 5th anniversary of a devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Pakistan’s Azad Jammu and Kashmir region in 2005. USAID’s Earthquake Reconstruction Program has been critical in helping the region recover. USAID rebuilt 21 schools and 15 health-care facilities that provide basic health care to approximately 200,000 people in Bagh District. Photo: USAID
The 2010 national wheat seed distribution begins for the first of 260,000 farmers in 31 provinces, funded through USAID’s Afghanistan Vouchers for Increased Production in Agriculture project. Local farmers receive vouchers entitling them to significant discounts on and access to certified wheat seed and fertilizer in an effort to improve the quality and production of Afghanistan’s wheat. Photo: USAID/ASAP
USAID and the U.S. government have delivered more than $579 million in emergency relief to the flood-affected communities. Assistance includes materials for shelter, food, medical care, potable water, rescue operations, and basic commodities. As the flood waters begin to recede and communities start returning to their areas, USAID focuses on restoring livelihoods. Flood-affected people receive seeds and fertilizer for the planting season, cattle, cash for work, and a variety of other assistance to restore jobs, businesses, key services, and homes. Photo: USAID/Pakistan
On Nov. 24, the IEC announces parliamentary election results for 34 out of 35 constituencies (33 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces plus the Kuchi constituency). Certification for one constituency (Ghazni) is deferred by the IEC. USAID continues its support to both the IEC and the ECC throughout the process. Photo: USAID/Afghanistan
USAID completes its six-year maternal and child health program that reduced neonatal mortality in Pakistan by 23 percent. The $93 million Pakistan Initiative for Mothers and Children (PAIMAN) improved the health of more than 5.7 million Pakistani women and children from 2004 to 2010. The program trained more than 18,000 health specialists and upgraded 103 health facilities as well as 57 training facilities. Photo: USAID/Pakistan
The Obama administration publishes an annual review of its military strategies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, the administration references an “urgent need for political and economic progress” to match what is described as significant military success in offensives to clear Taliban strongholds in the southern part of the country. Photo: White House
Learn more about our work in Afghanistan and Pakistan in this month’s issue of Frontlines.
By Isadora Ferreira, Development Outreach and Communications Officer for USAID/Brazil
When today’s adults were in school, 20, 30 or 40 years ago, we used to learn that Brazil was a blessed country, because we didn’t have wars, we didn’t have volcanoes or hurricanes, and we didn’t have floods. We are now over 190 million people, and our cities are growing each day. The careless occupation of our territory led to a drastic change in the water cycle, and now every summer we face floods that bring destruction, economic losses and death to our cities.
Volunteers organize donations in the district of Conquista, municipality of Nova Friburgo, Rio de Janeiro. Credit: ABr/Valter Campanato
Whenever a disaster like this hits Brazil, the U.S. government, through USAID, provides support to the Brazilian government in assisting the victims. In 2011 it was no different. São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro states are struggling to recover from floods and mudslides that left over 15,000 people displaced. The mountainous areas of Rio de Janeiro were hit by the heaviest downpours in 44 years. Businesses were destroyed, plantations were devastated and over 700 people died. The U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon, announced the donation of a total of US$ 100,000 – US$50,000 each to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, through USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).
This assistance is complementing existing federal, state, and municipal efforts to address the destruction caused by the floods. The money was donated to the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), to buy items that are not usually donated, such as personal hygiene and cleaning products. ADRA is an international organization with experience in disaster assistance. USAID and OFDA are coordinating the actions, and are working close to the Brazilian government and the civil defense offices of both states.
A woman holds one of the USAID hygiene kits at a Cholera Treatment Center on Thursday, Oct. 28, in Verrettes in the Artibonite department of Haiti. The center, run by USAID partner International Medical Corps, opened earlier this week. Photo by Kendra Helmer/USAID
Submitted by: Ryan Cherlin
When a Haitian says, Dèyè mòn gen mòn, they mean to say, as you solve one problem there is always another that must also be solved.
Driving through the densely populated city of Port-au-Prince I wondered how many times this old proverb was the subject of conversation this past year.
In the months following the earthquake in early January 2010, Haitians endured the devastating effects of hurricane Tomas, political instability and violence stemming from a presidential election, and a cholera epidemic.
Perhaps more numerous than the aggregate woes that befell this nation are the number of foreign aid workers and spotted NGO sites funded by international donor organizations like USAID. These organizations continue the behemoth task of delivering the humanitarian and development assistance so desperately needed by the Haitian people. Despite some media reports of stagnant progress, one only has to scratch the surface to realize these programs are making a real difference.
I decided to sit down with USAID beneficiaries from Haiti’s famed Cité Soleil, an extremely impoverished and densely populated commune generally regarded as one of the most dangerous areas in the Western Hemisphere. I wanted to get a sense of the impact USAID programs have in an environment seemingly impervious to progress.
Etienne Jean-Gardy and Ernancy Bien-Aime are two youth educators trained by a USAID Leadership Development Program (LDP) led by Management Sciences for Health that sensitizes community members to the importance of family planning and HIV prevention and awareness. Armed with knowledge received in training, they host meetings in local parks, in homes and in schools to disseminate their message in Cité Soleil.
By: Paul Weisenfeld, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Latin American and the Caribbean
Seven-year-old Amelia bears a scar from where a concrete block struck her during the earthquake. She is a student at Ecole Marie Dominique Mazzarello in Port-au-Prince, which has temporary classrooms built as part of the PHARE program of USAID. Photo Credit:Kendra Helmer/USAID
As we mark the one-year anniversary of the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, it’s important to reflect on the lives lost and shattered by this devastating tragedy. But we should also remind ourselves of the commitment of the Haitian people and the international community to rebuilding the country. I was privileged for much of the past year to lead USAID’s Haiti Task Team, charged with coordinating reconstruction efforts in Washington. Seeing Haitians pick themselves up and dedicate themselves to rebuilding their lives after having suffered so dramatically was inspirational. Seeing my colleagues at USAID and other agencies work long hours away from their families and under extraordinarily difficult circumstances to begin the process of recovery and reconstruction was a source of pride. Anyone who has traveled to Haiti over the past year has heard countless stories of heroes that are etched in our minds.
2010 was a year of multiple challenges for Haiti, which suffered not only the earthquake, but also Hurricane Tomas and a dangerous cholera outbreak that continues to threaten the lives and health of Haitians across the country. This is indeed a pivotal moment for the country. Haiti will eventually have a new government, and reconstruction efforts, which have been in the planning phase for many months, will soon begin apace. We are at a point where we will start to see real gains being made. This opportunity for progress is due in large part to the hard work of the Haitian people, with the support of the international community. Together with our U.S. Government colleagues and the international community, we’ve worked with the Government of Haiti to save lives, respond to urgent needs, and lay the foundation for real improvements in the quality of life in Haiti.
Over the past year, we’ve helped provide safer housing for almost 200,000 displaced Haitians; supported vaccinations for more than 1 million people; cleared more than 1.3 million cubic meters of the approximately 10 million cubic meters of rubble generated; helped more than 10,000 farmers double the yields of staples like corn, beans, and sorghum; and provided short-term employment to more than 350,000 Haitians, injecting more than $19 million into the local economy. We’ve provided nearly $42 million to help combat cholera, helping to decrease the number of cases requiring hospitalization and reducing the case fatality rate. By introducing innovations like mobile banking and vertical farming, we’re having a long-term impact on improving the lives of those we serve. We’re partnering with the Government of Haiti in all of our efforts, ensuring that what we do will be sustainable for years to come.
The U.S. Government has developed a robust and ambitious long-term development strategy for our work in Haiti that aligns with the Government of Haiti’s national development plan. Our strategy focuses on rebuilding four key areas: health, infrastructure, economic growth, and governance. We’re placing a priority on innovation and alliances with the private sector and ensuring that we operate responsibly and accountably. And while we will continue to work on rebuilding Port-au-Prince, we’re also encouraging decentralization by tackling poverty and other development challenges in population centers across the country.
Haiti faces a long and difficult road ahead, but we can take encouragement from the resilience and courage of Haitians themselves. During my many visits to Haiti, I’ve heard repeatedly from the Haitian people that they recognize the magnitude of the challenge of rebuilding their country, but because they are no strangers to struggle, they are prepared for the tough task ahead. Together with the rest of the U.S. Government, we at USAID are committed to fulfilling President Obama’s pledge to support the Haitian people’s efforts to rebuild over the long term.
During a ceremony held today, January 11, 2011, in Peshawar, officials from the government of Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KPk) and the United States marked the success of their partnership in providing high-quality wheat seeds to flood-affected farmers across the nation. The $62 million Agricultural Recovery Program includes $21 million dollars for KPk alone to help the province’s farmers recover from the floods of last summer.
USAID's program distributes seed packages to households throughout the country just in time for planting the Rabi crop. Photo Credit: Associated Press
The program distributed seed packages to households throughout the country just in time for planting the Rabi crop. If the farmers had not received seeds this fall, there would have been no wheat crop in 2011, depriving rural communities of their staple food and leaving many families in danger of poverty and hunger.
It also includes cash-for-work projects to clean and repair irrigation systems and provides farmers with much-needed vegetable seeds to quickly boost family nutrition. The program also provides supplementary feed and veterinary support for livestock to prevent disease outbreaks and offers overall support to ensure the agricultural health of KPk after the floods.
The program is a joint effort between the government of KPk and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and is being implemented by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Provincial Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, and Settlement Authority (PaRRSA) and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) identified villages and union councils in order to arrange the seed distribution, and worked tirelessly in the districts to train farmers and ensure efficient distribution.
“Over 1.3 million rural farming people have been provided food security as a result of this crucial program,” stated Ambassador Robin Raphel, the U.S. Coordinator for Economic and Development Assistance in Pakistan. “We are pleased to be able to help the Government of Pakistan provide these essential commodities to its citizens.”
USAID’s continued partnership with the government of Pakistan will help revitalize KPk’s agricultural resources and restore economic activity across the flood-affected areas of the province.
Over 4,000 flood victims in Ghana benefited from USAID’s recent voucher fair. The fair allowed flood victims to obtain the items they needed most while supporting the local economy. View the photo essay here and learn more about the innovative approach to delivering emergency aid.
Ghanaians shop at a market using vouchers funded by USAID. Credit: Brian Yang/USAID
The wildfires that ravaged large areas of Mount Carmel forest, killing 41 people and damaging hundreds of homes in the Northern Israel in early December, were halted with the help of local and international emergency teams. The intensive coordination efforts of USAID West Bank and Gaza with the Government of Israel enabled the rapid mobilization of U.S. Government assistance to combat the forest fires.
Through communications with the Israeli Government, USAID West Bank and Gaza identified the emergency needs and immediately mobilized the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) which arrived to Haifa, Israel, on December 5, to work alongside the Israeli firefighters and offer technical expertise. The United States also flew nearly 70 metric tons (MT) of fire suppressant and 3,800 gallons of fire retardant concentrate to Israel.
In addition to assistance from the U.S. and Europe, Israel received help from its Arab neighbors, Jordan and Egypt, as well as the Palestinian Authority who sent three fire engines and firefighters to suppress the fires together with their Israeli counterparts. Responding to this conciliatory gesture, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his appreciation and thanks to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Helping Israel suppress its largest forest fire ever, USAID also played a role in passing information between different parties and providing emergency advice.
The fires have subsided, but the United States is ready to provide additional assistance to support the Government of Israel if needed.
Submitted by Ari Alexander, Deputy Director at the Center for Faith-based & Community Initiatives and the Coordinator of Global Engagement at the United States Agency for International Development
Today our faith-based office at the U.S. Agency for International Development hosted a conference call with Nancy Lindborg and Daniel Shapiro to detail the U.S. Government’s response to the Carmel Fire in Israel. Nancy Lindborg is the Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at USAID and Daniel Shapiro is Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa on the National Security Staff at the White House. I was honored to moderate the call and engage with the 180 plus participants we had on the line.
Highlights of the U.S. Government’s response:
A USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) of 10 people arrived in Haifa, Israel on December 5 and remains in place as the response continues.
The DART, which includes a National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) team with fire management experts from the U.S. Forest Service, is currently working alongside their Israeli counterparts at the command center at Haifa University.
The Israeli government expressed greatest need for fire suppressant and retardant. In response, the U.S. Government has delivered 111 metric tons (MT) of fire suppressant and 3,800 gallons of fire retardant concentration. This assistance was delivered via five US C-130 aircrafts.
Of the 111 MT’s, this included USAID who airlifted approximately 27 MT of Fire-Trol retardant and 22 MT of Fire-Trol fire foam with the addition of 20 MT of fire foam donated by Italy.
The Government of Israel has been leading an extraordinary effort to contain and suppress the wildfires, and – as a result of the success of that effort – several operations that were in motion to provide additional aircraft and support were not needed but remain in a “stand by” status should the situation change.
Echoing the President’s remarks from last Thursday’s Hanukkah Celebration at the White House, our deepest condolences are with everybody in Israel who is affected by this tragedy and the family and loved ones of those in harm’s way. USAID is committed to continuing to work with our partners as the Carmel region transitions from disaster response to recovery. Our faith-based office at USAID is taking the lead for the U.S. Government and is coordinating the flow of information with the NGO community as together we look towards long-term recovery and reforestation.
If you would like to make suggestions about how we can add value to conversations taking place amongst NGOs or if you’d like to receive updated information about the U.S. Government response, please send us an email at FBCI (at) usaid.gov.