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OECD Adopts New U.S. Initiated Development Strategy

Big news. Last week, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) –  the so-called “rich man’s club” of developed countries – adopted a new Development Strategy (pdf) for partnering with developing countries. The multilateral organization, founded as part of the post-World War II Marshall Plan, took this significant step in fulfillment of a commitment made a year ago under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chairmanship of the OECD 50th anniversary Ministerial. Last year, OECD members adopted a new vision statement committing the organization to look outward and engage with the developing world.

After a good deal of heavy lifting, the new strategy advances the Obama Administration’s policy on global development and will increase the efficiency of U.S. aid funding.

We’re particularly excited because the Strategy will leverage for developing countries the OECD’s knowledge, resources and storehouse of economic policy best practices in areas such as tax, investment, economic growth, anti-corruption, and good governance.  Non-members such as Ghana and Malawi will be partners in the effort working with the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee and Development Centre.

In this era of shrinking foreign aid budgets, the U.S. supports the new Development Strategy as a means of working smarter through better, more strategic collaboration, both across the OECD and with outside partners.  Development assistance, no longer the major flow of resources to the developing world, is increasingly catalyzing other forms of finance and technology.  In this way, the Strategy is building on the achievements of Busan High Level Forum and the New Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, emphasizing a more diverse range of partners and a more targeted focus on transparency, results and accountability.

Of course, there is still much to be done. Pilot projects will test the organization’s ability to work across expert areas in a useful partnership, set ambitious targets and metrics, and track progress through rigorous evaluation. It is certainly a big step in re-orienting the OECD’s business practices to improve the challenges and opportunities of today’s economic development.

Food Security Open Data Challenge

Last week, President Obama announced the G-8’s commitment to the “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition”, the next phase of the G-8’s shared commitment to achieving global food security and nutrition goals. One of the elements of this New Alliance is a focus on science, technology, and innovation including the importance of open and available food security data. The group also committed to convene an international conference on food security and Open Data for G-8 members and stakeholders to determine how to increase openness and access to data. Seizing on the commitment of the G-8, USAID convened six leading innovators to showcase mapping, videos, and other tools that use data for more effective development.

Thin Air Nitrogen Solutions, fertilizer fixes nitrogen from the air, sidestepping the need for energy-intensive production and transportation infrastructure to get fertilizers to farmers’ fields. Photo Credit: Thin Air Nitrogen Solutions, LLC

Following the President’s speech, USAID launched a Food Security Open Data Challenge that invites technologists, agriculture stakeholders, entrepreneurs, academics, and others to determine the most creative and wide-reaching use of open data for food security solutions and better, cheaper, and faster results. This work builds on USAID’s far- reaching commitment to open data including the Open Government Partnership, Open Government Initiative, International Aid Transparency Initiative, the newly launched GeoCenter to increase GIS capacity in USAID, and others. Continuing this commitment to transparency, USAID invites all who are interested to join us, and lend your creativity, your curiosity, and your partnership to raising millions out of poverty. The results of this challenge will contribute to the development of an international conference on food security and Open Data for G-8 members and stakeholders, and will complement Feed the Future’s work to fight hunger and promote broad-based economic growth, particularly through development in the agricultural sector.

USAID’s Food Security Open Data Challenge includes three core events. In June, USAID will host an Ideation Jam where technologists and agricultural stakeholders will identify key questions of the challenge by focusing on the overlap of food security priorities and the potential of available data. In August, USAID will host a Codeathon to convene technologists, agriculture stakeholders, government representatives, entrepreneurs, and startup experts to finalize challenge submissions and design interventions that are available for investment. Finally in September, Administrator Shah will host a Food Security Datapalooza and announce challenge winners and showcase some of the best ideas for open-data based solutions to food security.

We look forward to working with a wide range of partners in this effort and welcome you to join us. Palantir Technologies, a Silicon Valley leader in information analysis, is an early partner and will open its mapping and analytical platform to participants so that all food security stakeholders, technologists or not, can participate in new ways to analyze existing information for actionable results.

Read more about the Codeathon or contact us to participate.

Five Questions about the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition

Originally posted at Feed the Future.

1. What is the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, and who is participating?

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is a commitment by G-8 members, African countries, and private sector partners to achieve sustained and inclusive agricultural growth to lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years. It builds upon the progress and commitments made in 2009 at the L’Aquila G-8 Summit, and offers a broad and innovative path to strengthen food security and nutrition.

The New Alliance includes specific commitments from:

  • African leaders to refine policies in order to improve investment opportunities and drive their country-led plans on food security;
  • Private sector partners, who have collectively committed more than $3 billion to increase investments; and
  • G-8 members, who will support Africa’s potential for rapid and sustained agricultural growth, and ensure accountability for the New Alliance.

Read more about the New Alliance.

2. Does the New Alliance mean that the U.S. and other G-8 members will not meet their 2009 L’Aquila commitments?

Not at all! The New Alliance builds upon the G-8 commitments made at L’Aquila in 2009 and represents the next phase of investment in food security and nutrition. The L’Aquila effort in 2009 was critical in reversing decades of neglect of African agriculture by donors and governments. We’re going to sustain the commitments we made three years ago, and we’re going to speed things up, as President Obama has noted.

L’Aquila showed that we can marshal aid resources and that African countries can develop credible, comprehensive plans. But we need to accelerate our progress, which the New Alliance will do by mobilizing private capital, taking innovation to scale, and managing risk.

It’s important to keep in mind that the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative was about so much more than just money – it was a new way of doing development. Initiative leaders agreed to put their money behind country plans that had been developed and were owned by the developing countries themselves, and to increase investment in research and development, to better coordinate efforts, and to act both bilaterally and through multilateral institutions.

Read the G-8 Accountability Report, which tracks G-8 progress on fulfilling L’Aquila pledges.

3. What kinds of private sector companies are participating in the New Alliance?

The more than 45 companies making commitments at this time include both large and small American, African, and international companies. Most of the participating companies and associations have missions associated with agriculture or finance. A full list of the companies can be found here.

4. How much does this cost, and where is the money coming from?

President Obama announced last week that more than 45 international and African companies have committed more than $3 billion to specific agricultural investments spanning all areas of the agricultural value chain, including seed systems, fertilizer, irrigation, crop protection, extension and training, post-harvest processing and storage, agricultural financing, and infrastructure. This is new money committed by the private sector at the 2012 G-8 Summit and builds on public sector commitments made in 2009.

At the L’Aquila G-8 Summit, member countries and others pledged more than $22 billion for agricultural development and at the 2012 G-8 Summit they affirmed continued commitment to sustaining and disbursing these funds. The New Alliance will channel those efforts into the most innovative and productive ways possible to maximize results.

As a way to channel funds committed at L’Aquila three years ago, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) was set up as a unique partnership between donors, partner countries, civil society, and multilateral development institutions to scale up financing for agriculture in the poorest countries. It provides financing through a competitive process to countries that have technically sound agricultural development strategies in place.

The GAFSP has awarded $481 million to 12 countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia and will award approximately $180 million more this week.  The United States, which has contributed $301.4 million to the GAFSP, is likely to complete its $475 million pledge in the next year. We continue to support this innovative program as part of our commitment not only to food security but also to country-led processes and multilateral involvement.

Last week, the G-8 set a goal of securing $1.2 billion over three years in further contributions to the GAFSP from new and existing donors. The United Kingdom has publicly pledged $120 million toward this goal.

Learn more about the GAFSP and track commitments.

5. Which African countries are involved, and what are they committing?

At the 2012 G-8 Camp David Summit, the New Alliance initially launched in Ghana, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, and will expand rapidly to other African countries, including Mozambique, Cote D’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso. These countries are participating in the Grow Africa Partnership, a joint initiative with the African Union and the World Economic Forum to support the private sector component of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). Over time, the New Alliance will expand to other African countries that have demonstrated an interest and willingness to participate in the process.

These African countries have committed to major policy changes that open doors to more private sector trade and investment, such as strengthening property rights, supporting seed investments, and opening trade opportunities. G-8 members identified development assistance funding aligned behind these nations’ own country investment plans for agriculture, and private sector firms have laid out investment plans in the agricultural sectors of these countries.

Be sure to check out Feed the Future’s one-stop shop on G-8 announcements for more information.

USAID’s FrontLines – June/July 2012

frontlines banner graphic

Esther Ouma with her son, Barrack, in the Busia district of western Kenya. After losing her first two babies, Ouma successfully delivered Barrack after a visit from a community health worker who provided a link to health services and support groups available to expectant mothers in some Kenyan communities. “I will forever be grateful,” says Ouma, who attributes her good health and that of her child to the health worker’s intervention.  Photo credit: Bibianne Situma, AMREF

Read the latest edition of USAID’s premier publication, FrontLines, to learn more about the Agency’s work on issues surrounding child survival and its portfolio of projects in Ethiopia. Some highlights:

  • Efforts to end preventable child deaths are in their last lap and on a sure path to victory, says USAID’s top doc in the Bureau for Global Health.
  • The Swaziland parents who decide to have their newborn baby boys circumcised are part of a worldwide effort to achieve an HIV-free generation sooner rather than later.
  • UNICEF Chief Anthony Lake has seen firsthand the resourcefulness of this planet’s youngest citizens in the midst some of its worst disasters.
  • Find out why, despite one of the region’s worst droughts last year, the perpetually battered country of Ethiopia escaped the season with no famine.
  • A truce between four groups of people from Ethiopia’s Somali and Oromiya regional states who held longstanding grievances appears to have ushered in an unprecedented period of peace and an end to violent – and sometimes deadly – clashes.
  • Though Earth Day celebrations ended in April, USAID’s work to protect the environment continues 365 days a year. See that work through photos that won the 2012 environment photo contest put on by FrontLines and the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment as well as those that came in as runners-up.

Subscribe to FrontLines for an email reminder when the latest issue is posted online.

Modeling Potential Impact on HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

Throughout my career, I have witnessed the tremendous power of vaccines to prevent sickness and save lives – delivering incredible victories for humanity against diseases such as polio, smallpox and measles. These vaccines would not have been possible without the inspiration, persistence and courage of researchers, volunteers and health workers around the world.

Thanks to a USAID-supported program, Gladys Njeri Macharia is studying how rare individuals might be blocking HIV infection Photo credit: IAVI

And so today, on HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, I join countless others around the world in reflecting on what it would mean to see AIDS consigned to a list of former pandemics. To achieve that goal, it is essential that we enlist the participation of researchers around the world in the design and development of HIV vaccines.

Young researchers such as Gladys Njeri Macharia in Kenya – who has dedicated her career to exploring immune responses to HIV – will play an especially important role in that effort. And one day, critical scientific questions addressed by this research might help lead to an effective vaccine.

New modeling data available today from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the Futures Institute, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), illustrates how a safe, preventive HIV vaccine that is accessible and affordable can help us end the AIDS pandemic. This information is available in a series of publications and an interactive web tool.

The potential impact of a vaccine is striking. Because HIV is so extraordinarily resistant to the immune response, it is highly unlikely that any single vaccine will be able to prevent infection by all variants of the virus. Still, our modeling shows that if an AIDS vaccine that is only 50% effective is introduced in 2020 to 30% of the population in low- and middle-income countries, 5.2 million new HIV infections could be averted over the first decade. Higher efficacy and more coverage would have an even greater impact on the pandemic.

The world must continue to scale up and improve the response to HIV by using powerful prevention tools that are currently at our disposal. These include condoms, treatment and voluntary medical male circumcision. Our new models show that a vaccine can build on these existing tools and take us down the last mile to the end of the AIDS pandemic.

Margaret McGlynn is the President and CEO of IAVI Photo credit: Sara Mayti/IAVI

A 50% effective vaccine combined with greater use of current HIV-prevention tools could prevent nearly 20 million new HIV infections by 2030 – 20 million people that would not need to face the physical, emotional and social hardships caused by the disease and could avoid lifelong, daily antiretroviral treatment to stave off AIDS-related illness or death.

This HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, IAVI and our partners remember those we have lost to AIDS, gain inspiration from those living with and combating the disease today, and look forward to building on the incredible momentum of recent discoveries and study results to deliver on the tremendous potential of an AIDS vaccine.

To access IAVI and the Futures Institute’s impact modeling publications and interactive modeling tool, visit www.iavi.org/impact.

Expanding Access to Quality Education and Improved Health Care in the West Bank’s “Area C”

I recently had the opportunity to visit a construction site in Jalazone, just outside of Ramallah in the West Bank, where the U.S. Government is partnering with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in cooperation with Palestinian and Israeli officials, to build a school that will provide a safe and vastly improved learning environment for more than 1,100 girls.

Once completed, the school will provide an enhanced learning environment for more than 1,100 girls. Photo Credit: Lubna Rifi

Jalazone is located in what is known as “Area C,” an area that comprises approximately 60 percent of the West Bank and is under Israeli administrative and security control, in accordance with the terms of the Oslo Accords. The expansion work on the Jalazone School, which includes building 23 new modern classrooms, science labs, vocational training rooms, and all the facilities of a functioning school, is part of U.S. efforts, underway for some time, working closely with the Palestinian Authority and Israeli officials, to improve access to essential services for Palestinians living in “Area C.”

While visiting the construction site, UNRWA’s West Bank Field Director Felipe Sanchez and I spoke with the Principal at the school, Sana Bayyari. She explained how much she and her students and teachers are looking forward to moving from the current school’s overcrowded and run-down classrooms to what will effectively be a fully renovated school by March 2013. These renovations will significantly improve the educational environment at the school, originally built in the 1950s. Principal Bayyari also noted that they are especially excited that they will no longer have to attend school in double shifts as they have been doing for years to accommodate all of the students.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rising Out of Poverty

Good news for developing countries: In February, the World Bank released its most recent figures on global poverty and showed stunning progress in the number of people living in extreme poverty (less than $1.25 per day) around the world.  Since 1981 the global poverty headcount ratio (the percentage of the world’s population living in extreme poverty) has been rapidly declining.  And since the mid-1990s, the absolute number of people living in extreme poverty also has been falling. Between 1993 and 2008, the share of world’s population living in extreme poverty fell from 41% to 22%.  The total number declined from 1.9 billion to 1.3 billion people, a fall of nearly one-third in just 15 years.

The new data show that the pace of poverty declines has been accelerating, plus something new and striking: For the first time ever, between 2005 and 2008 the absolute number of people living in extreme poverty declined in all major developing regions, including sub-Saharan Africa.

The story is basically the same across all three of the most widely used poverty lines ($1.00/day, $1.25/day and $2.00/day) – across all three, both the share and total number of people living in poverty are falling around the world.

Among USAID’s major partner countries, these trends are no less impressive.  In the 21 countries that have received more than $1 billion in cumulative USAID assistance from 1993 to 2008 (excluding Afghanistan, where complete data are unavailable), the number of people living on less than $1.25 fell over that period by 136 million.

For those that claim that efforts to reduce global poverty are foundering, these data show just the opposite: global poverty is falling more rapidly than at any time in history, and progress is much more than just an Asian phenomenon. The World Bank concluded that the first Millennium Development Goal – to cut poverty in half between 1990 and 2015 – was achieved in 2010, five years ahead of the target. The credit for these gains goes to the leaders and the citizens of the countries involved, but USAID can take pride in playing an important supporting role.

Q&A with the First Lady of El Salvador Vanda Pignato

The Impact Blog interviewed the First Lady of El Salvador Vanda Pignato about development issues important to her in El Salvador. 

The First Lady of El Salvador and Secretary of Social Inclusion Vanda Pignato meets with Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean Mark Feierstein.

First Lady, I know you are very passionate about women’s rights. How are you raising the profile of this issue in El Salvador?

As Secretary for Social Inclusion, one of the main goals during my mandate is to promote public policies based on a human rights approach to ensure the realization, respect and guaranty of rights of historically excluded populations. Women make up over half of the population in El Salvadorand have been excluded from access to governmental services, as these were designed without a gender specific focus. With this in mind, the idea to create a center specifically for women to promote and enhance their fundamental human rights became an issue that needed to be addressed. Ciudad Mujer is a program that has raised awareness of the invisibility women have had when it comes to accessing state services, and has begun to change the model of government by integrating services and having a gender based approach. But what is most important is that Ciudad Mujer is changing the lives of thousands of women and they have begun to recognize themselves as right holders.

Do women in El Salvador have an active voice at the table, be it in politics, business, or civil society? What can be done to enhance the role of women?

As in most societies and countries, women’s visibility within politics, business, civil society and others is not at the same level and condition than that of men. This is the heritage and legacy of secular discrimination based on gender issues, a discrimination that figures some jobs are for men and some jobs are for women, a discrimination that figures some colors are for men and other colors are for women, a discrimination that figures some toys are for boys and some are for girls, and so on. This discrimination has created a cleavage between men and women as an irreconcilable antagonism. No society or country is free of this kind of discrimination. Many countries have developed laws to prevent and punish discrimination based on gender issues. Many societies have advanced in their awareness on women’s rights. But the world itself has a long road ahead to walk. Some countries and societies have to walk more than others, but all have to walk.

Bearing that as a starting point, many actors are responsible to enhance the role of women, as much complex work needs to be implemented. The Government has a role to play: eradicate all de jure discrimination, promote the eradication –in a progressive manner– of all de facto discrimination (even using criminal law if needed) and to take the initiative to promote women in higher seats sharing the same responsibilities as men, as in the military forces, in the non-traditional jobs, etc. But what is most important, as a part of the Government’s role is to recognize –and conduct itself consequently and coherently– that men and women are not equal, but both have the same rights that must be ensured and respected equally.

 How does the spike in crime and violence affect women?

Let me start my point with this view: if discrimination against women is a matter of unequal distribution of power, than that makes women vulnerable –women are not vulnerable per se, however they have been historically vulnerated– so the main victims of crime and violence are women. I am not saying that women are killed more frequently than men; however I am speaking about victimization that is the result of crime and violence.

Many crimes and violent behaviors committed are mainly addressed towards women. Sexual harassment, rape, and all kind of sexually motivated crimes and violent behaviors do victimize women (and children, mostly girls). Domestic violence, in addition, occurs almost exclusively against women. And many –but I think I should say most– of these crimes and violent behaviors fall under the unregistered data, I mean, the system never realizes their occurrence. From this perspective, we will never know how many of these crimes and violent behaviors really occur.

Secondly, I can understand that many other crimes and violent behaviors will victimize men directly. It usually happens with murders and assassinations, but who is the indirect victim? Women. They will alone have to attend to their children’s necessities while growing up, as a widowed mother, as an older sister, as a grandmother. What I am trying to say is that women are indirect victims as a result of crimes and violent behaviors. All the exigencies of reproductive work fall upon her shoulders.

Thirdly, the spike of crimes and violent behaviors is not only a matter of quantity (as the frequency of these events) but also a matter of quality. Violence against women is increasing daily and it is hard to pinpoint the source of it. In the past, for instance, drugs were trafficked inside devices, baggage, etc., but now, women’s natural anatomic cavities are used to traffic or hide drugs. In the past, a crime of passion usually finished in killing the lover and his or her cheater, but now, most of the time, women’s body shows high levels of unnecessary roughness and violence. In fact, this observation applies not only to crimes of passion, but to any other crime or violent behavior where the intention is to kill a woman. The situation of Ciudad Juarez speaks for itself and El Salvador, as well as many other countries, is facing similar situations.

What I have said gives me the opportunity to express something: we cannot continue the traditional approach to analyze and understand crime and violent behaviors. It is absolutely necessary to provide those analysis and understandings with a gender approach too.

As Secretary of Social Inclusion, what are your top two priorities?

It is very hard to pick two priorities, since the Secretariat for which I am responsible for works with various groups; women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities, sexual minorities. We have taken firms steps in promoting these groups’ rights and continue to seek social change to include these groups in all public policies. However, the common denominator in my work rests upon two principles: to build and enhance public policies based on a human rights approach (keeping in mind the national Constitution and the international treaties that are operative to El Salvador) and to bring down any form of discrimination. Those principles are linked with reciprocity. I cannot address my work on human rights being tolerant with discrimination; and with the same token, I cannot fight against any discrimination if my work is not supported by an approach based on human rights.

With the intention to answer your question, I must then say, that my top two priorities in my work as Secretary of Social Inclusion is the human rights based approach in public policies and the thorough fight against any form of discrimination.

We work very closely with you and your government; do you have a favorite USAID project in El Salvador?

As Secretary of Social Inclusion I have to thank all the cooperation USAID provides to Salvadoran people and Government. But obviously, I do consider as my favorite, all the aid and help you provide in the coincidence of my work, mainly, the eradication of all forms of discrimination and the promotion, guarantee, realization and fulfillment of women’s rights. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to the contribution you have made directly to Ciudad Mujer; thousands of Salvadoran women appreciate this gesture and would love to express their gratitude.

Do You Remember Being 5?

Originally featured on ABC’s Million Mom Challenge

Do you remember being 5? I do! My three younger brothers had adventures galore in our tree house, cruised in the back seat of Big Red (our awesome car) and maybe got caught throwing a grapefruit at old Mr. Johnson’s head across the back fence. I remember this day at the beach with my brothers and Dad – it was blustery and the water freezing – but nothing would stop us!

Turning five is one of those special milestones when we head off to Kindergarten and really begin our journey through childhood to adulthood. It’s also a time when kids have passed the most dangerous years of their life in many parts of the world. Getting past five means everything for survival.

Huge leaps have been made to make sure more and more kids get to that all-important 5th birthday. Together, we’ve come a long way — childhood deaths have been cut by 70 percent in the last 50 years. And yet . . .

Worldwide, still, more than 7 million children under age five die each year from largely preventable and treatable causes. USAID (United States Agency for International Development) is celebrating 5th birthdays. You can join the movement for more children to reach their 5th birthday right here.

 

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