USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Europe and Eurasia

USAID in the News – July 2nd to July 9th

USAID is helping bring popular children’s television program Sesame Street to Nigeria through a five year grant. The show will be a 30 minute program titled Sesame Square that will run for three years. A portion of the grant will be focused on outreach programs for the country’s 25 million preschool-age children of whom only 10 percent are enrolled in school. The intent of this grant is to aid the country in building a strong foundation of basic literacy and numeracy as well as concentrating on the prevalent social issues. Sesame Square will be hosted by Kami, a lady Muppet who is HIV-positive, and another furry blue boy Muppet who has yet to be named. A national text vote campaign is currently in place to help name the unnamed Muppet and raise program awareness.

Albanian food producers, through USAID support, presented their products at an agro-food fair in New York last week. Over the last two years, USAID’s Competitiveness of Albanian Agriculture (CAA) program had aided Albanian agro-businesses in exploring profitable international markets. The New York food fair helped the nation establish trade contacts and provided information about the current and potential role of agriculture and food industry in the Balkans to American investors.

USAID Mission Director Pamela White participated in the celebration of the signing of a $15 million Threshold Program grant with Liberia. The grant will fund a three year program coordinated by USAID that will focus on improving land rights and access as well as girls’ primary education and trade policy. The people of Liberia chose these areas themselves as part of their national development strategy.

Liberia was chosen for the program by the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors because of their progress and commitment to reform. The MCC has currently signed 22 threshold programs in 20 countries. MCC is a US Government agency that was devised to assist developing countries and is based on the idea that aid is “most effective when it reinforces sound political, economic, and social policies that promote poverty reduction through economic growth.”

On Tuesday in Kigali, USAID announced that it will contribute $2.5 million for two years to the East African Power Pool (EAPP) project. The announcement was made at the two-day EAPP Steering Committee Conference which included USAID officials as well as stakeholders in the energy sector from the eight member countries. Candace Buzzard, Director of USAID’s Regional Growth and Integration Office, spoke at the conference to address concerns about the lack of electricity and efficient clean power. She also mentioned that the collaboration between USAID and EAPP will produce significant results exploiting clean and renewable energy resources as well as improving cross-border energy trade policies and regulations.

Helping Babies Breathe

submitted by Amanda Parsons

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

USAID Helps Put Albanian Products on the Road to Markets

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Field

In Jordan, the Petra New Wonder of the World Celebration, the third anniversary of Petra being selected as a New 7th Wonder of the world. The USAID Tourism project will celebrate this with an evening of entertainment in the park itself. The project will use this occasion to provide background and build support for critical development plans at this beautiful and historic site. The event will be attended by the Prime Minister of Jordan and other senior ministers, and in addition to the celebration, they will learn about the challenges and opportunities at Petra.

In Ukraine, a Conference on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and International Accounting Standards (IAS). The United States Government has worked to develop Ukraine’s financial markets for nearly 15 years. Since 2007, USAID/Capital Markets Project has been working with the Ukrainian Securities Commission and market participants to develop the Electronic System of Comprehensive Information Disclosure (ESCRIN) for issuers of publicly listed companies. ESCRIN, has two major advantages: the information required by ESCRIN is much more comprehensive and allows the information to become public immediately on the regulator’s Web site, helping to move the country toward internationally accepted standards of disclosure. ESCRIN is now ready to be transferred and operational. The Securities Commission is about to receive final ministerial approval of a regulation that makes the system mandatory. 250 experts and professionals on investment projects, management, financial reporting, etc. from 30 countries worldwide will attend.

In Egypt, an event to present the best practices of the partnership between the USAID’s Technology for Improved Learning Outcomes (TILO) project and the Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership (DCGEP). This partnership works on introducing 150 educational video segments to 60 Egyptian primary schools; teachers are trained on how to integrate the videos into their lesson planning. Attendees will include 90 school teachers who were trained under USAID’s program, as well as the Ministries of Education, Communication and Information Technology, and the Governor of Beni Suef.

USAID – From the Field

submitted by Abby Sugrue

In Kazakhstan: An event to raise awareness about the risks of drug abuse, HIV/AIDS and TB among at-risk youth – the event will include an awards ceremony for a drawing competition, a football match, and educational sessions on prevention of drug-use, HIV/AIDS and TB.  Local NGOs, youth groups and local media are invited.

In Armenia: An Amerenian Eye Care Project, and an international conference on the Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a potentially blinding eye disorder that primarily affects premature infants.  A group of very well known ROP and retina specialists from the US and Australia will be traveling to Yerevan to train and teach the Armenian specialists to launch the program.  Attendees will include neonatologists, pediatric & regional ophthalmologists, clinical residents and neonatal nurses.

In Serbia: “Agribusiness & Renewable Energy Sources,” a conference to inform investors and agricultural producers on possibilities of production and the need for the use of sustainable sources of energy, in order to lower the emission of  pollutants and dependency on import of fossil fuels.  Attendees will include Senior representatives of Serbian Ministry of Agriculture and Mining and energy, Special Advisor to the Ministry of Environment, and Agbiz project companies and clients.

In Egypt: The inauguration of El Akarmeya clinic.  Outreach is focused on Egyptian beneficiaries in disadvantaged areas, especially women and children.  An integral part of the process involves The Integrated Reproductive Health Services Project (Takamol), which provides technical assistance to the Egyptian Government to include Maternal-Child Health, Family Planning, and Reproductive (MCH/FP/RH ) services.

USAID Responds to Polio Outbreak in Tajikistan

More than 500 million children are vaccinated each year, including in the most difficult access places in the world.

Tajikistan is experiencing its first importation of wild poliovirus into the country in 12 years and the first case in the WHO European Region since it was certified as polio free in 2002. As of June 9, 2010, there are 183 confirmed cases of polio, including 3 deaths, in Tajikistan – out of 288 total polio cases confirmed worldwide(compared to 1604 for the same time period in 2009). For each confirmed case, there are hundreds of silent infections.

USAID is working closely with the United Nations (U.N) and countries to address this outbreak. Tajik authorities plan to conduct the next round of vaccination for children ages 6 to 15 during June 15-19. The global polio eradication effort is at a critical point in time.  Since the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988, the global number of polio cases has reduced by over 99 percent.  Now, polio is endemic in only four countries (India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan) compared to 145 countries before the GPEI began.  Furthermore, GPEI’s efforts have mobilized 20 million volunteers around the world, staged mass immunization campaigns, and vaccinated about 2.5 billion children worldwide.  Cases in India and Nigeria are at their lowest ever – an indication that we can not let up on our efforts now.

Still, significant challenges remain to eliminate the persistent reservoirs of this disease including insecurity, inconsistent management and ownership by local governments, sub-optimal communication and community mobilization, and reaching newborns, minority and mobile populations. Because of the need to frequently repeat campaigns, there is often a certain fatigue about seeing yet another vaccination team knocking at the door. Yet these proactive house-to-house campaigns are the only proven way to eliminate polio from a country. And with the world being so close to wiping out polio forever, we can’t afford to give up or to settle for “almost.”

The U.S. is the largest donor to the GPEI, contributing over $1.4 billion to date. Polio eradication is also a key part of the Administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI). In 2009, President Obama announced a U.S. commitment to work with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on polio eradication during his speech in Cairo in which he called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world. Read about USAID’s approach to polio eradication. The new 2010-2012 GPEI Strategic Plan, recently endorsed by the World Health Assembly, requires a $2.6 billion budget through 2012, with a $1.3 billion funding gap.

Increasing the Involvement of Men in Women’s Health

In male dominated cultures, USAID programs are helping to decrease maternal deaths by encouraging men to become involved in pregnancy and childbirth matters. Pictured: a man and child in Pakistan.

Reducing maternal deaths by 75 percent throughout the world by 2015 will take the involvement of men in countries where it matters most. Many of the countries where USAID works are male dominated cultures. To improve maternal health outcomes for women in developing countries, men must be equal partners since they are the decision makers about health care in the family. These decisions include determining family size, timings of pregnancies, and whether women have access to health care for themselves and their children. USAID-supported programs make special efforts to emphasize men’s shared responsibility and promote their active involvement in responsible parenthood, sexual and reproductive health. This means reaching out to community elders, leaders, and religious groups – entreaties that could be rejected because of traditional cultural values and perceptions that maternal health is the responsibility of women only.

In Pakistan, USAID is building on the efforts undertaken by the Government to create a cadre of religious leader master trainers to conduct roll out trainings in family planning and reproductive health, and maternal and child health, and gender issues consistent with and supported by the teachings of Islam.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bosnia-Herzegovina – searching for paths toward prosperity

submitted by Jonathan Hale

Earlier this week, I flew four hours from Moscow to Sarajevo. Bosnia and Herzegovina is mountainous and very green in the spring. While it is a post-conflict country, people here are still in many ways searching for the path towards sustainable peace and prosperity. Divisions still run deep. Life remains segregated by ethnic community. There are separate schools within the same buildings. Multiple layers of segregated government and politics. There are even segregated telephone systems! Speaking with our very talented local foreign national staff, it is clear that there are still deep and painful memories of war here, even though it ended more than a decade ago. It’s striking to note that, according to the UNDP, a considerable proportion of Bosnians (up to 19% per UNDP figures), which enjoyed a relatively high living standard before the war now live at or below the poverty line.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday on the road. We drove around the country from Sarajevo to Mostar, Grude, Jajce, and Banja Luka in the Republika Srpska, and back. Along the way, I saw some hope along with the challenges. In Grude, I met with a mayor that is pressing for reforms to make government more responsive to the needs of the people. I understand there are a handful of other mayors and local officials like him throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina. I had the privilege of participating in a community event

Read the rest of this entry »

U.S.-Russia Cooperation on International Disaster Response

U.S.-Russia Cooperation on International Disaster Response

The signing in Moscow concluded the annual meeting of the U.S.-Russia Joint Committee for Emergency Management and Disaster Response.

On Friday, May 28th, FEMA Deputy Administrator Timothy Manning and I signed a work plan with the Russian government to expand bilateral cooperation through 2012 on responding to international disasters and humanitarian crises.  The signing in Moscow concluded the annual meeting of the U.S.-Russia Joint Committee for Emergency Management and Disaster Response.  This committee was formed in 1996 and now serves as one of the working groups under the Bilateral Presidential Commission established by Presidents Obama and Medvedev last year.  The U.S. delegation from FEMA, USAID, and the Department of Transportation discussed ways to enhance preparedness and response capabilities for disasters at home and abroad.  The Russian delegation, led by First Deputy Minister of the Emergency Situations Ministry (EMERCOM) Ruslan Tsalikov, was especially interested in sharing humanitarian aid best practices, and proposed partnering with USAID to address food security issues in the region.

The committee meeting was the culmination of an exciting week for cooperation in this area.  During the earlier part of the week, a FEMA-USAID delegation held a joint table top exercise with EMERCOM that simulated an earthquake scenario.  American and Russian experts jointly examined response considerations related to declaring a disaster, deploying teams to another country, coordinating search and rescue with humanitarian response, and demobilizing.  Specialists from Fairfax County’s Task Force 1 Search and Rescue team, who responded to the earthquake in Haiti, had the opportunity to sit across the table from Russian responders who also served in Haiti, and to share lessons learned from that experience.  The exercise is part of U.S. efforts to support the Russian Government’s goal of meeting the standards for the United Nations’ highest classification of search and rescue teams.

Russia’s commitment to cooperating with the U.S. in addressing humanitarian crises is another sign of its reemergence as strong global partner and international donor.  U.S. and Russian teams are already working together to improve rescue efforts in response to natural disasters and terrorism, and this is just one of many areas in which we are collaborating on global development.  USAID/Russia also partners with the Ministry of Health to send Russian medical experts to countries in Africa and with Russia’s new agency for humanitarian cooperation, Rossotrudnichestvo, to strengthen its capacity to provide aid.

After spending the week in Russia, I am even more convinced that the U.S. and Russia have much to gain by working together to address the big challenges of the 21st century. I believe USAID should continue to be at the center of much of that cooperation and partnership.

Now I am off to Bosnia for the next phase of my trip.

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.

Page 7 of 8:« First« 4 5 6 7 8 »