submitted by Amanda Parsons
Science Magazine’s Insider Blog looks at how USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah brought together the world’s leading science minds this week during a 2-day conference to focus and highlight the ways innovation, science and technology can revitalize the development agency. Shah hopes science and technology can help the agency solve “grand challenges” in global development and used the workshop to pose broad questions about how USAID could identify, select, and implement these challenges. USAID had solicited input via a Web site for possible ideas like “a model toilet of the future for the poor.” About 60 people from academia, industry, and government have begun to whittle down the list and brainstorm about how to proceed.
On Monday, Secretary Clinton and Dr. Rajiv Shah gave remarks regarding the status of Haiti six months after a devastating earthquake ravaged the small nation. The AFP reports that the duo reconfirmed their commitment to reconstruction and development after the disaster. Secretary Clinton stated, “Six months later, our resolve to stand with the people of Haiti for the long term remains undiminished. We are committed to aligning our investments with the needs of the people and the government of Haiti.” Dr. Shah emphasized the idea of stricter construction codes and working with local partners to achieve a responsible and functional outcome.
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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.
submitted by Amanda Parsons
For USAID Afghanistan civilian aid worker Laura Mendelson, tough negotiations with tribal leaders, anger from villagers and constant enemy fire are all in a days work. A Sunday Washington Post Magazine article outlines her efforts, the progress made and struggles faced by all aid providers on the ground in the war torn country.
After spending decades in exile, Saad Mohseni returned to become one of the most powerful influencers in Afghanistan. Today, he owns radio and television networks, an advertising agency, and a movie production company, among other businesses. Realizing that media messaging would be one of the most effective ways to responsibly rebuild the nation, USAID issued grants to help fund Mohseni’s work to build free press. The New Yorker and NPR profile the burgeoning media mogul and his recent successes thanks to United States support.
“Father of the Green Revolution,” Norman Borlaug established the World Food Prize in 1968. The international award recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. As 2010’s winners were announced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, together with US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah, announced the creation of the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative—a cooperative venture of USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that, as Voice of America reports, will combine the two agencies’ resources, knowledge, commitment and expertise to work together for the realization of Borlaug’s dream of feeding the world.
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submitted by Anna Gohmann
Bringing Jobs Beyond Port-au-Prince: USAID food security partner ACDI/VOCA established 178 food-for-work teams comprising 21 persons each to undertake road repairs and soil conservation activities. As of June 15, the food-for-work teams had repaired 53 km of road in La Vallee municipality and 90 km of road in Cote de Fer municipality, both in Southeast Department. The beneficiaries are primarily displaced Haitians who reside with host families.
Clearing Earthquake Debris: USAID, the international community, and the Government of Haiti have moved at least 503,500 cubic meters of rubble between January and June of 2010.
Making Headway on Sanitation Goals: As of June 16, Water, Sanitation, and Health (WASH) Cluster partners have constructed more than 11,000 toilets, 2,932 showers, provided 5 liters of water per person per day, established 450 private water kiosks; trained 3,238 hygiene promoters; and distributed 200,000 hygiene kits. USAID is one of the largest funders of WASH cluster efforts.
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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 is supporting rural Pakistani women farmers to increase crop and livestock productivity.
The Rural Livelihood Development Program in Balochistan built the capacity of 50 female community organizations to increase crop and livestock productivity, improve on-farm water management, and foster improved market linkages for agricultural inputs and outputs.
The program also provides institutional capacity building to 200 community organizations which train women in entrepreneurial skills, improved marketing, and agricultural-related technical training. The program will enable 40,000 women and girls to increase their income by 20 percent.
Rural Pakistani women do the majority of livestock and agriculture management, frequently in the form of unpaid “family” work. The USAID agriculture programs will develop skills and techniques of female farmers while strengthening women’s control over the financial resources generated by their work.
Balochistan faces debilitating drought and severe water scarcity which negatively affects production and value addition in crop and livestock development. To address this issue, efficient water use and management is integral to USG livelihood activities in horticulture and livestock development. Forty percent of sheep in Pakistan come from Balochistan. Through the introduction of wool grading and a site visit to the Ghazi Wool Industry in Southern Punjab, USAID helped farmers gain from an increased sale price of $11 for 40kg of raw wool to $20 for graded white wool. Read more about the economic growth program.
The 2010 World Food Prize ceremony was held in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, June 16th celebrating the winners of the prestigious $250,000 award honoring accomplishments that have improved the global food supply. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Dr. Rajiv Shah, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack were the keynote speakers helping celebrate the fight to end global hunger.
Dr. Shah travelled to Dakar, Senegal to speak at the opening ceremony of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Food Security Investment Forum.
A meeting was held in Washington, D.C. hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars where the topic of discussion was finding business solutions for nutrition problems. Dr. Rajiv Shah explained that USAID will be making some changes regarding investments focusing more on aligning investments in grain storage, market information systems, and feeder roads. Dr. Shah also mentioned that President Obama has committed to spending at least $3.5 billion over three years for agricultural development and food access.
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Food Security in Africa - Local Co-ops Dive into Fish Farming
A group of small farmers who operate a fish farm use a net to catch young tilapia. These fish will be used to help other farmers start their fish farms that will help them diversify their sources of income.
Four of five Mozambicans live in rural areas. Since most survive by subsistence farming, agricultural extension has come to play a vital role in supporting rural communities.
As part of an effort to improve food security, since 1999, USAID has worked with the Mozambican Ministry of Agriculture and other donors to help the ministry reform its central operations and improve the services it provides to small
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Currently in Dakar, Senegal, Administrator Shah will speak at the opening ceremony of a regional food security investment forum hosted by ECOWAS. The two Deputies of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, Ambassador William Garvelink, Deputy Coordinator for Development; and Ambassador Patricia Haslach, Deputy Coordinator for Diplomacy; are also part of the U.S. delegation attending this important regional meeting.
USAID has several officials speaking at the Global Health Council’s Annual Conference, which is being held all week in Washington, DC. Officials will speak about a range of topics related to the work of USAID’s Global Health Bureau and President Obama’s Global Health Initiative.
On Wednesday, Administrator Shah will join Secretaries Clinton and Vilsack at the announcement of the 2010 World Food Prize winners. The World Food Prize recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
USAID Counselor, Ambassador Jim Michel, will provide comments at the State Department’s Diplomacy Briefing Series. This half-day public engagement conference will focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.
Administrator Shah will provide remarks at the lunchtime Newsmaker Series at the National Press Club on Friday. He will discuss the Haiti recovery effort as the six-month anniversary of the earthquake approaches, including both success stories and remaining challenges. Dr Shah will also outline the significant reform efforts underway at USAID aimed at modernizing the Agency in order to achieve President Obama’s bold development vision and meet the Administration’s foreign policy and national security priorities.