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How You can help Transform Development through Science, Technology & Innovation

submitted by Anna Gohmann

Next Wednesday, Administrator Shah will convene an innovative and first-of-its kind hi-level conference that will focus on the role that science and technology can have in development and specifically on our projects here at USAID. The conference, entitled Transforming Development through Science, Technology and Innovation and co-hosted with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the President’s Science Advisor, Dr. John Holdren, will bring together a small group of some of the nation’s pre-eminent thought leaders to launch a new era for science and technology at USAID.

While we wish we could bring everyone interested in this topic to the conference, we would like to extend you an invitation to send your thoughts on how we can best deploy cutting-edge advancements and use them to increase our efficiency, effectiveness, and success rate. That’s why we’ve created an innovative Ideascale, where you can submit your ideas and vote on the highest priority challenges in development until 12 midnight this Thursday night. Just visit transformingdevelopment.ideascale.com and let your voice be heard. We’ll incorporate the feedback we get on Ideascale into our discussion topics and conclusions.

We’re particularly interested in your thoughts on the following key sectors on which we’ll be focusing at the conference:

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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.

USAID’s Frontlines – June 2010


Read the latest edition of USAID’s premier publication, FrontLines for these stories:

Administrator Rajiv Shah supports the new $3.5 billion Feed the Future initiative with trips to two target countries, Bangladesh and Sudan

USAID responds to two back-to-back natural disasters in Guatemala in May

In the Agency’s new science and technology office, scientific breakthroughs are being touted as a way to tackle health, agriculture and water challenges in developing countries

Preventing trade in “conflict diamonds” in Central African Republic starts with helping miners clearly establish ownership rights to diamond-rich properties

The 2010 InterAction forum draws hundreds to debate the methods, policies, goals and rationale for U.S. foreign aid


Read these stories and more in the new issue of FrontLines. If you would like to automatically receive FrontLines every month, you can subscribe here.


USAID in the News June 28 – July 2

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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Changing Tides

Ifikhtar Ahmed is the marketing manager of I.A. Khan Enterprises, a home-based business that produces local delicacies like tangy pickles and sohan halwa, a popular dessert, in this central Punjabi city of four million.

And while Ifikhtar’s position as a manager would be considered normal by even the most traditional in Pakistan, what makes his role unusual is that the company’s managing director is his wife, Amna.

In this socially conservative country, few women venture into the mainstream workforce and contribute to the country’s economic growth. Most Pakistani husbands will not entertain the idea of ceding authority to make decisions, business or otherwise, to their wives. (Read more here.)

This Week at USAID – July 6, 2010

At a forum organized by Global Washington and hosted by Seattle University, Maura O’Neill, USAID’s Counselor for Innovation, will participate in a discussion about Washington State’s contribution to the global development sector and will offer recommendations for improving the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance.

Administrator Shah will join Secretary Clinton at the State Department to address the 2009-2010 Jefferson Science Fellows.  The ten Fellows are tenured professors assigned for one year at State and USAID.  Their universities contribute to the success of this public-private partnership.

USAID will be recognizing World Population Day on July 11th.  USAID’s Family Planning program is one of the success stories in U.S. development assistance.  Since the launch of the program in 1965, families are better able to feed, clothe, educate, and provide health care for their children.

‘Gul’s Girls’

Denied an education herself, one local woman works tirelessly for her local school with USAID support.

Gul Laila can’t read or write, but she still arrives at the local school early every morning. Before heading off to her regular day job as a domestic worker, she stops by the school to ensure all the teachers have shown up for work. Once a real problem, faculty absenteeism has no longer been an issue since the School Management Committee elected Gul as its chairwoman.

Denied an education herself, Gul now works tirelessly to make sure that her daughters and all the other girls of this remote village in Pakistan’s Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) region have access to school.

“When I was growing up, we girls were often discriminated against.” Gul said. “Our parents sent our brothers to school, while asking us to cook for them and
clean their uniforms. … I don’t want our daughters to have the kind of lives we had. I want them to be educated and make their own decisions.” (Read more here.)

THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S WORK IN HAITI

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.

For more information  email: usaidpressofficers@usaid.gov.

4 People Who Can Change Ghana

submitted by Amanda Parsons

Henry Adobor Aceritas will start raising Boer goats for the local market. Tenu Awoonor is going to build Student Card Limited, a company designed to provide cashless payments for school fees and student lunches with the use of a multifunctional identification card. Paul Ansah’s ANSA Systems Limited will work to provide reliable utility power for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilities. Kojo Taylor’s MicroClinics will work on improving access to primary healthcare and essential drugs in rural communities.

What do these four people have in common?

All are recipients of African Diaspora Marketplace grants. USAID and Western Union sponsored the program in which recipients receive as much as $100,000 in grant funding to better their communities in Ghana. The (ADM) finalists were chosen by an independent panel of volunteer judges from business, non-governmental organizations, diaspora development organizations and academia in an effort to increase opportunity in Sub-Saharan Africa through fostering sustainable start-ups and established enterprises. Fourteen candidates–all who presented business plans and work with African diaspora throughout the world to help guide them as they set up their businesses–were chosen from a pool of 733 applicants.

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Pic of the Week – USAID Health Huts

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah meeting with expectant mothers on health issues

A community health hut is an innovative approach to ensure health services for those who don’t have the money or the transportation to travel great distances to see a doctor.  USAID supports a nationwide network of nearly 1,500 huts in Senegal, staffed by almost 10,000 volunteers, covering a population of nearly two and a half million people. These often small, one or two-room structures are widely accessible around the country, including remote, rural areas where there may be no other health provider available.  It is community-managed, financed and volunteer-staffed, which means it’s not government driven, but in the hands of the people.  USAID began supporting these structures in the early ‘80s and since then, as the largest and most consistent donor, its support has become synonymous with comprehensive community care here.   In fact, it is a very important aspect of the malaria prevention and treatment program (the President’s Malaria Initiative) and critical to family planning and reproductive health programs, all of which work hard to reduce maternal and child mortality, as part of the Millennium Development Goals.

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