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From the Field: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker Visits Northern Kosovo

The new playground is a great facility for children of the neighborhood, full of brightly colored new equipment. The climbing tower is an obvious hit! Photo Credit:Ruzica Bozovic of the USAID/DEMI program

During a recent visit to Kosovo, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker spoke in support of the process of decentralization and community engagement to improve life for everyone. Reeker told reporters in Mitrovica North that it is important that local communities determine “how your lives will be led, how your children will be raised and how the international community can support that effort.” Mitrovica North is a Kosovo Serb majority region that has been resistant to cooperation with the central government in Pristina.

Reeker visited the community, along with U.S. Ambassador Christopher Dell, to inaugurate a playground constructed by USAID at the request of local residents. Reeker also met with local business leaders at a new Regional Community Resource Center that is supported by USAID. It was thehighest level U.S. Government visit to the tense region since ethnic violence erupted last summer.

From the Field

In Ukraine, we facilitated a meeting between one of Ukraine’s Federal District Court Judge’s Charles Breyer and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft.  This meeting was arranged at the Judge’s request, through the Fair, Accountable, Independent and Responsible Judiciary Program (FAIR).  The purpose of the FAIR Program is to support legislative, regulatory and institutional reform of judicial institutions in order to build a foundation for a more accountable and independent judiciary.

Also, under the FAIR program, USAID Ukraine held a conference on Strategic Planning for the Judiciary at which the Ambassador made remarks.  He emphasized that, “an independent and effective judiciary is critical to Ukraine’s continued economic development.”  The Ambassador’s remarks can be found here in full.

In Macedonia, to foster the development of the creative industries sector, we held an Artfest.  This activity is part of USAID’s Creative Businesses Project which works to create opportunities for long-term employment and increased income for creative micro and small enterprises.   The main beneficiaries are unemployed youth and women.

From the Field

Our weekly feature highlighting events at USAID Missions around the globe.

In Tanzania, on World AIDS Day, Former President George W. Bush and his family visited sites in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The highlight of their site visits was observing an innovative HIV prevention intervention funded by USAID that takes place in Tanzanian beauty salons. Former President Bush and Mrs. Bush along with their daughters and son-in-law, stopped in at Ramuu’s Beauty Salon in Dar es Salaam to see the Jipende! (Love Yourself!) Program in action. Ramuu’s is one of 46 salons in Dar es Salaam that have been trained and equipped to be Resource Centers for Women’s Health.

Speaking with the beauty salon owner and attendants, the Bush family heard first-hand how the owner and the salon attendants are trained to deliver messages to salon clients about HIV prevention, family planning and women’s health issues such as breast and cervical cancer. Mr. Bush commended the salon owner for participating in the USAID funded Jipende! Program and her efforts to empower women with important health knowledge and information.

In Paraguay, we held the closing ceremony for USAID’s Health Decentralization program. The Health Decentralization Program which began a decade ago, will conclude this month.  The program has provided assistance at the central, regional and local levels to strengthen the health decentralization process and health services provided to poor people by Paraguay’s Ministry of Health. USAID assisted health councils across the country to develop local health plans and improve management of financial resources and accountability.

In Haiti, we held a ground breaking ceremony for a 246-hectare Industrial Park in Caracol.  Former President Bill Clinton and Haitian President Michel Martelly were in attendance.  The Industrial Park is expected to create thousands of jobs in Haiti.

From the Field

In Nepal,  USAID launched a Global Climate Change Program.  The new program, Hariyo Ban, is a five-year program and cornerstone of President Obama’s Global Climate Change Initiative.  Climate change is emerging as a major threat to the people and biodiversity of Nepal. Hariyo Ban, which means “green forests” in Nepali, will help to build resilience to climate change in communities, ecosystems and keystone wildlife species by restoring and conserving Nepal’s forests.  It will also improve the livelihoods of Nepal’s most impoverished communities.  Over the project period, the program will reduce emissions/sequester over 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents in the target landscapes.  The program will also provide capacity building and livelihood development support to 180,000 people; bring 50,000 hectares of forest area under improved management and generate vital revenue from payments for environmental services systems.

In Ukraine, Acting USAID Mission Director, Sarah Wines Welcomed Ukrainian Parliamentary and Executive Internship Program Graduates.  She presented identification cards to 102 new interns of the USAID Parliamentary and Executive Internship Program during an official welcoming ceremony in Kyiv. Also participating were Dmytro Markov, Deputy Secretary General of the Rada, and Taras Prytula, Head of the Interns’ League. Over the coming months, students and recent college graduates from nearly all regions of Ukraine will work in 28 Parliamentary committees and departments, as well as in six Ministries of Ukraine. Explaining the program’s significance to the interns, Ms. Wines stated that “in these halls, very important decisions are made, that affect people in very real ways.” Composed of 78 Parliamentary interns and 24 interns in the Executive branch of government, the 2011-2012 intern class comprises a diverse range of disciplines, including those studying law, economics, international relations and in the technical disciplines. Ms. Wines encouraged the students to use their skills to bring fresh ideas to government service, and confirmed the U.S. Government’s commitment to partnership with Ukraine and its democracy through the USAID Parliamentary Development Program.

From the Field

In Iraq, we will be participating for the first time in the Baghdad International Trade Fair.  Seventeen countries total will be in participation.   We are planning a powerful social media campaign to engage with visitors about opportunities to partner with U.S. companies and USAID.  We are anticipating half a million visitors to the fair.

In Uganda, on our Embassy YouTube page, we recently posted an interview with a successful women farmer who benefited from a USAID program which guaranteed a loan that allowed her to start her own seed business. Click here to hear her story.

From the Field

Our weekly feature highlighting upcoming events at USAID Missions around the globe.

In Indonesia, the U.S. government, through a USAID Development Credit Authority facility, will provide a guarantee to a new student loan program funded by the Putera Sampoerna Foundation and two financial institutions, UBS AG and Raiffeisen Bank International AG. The program will provide student loans over a 20-year period for Indonesian students, including those interested in studying in America. Making available student loans will give Indonesian students of all economic backgrounds the financial means necessary to pursue their educational goals.

In Male, Maldives, USAID/Sri Lanka will launch an Enhancing Climate Resiliency and Water Security project. The project will target assistance to two islands in the north of the country, with the goal of making them climate resilient islands. The project will help island residents improve their knowledge and ability to protect their islands’ natural resources, and over the long-term reduce their vulnerability to climate change.

In Uganda, we held a ground-breaking ceremony for an integrated cancer training and treatment facility on the grounds of the Uganda Cancer Institute. Ugandan Vice President Edward Ssekandi and Harold Varmus, Nobel laureate and director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute along with David Eckerson, USAID-Uganda Mission Director, led the ground-breaking ceremony for an integrated cancer training and treatment facility on the grounds of the Uganda Cancer Institute at Mulago Hospital. USAID has awarded grants valued at $1.4 million to Seattle, Washington-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to aid in the construction of the first American cancer clinic and medical-training facility. When completed, the new facility will significantly increase patient access to cancer diagnosis and treatment while furthering study of cancers in Uganda. NTV Uganda, Uganda’s leading TV station, aired the ground-breaking ceremony at Mulago Hospital. Check out the clip on YouTube.

From the Field

Our weekly feature highlighting upcoming events at USAID Missions around the globe.

In Indonesia, we will hold a ceremony for the Aceh West Coast Highway construction project. The event recognizes the U.S. Government’s support for the creation of a difficult section of national highway from Banda Aceh to Calang, which is approaching completion. This ceremony will provide an opportunity to underscore that the U.S. Government is committed to Aceh’s economic development and the Comprehensive Partnership with Indonesia. New programs through USAID are also contributing to support the province’s reconstruction and future development in other ways, in addition to developing this important economic artery.

In Azerbaijan, Save the Children will host a talk show on disability issues in the nation. During this program, USAID will broadcast a PSA on increasing employment of disabled people.

In Paraguay, A rural farmer’s association, Caapiibary Cooperative will inaugurate a new infrastructure for passion fruit processing. USAID/Paraguay is helping rural farmers to increase production and find new markets for their production and has connected them with local companies which buy the farmer’s product. In this case the leading company Frutika is buying passion fruit for juice processing, helping farmers increase their income and escape poverty.

Local Health Support Builds Better Lives for Mothers and Babies

As we headed out for a health-focused field trip in Timor-Leste’s central highlands, we were treated to almost all the geographical delights of the country.  Along the coast road, the dry season winds were whipping up the sea into the biggest waves I’d seen since I arrived in Timor-Leste.  As we turned inland, the brown fields among the rising hills attested to the end of the harvest.  Driving ever higher—along narrower and narrower roads—the altitude brought back the green of forests.

We were headed through the district of Ermera to the “sub-village” of Hatugeo, tucked just below the peak of Timor-Leste’s highest mountain.  This district has some of the country’s worst health indictors:

  • Infant mortality is 70 babies per 1,000 births, far higher than the national average of 45/1,000, and higher than in neighboring Indonesia (34/1,000).
  • Only 3 percent of mothers deliver their babies in a health care facility, compared with 22 percent across the country.
  • A higher percentage of children show signs of malnourishment and illness than in the rest of Timor-Leste.

Why is that?  I’ve been told there are four main reasons (and I suppose that there are more).  First, the district is very mountainous; second, there are few roads; third, there is a shortage of professional health staff; and fourth, this district is known for its festivals and parties—people spend what little money they have on these, not on nutrition and health, so says the Deputy Director of the District Health Service Florindo De Araujo.  This is a big problem, and Mr. De Araujo and his staff are wracking their brains to figure out what to do about it.

Read the rest of this entry »

From the Field

In Batticaloa, Sri Lanka we held a friendly cricket tournament between youth from the East and South  to mark International Peace Day.

In Jaffna, Sri Lanka we opened a collection center and distributed “freezer trucks” to farmers as part of USAID’s public-private alliances program.  This hand over of equipment, tools and grants will improve productivity and profitability of fruit and vegetable cultivation in the conflict-affected Northern Province. These partnerships will not only provide employment to young men and women in the conflict-affected districts but also offer training and social integration among members of diverse ethnic groups.

In Vavuniya, Sri Lanka under our Office of Transition Initiatives program, we will hand over a large truck  to recently resettled farmers in the North in a bid to enhance their marketing potential and to foster relations between the North and the South. Farmers will also receive water pumps and sprinklers on a credit basis.

In Iraq, as part of an ongoing effort to improve local governance and build local capacity, we held a competition for the best District Council website.  The websites will evaluated based on their content quality and quantity, layout/ organization, update frequency, and objectivity/reliability.

In Jordan, as part of our water resources management program, we began work at a new wastewater treatment plant.  Jordan is one of the ten most water-deprived countries in the world. The treatment plant will help improve the health and environmental conditions of the surrounding areas.

In the Ukraine, we will hold a 10th Anniversary celebration of Telekritika, a key media watchdog in Ukraine and a long-standing USAID partner. The celebration includes award ceremony to honor TV producers and TV journalists whose activities represent the highest ethical reporting standards to strengthening independent media in Ukraine.

From the Field

In Serbia, we held a launch event for an environmental joint initiative to reform waste management practices and achieve a sustainable long-term solution for waste management. The initiative is designed to strengthen the work of civil society organizations who are focusing on this issue. The group consists of five core members: the Center of Modern Skills, Young Researchers of Serbia, Yurom Center Nis, Group 484, and the European Movement in Serbia.

In Iraq, to commemorate International Literacy Day, we handed out 1,200 certificates to women who have graduated from the Women’s Awareness and Inclusion Program. The program provides basic literacy courses for women in south Iraq. Over 23,000 women have participated in the program to date.

In Sri Lanka, we opened a garment factory as part of USAID’s Public Private Alliances program that allows USAID to work collaboratively with the private sector to create job opportunities, jump start economic growth in former conflict areas and help build lasting peace. This partnership will not only provide employment to young men and women in the conflict-affected district of Ampara, it will also promote training and on the job interaction among members of diverse ethnic groups in the area.

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