USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Global Partnerships

Innovation at USAID

Innovation is critical to the future of USAID, and our ability to reach development goals effectively.  The first-ever Global Development Policy calls on USAID to, “increase our investments and engagement in development-focused innovation by seeking and scaling up potential game-changing development technologies.”  As the term innovation becomes more common in the international and American dialogue, and given our focus on innovation in USAID Forward, I’d like to spell out clearly what innovation means for USAID.

99% cost-reduced Pre-Eclampsia test. Photo Credit:Jhpiego

At USAID, we use “innovation” to refer to novel business or organizational models, operational or production processes, or products or services that lead to substantial improvements (not incremental ones) in executing against  development challenges.  Innovations can involve everything from novel science and technology programs, like a new disease diagnostic that is far cheaper than previous tests, to original ways of engaging the private sector as an efficient distribution channel, to new ways of financing the outcomes or obtain far more leverage than the Agency normally gets through our traditional partnerships.  To be meaningful, innovation has to be mean more than anything new, interesting, or exciting.  That’s why we link innovation to producing improvements that are well beyond incremental, in terms of cost, impact, beneficiaries reached, time saved, etc.  We are used to achieving these breakthroughs with pharmaceuticals but not for much of the rest of our work.

Innovation is not new to USAID.  Over the course of USAID’s history, the Agency has adopted numerous business processes and helped identify and support development practices that drastically improved our delivery of development outcomes.  As Administrator Shah has pointed out, USAID “helped develop the innovations that produced the Green Revolution and pioneered Oral Rehydration Therapy in Bangladesh.”

But we need to recognize innovation more often and could use more systematic ways to test and scale promising breakthroughs – from inside and outside the Agency.  By making innovation a pillar of the USAID Forward effort, we want to create mechanisms that more systematically seek, test, incubate, and mainstream innovative development solutions, encouraging innovation among our own staff and business processes through efforts like procurement reform, training (innovation can absolutely be fostered), and rewarding innovative practices across the Agency more regularly. We want USAID to be an agency that busts through institutional barriers to innovation, including our own.

Talking with America’s Youth

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to speak with American youth from the White House about the importance of getting involved in international development. Kalpen Modi, the Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement, invited me to answer questions from a room full of young innovators and the Twitter and Facebook online communities.

I found this experience especially meaningful because I believe that young people today have a deeper and more thoughtful understanding of global development and its ties to our nation’s prosperity, security and values than at any time in our history. Through the power of social media and political advocacy, as well their ground efforts, they have gained a profound appreciation of the difficulties developing countries face and the interests our nation has in alleviating them.

A few weeks ago in Southern Sudan, I met a group of kids who are learning English and math in a USAID-supported primary education program.  The students ranged in ages from four to fourteen years old. Many of the older students have lived through a period of violence and suffering and have not yet had the opportunity for even a basic education. When you see American taxpayer money being effectively used to provide education in a way that improves the lives of these children and contributes to the peaceful founding of a new nation—the 196th country in the world—you get a genuine sense for the significance of this work.

More than ever before, young people recognize the importance of sustainable, long-term development and are getting directly involved in issues like education, hunger, climate change, and global health. They understand that a world in which hunger is beaten, diseases are eradicated, the planet is protected, markets are free and people are equal is a world that makes us safer, enhances our prosperity and reflects our values as Americans.

Today, the opportunities exist for young people to steer their talents towards serving those in greatest need, no matter what professions or degrees they choose. Whether you’re a teacher, investment banker, or engineer, you have valuable skills that can help drive meaningful change around the world. Visit our website to learn more, stay connected and tell us about the global development issues that concern you.

Stay tuned for more blog posts with additional answers to your specific development questions.

USAID and Intel Meeting Affirms Partnership; Expands Collaboration

By: Cecilia Brady, Alliance Advisor

Earlier this month, USAID and Intel Corporation held their annual management review meeting to analyze the achievements of the longstanding collaboration between the two organizations, and to discuss expanding their cooperation.

Tour guide in Vietnam now uses broadband internet access to communicate with clients and head office. Photo credit: Intel® Corporation

Intel, a global technology company based in California, is perhaps best known for its microprocessors that are ubiquitous in personal computers; the company also manufactures integrated circuits, flash memory and other technology-based products and devices.  Intel’s stated vision over the next decade is “to create and extend computing technology to connect and enrich the lives of every person on earth” – a good fit with USAID’s goal of mobilizing the ideas, expertise and resources of the private sector to achieve development objectives.

USAID began its relationship with Intel in2004, and in 2006 signed a global agreement to partner on three issues: improving education with information and communications technologies (ICT), enabling last-mile Internet connectivity, and supporting ICT usage by small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  This strategic partnership has allowed USAID to utilize Intel’s technology to deepen the impact of our development projects, and to access the deep expertise and innovative thinking within one of the world’s leading technology companies.

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Notes from the Field: We Can Feed the Future

Julie A. Howard is the U.S. Government Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future

My job as the Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future is to champion the cause for global food security. It’s good for health, it supports economic growth, and it promotes global stability. For as much as I value the work I do in Washington, it is opportunities to visit our programs in the field that really reinforce for me what a difference investments in food security can make.

I am in Zambia this week for the tenth annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum. Earlier today, I was with United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk when he announced a U.S. commitment of up to $30 million per year for four years to support trade expansion in Africa. This will facilitate U.S.-Africa trade and intra-regional trade. It will also leverage private sector resources and investments by other donors.

Following the day’s events at AGOA, I saw firsthand how this can work. USTR Kirk and I joined U.S. Ambassador Mark Storella for a visit to the Freshpikt canning factory – the only one of its kind in Zambia. Over the past several years, investments from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have helped the factory to source produce from smallholder farmers, which raises their incomes. In turn, this has provided consumers throughout the region the option to purchase high-quality, locally canned goods that are competing favorably against imported products. They are also being exported, which helps the Zambian economy.

During our visit, Freshpikt and PS International – a U.S.-based company specializing in international trade of bulk agricultural commodities – signed a letter signifying PS International’s intent to invest up to $30 million to increase Freshpikt’s capacity to can tomatoes for regional markets.

A main objective of Feed the Future, the U.S. global hunger and food security initiative, is to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and rural incomes through diversification and private sector development. Today’s visit was inspiring. I’m looking forward to spending the next few days in Zambia!

Partnering to Respond to Disasters & Emergencies

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has a long history of responding to global disasters and emergency situations. Taking even just a cursory look at the news and you will see stories about how the Agency is responding to the complex emergencies and humanitarian crises in Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Not to mention that USAID is engaged in recovery and reconstruction efforts from the earthquake in Haiti and flooding in Pakistan.

At the Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF) before a packed audience of over 120 people, I had the privilege of talking about how USAID utilizes partnerships with the private sector to support our disaster and emergency response activities around the globe. Joining me in this discussion were my colleagues, Carolyn Brehm from Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Ted Okada from Microsoft, who work with the GDA regularly to manage and expand our global partnerships.

In all areas of disaster and emergency response, USAID leverages the financial resources, technical expertise, training capacity, transportation networks, and technology many private sector companies can provide in a crisis. By combining USAID’s own experience in humanitarian and disaster assistance, public-private partnerships can bring a wealth of experience and technical assistance to bear to alleviate human suffering and save millions of lives.

The focus of my remarks were grounded in our Emergencies Sector Guide – part of a series of guides on how USAID does business with the private sector – which focuses on how USAID has formed alliances in all five phases of responding to disasters and crises: preparedness and mitigation; acute response; recovery; reconstruction; and transition. This guide points to the important contributions our private sector partners, such as P&G and Microsoft, can provide in times of crises.

As emphasized by my private sector colleagues, companies are working in partnership not only with USAID, but also other donor organizations, local NGOs in disaster affected countries and other partners to provide humanitarian assistance.  Carolyn indicated that with over 4.2 billion customers and rising, P&G has focused its philanthropic activities around its core business objectives through its Live, Learn and Thrive initiative, which focuses on the health, education and skill needs of children during the first 13 years of life. The primary area USAID has partnered with P&G is around their Children’s Safe Drinking Water program that reaches people through PUR packets, a water purifying technology developed by P&G and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One small PUR packet quickly turns 10 liters of dirty, potentially deadly water into clean, drinkable water. The packets can be used anywhere in the world, including areas affected by natural disaster.

USAID also has a long standing relationship with Microsoft, having worked together in over 70 partnerships around the globe to help expand ICT education and opportunities for local entrepreneurs to generate income and develop their local economies.  At AIDF, Microsoft presented a moving short video describing activities underway in Haiti to help introduce technology and training to schools as the country rebuilds. Through its partnership with NetHope, (supported by USAID) Microsoft is providing equipment, training and technical assistance to over 40 schools to help them leap into the 21st Century.

USAID and its private sector partners are working together to help meet the needs of millions around the globe, recognizing that in this day and age, we cannot solve the challenges facing the global community alone.

Food Security: Progress and a Way Forward

Today I have the privilege to participate in a discussion as part of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security: Progress to Date and Strategies for Success. The Chicago Council’s efforts have been instrumental in elevating global food security as a U.S. policy priority.  We are grateful to them for the opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made so far and remaining challenges we all face in tackling this issue.

At a time when food prices are reaching all-time highs, drawing millions into poverty and undermining global stability, it is critical that we maintain our focus on establishing long-term agriculture-driven economic development. And that’s just what Feed the Future, the U.S. Government initiative to address global hunger and poverty, is about.

In 2009, President Obama pledged $3.5 billion through 2012 for food security, signaling a new era of U.S. investments in agricultural development and elevating its importance. I am proud to say we are on track to meeting that pledge. We are:

  • Responding to country-driven priorities to maximize impact and sustainability.  We have supported focus countries as they have analyzed the evidence and consulted with stakeholders to determine their own investment priorities and developed solid strategic investment plans.
  • Launching innovative private sector partnerships.  We are partnering with major companies like Pepsico to source  products from farms in focus countries; working with retailers such as Walmart to establish supply chains for developing country crops; and collaborating with millions of smallholder farmers—the ultimate small business—to improve  yields, increase incomes and create markets . In Tanzania, for example, we are facilitating investments along the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor, a public-private partnership that will promote clusters of agribusinesses with major benefits for smallholders and local communities across one-third of mainland Tanzania.
  • Strengthening partnerships with U.S.  universities to address  critical research challenges to food security, including wheat stem rust, a disease that threatens wheat productivity worldwide. We are also supporting long-term partnerships to strengthen African agricultural universities and enable them to train the next  generations of researchers, extension workers and agribusinessmen and women.  

Investing in agricultural development and food security is critical to economic growth. It is also the right thing to do. From my perspective — as an agricultural economist, a civil servant, and as an American — that’s the kind of investment I am proud of.

This post and a number of other posts providing expert commentary on food security were crossposted on Global Food for Thought the official blog of the Global Agricultural Development Initiative.  Be sure to check it out!

 

World AIDS Vaccine Day: Igniting the prevention revolution

By: Seth Berkley, President and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative

Crossposted from The Hill

There’s one bromide any decent physician endorses — the one about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. When it comes to ending the AIDS pandemic, U.S. policymakers from both sides of the aisle have embraced this notion as well, providing unwavering, bipartisan support for the global effort to end AIDS, which has already claimed nearly 30 million lives and left another 33 million infected.

U.S. government support for research into HIV prevention — most notably an AIDS vaccine — has been crucial to seeding what scientists are calling a prevention revolution. Without it, we would not be where we are today: The sheer risk of taking on AIDS vaccine development is a significant disincentive to private sector investment. This has resulted in a classic market failure that can only be surmounted with government support. World AIDS Vaccine Day provides an opportunity to consider why this support is also smart long-term policy — why it makes sense not just in medical terms, but in financial ones as well.

Indonesian volunteers light candles during a ceremony to mark World AIDS Day in Jakarta. Photo Credit: Adek Berry/AFP

Because there is no cure for AIDS, over the next few decades this merciless disease will continue to dismantle the familial networks that sustain and stabilize human society in many poor nations and, in some of them, sow the seeds of lasting political instability. As we have all learned in the past decade, such instability has a way of reaching around the world. Today some 5 million of the most vulnerable people in such places have access to HIV drugs today, thanks mainly to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief launched by George W. Bush, and the U.S.-funded Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Still, every day, an additional 7,100 people become HIV positive, and for each person put on antiretroviral drugs, two are newly infected by the virus. While indispensible, the provision of HIV treatment cannot keep pace with this modern plague.

Even in the U.S., there are 56,000 new HIV infections each year, and the government spends $16.7 billion domestically on treatment and care for AIDS. The only medically and fiscally sane option we have is to find an efficient way to reverse the tide of new infections. Vaccines provide that option. As illustrated by recent efforts of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) — which is led by the author of this piece — when done right, support for such research has the added benefit of spurring innovation in American industry.

Fortunately researchers have, with government support, made significant headway to that end. In 2009, a clinical trial in Thailand, conducted by U.S. military and Thai researchers, demonstrated for the first time that vaccines can in fact prevent HIV.

Meanwhile, researchers at and affiliated with IAVI have over the past two years isolated fifteen antibodies capable of neutralizing a broad spectrum of globally circulating HIV variants; others, at the National Institutes of Health, have independently found similarly powerful antibodies. Each of these discoveries holds valuable clues to the design of more effective HIV vaccine candidates.

But to harness them, we must find ways to bypass the market failure that discourages industry involvement. As a nonprofit public-private product development partnership, IAVI, with the support of its donors — most notably USAID — picks up much of the risk associated with developing promising AIDS vaccine concepts, and so draws industry into such efforts.

Second, the organization identifies and actively cultivates promising but neglected avenues of related research. As part of that effort, IAVI has in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched an Innovation Fund that seeks out biotech companies working on a variety of biomedical problems and supports the application their technology to solve the major problems of AIDS vaccine development.

It was from this fund that IAVI provided Theraclone Sciences, a small Seattle-based biotechnology firm seed funding to apply its technology to help isolate neutralizing antibodies. The success of this joint effort wasn’t just good for the field of HIV prevention. It was also good for Theraclone. Partly on the strength of its work with IAVI, the start-up won an agreement with a Japanese drug company to develop therapies and vaccines against influenza and, more recently, established an exclusive partnership with Pfizer for cancer and infectious disease therapies that could eventually be worth more than $600 million.

Just as the U.S. space program generated countless engineering innovations, solving the AIDS vaccine problem will have a lasting impact on one of the greatest growth industries of the future: biological therapies and vaccines, especially those relevant to emerging markets around the world.
We are today at a tipping point in our journey toward an AIDS vaccine. In these economically tough times, we must not forget the long term cost-savings promise of AIDS vaccines — and keep doing all we can to make that promise a reality.

Seth Berkley is the president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

Working Together for Healthy Communities in Senegal

Lois Quam is the Executive Director of the Global Health Initiative.

In the Senegalese village of Nianing, I joined a group of elderly ladies in a circle of plastic chairs as they sang a simple song, a drum keeping time with their claps.  Despite their years, each stood up one by one to dance a few steps.  But this “grandmothers’ group” does more than dance – they counsel young wives of the village to limit childbearing from 18 and 35 years of age and space births two years apart.

Executive Director of the Global Health Initiative Lois Quam Visits Senegal. Photo Credit: GHI

I met lots of other people in the village who cared about the good health of their community too:  political and religious leaders, volunteer health workers, and the counterpart to the grandmothers, a newlyweds association.  Their focal point is a “health hut,” which USAID supports through equipment and training of volunteer community mobilizers and health practitioners.

The health hut belongs to the village and you can see the difference it makes.  It’s been four months since they’ve had a positive malaria test, and in March nearly 40 women have come in to receive family planning services.  At the district health post down the road, we learned that they hadn’t lost a mother since the renovation of its maternity ward, thanks to safe, delivery services provided by qualified personnel – including a young, dynamic midwife named Felicity, who had been recruited by the district health post health committee.

As they opened their records for me, I could see their pride in the statistics they shared, which testified to the fact that practically everyone is engaged in the good health of the community. It moved me to see the way village leaders and extended families work together on a daily basis to develop and operate the health care services that they really need.

During my trip, I also met with religious, civil society, and implementation partners in a lovely reception at the Ambassador’s residence.  A highlight of this evening was meeting the Senegalese military leaders engaged in combating HIV/AIDS.

You can see that they have been built up over time with the long term support of the American people.   The health hut – and their good health – belongs to them.  I am really proud of the work that the United States government, through USAID, the Peace Corps, the Department of Defense, PEPFAR and Centers for Disease Control have done to help make that possible. And I am so proud of how effectively our team works together.  To learn more about health huts in Senegal, click here.

PEPFAR Support for a Country-Owned Continuum of Response to HIV/AIDS

Also posted at DipNote, the U.S. Department of State Official Blog

Ambassador Eric Goosby serves as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.

During today’s opening of the PEPFAR annual meeting, we focused on PEPFAR’s role in supporting countries to establish a “continuum of response.” Through this continuum, countries can provide a comprehensive system of care and support to meets their health needs to their people. As our Global Health Initiative (GHI) recognizes, the continuum is needed not only for particular diseases such as HIV, but for the whole range of public health issues.

At the individual level, a continuum of response means that the government orchestrates a health system that identifies populations at risk and follows them, addressing through all their needs through their lifespan — for prevention, and then for care and treatment if they become infected. And it means following them through all their non-HIV needs as well.

The continuum of response is anchored in the principle of country ownership. PEPFAR is working to support governments in orchestrating national efforts to address the health needs of their citizens, and enabling the strong participation of civil society in those efforts. Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides affirmed the importance of country ownership in the U.S. foreign policy portfolio. And I was fortunate enough to join discussion on global health diplomacy and leadership with CDC Director Tom Frieden, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, and GHI Executive Director Lois Quam to focus on different dimensions of U.S. global health strategic priorities.

Thanks in part to the mechanism of PEPFAR Partnership Frameworks, I believe we are at the precipice of real country ownership of the fight against HIV/AIDS in a growing number of countries. Partnership Frameworks provide a 5-year joint strategic framework for cooperation among the U.S. Government, the partner government, and others to combat HIV/AIDS in the partner country. With our support, countries are putting structures in place that position them to meet not only HIV/AIDS needs, but whatever future public health challenges they face. To date, U.S. Chiefs of Mission and 21 partner governments have signed Frameworks, with more to follow. Today, we were welcomed by the South Africa Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, whose government recently signed a Framework with the United States. Turning a decisive page, the South African Government has assumed increasing leadership, including a dramatically heightened financial contribution and an intention to approach full financial responsibility for its program by 2016.

A continuum of response requires both commitment and capacity on the part of the government. And today, I was pleased to have the opportunity to affirm the leadership role of the U.S. Ambassador in working with our partnership governments. Our Chiefs of Mission are leading their teams to make sure that Partnership Framework commitments are fleshed out in Implementation Plans, which enable real accountability. In terms of the capacity required to establish ownership, tomorrow we will hear from field teams about their hard work to develop capacity at the country level. The locally employed staff of PEPFAR is at the forefront of our efforts on country ownership, focusing on building the technical and managerial capacity of partner nations. This capacity is a key contribution to our effort to foster country ownership and create a continuum of response. All of this is critical to saving lives.

Our Sympathy to the World Food Programme

On behalf of the U.S. Agency for International Development, I would like to extend our heartfelt sympathy for the loss of Santino Pigga Alex Wani of the World Food Programme (WFP). Our deepest condolences go to his colleagues at the World Food Programme as well as to Santino Pigga’s friends and family. We are deeply saddened by his loss of life and the tragic circumstances that led to his passing in Southern Sudan.

In Southern Sudan and throughout the world, WFP’s dedicated staff face dangerous and challenging conditions as they provide emergency food aid to people in desperate need. We applaud the staff at WFP for their bravery, dedication, and commitment to the world’s hungry.

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