Regaining its footing after a quarter century of conflict, northern Uganda is bustling with activity. Communities are working to restore local infrastructure and citizens are going about the business of rebuilding homes and lives. However the political reality is that the political leadership wanted to expedite the return process while also provide people with crucial information to returnees so they could make informed decisions about their lives.
Radio is not only the most reliable source of information for returning communities but also serves as the medium of choice to access the information people are seeking. However radio stations also have a limited ability to deliver the kind of content needed.
To encourage people to return and help them with their rebuilding efforts, the Lamele Theatre Artists, in collaboration with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, spearheaded the production of a radio drama. Ajing Conga, Bila Pa Ladwar (I Will Strengthen My Knees – The Song of a Hunter) focuses on three families that have returned to northern Uganda and are grappling to rebuild their lives. The show is providing returnees with crucial information on education, health, culture, security, and governance.
Three stations aired the 72 episodes of the radio drama three times a week. Once the production finished, the Lamele Theater Artists took the show on the road and performed skits live in villages. The shows, some of which were revised, were well received by northern Ugandans who were able to identify with the challenges and issues portrayed.
As part of our continuing series spotlighting the human face of our work in Haiti, we’d like to return to a program that we’ve already discussed here at IMPACT—the CLEARS program, that is funded by USAID and executed by our partner CHF International.
Adrien Olguine, 25, is one of 40 graduates who have been trained in operating heavy machinery and equipment by CHF International as part of USAID’s OFDAfunded CLEARS program.
Before the earthquake, CHF saw that there was a serious shortage of heavy-equipment operators in Haiti and realized that there was a tremendous opportunity to give a group of Haitians a badly needed skill-set and a chance at a better future. CHF partnered with HayTrac and set to work training 40 Haitians in how to operate heavy machinery like back-hos, bulldozers, and other equipment that would be necessary for critical new construction projects in Haiti.
Once the earthquake struck Haiti, these needs became even more acute. Graduates from the CLEARS program sprang into action and put their new skills to use clearing collapsed buildings and rubble. Here’s what Adrien Olguine, 25, one of the 40 graduates said about her ability to meaningfully contribute to Haiti’s relief and reconstruction effort:
Abdul Karim sits under a makeshift shelter packing freshly picked strawberries. USAID is working with farmers to modernize their agricultural production chain, and strengthen market linkages between farmers, food producers, and exporters.
Aware of the strawberry’s potential, the Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF), a joint initiative of the Pakistani government and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), saw an opportunity to help farmers and boost the economic growth of the region with the production of such a marketable commodity.
A pilot program of the Sindh provincial government with technical support from USAID is working with several dozen farmers to modernize their agricultural production chain, and strengthen market linkages between small-scale farmers, large-scale food producers, and exporters to substantially increase agricultural incomes.
Demonstrations were given to local farmers on modern farming techniques like high-efficiency drip irrigation, as well as post-harvest handling such as proper cooling, storage and packaging of the fragile berries.
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.
Lighting Up Camps: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is funding an initial 75 solar lights for spontaneous settlements. USAID is working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNFPA to evaluate lighting needs in settlements and install lights where they’re needed. These solar lights will make Haiti’s displaced persons safer through a reliable and plentifully available source of energy.
Returning Homes to Habitability: As a model for future reconstruction efforts, USAID partner Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) is repairing houses damaged in the earthquake. PADF is producing a guide on training, cost analysis, and future house repairs based on this project for the Government of Haiti, and it will train builders and masons. Lessons learned from this project will be turned into post‐earthquake House Repair Guidelines specifically tailored to the Haitian context.
Reinforcing Houses: USAID has been working hand‐in‐hand with the United Nations Shelter Cluster to ensure that Haitians are prepared for the rainy season. Public outreach materials include posters in Haitian Creole such as this guide to reinforcing emergency housing.
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.
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.
Back in my college days in Michigan I volunteered to assist physicians in an extremely poor community in South India. This group of doctors not only treated people’s medical needs, they also created an enduring development program that improved livelihoods and strengthened the community. I was there for only a few months, but it was enough to convince me that when we put our minds together to solve some of the most difficult problems, we can be successful.
And in that context, I really appreciate what groups like AAPI are doing to create that sense of possibility.
Later, I created with my wife, Shivam, who was then my girlfriend, a Philadelphia-based youth leadership and mentoring program with chapters in several major U.S. cities that brought young people to Washington, DC to inspire them about the potential to serve. And one of our first grants was from the very organization that I just spoke with last night.
Angelina Jolie visits USAID at the U.S. Embassy on June 19, 2010. Photo by: Kendra Helmer
Angelina Jolie, U.N.’s goodwill ambassador, talks with USAID/Haiti Mission Director Carleene Dei (in black vest) at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on June 19, 2010. Jolie spoke about child-protection issues with the State Department, USAID and USAID partner Pan American Development Foundation.