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.
Responding to Haitians’ Questions A daily radio program for earthquake-affected communities recently broadcast its 100th program. “News You Can Use” (“Enfomasyon Nou Dwe Konnen”), produced by Internews and supported by USAID, reaches more than 3 million Haitians via 27 local radio stations and addresses topics including shelter and settlement; health; food, water and sanitation; and disaster risk, assessment and damage. The programs are based on listeners’ questions – 100 daily on average – submitted via text message and ongoing surveys.
Raising Public Awareness USAID, in coordination with the Haitian government, is supporting TV and radio public information campaigns aimed at addressing gender-based violence, security and health. “Stop the Rape” (“Kwape Kadejak”) PSAs are airing on large screens in many of Haiti’s spontaneous settlements during the World Cup and on other popular TV programs. The PSAs, which are produced with USAID funding by the Pan-American Development Foundation and Population Services International, inform audiences about reporting and prosecuting rape and other violence; preventing HIV and malaria; and hygiene and family planning.
Images of the first few weeks after the earthquake in Haiti are seared indelibly into all of our memories. But for USAID, the international community, and the Government of Haiti, our work continues even when there are no cable news cameras to capture it.
Alongside hundreds of other projects, we’re supporting CHF International to clear damaged buildings and help rebuild many of the hundreds of community schools that the earthquake destroyed in and around Port-au-Prince. CHF’s Emily Lynch shared the below story and photos of College St. Pierre, which collapsed in the earthquake and was cleared away through the USAID-funded CLEARS project:
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.
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.
USAID is a global leader in the effort to provide voluntary family planning services and programs that allow couples to choose how many children to have, and when to have them. When men and women are given the knowledge and the right tools to plan their family, most couples choose to have fewer children. In countries where families have fewer children, women are more likely to be educated, there is a higher paid female population, and women are increasingly involved in activities outside the home because they are not tied to the traditional household role.
USAID currently supports programs in more than 60 developing countries that work to ensure both men and women have access to these life changing services. Our programs focus on educating people about pregnancy, how to plan it, and how to ensure the health of both the child and mother. Increasing access to these services will also reduce the rates of abortion since more pregnancies will be planned.
Since the inception of USAID’s family planning programs in 1965, the use of modern family planning methods in the developing world has nearly quadrupled—from less than 10 percent to more than 39 percent today. In the 39 countries with the largest USAID-supported programs, the average number of children per family has dropped – by choice – from more than 6 to fewer than 4.1.
Alexandre Alcantara, Managing Director of Kirène, Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator for USAID and James Billings, Chief of Party for USAID's Economic Growth Project in Senegal shake hands after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding during Dr. Shah's visit.
Bringing together local communities and private enterprise is what makes for a sustainable and mutually profitable partnership. Just ask Alexandre Alcantara, head of Kirène, a leader in the local production of mineral water, fruit juice, milk and milk-based products here in Senegal. Alexandre has been giving me a tour of his factory located about 80 kilometers outside the capital city of Dakar. USAID/Senegal and Kirène are working together to create jobs and increase rural incomes by targeting local milk farmers to supply the raw materials for their milk products. Kirène imports most of its raw milk in powdered form. Through Feed the Future, USAID is partnering with the firm to increase the
Kids playing football in the Nike Foundation provided stadium in Pretoria
Wherever you are on earth, it’s only a matter of time before you will come across children playing football. Across every continent, football is a common language and a culture shared: a joy, a passion, an escape and an affirmation of identity understood and celebrated by children and their parents in every country on earth. The frenzy surrounding the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, makes it clear that soccer is not just a game, but a source of national pride and a representation of human ability on and off the field.
On May 26, 2010 heavy rainfall marked hurricane season’s first occurrence, Tropical Depression (TD) Agatha, began in Guatemala and El Salvador causing enormous sink holes in downtown Guatemala City and triggering floods and mudslides in two thirds of the country’s municipalities. Many public schools were converted into temporary shelters for the homeless.
Late on the afternoon of May 27 – Pacaya Volcano, one of the three active volcanoes, erupted 25 miles south of Guatemala City and spread ash, sand, gravel and fist-sized rocks for miles. The volcanic eruption covered the City with up to an inch of debris.
These incidents provide a good overview of what happens in a disaster: U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Stephen G. McFarland issued a disaster declaration and requested emergency humanitarian assistance from USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). The United States was one of the first nations to pledge support with $100,000 that USAID’s Guatemala Mission used to locally purchase emergency relief supplies including food rations, fuel for emergency response vehicles and helicopter time to conduct need assessments. USAID/Guatemala is working with Guatemala’s National Emergency Commission and USAID/OFDA’s assessment team and food security program partners to assess the need for further assistance.
Within hours, a seven-person OFDA assessment team was on a plane. They work closely with U.S. Mission Disaster Relief Officer, Guatemala’s National Emergency Commission officials and other humanitarian groups to coordinate U.S. assistance. The Department of Defense’s U.S. Southern Command mobilized four helicopters and 40 troops that were brought in from Honduras to support evacuations, search and rescue efforts, and transport of emergency supplies to affected areas of Guatemala.
Every year, OFDA responds to more than 80 disasters at the request of countries around the world. OFDA operates on the principle that in fragile states, a disaster—even a small one—can drain already limited resources. That’s why the United States is there to help when people need it most.
Administrator Shah adresses the Opening Session of the CAADP/ECOWAS High Level Event
Food security is the order of business this week. I’m here at the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) / Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) high level eventin Dakar, Senegal for its review of national and regional investment plans in agriculture for West African countries. President Obama pledged $3.5 billion for agricultural development and food security over three years and a central part of that approach includes investing in country-owned plans. The United States is making a significant contribution to support the country plans for several West African countries at this review.
Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, renews our commitment to invest in combating the root causes of chronic hunger and poverty. In Senegal, where