Weekly Briefing (5/16/2011–5/20/2011)
May 16 AFP reported that the Central Bank of Iraq, with support from USAID, will be working to bring mobile banking to Iraqis. USAID is working to unify Iraq’s banking system, where only one fifth of Iraqis have bank accounts, while 70 percent have mobile phones.
May 17 MSNBC reported that USAID recently appointed four new members to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD). The seven member board is a presidentially-appointed advisory committee whose primary role is to advise and assist the USAID Administrator on food security-related issues and the role of higher education in international agricultural development.
May 19 Voice of America wrote that at a special State Department press briefing to discuss the future of Sudan, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah stated how the two states can become economically viable. “They need to reinvest in agriculture, which continues to be the area of employment for 80 percent of the population.”
Weekly Briefing (5/8/2011–5/13/2011)
May 8 The Huffington Post’s “Huffpost Impact” Blog published a column celebrating the new global health initiative USAID and Johnson & Johnson are partnering on to address maternal and child health. The partnership, called Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), will harness the power of mobile technology to deliver vital health information to new and expectant mothers.
May 8 The Sudan Tribune reported that during Administrator Shah’s recent trip to the region, he cited that President Obama and USAID are set to invest in South Sudan’s agricultural sector, which is the backbone of the region’s economy. Administrator Shah’s remarks were given during the signing ceremony of a communiqué declaring “to support the Government of Southern Sudan in its efforts to transform farms into businesses.”
May 9 The Guardian’s global health blog featured an interview USAID’s Frontlines magazine had with World Health Organization’s Director General Margaret Chan. In the interview, Chan talked about the need to have both disease-fighting strategies and health system strengthening.
May 9 Foreign Policy’s The Cable blog highlighted an interview Lt. Gen. John Allen had with USAID’s Frontlines magazine on U.S. aid to Afghanistan. In the interview, Allen promised to push for increased cooperation between soldiers and aid workers and fight for USAID’s continued support from the military and Congress.
May 2- FutureGov reported that USAID is teaming up with NASA to expand international development efforts by applying geospatial technologies to overcome challenges in food security, climate change, and energy and environmental management in many developing countries. The technology will involve satellite data and mapping tools.
May 4-The Hill, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Federal Computer Week announced Secretary Clinton’s unveiling of a new public-private partnership called the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), which aims to provide women with health information using mobile phone technology. The National Journal quotes Administrator Shah as saying that, “This partnership will harness the power of mobile technology to provide mothers with information about pregnancy, childbirth, and the first year of life.”
May 4- FederalNewsRadio reported that USAID is boosting its partnership with NASA by signing a new memo of understanding to share technologies in addressing international development problems.
May 5- The New York Times “Green” blog reported on an interview with Administrator Shah concerning family planning. The Agency is collaborating with several U.S. and international partners to prevent millions of unwanted pregnancies and to help children to survive into adulthood so that parents do not feel pressured to have more children.
Weekly Briefing (4/25/2011–4/29/2011)
April 25 NextGov reported that NASA and USAID have signed a pact to share more satellite data and mapping tools with international partners for disaster response. The five-year memorandum of understanding covers several initiatives funded through both agencies that focus on global health, hunger, disaster relief and environmental dangers.
April 27 AFP, CNN, and Voice of America reported that a major food aid report released by USAID aims to improve the quality of food it distributes abroad. The report Delivering Improved Nutrition calls for revisions in dietary elements to fight hunger and to focus on providing proper nutrition to children under two and pregnant women.
April 4: Bloomberg News reported that USAID will send a team into Libya to provide humanitarian relief in the face of the current conflict. Mark Ward, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, said that one of the team’s first tasks will be to “contact those opposed to Qaddafi, including the National Transitional Council, to coordinate the delivery of relief.”
April 7: Voice of America reported that USAID is taking the lead on American humanitarian efforts in Libya. The pledged $47 million dollars are being used to “first, [deliver] desperately needed humanitarian aid; second, [pressure] and [isolate] the Muammar Gadhafi regime through sanctions and other measures; and third [support] efforts by Libyans to achieve their aspirations through political changes.”
April 8: MIT News reported that at a speech delivered on campus by USAID Administrator Shah, the future of development will be shaped by new ideas and innovation. And that programs developed through MIT’s D-Lab are helping to “transform the world of development.”
Weekly Briefing (3/21/2011–3/25/2011)
March 22 The Sherman Oaks (CA) Patch reported that alongside a Fairfax, Virginia team, USAID dispatched 74 LA County firefighters to Japan two days after they returned from an earthquake rescue mission in New Zealand. In addition, six search and rescue dogs trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation helped firefighters look for survivors in the debris. On its website, CNN also posted a video highlighting the work of the Search & Rescue teams.
March 23 The Financial Times published an op-ed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack calling for “an international effort to avoid a repeat of the 2007-2008 spikes in food prices.” He advocates for more transparency on food production and limiting restrictions on exports, and says that a 70% increase in food production will be necessary in the future. The USAID-led Feed the Future initiative is heading this productivity effort.
March 24 On World Tuberculosis Day, Voice of America published an editorial highlighting USAID’s work to prevent and control TB in countries around the world. “USAID will strive to treat 2.6 million TB patients and initiate treatment of at least 57,200 new cases by 2014,” said USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah.
Weekly Briefing (3/14/2011–3/18/2011)
March 14 In a letter to the editor of The Washington Post, Deputy USAID Administrator Donald Steinberg wrote that USAID remains committed to empowering women in Afghanistan. “USAID is providing more support than at any time in our agency’s history to address the illiteracy, poor health, extreme poverty and political exclusion.”
March 14 The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post reports that foreign aid has arrived in Japan after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit the country early Friday morning. The outlets report that rescue teams USAID sent from Los Angeles County and Fairfax County, Virginia have arrived in Japan to launch a massive search and rescue operation.
March 17 Multiple news publications, including AP, the Washington Times, and Voice of America reported on Administrator Shah’s appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to talk about budget requests for the following fiscal year. Administrator Shah said that proposed cuts to his agency’s budget would have “an absolutely devastating” impact on its humanitarian assistance programs and that foreign assistance is the key to national security.
Weekly Briefing (2/28/2011–3/4/2011)
March 1 The New York Times reports that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that USAID will be dispatching two teams to Libya’s borders in Egypt and Tunisia to assess the need for emergency assistance. Clinton also said the agency has set aside $10 million for humanitarian assistance and begun an inventory of American emergency food supplies.
March 2 The Washington Post, Reuters, and AFP all reported on Secretary Clinton’s comments concerning the State Department and USAID budget, saying that “diplomatic and development activities…are at least as important as military readiness.” Bloomberg News noted that in response to her statements about national security, several Republics argued that that nation’s deficit threatens U.S. stability. AP added that Clinton regretted that budget cuts may eliminate a plan to open a new development aid office in the Pacific.
March 2 CBS News, NBC Nightly News, and Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” blog reported on the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps and the history of the organization that is “more relevant than ever,” according to President Obama. Hillary Clinton praised the Peace Corps, saying that many of her colleagues in the State Department and USAID began their careers in the Peace Corps.
March 4 AFP reports that proposed foreign aid cuts could hamper food security efforts and spark unrest. According to USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg, “acute hunger ‘threatens the stability of governments, societies and borders around the world.”
March 4 The New York Times reports that President Obama has authorized USAID to charter civilian aircraft to help refugees return to other countries.
Weekly Briefing (2/22/2011–2/25/2011)
February 23 CNN reports that USAID is sending a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to New Zealand in the wake of the 6.3-magnittude earthquake in Christchurch.
February 23 AFP reports that in a written statement, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah offered his condolences to the people of New Zealand. “On behalf of the American people, I wish to convey our sympathy, thoughts and prayers to the people of New Zealand who have been affected by this devastating earthquake.”
Weekly Briefing (2/14/2011–2/18/2011)
February 15 The New York Times and CBS Evening News reported that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Monday that proposed Republican cuts to foreign aid would hurt national security. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Clinton wrote, “Cuts of this magnitude will be devastating to our national security, will render us unable to respond to unanticipated disasters and will damage our leadership around the world.” AFP cites that Clinton added the cuts would cause the State Department and USAID “to scale back their critical roles in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
February 17 Bloomberg News wrote that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton promised on Wednesday to increase support to civil society activists fighting repressive governments around the world. A fund managed by USAID to protect groups from government censoring will be increased from $1.5 million to $3.4 million.