USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Sub-Saharan Africa

Let’s Hear it for Sustainable Tourism: A Photo Essay

By David Chalmers, Natural Resources Officer, USAID/Southern Africa

“Let’s hear it for Mozambique, let’s hear it for sustainable tourism!” crowds chanted at the opening of the Lake Niassa Reserve.

USAID has worked in partnership with the government of Mozambique, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Coca-Cola Company to protect the species and natural habitats of the of the most biodiverse freshwater lake on earth. Protecting Lake Niassa creates important economic opportunities for local fishing and tourism industries.

Below, watch women dance at the celebration of the reserve opening.

A Dream in a Nightmare in the Eastern DRC

A guest post by Dr. Denis Mukwege, Director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC.   Dr. Mukwege is the winner of the 2010-2011 King audouin International Development Prize and recently spoke at USAID in a roundtable discussion about gender based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The views in this post do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of USAID or the U.S. Government.

A few decades ago, the American pastor, Martin Luther King shook the conscience of his contemporaries in his speech with the famous line, I have a dream. This speech was written from the perspective of the “American dream”, a dream which is founded on the idea of rising up, of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. It also implies an attitude, which consists of pushing back the boundaries much further, of refusing the idea of fate and of hoping for a better future.

It is interesting to note that Martin Luther King’s dream unfolded against the backdrop of a social nightmare.

Today everybody knows that women in the eastern DRC are living a nightmare. Hundreds of women are raped every day. They are kidnapped and reduced to sexual slavery. Others have been raped by dozens of armed men who take pleasure in mutilating their genitals – a savagery that is unprecedented in the region’s history. Meanwhile unscrupulous traders and multinationals have joined forces with these militias and have taken to exploiting the minerals in the region for the manufacture of mobile phones and computers.

I cannot stress this enough : the organised rape of women in the eastern DRC is designed to destroy all of society in this region. In a country where the unemployment rate for men is estimated to be over 80%, women constitute the main pillar of socio-economic life, because of their hard labour in the fields or their small businesses selling their products at local markets. In fact, women are responsible for children’s education; they also pay for the cost of tuition and of medical care. A raped woman is equivalent to the long-term destruction of a family with several children. What will happen in the future to these thousands of children who were conceived in rape? These children, who have no identity, who cannot trace their descent and who are rejected by their communities? How will they integrate in tomorrow’s society? In a region where indifference is killing communities, USAID’s grassroots work can make all the difference.

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USAID Appears in Congressional Hearing on Sudan

USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa Raja Jandhyala appeared at a congressional hearing last week along with U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Ambassador Princeton Lyman, to discuss the current crisis in Sudan and the impending independence of South Sudan on July 9.

The hearing, titled “Africa’s Newest Nation:  The Republic of South Sudan,” explored the challenges South Sudan will face as it becomes an independent nation, in keeping with the outcome of the January referendum on self-determination (PDF, 873kb) for southern Sudan, a key provision of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which USAID has helped implement.  Nearly 99 percent of southern Sudanese voted in January for secession. Called by the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, the hearing also explored the current crisis that has resulted from conflict that erupted in Sudan’s Abyei Area last month and in Southern Kordofan state this month, displacing some 170,000 people.

Read in her written testimony (PDF, 51kb) about how USAID is responding to the current crisis with humanitarian assistance, and how USAID is helping the Government of Southern Sudan prepare for statehood.

USAID Convenes Discussion on South Sudan Private Sector Engagement

Angela Stephens is a Development Outreach and Communications Officer in the Africa Bureau.

USAID on June 14 convened a discussion in Washington with representatives of the World Bank, the Departments of Treasury and Commerce, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Citibank, the Corporate Council on Africa, and the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) to discuss investment and economic issues for South Sudan as it approaches independence on July 9.

Earlier this year, USAID inaugurated the electrification of two key market towns in Eastern Equatoria (Kapoeta, shown here) and Western Equatoria (Maridi), which—like most of southern Sudan— had never had electric power. This has already helped boost economic activity in these towns, enabling merchants to extend their hours, improving community security, and helping schoolchildren to study after dark. Photo Credit: Jenn Warren

Led by Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa Raja Jandhyala, the discussion addressed topics including working with the GOSS Ministry of Investment on its priorities and focusing on sectors that can attract investors to the new nation, including agriculture and infrastructure, which may offer the greatest immediate opportunities for private sector employment.

As Jandhyala told the gathering, “This is a follow-up to the private sector event we had last month in Juba with USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and private sector representatives who are already on the ground.”  She mentioned that USAID funded a study released by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation last month, Doing Business in Juba 2011, the first assessment of business regulations in southern Sudan’s capital.  The United States is encouraging a wide variety of investors, in and beyond the Africa region, to explore opportunities in southern Sudan.

The United States, United Kingdom, and Norway are working with the GOSS on an international engagement conference for South Sudan to take place in Washington in September, which will provide an international platform for the GOSS to present its vision for the new country, and to engage development partners and private sector entities on priority areas for support and collaboration.  GOSS officials seek to build a broad coalition to promote private sector engagement in South Sudan post-independence.

Investing in Women to Defeat Hunger in Malawi

Submitted by guest blogger Anita McCabe, Country Director, Concern Worldwide, Malawi

As the hot, dry breeze wafts through the lakeside district of Nkhotakota, Malawi, a group of women sing as they take turns to water their near-ripe crop of maize. Further downstream, another group is busy making seed beds in preparation for another crop.

Like many women in developing countries, these women face a particular set of responsibilities and vulnerabilities when it comes to providing food for their families. Not only are they the primary caregivers, they are also the producers of food and the income earners. Women farmers in rural areas of Malawi grow, buy, sell, and cook food in order to feed their children. In fact, in all the countries in which I’ve worked during my time with Concern Worldwide, I’ve seen how very hard women must work to ensure the survival of their families, and the burdens they bear.

Women produce between 60 and 80 percent of food in developing countries, and they hold the key to tackling hunger and malnutrition. A woman’s nutritional status is critical not only to her own health but also to her ability to work, and her ability to ensure that her children are properly nourished and healthy.

Nkhotakota has suffered from recurring drought and flooding, and the people here know the consequences. “As a woman, it hurts to see my children cry with hunger” says Grace Kalowa from Thondo village. “It’s more painful as a mother to tell them that I don’t have any food to give them. In their eyes I am supposed to provide for them but knowing that I can’t do anything is heartbreaking. That feeling of desperation is what brought us together as women to drive hunger away from our families.”

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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!

Running for Maternal and Newborn Lives in Ethiopia

Growing up in New England, the highlight of spring was always the Boston Marathon. Whether we cheered the runners on from alongside the road or if we watched the event live on television, the experience always had a distinct allure. Bonded together with a singular purpose, beating their feet along the pavement with a steady rhythm, the runners were simply captivating.

In recent years, the race has been dominated by African competitors; since the 1990s, both the male and female winners have almost exclusively hailed from Kenya and Ethiopia. Nearly 7,000 miles away—or, more than 250 marathon-lengths—a different race recently brought together Americans and Africans with a common goal.

In recognition of our 50th Anniversary, USAID co-sponsored the EVERY ONE half-marathon in Awassa, Ethiopia, along with Save the Children and the Great Ethiopian Run, a local NGO founded by world marathon record-holder Haile Gebreselassie. The event sought to raise awareness about efforts to reduce maternal, newborn, and child deaths.

View photos and captions on Flickr.

Seven thousand Ethiopians and international participants congregated on the Rift Valley Lake of Awassa to run and to greet elite runners from Kenya and Ethiopia including the Ethiopian winner of the 2010 New York Marathon, Gebregziabher Gebremariam. Local musicians and theater groups used their artistic talents to educate attendees about how public health workers support maternal and child health.

Every year in Ethiopia, about 19,000 women die due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications, and thousands of women suffer from birth injuries. Nearly half a million Ethiopian children under five die every year. Of these, 120,000 die before they are one month old. Many of these injuries and deaths could be prevented with interventions that are currently available, effective, and often low-cost.

USAID supports the goals of the EVERY ONE campaign by expanding the reach of health extension workers, increasing access to delivery and emergency obstetric care, improving neonatal care and nutrition, and expanding access to voluntary family planning methods that enable birth spacing which can help strengthen the health of mothers and children. Last year, in the region of Ethiopia where the race was held, with USAID support:

  • Health extension workers  visited over one million households;
  • Over 500,000 pregnant women received pre-natal care by a skilled service provider, and more than 700,000 new clients received voluntary family planning services;
  • Over 80,000 pregnant women learned their HIV status, and nearly 300 received important medical therapy to prevent HIV transmission to their babies; and
  • More than 50,000 orphaned and vulnerable children received specialized care.

Running alongside—or behind—Ethiopians in the race were U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Booth, USAID/Ethiopia Mission Director Thomas Staal, and staff members from the U.S. Embassy, USAID, and the Peace Corps (which also celebrates its 50th anniversary this year). Thomas Staal said, “I am pleased that this year the EVERY ONE campaign has chosen to recognize the contribution of health workers to saving lives of mothers and children and to promoting the health of families and communities. However, success will depend on mutual respect, and the trust that comes from that mutual respect, between husbands and wives, neighbors and communities, and above all, between patients and health workers. It truly takes EVERY ONE to help mothers and children to survive and thrive.”

Fans from New England may protest, but this year, the EVERY ONE race in Ethiopia was the one that captivated me.

Picture of the Week

USAID is providing food, including sorghum shown here at Majak Aher near Turalei, Warrap State, and other emergency assistance to Sudanese displaced by fighting in the Abyei Area. Photo Credit: USAID/Donna Kerner

As Featured in FrontLines: Many Paths to Better Health

Kelly Ramundo is Managing Editor for FrontLines Magazine.

April 2010 Frontlines


The U.S. Government, through USAID and other agencies, is working with the developing world to improve health care and health outcomes on myriad fronts. When it comes to improving global health, there is no magic elixir. Instead, progress comes by way of the compounded hard work of dedicated professionals across sectors and regions. Although paths may diverge along with way, the goal is shared: saving and improving lives worldwide.

Mass vaccination campaigns using the new vaccine reached nearly 20 million people in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. Photo Credit: Gabe Bienczycki

From keeping life-saving health care facilities on the electrical grid in Haiti, to contributing to the decade-long quest for an epidemic meningitis vaccine in Africa, to partnering with the government of Swaziland to ensure that a crippling HIV_AIDS epidemic does not become a legacy of future generations, to building up the capacity of Iraq’s civil Service, USAID’s efforts are having an impact in line with our nation’s values and true to our mission of contributing to a more stable and secure world.

Visit the current edition of FrontLines for these and more stories on the various paths USAID is helping to forge to improve global health and shape a better future in Iraq.

Responding to Urgent and Long-Term Needs in Sudan

Earlier this month, I visited Sudan, a nation poised to separate in July into two independent states following a peaceful referendum in January that USAID helped carry out. Since my visit, violence has erupted in Abyei, a disputed area on the north-south border, and threatened the fragile peace in the region.

Resolving the status of Abyei has long presented a difficult challenge. During my visit—together with UK Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell and Norway Minister of Environment and International Development Erik Solheim—we stressed to the Government of Sudan and Government of Southern Sudan our concern about the destabilizing impact of uncertainty over the Abyei Area’s future.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah at a press conference in Juba on May 7th. Photo Credit: Government of Southern Sudan.

In response to the violence, we quickly activated our contingency plans. USAID partners are on the ground in areas where thousands of Sudanese have been displaced by fighting.  And we are working with UN agencies and non-governmental organizations to provide emergency food aid, medicine, water, shelter, hygiene kits, and other assistance.

As we continue to address the emergency needs of people in and around Abyei—as well as in areas across the south affected by violence—we remain focused on helping bring stability and effective development to Sudan over the long term. During my visit, I met with Government of Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and announced that the United States would host an international engagement conference for southern Sudan after its independence.  The conference will enable the new nation to collaborate with other governments and the private sector on development priorities, especially in agriculture.

Nearly 87 percent of southern Sudanese rely on agriculture, livestock, or forestry to make a living.  Ninety percent of southern Sudan’s land is arable, but less than 10 percent is currently cultivated.

I met men and women farmers, who described to me how they struggle to expand their farms, buy quality seeds and fertilizer, and move their products to market.  Because of the challenges they face, the agricultural yield in southern Sudan is only 0.3 metric tons per hectare, despite good conditions and available land.  But the average yield worldwide for sorghum, for example, was 1.46 metric tons per hectare in 2009-10, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  It’s easy to see how much potential is being lost.

I’m proud that this is an area in which the United States and our partners can help.

During my visit, I signed a communiqué with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and the International Fertilizer Development Center to work with the Government of Southern Sudan to develop the commercial agriculture sector. By increasing productivity, supporting agribusinesses, and improving research and technology, we can begin the process of an agricultural transformation in southern Sudan.

We are working in many other areas to help bring basic services and opportunities to the people of Sudan. In Juba, I especially enjoyed visiting a USAID-supported radio station that not only provides news and information, but also offers lessons in English and mathematics that schools use as part of their regular instruction.  It was a powerful and effective way to extend the reach of education.

As the independence of southern Sudan approaches, we will continue to help build a peaceful, stable region and a better future for all the people of Sudan.

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