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Archives for Sub-Saharan Africa

In Ethiopia, supply chains are a smart investment for public health

A pharmacist by training, Yodit Assefa will complete her Master Degree in Public Health this year. Her long-term goal is to contribute to the vision of an HIV-free generation in Ethiopia.

As a procurement specialist with PEPFAR’s SCMS project, I am one of a growing number of women working in supply chain management in Ethiopia.  I manage procurements of HIV/AIDS commodities – including the complex procurement of specialized medical equipment used to treat HIV/AIDS – as well as the vehicles that distribute those commodities.

Well planned, strategic procurement is a smart investment.  Our team helps save money by minimizing costly unplanned and emergency procurements and buying low-value and bulky products locally.

Yodit Assefa (center) and procurement colleagues from PEPFAR’s Supply Chain Management System (SCMS) Photo credit: SCMS

I use my skills to help scale-up Ethiopia’s aggressive HIV/AIDS program.  In just two short years, the number of people on treatment has tripled from 50,000 to over 167,000 and the number of clinics has increased more than fourfold from 170 to 843.

This type of scale-up requires a similar scale-up of supply chain systems.  A little over a year ago, we joined USAID and local partners in a public ceremony to celebrate the arrival of equipment to strengthen warehousing and distribution for public health commodities.  We now have 29 delivery vehicles, seven generators, 10 forklift trucks, 150 refrigerators, nine deep freezers, a 824-cubic meter cold room, racking for 5,400 pallets and 1,320 adjustable shelves for 12 warehouses, including six temporary warehouses leased through SCMS.

A typical day for me starts before sunrise.  I get two kids ready for school – the youngest ready for her nanny – check the car and head for work. We have lots of problems with internet connections in a developing country like Ethiopia, so I am at my desk by 6:30 a.m. to get the best available connection before the lines get busy.  I take information from the client management teams and create quotation requests to send to potential vendors.  I analyze quotations to decide which meet our specifications and offer us the best value.  Best value does not just mean lowest price – I also take into account things like product quality and timeframe for delivery.  On-time delivery is one of our key performance indicators.

After choosing the supplier, I go through a complex process to ensure my purchase orders meet all necessary US government regulations and comply with Ethiopian law.  Finally, I manage the supplier, making sure the products are delivered on time and in the right quantity.  This may not sound like a lot, but remember, each procurement specialist manages around 50 different orders at a time.

Our procurement team is the first SCMS field office to “graduate” to do international procurement—in additional to local procurement—of commodities without any supervision from the SCMS headquarters procurement office.  I’m proud of our graduation, but my greatest satisfaction comes from knowing our work contributes to restoring health to people living with HIV/AIDS. I have seen formerly bedridden patients return to work after receiving antiretroviral drugs. This is what inspired me to join SCMS. I believe helping one person really helps 5.4 people, the average family size in Ethiopia.

PEPFAR’s impact goes beyond saving lives and improving quality of life. It helps national development and economic growth by preventing people in the workforce from dying of AIDS.

World Malaria Day: Celebrating Progress Against a Preventable and Curable Disease

By Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator

Over the past four years I have had the privilege of serving as Coordinator of the President’s Malaria Initiative. The initiative is led by USAID and implemented together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Our goal is to reduce malaria illnesses and death by half for 70 percent of at-risk populations in sub Saharan Africa, and to remove the disease as a major public health threat by 2015.

Children in Ghana carry home their insecticide-treated nets, which can protect them against the dangers of malaria. Credit: Esther Hsu/ TAMTAM

I also oversee two regional malaria programs outside of Africa. The Amazon Malaria Initiative covers 7 countries making up the Amazon Basin of South America, and the Mekong Malaria Program covers 5 countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region of Southeast Asia.  In both of these areas, multi-drug resistance is a major problem.

I am fortunate to work with a talented group of technical staff and public health experts who implement U.S. global malaria programs.  The incredible progress we have made against malaria is due in large part to effective partnerships with host governments, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank Booster Program for Malaria Control, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.N. Office of the Special Envoy for Malaria, as well as other non-governmental and private organizations too numerous to count.    Now, five years into the Initiative, we are seeing substantial reductions in deaths in children under the age of five years, and we are seeing improvements in malaria-specific indicators in all PMI-supported countries where baseline and follow-up nationwide household surveys were conducted. These reductions are due in large part to a dramatic scale-up of malaria prevention and treatment measures since 2005, thanks to the collective efforts of national governments, other international donors; and multilateral and nongovernmental organizations.

PMI relies on a four-pronged, proven approach to prevent and treat malaria:  the correct use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets above sleeping spaces; indoor spraying with insecticides; intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women; and timely use of artemisinin-based combination therapies for those who have been diagnosed with malaria.  Malaria is one of today’s best investments in global health; globally, these interventions are saving the lives of 485 children each day.

Each year, World Malaria Day is observed on April 25 to call attention to the disease and to mobilize action to combat it. It’s heartening to see the progress that has been made in delivering malaria prevention tools to those at risk of malaria and providing treatment to those with confirmed malaria. Progress against malaria is one of development’s most impressive stories.  On this occasion, PMI releases its fifth annual report, which describes the role and contributions of the U.S. Government in the effort to reduce the burden of malaria in Africa.

Despite considerable progress, malaria remains a major public health problem on the African continent, with about 80 percent of malaria deaths occurring in African children under five years of age.  However, over the past 50 years the U.S Government has been a major player in coordinated global efforts to beat back major killers like smallpox, polio and measles.  So, with sufficient and sustained international commitment, we can continue to achieve sustainable progress in our fight against malaria.

To learn more about PMI, visit http://www.pmi.gov/

Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer is the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator. He grew up in Asia, attended the missionary boarding school in Dalat, Vietnam, graduated from Wheaton College, served as a Naval aviator with the U.S. Navy, and was Executive Director of World Relief prior to being asked to lead the President’s Malaria Initiative.

Providing the Advantage of Literacy to Family Farmers in Burundi

Marie Habonimana is a thirtyish Burundian farmer and livestock herder who was illiterate until several months ago when USAID provided her with an opportunity of a lifetime.

Marie lives in the hilly north-central Muramvya Province known for its tea plantations and eucalyptus trees.  When USAID’s Burundi Agribusiness Program introduced literacy training in her community in 2010, Marie seized the opportunity to learn to read and write.

Today Marie is proud of her new skills. She is especially pleased because now she can register the daily sales of her milk volumes, the price she negotiates, and the monthly value of her milk.  Because Marie writes everything down, no milk collector can fool her by suggesting that she gave them a different volume or sold the milk at other than the negotiated and registered price.

Marie calculates that by writing down all of her transactions she has recovered at least 10 liters of milk, worth about four dollars, that would have been lost to the collectors. Marie will invest this recovered revenue in improved animal forage for her cow in order to increase the animal’s milk and manure production.

USAID’s Burundi Agribusiness program is helping to expand and diversify rural economic opportunities in Burundi through technical, trading and marketing support to Burundi’s coffee, horticulture and dairy sectors.  Since 2008, USAID has provided livelihood-enhancing assistance to approximately 61,607 farming households in Burundi.  Fully 17% of these households are headed by women.  Since April, 2010, USAID has provided literacy training to approximately 2,171 farmers, 92% of whom are women.

Fashion Show Highlights Africa’s Cotton, Textile, and Apparel Industry

One of the highlights of being at USAID is seeing the faces of the people who are helped by our work.  Our staff in Africa regularly send photos that show refugees receiving much-needed food aid, farmers applying modern technologies to grow better crops, and HIV-positive individuals who have a second shot at life thanks to anti-retroviral medicine.

Today’s photos from East Africa are a little different.  These photos show cotton, sleek styles, bright patterns, and even a wedding dress.

 

In Mauritius, a small island off the eastern coast of Madagascar, USAID supported the Origin Africa Fiber to Fashion Event as part of an ongoing effort to encourage trade, support sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty in the region.  The event featured a runway show of collections from African fashion designers, while also providing a platform for improving trade opportunities for the hundreds of producers, traders and buyers who attended.

Africa’s colorful prints and textures were on display.  The competition asked designers to create collections with commercial appeal using local fabrics and facilities.  Twelve designers representing countries from sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean as well as three fashion students from Mauritius showed their collections before a panel of international judges.  The winning designer was Fikirte Addis, whose designs are intended to reflect the everyday lives of her fellow Ethiopians and her vibrant culture.  She will be featured at Africa Fashion Week New York in July 2011.

Related events included a business symposium on eco-friendly manufacturing practices, new product development related to cotton fabric, and the integration of design and marketing. An advisory board of business leaders from the U.S. apparel sector also participated in activities to boost commercial activity, generating business deals worth over $7.8 million.

The event was part of USAID’s Competitiveness and Trade Expansion Program to address barriers and promote opportunities for African businesses in over 15 countries in east and central Africa.  Currently, Africa contributes a small portion of the goods traded globally.  By building the capacity and increasing the competitiveness of African goods, USAID promotes broad-based, sustainable economic growth that is necessary to accelerate development and eradicate poverty in Africa.

Deputy Administrator Announces Initiative to Include Women in Peace Processes and Meets Returnees in Southern Sudan

In a speech at Ahfad University for Women in Omdurman, Sudan, on April 9, USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg announced a new USAID global grant initiative to increase women’s participation in peace processes.  Grants of up to $2 million each, totaling up to $14 million, may be made available for projects that support UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls for women’s involvement in all aspects of peace and security, recognizing their leadership in peacemaking, and ending sexual violence in conflict.

“We all know that when social order breaks down, it is women who suffer most,” said Steinberg, who visited the university during a three-day visit to northern and southern Sudan.  “But we have to reject the vision of women as victims.  Women are not victims.  Women are the key to building just and lasting peace, stable and prosperous economies, and vibrant civil societies.”

The new program provides funding for female negotiators and mediators to fully participate in peace processes, taking into account their potential need for assistance with child care, transportation, accommodations, and security.

Steinberg said USAID will continue to assist people throughout Sudan, as the largest country in Africa prepares to divide into two nations July 9, following the overwhelming vote of southern Sudanese in January to secede and form an independent country.

In Juba, Steinberg visited Juba Port, where thousands of Sudanese have returned from the North to their areas of origin in the South.  Since October 30, more than 307,000 Sudanese have returned from northern to southern Sudan and the “Three Areas” along the north-south border (Abyei, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile).  Steinberg learned about the challenges returnees face, including scarcity of livelihood opportunities and access to basic services such as water, education, and health care.

One widow with eight children told Steinberg she has no family members living in the south and didn’t know where she and her children would go or who would help them.  Staff with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) indicated that returnees in such situations qualify for UNHCR’s vulnerable assistance program that provides help with immediate needs such as transport and emergency shelter.  USAID staff in Juba planned to follow up with UNHCR on her case as an example of how returnees are assisted.

Worth a Thousand Words

USAID 50th anniversary banner

This image captured top honors in the latest FrontLines photo contest. These rural schoolchildren participate in the USAID-funded Southern Sudan Interactive Radio Instruction project, which uses radio to broadcast interactive student lessons. The lessons, based on Southern Sudan’s primary school syllabus, complement classroom instruction in literacy, English, mathematics, and life skills for grades one through four. July 2010. Photo Credit: Karl Grobl, Education Development Center Inc.

Feed The Future Initiative In Tanzania – A Sustainable Agricultural And Food Security Approach

On the highest mountain in Africa one finds climbers attempting to conquer Kilimanjaro, as well as those who live in high-altitude villages struggling daily to grow food to feed their families. Small holder farmers use basic hand tools to work the land and have only a gambler’s chance of getting the adequate rain and sun necessary to grow their crops. If all goes well, they may be able to sell part of their harvest at a village marketplace or makeshift roadside display to generate income. This is no small accomplishment, as the tropical heat and wicker baskets used to transport produce to market spoils as much as 40% of each harvest. Summiting Kilimanjaro seems an easier undertaking than farming on its slopes.

The challenges facing small holder farmers are not limited to the mountain region: low-yields, inadequate storage processes and facilities, limited transportation infrastructure, and difficulty accessing credit and markets are problems that small holder farmers experience across much of Tanzania. These contribute to persistently high poverty rates and widespread malnutrition among under-five children (38% stunted and 22% underweight).

Feed The Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, focuses on specific countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  The Presidential Initiative will lift 18 million vulnerable women, children and family members – mostly smallholder farmers – out of hunger and poverty.  In Tanzania, USG assistance supports national strategies to reduce poverty and accelerate progress in achieving  the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by increasing agricultural productivity and profitability, and enhancing national and regional food security. USAID brings its technical expertise and capacity to lead Feed the Future in Tanzania and is working closely with other U.S. government stakeholders, including the State Department and USDA, through a whole-of-government approach.

This video explains some of the agricultural and supply chain challenges being addressed through Feed The Future to overcome existing farming challenges and build sustainable infrastructure, processes and market linkages to assist small holder farmers raise themselves and their families out of chronic hunger and poverty.

On World Water Day, Rain Water Harvesting Highlighted in Zimbabwe

USAID/Zimbabwe commemorated World Water Day 2011 on March 23 with a special ceremony to draw attention to the efficiency and effectiveness of rainwater collection as a way to provide clean water to families and schools. The event took place at the Tasimukira Primary School in Chitungwiza, outside the capital, Harare.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture David Coltart with USAID/Zimbabwe Mission Director Karen Freeman and other officials. On March 23, 2011, USAID held a World Water Day celebration in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe at the Tasimukira Primary School, where students benefit from a USAID program that harvests rain for a clean water supply. Photo Credit: USAID/Zimbabwe

Since 2009, USAID has supported the Peri-urban Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting (PROOF) program to provide safe drinking water to over 26,000 Zimbabweans in urban and rural areas.  The program was initiated in response to the worst cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe’s recent history, which led to nearly 100,000 cases and over 4,000 deaths.  Poor water and sanitation systems, inadequate access to health care, and underlying risk factors such as malnutrition contributed to the severity of the epidemic.

Through this project implemented by International Relief and Development, USAID provides clean water to Zimbabweans until the water system is overhauled.  The initial phase of the program focused on the high-density suburbs of Harare and Chitungwiza.  In June 2010, it expanded into Mutare and Buhera in southeastern Zimbabwe.

To date, USAID has supported the installation of 805 rain water collection systems serving 2,653 households and eight schools with over 26,000 total beneficiaries.  All components of the rain water harvesting systems are manufactured in Zimbabwe, creating jobs and a nascent rain water collection industry in the free market.

 

 

 

Rain water collection systems consist of roof gutters and a water storage tank.  The equipment provides abundant clean water during the rainy season, when the highest incidents of waterborne diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever, are seen. With regulated consumption and sufficient water storage capacity, these rainwater collection systems can provide clean drinking water all year round.

International World Water Day was first recognized by the United Nations in 1993.  It is held annually on March 22 to focus attention on the importance of fresh water and to advocate for the sustainable management of fresh water resources.  World Water Day 2011 emphasized the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, and conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems.

Youth Academy Empowers Tomorrow’s Political Leaders in Rwanda

Appeared in The National Democratic Institute

By: Andrew Farrand, Program Officer, Central and West Africa, NDI

While young people under 25 comprise approximately two-thirds of Rwanda’s population, historically they have lacked meaningful opportunities to engage in politics. An older elite has traditionally made the country’s political decisions, and during the 1994 genocide, political leaders mobilized disaffected youth for violent ends. But today, many young Rwandans hope to channel their untapped power into productive and peaceful political expression.

U.S. Ambassador W. Stuart Symington greets a YPLA student at a reception following the Kigali academy's launch. Photo Credit: NDI

Since September 2008, NDI has helped Rwandan political parties organize and communicate with supporters. This includes training young activists who are joining parties in increasing numbers and who are often receptive to new ideas about party organizing, democracy and technology that can help parties reach new voters and win more support.

To provide Rwandan youth with practical political skills, NDI partnered with the Rwandan Consultative Forum of Political Organisations to create the Youth Party Leadership Academy (YPLA) in Kigali last year. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the academy included three months of intensive political training, as well as a study mission to Accra, Ghana, for the top-performing students. There participants learned firsthand from their Ghanaian counterparts how young people can participate actively in political parties — and support peaceful, democratic politics in the process.

This month, the Institute launched an expanded academy in two locations: the capital, Kigali, and the southern city of Butare. The academy brought together 80 under-35 activists from all 10 of Rwanda’s registered political parties for three seminars a week over 10 weeks. Sessions are led by international and local practitioners and academics, and address political party organizing, political communication, good governance, building a political career, ethical leadership, negotiation and conflict prevention, and using technology for political organizing, among numerous other topics.

NDI Resident Director Amy Pritchard has high hopes for the students. “They’re an incredibly dynamic and engaged group,” she said. “We are focusing on the role political parties play in Rwanda’s government, elections and civic life, and are working on teaching skills that will improve the students’ and their parties’ leadership abilities.”

Meanwhile, the 34 graduates from the first academy are putting their new skills to good use. Last year, the Social Democratic Party nominated YPLA graduate Theodomir Niyonsenga to serve as its second deputy general secretary. During last year’s presidential elections, graduates Claudette Mukabaseyba, Pie Nizeyimana, Telesphore Hakorimana and Sada Uwase were invited to join the forum’s national election observation mission, while others served as political party agents at polling stations, trained fellow party members in campaign skills, or helped to organize campaign rallies and get-out-the-vote efforts. Two YPLA graduates ran in last month’s local elections and one, Angélique Mukunde, was elected vice mayor for economic affairs in the capital’s Kicukiro district.

Vivian’s Story—Breaking the Cycle of Poverty by Educating and Empowering Girls

Vivian O. was born in the outskirts of Kisumu, Kenya, and is said to have entered the world smiling.  Life for Vivian and others in her rural fishing village was challenging, requiring families to rely on ingenuity and perseverance in the face of little resources.  With the support of her family and her local community, the opportunities created by U.S. assistance programs, and the force of her determination, Vivian would achieve more than she’d ever imagined.

By the time Vivian finished fourth grade, her mother had a stable job selling used clothes in the open-air market in Kisumu.  Girls in rural communities like Vivian’s typically receive a low level of schooling.  However, having completed high school herself, Vivian’s mother prized education and overcame obstacles to enroll Vivian in a proper primary school.  Vivian was one of the top students in her province and eventually secured a place at Starehe Girls’ Centre, a highly competitive secondary school for gifted girls.

While in high school, Vivian became a member of the Global Give Back Circle, a circle of empowerment designed to transition a girl from poverty to prosperity.  The program mentors and supports girls so they can successfully transition from high school to college to a career and to global citizenship.  As the girls graduate, they commit to mentoring the next generation of girls in the circle.

In 2011, USAID announced a $3.5 million award for the education and empowerment of girls through the Global Give Back Circle.  The award is matched by an additional $3.5 million in private sector funds through a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment, so that the program can help over 500 Kenyan girls progress to higher levels of education and employment.  The process is implemented by the Kenya Community Development Foundation—a program by Kenyans for Kenyans.

Vivian has had many opportunities through the Global Give Back Circle.  She completed a nine-month Microsoft IT course, which allowed her to access educational resources online, research colleges, and obtain a full scholarship to a U.S. college.  She is studying pre-med and IT, aspiring to give back by helping millions through the connection of technology and medicine.  Vivian met the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, and pledged to actively participate in improving investments in people in Kenya.  As a result, she made presentations to private sector CEOs in Kenya and invited them to invest in girls.  Vivian says, “I feel privileged and honored to be able to be a voice for the empowerment of girls in my country.”

On March 8, 2011, Vivian joined two other young women of excellence—Maryam from Afghanistan and Terhas from Ethiopia—as special guests to the State Department’s International Women of Courage Awards, followed by a private meeting with Secretary Clinton.  Vivian then visited the White House as a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama for a celebration of International Women’s Day.  Two sixth-grade girls, who have benefited from a girls education program in Burkina Faso administered by the Millennium Challenge Corporation in partnership with USAID, also attended.

At the event, Mrs. Obama said, “We as a nation benefit from every girl whose potential is fulfilled, from every woman whose talent is tapped,” adding that countries worldwide are more prosperous and peaceful “when women are equal and have the rights and opportunities they deserve.”

Read Maryam’s Story

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