Why Population Data Matters: Ensuring Families Around the World Have Access to Family Planning
While you are out celebrating the close of the World Cup this Sunday, don’t forget to take a minute to remember that Sunday, 11 July, is World Population Day. World Population Day is annually observed on July 11 to reaffirm the human right to plan for a family. It encourages activities, events and information to help make this right a reality throughout the world. This year’s theme, “Everyone Counts” is meant to highlight the critical role data plays in tracking population trends.
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.
USAID is helping bring popular children’s television program Sesame Street to Nigeria through a five year grant. The show will be a 30 minute program titled Sesame Square that will run for three years. A portion of the grant will be focused on outreach programs for the country’s 25 million preschool-age children of whom only 10 percent are enrolled in school. The intent of this grant is to aid the country in building a strong foundation of basic literacy and numeracy as well as concentrating on the prevalent social issues. Sesame Square will be hosted by Kami, a lady Muppet who is HIV-positive, and another furry blue boy Muppet who has yet to be named. A national text vote campaign is currently in place to help name the unnamed Muppet and raise program awareness.
Albanian food producers, through USAID support, presented their products at an agro-food fair in New York last week. Over the last two years, USAID’s Competitiveness of Albanian Agriculture (CAA) program had aided Albanian agro-businesses in exploring profitable international markets. The New York food fair helped the nation establish trade contacts and provided information about the current and potential role of agriculture and food industry in the Balkans to American investors.
USAID Mission Director Pamela White participated in the celebration of the signing of a $15 million Threshold Program grant with Liberia. The grant will fund a three year program coordinated by USAID that will focus on improving land rights and access as well as girls’ primary education and trade policy. The people of Liberia chose these areas themselves as part of their national development strategy.
Liberia was chosen for the program by the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors because of their progress and commitment to reform. The MCC has currently signed 22 threshold programs in 20 countries. MCC is a US Government agency that was devised to assist developing countries and is based on the idea that aid is “most effective when it reinforces sound political, economic, and social policies that promote poverty reduction through economic growth.”
On Tuesday in Kigali, USAID announced that it will contribute $2.5 million for two years to the East African Power Pool (EAPP) project. The announcement was made at the two-day EAPP Steering Committee Conference which included USAID officials as well as stakeholders in the energy sector from the eight member countries. Candace Buzzard, Director of USAID’s Regional Growth and Integration Office, spoke at the conference to address concerns about the lack of electricity and efficient clean power. She also mentioned that the collaboration between USAID and EAPP will produce significant results exploiting clean and renewable energy resources as well as improving cross-border energy trade policies and regulations.
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.
Henry Adobor Aceritas will start raising Boer goats for the local market. Tenu Awoonor is going to build Student Card Limited, a company designed to provide cashless payments for school fees and student lunches with the use of a multifunctional identification card. Paul Ansah’s ANSA Systems Limited will work to provide reliable utility power for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilities. Kojo Taylor’s MicroClinics will work on improving access to primary healthcare and essential drugs in rural communities.
What do these four people have in common?
All are recipients of African Diaspora Marketplace grants. USAID and Western Union sponsored the program in which recipients receive as much as $100,000 in grant funding to better their communities in Ghana. The (ADM) finalists were chosen by an independent panel of volunteer judges from business, non-governmental organizations, diaspora development organizations and academia in an effort to increase opportunity in Sub-Saharan Africa through fostering sustainable start-ups and established enterprises. Fourteen candidates–all who presented business plans and work with African diaspora throughout the world to help guide them as they set up their businesses–were chosen from a pool of 733 applicants.
A community health hut is an innovative approach to ensure health services for those who don’t have the money or the transportation to travel great distances to see a doctor. USAID supports a nationwide network of nearly 1,500 huts in Senegal, staffed by almost 10,000 volunteers, covering a population of nearly two and a half million people. These often small, one or two-room structures are widely accessible around the country, including remote, rural areas where there may be no other health provider available. It is community-managed, financed and volunteer-staffed, which means it’s not government driven, but in the hands of the people. USAID began supporting these structures in the early ‘80s and since then, as the largest and most consistent donor, its support has become synonymous with comprehensive community care here. In fact, it is a very important aspect of the malaria prevention and treatment program (the President’s Malaria Initiative) and critical to family planning and reproductive health programs, all of which work hard to reduce maternal and child mortality, as part of the Millennium Development Goals.
Men ferry bales of ITNs across a river during a net distribution campaign in Nimba County, Liberia. PMI has purchased millions of nets for distribution throughout Africa.
In Africa, malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes that bite predominantly at night. Therefore, sleeping under an insecticide-treated net (ITN) can greatly reduce the risk of infection because ITNs repel mosquitoes and kill those that land on them. Increasing ownership and use of ITNs is a key component of President Malaria Initiative’s (PMI’s) prevention strategy. Launched in 2005, PMI is led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). PMI is a key part of the Administration’s Global Health Initiative to help partner countries achieve major advances in health by working smarter, building on past successes and learning from past challenges.
Children First. Caption: An orphan herself, Fortune helps other children learn about HIV through the Grassroot Soccer program. Photographer: Heather Quinn
When Fortune’s mother died, Fortune says that she was too young — at age six — to understand the loss. When she lost her father to AIDS six years later and had to live with her uncle, she felt the loneliness that goes along with having no parents. She received scholarships to allow her to complete her secondary education when her uncle wasn’t able to pay for her fees. Once she graduated, Fortune discovered Grassroot Soccer.
Grassroot Soccer is an innovative organization that uses the power of soccer to achieve its main objective of providing rigorous health education focusing on HIV and AIDS. The program started in Zimbabwe in 2003 and reaches youth aged 11-18. Led by coaches, the program engages students in critical learning about HIV prevention. The program also provides psychosocial support and the opportunity for kids to form trusting relationships with responsible adults. The role model component is especially important because many of the kids in the program don’t have positive role models at home.
Submitted by Saba Hale, Development Outreach Communication Intern/Southern Africa
South African youth get autographs from Clarence Goodson (right) and Landon Donovan (left) at the U.S. Team's Open Practice on June 6, 2010.
Landon Donovan and Clarence Goodson may be winning the hearts of Americans, but they are also inspiring the youth of South Africa. A group of young people met the two rising stars only weeks before Donovan scored the winning goal that advanced the U.S. team to the second round of the World Cup. Interactions like this one prove that soccer is more than just a sport. The World Cup is an opportunity to reinforce development objectives. USAID is committed to prevention programs that provide the youth of South Africa with the knowledge, skills, social support, and services they need to help reduce their risk of HIV infection.