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Our Sympathy to the World Food Programme

On behalf of the U.S. Agency for International Development, I would like to extend our heartfelt sympathy for the loss of Santino Pigga Alex Wani of the World Food Programme (WFP). Our deepest condolences go to his colleagues at the World Food Programme as well as to Santino Pigga’s friends and family. We are deeply saddened by his loss of life and the tragic circumstances that led to his passing in Southern Sudan.

In Southern Sudan and throughout the world, WFP’s dedicated staff face dangerous and challenging conditions as they provide emergency food aid to people in desperate need. We applaud the staff at WFP for their bravery, dedication, and commitment to the world’s hungry.

Mobilizing Against Malaria in Africa

USAID and the Peace Corps celebrated World Malaria Day by announcing a collaboration to help reduce the burden of malaria in Africa.  Here’s a rundown of the event from guest blogger Ben Brophy of the Malaria Policy Center.

Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator, Aaron S. Williams, Peace Corps Director, and Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, gathered today to announce the partnership of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the Peace Corps as a component of broader USAID and Peace Corps collaboration in global health and to talk about the progress made against malaria so far.

Mr. Williams opened the event discussing the problem of malaria and the new partnership, named ‘Stomp Out Malaria’ between PMI and the Peace Corps. He lauded both Dr. Shah and Admiral Ziemer for their tireless efforts against malaria.

Dr. Shah gave a great overview of the amazing progress that has been made against malaria so far. He pointed to the fact that PMI is reducing overall childhood mortality and for this reason it is one of the best investments we can make. However, Shah also cautioned that “If we step back now we will see a rapid uptick in malaria and unnecessary child deaths.”

Admiral Ziemer echoed this message of success and talked about the emerging partnership between PMI and the Peace Corps. Essentially, PMI and organizations like Malaria No More, VOICES for a Malaria Free Future and WorldVision will train Peace Corps volunteers on malaria interventions and then those volunteers can take that knowledge with them to instruct their local villages and communities.

Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson hosted a panel of several speakers to talk about the malaria fight in more detail. Gerson also discussed his recent trip to Senegal with the Malaria Policy Center where he saw U.S. investments in malaria in action. Gerson came away from that experience saying ”This is how aid should be done.”

Ambassador Mark Green, Matt McLaughlin of the Peace Corps Malaria Initiative for Africa, Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, and Andrea Gough, of the Nothing but Nets campaign were all on hand to talk about various aspects of the world’s efforts against the disease. The most notable quote came from Ambassador Green “Development dollars are being stretched thin and partnerships like this one between PMI and the Peace Corps are squeezing out every penny and producing great results.”

Ultimately, the partnership between PMI and the Peace Corps is producing yet another new tool to help end malaria deaths by 2015. It is these types of integrated partnerships that are uniting our efforts and amplifying our resources.

Accidental Empowerment

By: Anju Malhotra, Vice President of Innovation at The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

Women are on the move in New Delhi, and in an entirely new way: on the Metro. I couldn’t help but notice them during my last trip to India a few weeks ago. Women filled the first car of every train — by law designated exclusively for them — and were scattered throughout the co-ed cars. They were of all ages, and from all walks of life: young teens in their jeans; moms in saris with one child in their arm and another at their hand; middle-aged women from North Delhi covered in burqas; and working women dressed professionally and in a hurry. Seeing this, I realized that the Indian government’s latest large-scale infrastructure project has become an innovation that is unintentionally, but most definitely empowering women.

Anju Malhotra is the vice president for research, innovation and impact at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). Malhotra was a featured speaker at the Elliott School of International Affairs Roundtable Discussion on “Implementing the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review” on April 14, 2011. Photo Credit: ICRW

The new mode of transportation was meant to bring Delhi into the 21st century for the Commonwealth Games and to connect the burgeoning, diverse, rambling metropolis. While there was no thought of empowering women in the planners’ minds, in its design and roll out, this innovation has met the needs of women, satisfying a latent demand for fast, clean, safe, affordable transportation. For too long, urban Indian women have faced disadvantages when it comes to transportation: They walk, while men ride motorcycles. They are groped on packed minibuses. They fear for their safety in taxis. The Metro is attractive to women because it’s opening new worlds and opportunities for them by connecting them to school, jobs, friends, shops and tourism in ways they hadn’t been before. And in a growing economy, women – just like men – need to be going places.

The unintentional outcomes that Metro is providing women offer important lessons for the U.S. government’s new approach to development outlined in its inaugural Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). The QDDR provides concrete steps to promote innovation and technology in USAID’s work to achieve development outcomes. It also calls for a focus on gender equality and elevated investments in women and girls as a way to “maximize results across the board.”

The Delhi Metro is a striking example of how to double the impact of our foreign assistance dollars – in this case, an investment in a 21st century technology also is helping to foster equity between India’s women and men. The Metro is empowering women – even though it was not built with them in mind. It illustrates why it is important to consider big, innovative technologies – such as infrastructure projects – as a way to empower women. No longer can investments in women be small side bars or clunky add-ons to the development agenda.

And imagine what technology and infrastructure investments could do if they considered women from the beginning, not accidentally as an afterthought, but as a key demographic and half of the consumer base. Imagine. We would be able to not only create more women on the move, but new technologies, new products, new consumers, new markets, and new ideas.

Anju Malhotra is the vice president for research, innovation and impact at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). Malhotra was a featured speaker at the Elliott School of International Affairs Roundtable Discussion on “Implementing the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review” on April 14, 2011.

The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) works to make women in developing countries an integral part of alleviating global poverty. ICRW’s research evidence identifies women’s contributions as well as the obstacles that prevent them from being economically strong and able to fully participate in society. ICRW translates these insights into a path of action that honors women’s human rights, ensures gender equality and creates the conditions in which all women can thrive. Visit www.icrw.org

Children in Kosovo Learn About the Judicial System Through Coloring Books

Children with coloring books

Children were enthusiastic upon receiving the coloring books during the Court Open Day visit at the Skenderaj/Srbica Municipal Court. Photo credit: Mustafa Komoni, NCSC.

Submitted by Xheraldina Cernobregu, USAID/Kosovo

Children in Kosovo are now Learning About Justice thanks to over 17,000 coloring books that have been distributed to primary schools in rural and urban Kosovo since the project’s launch in June 2010. The coloring books, published with USAID support, have been in high demand throughout the country.

“Learning About Justice” coloring books are a new approach for teaching students about the judicial system, government institutions, judges, and citizens’ responsibilities. The coloring books include pictures of the people who work in the judicial system, including a judge and a policeman, each with a brief caption describing their jobs. Other illustrations describe individual rights and civic duties, such as helping to keep your neighborhood clean.

The coloring books are printed in Albanian, Serbian, and Turkish languages and were originally distributed in the municipalities where USAID is establishing Model Courts. In response to additional requests, “Learning about Justice” coloring books have been distributed throughout Kosovo, expanding the reach and impact of the program.

Individual Americans have become involved in this project as well. In addition to USAID providing support for the coloring books, more than 500 supporters in the United States have made private donations of nearly 7,500 boxes of crayons to accompany the books and to strengthen the partnership between the courts, schools, and USAID. Each crayon set is labeled with the American flag and the following message of support: “These crayons are a gift from friends in the U.S. who support your learning of the justice system and the law. Color your dreams, for as you dream, so you will become.”

The “call for crayons” was advertised online through social networks and the Kosovo Justice Support Program. The program is continuing the call for crayons to support the book activity as the Model Courts Program expands.

Rule of law is key to Kosovo’s further development and USAID is working to address the issues that are hindering that development.  Other projects include improving court administration, case backlog reduction,  and the establishment of ten Model Courts, which in the long term will serve as models for the rest of the judicial sector. All these efforts will help increase public awareness and public’s trust in the rule of law.

USAID’s Frontlines – February/March 2011

FrontLines

Read the latest edition of USAID’s premier publication, FrontLines for these stories:

In this photo, a runner-up in FrontLines’ February/March 2011 photo contest, a child peers around the corner in the waiting room of the HIV Comprehensive Care Clinic of Meru District Hospital in Kenya’s Eastern Province, with two pediatricians standing in the background. The clinic has a newly renovated pediatric ward, with private rooms for HIV testing and counseling for children, pregnant women and families. A support group meets in one of the rooms for children infected and affected by HIV. See the winning image from the photo contest and nine other runner-up images taken by FrontLines readers on the FrontLines web page. And get your cameras ready: the deadline for the next FrontLines photo contest is April 1. Get more details at here. Photo credit: Mia Collis, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

Get these stories and more in the new issue of FrontLines. And, if you would like to automatically receive a reminder about the latest FrontLines, you can subscribe here.

Life Savers in Africa

Submitted by Ari Alexander, Director for the Center for Faith-based & Community Initiatives and the Senior Advisor of NGO Partnerships and Global Engagement at USAID.

Thunderstorms took out the electricity. The conference proceeded without lights, microphones or air conditioning in 100 degree heat. Most of us would find ourselves understandably distracted and uncomfortable under such circumstances. But the attendees at this gathering were an extraordinary group of Africans.

Doctors, pastors, researchers and health care practitioners—leaders of the Christian Health Associations in their countries—came together in Accra, Ghana for a conference on the role of faith-based organizations in helping the world achieve the Millennium Development Goals on maternal and child health.  In most cases, the religious institutions, church networks and faith-based organizations that they represent have been providing health care to the citizens in their countries for decades longer than either the U.S. Government or their own governments.

I had the chance to speak with Joseph, soon to be a citizen of the newest country in the world— the Republic of South Sudan. He is responsible for dozens of HIV treatment facilities in some of the most difficult conditions in the world. I met Donna, a humble doctor from Kenya who happens to be a world expert on the pharmaceutical supply chain impacting the world’s poorest people. I listened intently to Donald, a brilliant physician from Nigeria coordinating over 250 health care facilities throughout Africa’s most populous country.

On the second day of the conference I presented on the Obama Administration’s commitment to working in partnership with faith-based and community-based organizations. My colleague, Susan Brems, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health at USAID, gave a fantastic talk about the Administration’s signature Global Health Initiative.

Then the real fun began. Our session went 90 minutes over the allocated time as participant after participant passionately advised, encouraged, and taught us as they responded to our comments.

This is as good as it gets.  Being in listening mode.  Gathering golden nuggets of information and advice from across the African continent. Learning from those who serve on the front lines of the world’s battle to care for the most vulnerable.

We want to hear your golden nuggets of information.  To share with us, please email fbci (at) usaid.gov.

To learn more about Ari Alexander’s trip to Ghana and his work at USAID see his recent interview with Frederick Nnoma-Addison of AMIP News.

From the Field

In Tanzania, we are launching a Couples’ Communication Campaign.  This event will launch an advocacy campaign to promote communication within couples about family health and positive gender norms.

In Madagascar, USAID’s Office of Food Security and Disaster Assistance is providing $2 million to support the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) FAO locust response program in southern Madagascar. The locust outbreak threatens to damage 500,000 ha of crops potentially affecting the livelihoods of at least 460,000 households (or 2.3 million people) in drought-prone and food insecure areas that depend on subsistence farming. Under this program, the FAO supports rehabilitation of agricultural land, and monitors and mitigates the potential effects of control operations on local environments and local populations’ heath.

In Djibouti, with the help of USAID, the Kontali Primary School will re-open.  USAID will hold a dedication ceremony for  the Combined Joint Task Force/Horn of Africa (CJTF/HOA’s) construction of 3 new classrooms, upgraded solar panels, renovated latrines, and a security fence.

Keeping America Safe: Development’s Role in National Security

By: Louisa Bargeron

It was just a few weeks ago that Administrator Rajiv Shah described USAID’s plan for modernizing foreign assistance through a series of reforms to promote sustainable development and highlight the role of development in national security.  In Afghanistan, USAID’s efforts promotes security here and in the U.S. through coordinated civil-military projects like the Incentives Driving Economic Alternatives – North, East, West initiative (IDEA-NEW).

U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry and Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), walk with Lt. Col. William Johnson in Surkh Rod, Nangarhar Province, on Wednesday, February 9, 2011. (S.K. Vemmer/Department of State)

Yesterday, Administrator Shah traveled to Forward Operating Base Connelly in Nangahar, Afghanistan to observe first-hand how sustainable initiatives like the Surkhrod Packing facility (part of the IDEA-NEW program) support national security.  The Surkhrod Pack House (SPH) is a critical link in transforming the agricultural sector of Afghanistan’s Eastern Region from reliance on illicit crop production into a driving force of national economic security and growth.  Additionally, these efforts have longer-term, residual effects as Afghans learn to build and sustain their own agricultural sector.  In Administrator Shah’s words, rather than just provide emergency aid, USAID is investing in capabilities and solutions that energize investments and fuel growth today while at the same time bolstering America’s competitiveness tomorrow.

By providing alternative livelihoods and job opportunities, USAID is offering viable choices to Afghans to move beyond the violence and conflict that has afflicted the region.  Through modernized practices, USAID’s work in conflict-prone environments ultimately protects national security and contributes to American prosperity.

IDEA-NEW is a $150 million USAID project that provides agricultural incentives and economic alternatives in the East as well as in poppy-prone regions of the country.  Since launching in 2009, this initiative has created 27,700 full-time equivalent jobs in agriculture; expanded sustainable agriculture production by more than 5,000 hectares; facilitated $2.6 million in agricultural exports to Pakistan; and employed more than 26,700 people and paid $4.4 million in wages for community-constructed infrastructure projects.

The SPH project represents a critical link in transforming the agricultural sector of Afghanistan’s Eastern Region from reliance on illicit crop production into a driving force of national economic security and growth.

A Success: USAID’s Neglected Tropical Disease Program

There is a group of diseases you don’t hear much about but that has a terrible impact on more than 1 billion people around the world – that’s one sixth of the world’s population. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified 13 of these as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and they include such dreaded illnesses as elephantiasis, leprosy, blinding trachoma, and intestinal worms.  Together, NTDs have a disproportionately large impact on poor and rural populations, causing severe illness, disfigurement, and disability. They also perpetuate poverty by reducing people’s ability to work and children’s intellectual and physical development.

A young woman is measured for height to determine her proper treatment dosage for lymphatic filariasis and soil-transmitted helminthes during a mass drug administration in Sierra Leone. Photo credit: Michel Pacque/USAID

Until recently, many countries were treating NTDs through separate, uncoordinated programs. However, pilot studies suggest that it is possible to integrate programs to control and treat seven of these diseases together by providing safe and effective drug treatments once or twice a year to all people in an affected community. This approach, which has been endorsed by WHO and is called mass drug administration (MDA), targets large, at-risk populations, rather than individuals, since NTDs tend to occur together in the same geographic area.  Pilot studies of MDAs of the seven targeted NTDs resulted in significant reductions of illness and transmission of these diseases and indicated that, though there were major challenges, integrating control programs was possible and could result in cost savings and efficiencies. However, it was not clear if integrated programs could be scaled up to the national level.

Fortunately, an opportunity arose to find out whether such programs could be successful. In 2006, an act of Congress authorized funding of national integrated NTD control programs in 15 countries over a five year period and USAID launched its NTD program that September. The NTD Program focuses on integrated control of the seven NTDs that can be treated through MDA: elephantiasis, (referred to by scientists as lymphatic filariasis), schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia), trachoma, onchocerciasis (river blindness), and three soil-transmitted helminthes (worms): roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm.  USAID’s NTD Program is one of the first global efforts to integrate existing disease-specific treatment programs to control these diseases.

A recent article in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene reviews the first three years of USAID’s NTD Program, during that time MDA programs had been implemented in seven countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Haiti, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Uganda) and the program was scaling up in five other countries.  Working with its prime contractor, RTI International, and in coordination with national NTD programs, USAID has provided funds to support the launch and scale up of integrated NTD programs. Through these programs, nearly 16 million people were treated during the first year; the number treated rose to 55 million people by the third year, proving the feasibility of the integrated approach.  USAID’s NTD Program was able to treat millions of people by tapping into existing networks, including ministries of health, schools, non-governmental organizations, which together provide the program with greater efficiency and long-term sustainability as well as strengthen the capacity of national programs.

Remarkably, most of the drugs distributed to treat all these people – 222 million treatments during the first three years – were provided through public-private partnerships between the national NTD programs and major drug donors: GlaxoSmithKline; Johnson & Johnson; Merck & Co., Inc.; and Pfizer.  The estimated value of the drugs donated during the first three years totaled more than $1.4 billion.

The article points out that, while there continues to be technical and political challenges, USAID’s NTD Program exceeded expectations during its first three years, demonstrating the feasibility and cost effectiveness of scaling up integrated NTD program to the national level.  It is now clear that with proper support, integrated NTD control programs, following WHO guidelines, can be implemented in other countries, relieving the terrible burden of these diseases for millions of people around the world.

USAID Commends Major Advance in HIV Prevention Research

Results released today from the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Initiative (iPrEx) study confirmed that daily oral use of a combination antiretroviral (ARV), Truvada, reduced the risk of HIV infection by 44 percent among men who have sex with men. This historic iPrEx trial provides the first proof of concept that oral PrEP of an ARV can prevent HIV transmission.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) congratulates the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology-UCSF, and most importantly, the 2,499 pioneering participants who volunteered for this important clinical trial on the promising results from iPrEx.  Global iPrEx is the first large efficacy study to evaluate the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men in Africa, Asia, and North and South America.

These promising results also encourage other research partners to continue working on more PrEP and microbicide options which may lead to new tools for HIV prevention.  The AIDS pandemic calls for a dynamic variety of HIV prevention methods to ensure those at risk have choices to use the one that best suits the needs of their lifestyle.

According to new UNAIDS estimates, women worldwide account for more than half of all HIV infections, and in sub-Saharan Africa continue to bear the brunt of the AIDS epidemic, USAID will continue critical research and development work in PrEP for women at high risk.  The FemPrEP clinical trial—led by FHI with support from USAID—is designed to test the safety and effectiveness of a daily dose of Truvada for HIV prevention.  Close to 4,000 HIV-negative women who are at higher risk of HIV are being enrolled in five sites in four countries: Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe; results are expected 2012.

Based on the positive results from the CAPRISA 004 trial which were released in July, USAID will continue to support the regulatory approval of 1% tenofovir gel after further confirmation of its effectiveness.  USAID is committed to ensuring the launch of a new generation of products designed expressly for women and capable of preventing the transmission of HIV.

Finding a woman-controlled method of prevention is critical in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  In line with President Obama’s Global Health Initiative, USAID is committed to focusing on the needs of women and girls in its health programming worldwide.

USAID continues to build on a solid foundation of robust science and new technologies, enabling innovation to redefine and strengthen U.S. development assistance globally.

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