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Submitted by Manal Alfred, USAID/Egypt
On October 21, USAID/Egypt Director James Bever and Dr. Hassan Sallam, Director of the Suzanne Mubarak Regional Center for Women’s Health and Development (SMC) participated in the graduation ceremony of a mix of 31 Afghan Midwives of various ages and from various provinces. The Midwives attended the training program at the SMC in Alexandria and it was funded through the Health Services Support Project, implemented by USAID/Afghanistan.
The SMC was selected as a training provider for its excellent results in the areas of women’s health and development in Egypt and in neighboring countries. The SMC is the lead partner organization for the USAID/Egypt funded Global Initiative for Breast Cancer Awareness. The training focused on the development of knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to provide care to Afghani women with the ultimate goal of ensuring safe motherhood.
In his remarks during the event, the USAID/Egypt Director lauded Egypt as it has achieved its Millennium Development Goal Number 4 of reducing the under-five mortality rate by two thirds between 1990 and 2015 and it is approaching the achievement of MDG 5 in reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015. “Egypt is now leveraging those achievements by hosting training programs like these where our Egyptian counterparts can share valuable lessons learned and effective practices with efficient health practitioners from Afghanistan to improve health not only in Egypt, but around the world.”
Written by Steffani Fields, protection program manager for USAID Haiti
On a recent hot and sunny day in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a group of military personnel from U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), staff with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Treasury went to Tabarre Isa camp armed with buckets of blue and white paint and paintbrushes. Their mission is to work with camp residents to paint a newly constructed police substation. The structure enables U.N. Police (UNPOL) and Haitian National Police (HNP) to have a full-time presence in the camps, and it provides crime victims, especially women and children, a safe refuge where they can report crime.
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Administrator Shah opens a weeklong training for over 80 USAID communications staff from USAID Missions all over the world. These communicators are in Washington, D.C. to engage with senior officials about elevating development, particularly the first-ever national development strategy issued by a U.S. President and “USAID Forward”, the Agency’s change management agenda. Sessions featured during the week include: a meeting with staff from the National Security Council, a joint session at the annual State Department Public Affairs Officer’s conference, and a panel discussion with leading foreign policy journalists at the Newseum.
Administrator Shah travels to Des Moines, Iowa to speak at the Borlaug Dialogue, which is held each year in conjunction with the awarding of the World Food Prize. The theme of the conference is: smallholder agriculture, “Take it to the Farmer“. Dr Shah will focus on how you take interest in fighting poverty to the smallholder farmer. He will also promote progress under Feed the Future, the Administration’s global hunger and food security initiative.
Originally published in DipNote,the official blog of the U.S. Department of State.
I am halfway around the world from Washington, and on October 6, I participated in the Indonesia Joint Agriculture and Investment Forum. I traveled to Malaysia and Indonesia this week to discuss trade, investment, entrepreneurship, energy, and of course, agriculture. I am proud to be part of President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s renewed commitment to political, economic, and educational engagement with dynamic emerging economies like Indonesia. I am especially pleased to be back in Indonesia after my successful visit this past spring, during which we discussed the issues of post-harvest loss and agricultural biotechnology.
The Indonesia Joint Agriculture and Investment Forum builds on that work by including many distinguished participants to chart a course for the future. Dr. Bayu Krishnamurti, Indonesian Vice Minister of Agriculture, Ambassador Eric Bost of the Borlaug Institute, and many other luminaries in the field have come together to discuss new agricultural technologies, investment in post-harvest infrastructure, and expanded cooperation at research universities.
Ultimately, we are all here to reaffirm our commitment to fight global hunger. While there are no magic bullets in this battle, we must look to new technologies, including biotechnology, for the role that they can play in the “new green revolution.’ I believe that biotechnology, and the improved crops it can develop, will prove to be an important new element in our traditional package of tools to increase productivity and address head-on the challenges of hunger and climate change.
To that end, we are renewing several key partnerships in the area of biotechnology. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will work with the Indonesian government and the Program for Biosafety Systems to develop a new and fully functional biosafety framework in Indonesia.
We are also building on long-standing partnerships with international agriculture research centers. USAID will be supporting collaboration between the International Rice Research Institute and the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development, and other partners to roll-out Golden Rice, an important food-based approach to alleviating Vitamin A deficiency and associated serious health issues in Indonesia.
In the face of one child dying of malnutrition every six seconds, our greatest tool is increased cooperation and collaboration to develop and share the best solutions possible.
Inside one home, a toddler snoozes on the floor. Around the corner at another home, a dozen men laugh and cheer at a soccer match on TV.
The newly constructed homes – in colorful hues of yellow, blue, pink and green – are transitional shelters (t-shelters) for families affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti.
The shelters in Carrefour, a densely populated municipality just west of Port-au-Prince, were provided by ADRA, one of USAID’s partners who receive funding through the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.
Even before the earthquake destroyed much of Carrefour, many families in the area lived in shelters averaging 28 square feet. ADRA’s 46-square-feet shelters can house up to five family members.
To determine beneficiaries, ADRA works with the community to identify the most vulnerable people, including women-headed households, the elderly and handicapped.
“I am really impressed with the way ADRA has worked with community leaders to provide space for t-shelters and accommodate the newest members of the community,” said Lynn Marie Thomas, Senior Humanitarian Advisor for OFDA Haiti.
At the ADRA warehouse in Carrefour, laborers cut and paint wood and prepare materials such as metal hurricane strips to stabilize roof beams. ADRA helps beneficiaries prepare the site, then sends mobile teams to construct the shelters – about 1,800 of them over the past five months.
As of Sept. 13, international relief agencies, including USAID/OFDA grantees, had constructed more than 13,000 t-shelters. The humanitarian community has funds for construction of more than 11700,000 additional t-shelters.
Photos of ADRA’s t-shelter production site and t-shelters are on Flickr.
Submitted by Paul Weisenfeld, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator/LAC
Today, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion on Haiti’s path to reconstruction at the 40th Annual Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference, in Washington D.C. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) was one of the champions that helped to push the Supplemental Request, which unlocked essential funding for Haiti’s reconstruction, into law, and I’m grateful for their continuing support.
I’m also pleased that African Americans and other minority groups, including the Haitian-American community, are part of Haiti’s recovery, not just in Washington but also in Haiti. As I mentioned during a panel discussion at the 2010 Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference, the energy and creativity of the private sector — both U.S. and Haitian – will play a key role in the reconstruction effort. In fact, we’re already tapping the talent of minority groups. One of the first contracts that USAID awarded after the earthquake was to PHS Group, a minority-owned firm, to manage a debris dump site in Port-au-Prince.
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After the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, an estimated 1.5 million people were displaced from their homes. Approximately 100,000 earthquake survivors fled Port-au-Prince to Haiti’s Central Plateau.
While the area was one of the country’s poorest regions even before the earthquake, it’s seen an influx of survivors who’ve come to live with family and friends, straining already limited resources.
To ease the hardships in the Central Plateau, USAID partner Mercy Corps is providing immediate financial assistance through cash-for-work programs for both the displaced earthquake survivors and the families who took them in.
With USAID/OFDA support, Mercy Corps is providing livelihood opportunities to 2,000 people per week in the Central Plateau. An additional 20,000 people are on track to benefit from the cash-for-work program.
These projects give a member of each household 30 days of employment on a community-selected project geared at improving infrastructure or agricultural production, such as rehabilitating roads, farmland or irrigation systems. Some have used their salary and tools from the programs to start more sustainable small businesses.
Under USAID’s Food Security Program in Haiti, Mercy Corps will also provide food vouchers to 100,000 in the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite region. This new initiative provides grants, cash or vouchers to buy desperately needed food.
In the town of Mirebalais, Mercy Corps employs Haitians to clear debris from canals and other public spaces to mitigate flooding during hurricane season. Watch a video on this important program.
It is education week at USAID! We will be highlighting the Agency’s ongoing education efforts throughout the week. Stay tuned for a joint video message from USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; a blog post on education from Congresswoman Nita Lowey; guest bloggers from BBC World Service Trust, Carnegie Mellon and Brookings; and stories, video and pictures from USAID missions.
On September 8th, David Barth, Director of USAID’s Education Office, will speak as part of the Brooking Institution’s celebration of International Literacy Day. RTI International will present the cutting-edge literacy report, Early Reading: Igniting Education for All, on the urgency to support, especially in developing countries, accurate and timely reading assessment and teacher preparation in reading education for K–3 age groups. Audience discussion will follow presentation of the report.