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3 U.S. Events to Watch at U.N. Climate Talks in Lima

The 2014 U.N. climate conference has kicked off in Lima, Peru, and negotiators are working hard to reach agreement on global climate targets. But this world gathering is also a chance for governments, non-government organizations and companies to showcase innovative work they are doing to address climate change.

Here are three key events to watch at the U.S. Center, run by the State Department, to show off some of the ground-breaking work U.S. government agencies are doing on climate change. All three will be streamed live at: YouTube.com/TheUSCenter

Thursday, December 4, 5:30p.m. EST:  Private financing for REDD+ projects: New approaches in 2014

Crops like cacao can help forest-dependent people earn more using less land, improving livelihoods and conserving forests. / Hanz Rippe

Crops like cacao can help forest-dependent people earn more using less land, improving livelihoods and conserving forests. / Hanz Rippe

REDD+ is a policy approach to compensate forest countries and communities for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The idea is, governments and communities should be rewarded for preserving forests. Cutting down forests currently causes more than 10 percent of all heat-trapping emissions.

The question is, how do we come up with the money or incentives to reward forest communities for conservation, so that the whole world can reap the health and ecosystem benefits they provide?

The best source of financing is the private sector – and quite a few REDD+ projects today are showing how it can work.

Anyone who loves forests – and especially the Amazon – should tune in Thursday at 5:30 to hear Peru’s Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal and Indonesia’s REDD+ lead Heru Prasetyo, talk with three large Amazon REDD+ programs – and one very innovative investment fund  – about how they are changing the economics of forest conservation. The fund, Althelia, has more than $130 million to invest in the carbon benefits and other benefits of forest conservation and sustainable land use projects all over the world.

Friday, Dec 5, 1:30 EST: Game-Time: Using Climate Information to Make Critical Decisions

Climate science and decision making tools such as SERVIR provide data on climate indicators such as storms, precipitation, floods, and temperatures. / SERVIR.net

Climate science and decision making tools such as SERVIR provide data on climate indicators such as storms, precipitation, floods, and temperatures. / SERVIR.net

Imagine it’s your job to sift through reams of data about how climate change is affecting your country or city. What information is essential, and how do you apply it to protect your coastlines, infrastructure and, above all, your people? Or, imagine you are a poor farmer deciding whether to spend last year’s small profit to plant 10 percent more this year – or use it to buy insurance so your family won’t go hungry if this year brings drought. Where do you go to find a science-based forecast for your area with clear guidance specific to the current season?

On Friday, Red Cross/Red Crescent hosts an interactive game at the U.S. Center, where  audience members take the role of poor farmers and harried government officials trying to make critical decisions with limited information. All sorts of weather and climate information is out there, but how do you get hold of the specific data you need in a useable format, whether you are planting rice or building seawalls?

For game participants, it can be shocking how quickly these become life-or-death decisions. Fortunately, speakers from Red Cross and USAID are there to provide comfort after the game by discussing new climate-smart tools and approaches that can help farmers, governments and development practitioners make climate-savvy smarter decisions.

Thursday, Dec. 11, 1:30 p.m. EST:  U.S. Commitments on International Resilience

Climate change induced degradation of land could be the inheritance of inaction regarding climate change.  / George Safonov

Climate change induced degradation of land could be the inheritance of inaction regarding climate change. / George Safonov

President Obama announced a set of new initiatives in September to strengthen global resilience to climate change – including a new Public-Private Partnership on Climate Data for Resilient Development. The idea is that USAID, with NOAA, NASA, USGS and other agencies, will harness, create and share climate data, information, tools, which developing countries need to build climate resilience and curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The partnership will make existing climate data, science, outlooks, tools, and services easier to access and better tailored for making decisions. It will also link climate data with development efforts, identify gaps and develop new products to support decision-making in climate-vulnerable areas. Just two weeks ago, USAID sent out a public request for information seeking input.

For anyone working with USAID, this emerging initiative could have implications. Thursday’s event will shed light, as White House science lead John Holdren beams in via Skype to chat about what’s coming with Kelly Gallagher, White House Office of Science and Technology, and Kit Batten, USAID’s global climate change lead.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrea Welsh is USAID’s communications lead at the U.S. Center for U.N. climate talks . Follow @USAIDenviro and @US_Center

Nutrition’s New Frontier: The Science of Scaling Up

A young girl has access to healthy, nutritious foods – thanks in large part to interventions being taken to scale across Africa. /  Sight and Life.

A young girl has access to healthy, nutritious foods – thanks in large part to interventions being taken to scale across Africa. / Sight and Life.

We are in a new era for global nutrition.

The political will is here: 54 countries have committed to the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. The 1,000 Days partnership has created champions across business, government and civil society to promote action and investment in early nutrition. Governments, donors and businesses pledged $4.15 billion to support nutrition interventions around the globe at last year’s Nutrition for Growth Summit. And more than 170 governments and nutrition and development leaders met in Rome last week at the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and agreed upon a framework for action to accelerate progress on nutrition.

The evidence is in: good nutrition improves health, saves lives and builds prosperity.

The landmark 2008 Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Undernutrition identified optimal nutrition during the critical 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday as key for both human and economic development. The 2013 Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition identified a package of nutrition interventions that could save 900,000 lives in 34 high-burden countries, equipping nutrition advocates and policymakers with the evidence and recommendations to create impact in the world’s poorest countries.

We know what to do, but we don’t yet know how to do it at scale. There are bottlenecks to scaling up any effort, and nutrition is no exception. The transition from efficacy trials to real-world settings has been slow, and global health research to date has not examined the relationship between demand for services and their delivery.

Implementation science in nutrition helps ensure optimal interventions reach vulnerable children at a young age, giving them adequate nutrients to grow and thrive. / Sight and Life.

Implementation science in nutrition helps ensure optimal interventions reach vulnerable children at a young age, giving them adequate nutrients to grow and thrive. / Sight and Life.

Systematic research is needed to understand and resolve the challenges of scaling up nutrition—research into every stage along the continuum of a nutrition program, from program development to delivery to uptake to adherence.

Consider the twice-yearly administration of vitamin A capsules to children ages 6-59 months, recommended to improve immune systems and reduce death. Although policymakers can chart a course of action, it is the regional directors of services and program managers who are responsible for implementing.

But how?

Should they tack this intervention onto child vaccination days? Well-child visits? Other opportunities?

It is this process of adopting an evidence-based practice into existing services—or creating new pathways—and the appropriate utilization of the services that must be informed by science to deliver a public health nutrition impact.

Implementation science is nascent, especially in nutrition, but progress is being made. In 2012, the New York Academy of Sciences convened a working group on delivery science in nutrition. Since 2009, the USAID-funded TRAction project has supported implementation and delivery science related to maternal, newborn and child health.

And the recently-formed International Society for Implementation Science in Nutrition works to empower the “doers,” those professionals and practitioners who propose implementation plans, gather evidence for informed decision making and improve programs. As a convener of scientists, policy leaders and practitioners, the Society works alongside other global efforts and organizations to advance research on the delivery of nutrition interventions worldwide.

The global nutrition community needs donors, NGOs and governments to prioritize implementation science when funding program implementation on the ground because it is this type of science that places service delivery, capacity building and local context at the heart of global nutrition efforts.

For a woman in India, service delivery influences whether she has access to prenatal micronutrients that help her deliver a healthy baby. Adequate training of health workers can influence whether a mother in Cambodia feeds her newborn with infant formula, or knows to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months.

Understanding cultural and societal factors is necessary to ensure that our messages motivate mothers in Kenya to feed their daughters colorful fruits and vegetables to provide the nutrients the child needs.  If we want people to demand good nutrition, we must deliver good nutrition.

We have the tools and the knowledge to change the future through the power of good nutrition. We know the interventions that work. Implementation science will help create a world where the effective nutrition interventions are affordable, accessible and adequately used.

A world where every child can grow to their full potential. A world free of malnutrition.

It’s time to invest in implementation science.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Eva Monterrosa is Senior Scientific Manager of the nutrition think tank Sight and Life that works toward a world free of malnutrition.

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USAID and Special Olympics: Advancing Human Dignity Worldwide through Sport

The inclusive volleyball team from Krusevac, Serbia, formed as part of the USAID/Special Olympics "Inclusion for All" project. / Special Olympics

The inclusive volleyball team from Krusevac, Serbia, formed as part of the USAID/Special Olympics “Inclusion for All” project. / Special Olympics

It remains one of the most marginalized populations in the world. It is a disability subset that has consistently witnessed widespread discrimination and stigma, hindering its ability to advance. It is a group that has been largely misunderstood and misrepresented. This population — individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID) — still exists very much on the margins of both developed and developing nations. Through focused, country-level partnerships, Special Olympics is working together with USAID missions to create inclusive development strategies and programs to support individuals with ID.

The innovation that these partnerships offer to the development community, foreign governments and civil society alike is the methodology used: the unifying power of sport.

Despite significant gains made across the world in critical development areas like poverty eradication, gender equality, and global health, individuals with ID experience some of the lowest access rates, across sector, of any subset globally. Estimates from leading development agencies, such as the World Health Organization and UNICEF, demonstrate that individuals with ID experience a poverty of access to basic services that plunge them, and their extended families, into a repeated cycle of exclusion and isolation. This isolation can be felt in every aspect of life.

Special Olympics and USAID are working together to change that.

As part of the USAID-Special Olympics partnership initiative in Serbia and Montenegro, launched in September 2012, seminars increased public awareness of intellectual disability and what strategies could be employed to achieve greater social inclusion.

The seminars’ results speak to a strong response. From the 17 seminars organized throughout Serbia and Montenegro, 34 Unified Sports (inclusive) teams were created with over 350 participants and led to more than 200 local competitions. Special Olympics Serbia athletes reported that 81 percent felt more accepted by their peers since joining Unified Sports programs, and all participants were eager to continue the team trainings and competitions. The success of this program emphasizes the need for sustained access to sport to achieve key development indicators, and the important role sport.

Most recently, Special Olympics and USAID have joined forces to offer increased capacity in development-through-sports services in rural Cambodia. The project will increase participation of people with ID in rural Cambodia through the provision of local sports programming, coaches training, and orientation on public awareness on intellectual disability.

The project, initiated in 2014, will formally recruit over 1,000 new Special Olympics Cambodia athletes, 250 families and over 100 new coaches in various sports modules. This simple model of engaging individuals with and without disabilities through sport has underscored the viability of a key tool in the quest for inclusive and sustainable development.

As the world pauses today to recognize the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Special Olympics is proud of our joint efforts with USAID which hold increased promise that all individuals, including those with ID, will share in the benefits of a new round of development goals. This promise is not only a cause for celebration, but of increased action across all sectors to bring this vision of human dignity to all communities under the banner of perhaps the most active foreign aid agency in the world in support of marginalized groups.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Evangelista is Vice President, Global Development and Government Relations for Special Olympics. Follow Special Olympics @SpecialOlympics

U.S. Opens New Ebola Clinic in Liberia

Liberia is in the midst of a building boom to help control the spread of Ebola. In support of the Liberian Government’s Ebola response strategy, the United States is in the process of constructing 15 Ebola treatment units (ETUs) in this hard-hit nation. Across the country, teams of workers are busy moving dirt, laying concrete, trucking in construction materials, and erecting large white tents.

The first ETU to be built and staffed by the U.S.—in the city of Tubmanburg—started receiving patients on November 18. Now, a second ETU supported by the United States is operational in the city of Kakata, about 45 miles northeast of Monrovia. Built by the organization Save the Children with support from USAID, the ETU is being run by International Medical Corps (IMC), which is also managing another ETU in Bong County, Liberia.

Members of USAID’s Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) visited the site on November 22, joining a Liberian delegation that included the Assistant Minister of Health and county health officials. Below is an inside look at the USAID-supported ETU, including those areas that are currently off limits to cameras now that the facility is open to Ebola patients.

11.22.14-Kakata-ETU-sign-photo-credit-Justin-Pendarvis-USAID-OFDA About an hour’s drive northeast of Monrovia, in the heart of Liberia’s rubber cultivation belt, the second Ebola treatment unit (ETU) in Liberia to be constructed and staffed with U.S. Government assistance is now receiving patients. / Justin Pendarvis, USAID/OFDA


The facility was built by Save the Children with USAID providing construction materials, gravel, cots for patients, generators to power the ETU, and other support.  The red fencing separates public areas from Ebola “hot zones.” Photo courtesy: Justin Pendarvis, USAID/OFDA The facility was built by Save the Children with USAID providing construction materials, gravel, cots for patients, generators to power the ETU, and other support. The red fencing separates public areas from Ebola “hot zones.” / Justin Pendarvis, USAID/OFDA


USAID is funding International Medical Corps (IMC) to operate the ETU in Kakata. Here, USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) Deputy Justin Pendarvis (left) gets a tour from IMC Emergency Response Team Director Sean Casey (right). / Alisha McMichael, USAID/OFDA USAID is funding International Medical Corps (IMC) to operate the ETU in Kakata. Here, USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) Deputy Justin Pendarvis (left) gets a tour from IMC Emergency Response Team Director Sean Casey (right). / Alisha McMichael, USAID/OFDA


More than 160 people—mostly Liberian national staff—work at the ETU. For the past two weeks, IMC’s medical team received rigorous training on Ebola patient care, safety protocols, and ETU management. Photo courtesy: Alisha McMichael, USAID/OFDA More than 160 people—mostly Liberian national staff—work at the ETU. For the past two weeks, IMC’s medical team received rigorous training on Ebola patient care, safety protocols, and ETU management. / Alisha McMichael, USAID/OFDA


The 88-bed ETU, which opened on November 22, has received a number of patients. Some were discharged after testing negative for Ebola. Photo courtesy: Alisha McMichael, USAID/OFD The 88-bed ETU, which opened on November 22, has received a number of patients. Some were discharged after testing negative for Ebola. / Alisha McMichael, USAID/OFD


NO DETAIL OVERLOOKED: Inside the clinical care areas are electrical outlets where patients can play music or charge their cell phones to keep in touch with their loved ones. USAID provided generators to power the ETU. / IMC NO DETAIL OVERLOOKED: Inside the clinical care areas are electrical outlets where patients can play music or charge their cell phones to keep in touch with their loved ones. USAID provided generators to power the ETU. / IMC

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) is overseeing the U.S. Ebola response efforts in West Africa. The DART includes staff from across the U.S. Government, including USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services.

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Key Populations Essential to Realize AIDS-Free Generation

Sex worker working on the Phnom Penh riverside. /  Ian Taylor

Sex worker working on the Phnom Penh riverside. / Ian Taylor

As we commemorate World AIDS Day this year, let’s take a moment to remember how far we’ve come, and where we must go. There are currently 35 million people living with HIV worldwide, and 13.6 million of those people are receiving antiretroviral therapy. New HIV infections continue to decline each year, with 2.1 million in 2013, which was 38 percent lower than in 2001. However, over 4,000 people continue to die from AIDS each and every day.

In accordance with the immense toll that HIV and AIDS have taken on the world, the U.S. Government established the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003 as the single largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease. Since then, working closely with many partners, PEPFAR has supported lifesaving antiretroviral therapy for more than 6.7 million men, women and children. As a key implementing agency of PEPFAR, USAID has made significant contributions to this remarkable progress. But, together, we have more work to do to finish the job.

UNAIDS has identified the 90-90-90 targets by 2020. These milestones aim to have 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of people who know their status receive treatment, and 90 percent of people on HIV treatment having a suppressed viral load so their immune system remains strong and they are no longer infectious. In order to achieve these goals and have a lasting response to this epidemic, we must examine what is required to sustain HIV treatment for decades to come.

India World AIDS Day 2008 / AFP/Narinder Nanu/Getty Images

India World AIDS Day 2008 / AFP/Narinder Nanu/Getty Images

The vision for the next phase of PEPFAR is partnering to deliver an AIDS-free generation with sustainable results.However, a sustainable response to this epidemic requires intensified action to address major ongoing challenges such as health care financing, health systems and new technologies for treatment and prevention. And there is a special need for increased attention to the human rights of key affected populations. These include sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender persons and persons who inject drugs.

The high vulnerability of key populations to HIV is disturbing. Compared to the general population, sex workers are 14 times more likely to be infected with HIV; men who have sex with men are 19 times more likely to be infected; and the limited data we have on transgender women suggest that they are 49 times more likely to be infected with HIV. Equally unsettling are the global estimates that the number of people living with HIV who inject drugs range from over 1 million to slightly less than 4 million people.

Barriers to essential services prohibit these figures from coming down. Stigma and discrimination, violence, criminalization, bad or ineffective policies, and opposition to civil society engagement present real challenges. One of the most egregious barriers is the lack of acknowledgement by governments and other leaders that key populations even exist and/or are underserved. As I have observed over the years, the most insidious form of oppression is to ignore a people.

Fortunately, that pessimistic view is tempered by the knowledge that these barriers can be overcome. We know from experience that effective programs can reach key populations with high quality, effective services, and that key populations infected with HIV can be linked to the care and treatment services that they desperately need. On Thursday, Dec. 4, we will highlight the importance of key populations in the HIV epidemic at the D.C. launch of USAID’s PEPFAR-funded LINKAGES project.

The U.S. Government’s official theme for World AIDS 2014 is Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation. This theme captures the core elements of what is needed to reach this goal, which is outlined in the PEPFAR Blueprint. We must deliver the right thing, in the right place and at the right time. This means focusing on the highest impact interventions, bringing them to scale in key geographic areas and among the most vulnerable populations, including men who have sex with men, sex workers, injecting drug users, and transgender persons.

On this World AIDS Day, nearly 35 years into the epidemic, I am extremely proud of our collective progress. But, while an AIDS-free generation is within our reach, we must not stop until it becomes our reality.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Stanton is the Director of USAID’s Office of HIV/AIDS

Inspiring the Next Generation of Nutrition Leaders in Uganda

Adera facilitating Village Health Team training for community mobilization and SBCC in Ntungamo

Adera facilitating Village Health Team training for community mobilization and SBCC in Ntungamo

Thanksgiving is a time to share a meal with turkey, stuffing and of course pumpkin pie. We spend a lot of time planning our Thanksgiving meal (making sure to include everyone’s favorites) but we probably spend very little time thinking about the nutritional value of the meal. This year, the Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project wants to combine the traditional focus on food with a story that will inspire you to consider nutrition as you plan your holiday feast.

Asasira Adera and Carol Noel Agabiirwe would probably have a lot to say about all the desserts we are about to indulge in over the next few days. Both have been working with the SPRING Project as “Nutrition Trainees” in Uganda. This program, developed by SPRING, helps Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Dietetics students at Kyambogo University gain technical experience to ease their transition into the working world. Asasira and Carol were part of the very first group to join SPRING last year.

Carol explains to USAID/Uganda and Feed the Future Team about promoting intake and compliance of iron folate by pregnant women in Kitagata, Sheema district

Carol explains to USAID/Uganda and Feed the Future Team about promoting intake and compliance of iron folate by pregnant women in Kitagata, Sheema district

In Uganda, the rate of stunting in children under age 5 is 38 percent. Stunting limits children’s ability to learn and impacts their future earning potential. Unfortunately, trained nutritionists with strong technical and leadership skills that can improve nutrition behaviors are scarce. Hoping to inspire more young people to become leaders in the field of nutrition, SPRING/Uganda’s internship program focuses on building the knowledge and skills to produce meaningful results. The program requires interns like Adera and Carol to design a work plan, outline specific objectives and produce targeted deliverables due at the end of the training.

Both Adera and Carol used social and behavior change communication (SBCC) strategies to promote nutrition behaviors at the community level. They counseled mothers and fathers with children under age 2 to adopt targeted nutrition behaviors such as exclusive breastfeeding. They provided nutrition services using the nutrition assessment, counseling and supportapproach (NACS), and worked with pharmacies and hospitals to ensure a steady supply of iron folic acid, or IFA, supplements for pregnant women.

Looking back on their experiences, Adera, who worked in the Ntungamo Districtwith district officials, sub county officials, health workers and village health teams, said she was inspired by the strong rapport she built with community members, who, after a year of working together, trusted her and accepted her into their community.

For Carol, being able to translate theory and academic knowledge to real people in the community was an incredibly rewarding experience. She felt more confident in her facilitation and communication skills thanks to the training and support she received through USAID’s SPRING/Uganda.

Having the opportunity to see the impact of their work was a formative experience for both Adera and Carol. SBCC programs for nutrition are challenging, but when new behaviors are formed and lasting improvements in health are made, the payoff is immeasurable. As Adera and Carol were developing their nutrition skills, they were also helping the community to learn and grow.

In May 2014, Kyambogo University and SPRING/Uganda signed a memorandum of understanding to continue their partnership to support new nutritionists with training. A group of six new nutrition trainees just joined SPRING/Uganda this June. Now, it is Adera’s and Carol’s turn to share their knowledge and lessons learned with the new group.

Make sure to follow SPRING/Uganda for updates from communities learning about and improving their nutrition behaviors.

Happy Thanksgiving from SPRING!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Asasira Adera is a Nutrition Trainee working with SPRING/Uganda
Carol Noel Agabiirwe is a Nutrition Trainee working with SPRING/Uganda
Alexis Strader is a Knowledge Management Program Officer at John Snow Inc. (JSI) based in Washington, D.C.

The Economic Case for LGBT Equality Worldwide

Dr. Claire Lucas, USAID’s senior adviser on partnerships, addresses the audience at the launch of the joint Williams Institute-USAID report on LGBT inclusion and economic development. Seated, left to right: Carla Koppell, chief strategy officer, USAID; M.V. Lee Badgett, report author and research director, Williams Institute; and Brad Sears, executive director, Williams Institute. Photo credit: Matthew Corso/USAID

Claire Lucas, USAID’s senior adviser on partnerships, addresses the audience at the launch of the joint Williams Institute-USAID report on LGBT inclusion and economic development. Seated, left to right: Carla Koppell, chief strategy officer, USAID; M.V. Lee Badgett, report author and research director, Williams Institute; and Brad Sears, executive director, Williams Institute. / Matthew Corso/USAID

What if there was hard-and-fast evidence that discriminatory laws and actions against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals hurt economic prosperity in emerging markets and developing countries?

Last week, I was proud to join in the launch of a groundbreaking report published by the Williams Institute as part of USAID’s LGBT Global Development Partnership that undertakes this empirical analysis. The underlying study found that human rights and economic prosperity are intertwined and that greater inclusion of LGBT people in emerging economies, at both the micro and macro levels, is positively associated with a country’s economic development.

Across 39 emerging economies and other selected countries, the study found substantial evidence that LGBT people are limited in their freedoms in ways that also create economic hardships.

The study uses, for the first time, the Global Index on Legal Recognition of Homosexual Orientation, which establishes categories of legal recognition and protection for lesbians and gay men, as well as a provisional index on transgender rights that was created specifically for the report. The index identifies eight types of laws that indicate a country’s level of legal recognition of LGBT people. It includes legalizing consensual acts between same-sex adults, providing protections against discrimination in employment or the provision of goods and services, and legal recognition of same-sex couples or the legal ability of couples to adopt children. The index allows for a numerical value to be assigned to each country in the study based on the number of laws currently enacted that provide either basic protections or address family recognition and adoption rights.

Based on this index, the study was able to show that one additional legal right in the index is associated with approximately a $320 in per capita GDP, or about 3 percent of the average in the sample countries, and a higher human development index value. For instance, Kenya has a score of zero, as it does not provide any legal protections for LGBT people and has a per capita income of $1,318. In contrast, Argentina has a score of seven and a per capita income of $13,323.

This positive correlation is significant because it allows us to put a price tag on discrimination. Based on the models and anecdotal evidence, we can see that countries that discriminate against LGBT people are pushing entire groups of people out of the formal economy and reducing the economic gains they would otherwise enjoy if they were allowed to be productive members of society.

So what does this mean for development and the LGBT community?

This research has potentially powerful ramifications for the way USAID works, for the donor community, for business leaders, for policymakers in emerging markets, and even for the U.S. taxpayer and legislators.

By linking stigma and discrimination against LGBT individuals to a country’s economic well-being, the issue of bigotry is not just felt and understood by those who are LGBT, but by anyone who cares about that country’s economic growth.

In April, Marco Andrés Jaramillo—an entrepreneur and CEO of EgoCity, an online and print magazine in Medellín, Colombia—joined 60 LGBT Colombians for #ActivatingLGBT, an entrepreneur training hosted by USAID partner, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce of the United States, and the Colombian LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

The training, held in Barranquilla, coached innovative LGBT entrepreneurs on how to create and sustain economically viable businesses, conduct trade with international partners, and make use of inclusive procurement policies. With new skills and connections, his business is booming.

Today, Jaramillo is turning his business from a small, niche magazine focused on his local community into one serving major multinational clients throughout Latin America and Europe. In the past year alone, business has grown by roughly a quarter.

Entrepreneurs like Jaramillo are engines of growth for their communities, countries and continents. Far too often, LGBT individuals around the world are excluded from contributing to their economy because of who they are. The fact is simple: Economic growth depends on a healthy, inclusive workforce, and people can’t work if they are routinely excluded from schools, jobs and health care or subject to other harms such as violence and police abuse.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Claire Lucas is a Senior Adviser in the U.S. Global Development Lab focused on partnerships.

Building Ebola Treatment Units to Foster Hope, Healing in Liberia

Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai, middle, gets a tour of the U.S.-built Tubmanburg Ebola treatment unit from USAID partner International Organization for Migration, which will be running the facility / Carol Han, USAID/OFDA

Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai, middle, gets a tour of the U.S.-built Tubmanburg Ebola treatment unit from USAID partner International Organization for Migration, which will be running the facility / Carol Han, USAID/OFDA

In the Bomi Hills northwest of Monrovia, in an area that used to be the region’s iron and diamond mining center, it’s hard to miss the new “precious resource” that has become critical to Liberia’s fight against Ebola.

Four stark white tents gleam in the sun, the most prominent part of the new Ebola treatment unit (ETU) in Tubmanburg, which is the first ETU to be built and staffed by the United States in Liberia.

Liberian Army Capt. Glee Dilliard Dada led a team of Liberian soldiers who worked closely with the U.S. military to build the facility. Despite the rain, heat and construction setbacks, the Ebola treatment unit was built in 35 days / Carol Han, USAID/OFDA

Liberian Army Capt. Glee Dilliard Dada led a team of Liberian soldiers who worked closely with the U.S. military to build the facility. Despite the rain, heat and construction setbacks, the Ebola treatment unit was built in 35 days / Carol Han, USAID/OFDA

Construction on the 2-acre site was overseen by the U.S. Defense Department in close partnership with the Armed Forces of Liberia. More than 60 people had to overcome the rain, heat, poor roads and supply shortages to build the site in 35 days, completing the ETU earlier this month.

“Especially in this time of national crisis, it has been rewarding to be out here and assisting,” said Armed Forces of Liberia Capt. Glee Dilliard Dada, who supervised the Liberian military construction crew. “I am very overwhelmed with a lot of pride. In a month’s time we did all of this.”

The Ebola treatment unit (ETU) in Tubmanburg is the first ETU to be built and staffed by the United States in Liberia / Carol Han, USAID/OFDA

The Ebola treatment unit (ETU) in Tubmanburg is the first ETU to be built and staffed by the United States in Liberia / Carol Han, USAID/OFDA

USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team leader Bill Berger called the ETU an extraordinary effort, saying, “It took strong partnership to build this ETU. It will also take strong partnership to provide care to patients.”

USAID partner the International Organization of Migration, or IOM, has stepped forward to manage the ETU under the leadership of the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. For the past two weeks, IOM’s medical team—made up of local and international health care workers—received rigorous training on Ebola patient care, safety protocols and ETU management.

Within the 2-acre site is a changing area where local and international staff with the International Organization for Migration will be donning googles and other protective equipment to care for patients. / Carol Han, USAID/OFDA

Within the 2-acre site is a changing area where local and international staff with the International Organization for Migration will be donning goggles and other protective equipment to care for patients. / Carol Han, USAID/OFDA

More than 120 members of IOM’s team are now prepared to care for patients. Tejanie Golafaley, a local resident and Ebola survivor, is especially eager to speak to patients at the ETU about his experience beating the disease.

“When I got Ebola, people didn’t want to come around me. I was stigmatized by Ebola,” Golafaley said. “The best thing I can do is talk to [patients] …. I’m going to tell them I’m a survivor. I want to give them hope.”

Tejanie Golafaley, an Ebola survivor, saw it as his personal mission to work at the USAID-supported Ebola treatment unit in Tubmanburg. “I want to explain my story to patients [so that] they can start to take courage.” / Carol Han, USAID/OFDA

Tejanie Golafaley, an Ebola survivor, saw it as his personal mission to work at the USAID-supported Ebola treatment unit in Tubmanburg. “I want to explain my story to patients [so that] they can start to take courage.” / Carol Han, USAID/OFDA

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carol Han is the Press Officer for USAID’s Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team [DART], which is overseeing the U.S. Ebola response efforts in West Africa. The DART includes staff from across the government, including USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services.

5 Million Child Slaves, One Nobel Peace Laureate

It is not often that I am personally asked a favor by a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

In late September 2014, I ran into a much-esteemed colleague, Kailash Satyarthi, a human rights activist from India who has been at the forefront of the global movement to end child slavery and exploitative child labor since 1980, when he founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement). Kailash asked me to do what I could to support a new campaign he would be launching.

On this Universal Children’s Day, Kailash and many of the world’s leading human rights organizations are launching a campaign—End Child Slavery—to target some of the world’s most vulnerable and exploited children, including the estimated 5.5 million child slaves around the world. The campaign is looking for 5.5 million signatures in five days—one for each of the estimated child slaves.

Why 5 million signatures in five days? The campaign organizers believe that many people are not aware of the extent of slavery in the world today. In fact, according to a recent report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), slave labor generates higher annual profits today than even some of the biggest legitimate global industries. It has recently been estimated that the total profit obtained from the use of forced labor in the private economy worldwide amounts to $150 billion per year.

Children carry bricks in Nepal. Credit: Navesh Chitrakar

Children carry bricks in Nepal. / Navesh Chitrakar

In addition to the enslaved children, an estimated 115 million children, aged 5-17, work in hazardous child labor—dangerous conditions in sectors as diverse as agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, service industries, hotels, bars, restaurants and domestic service. Worldwide, the ILO estimates that some 22,000 children are killed at work every year. The numbers of those injured or made ill because of their work are not known.

The figure of 5.5 million children in forced labor is a conservative estimate, with governments identifying only a small fraction of all victims and bringing few perpetrators to justice.

Child worker in India. / Global March Against Child Labor

Child worker in India. / Global March Against Child Labor

Still, the child labor movement is a development success story. In the late 1990s, the estimated number of children in various forms of child labor was nearly 250 million. Today, that figure has dropped to 168 million. The decline has particularly benefited girls as total child labor among girls has fallen by 40 percent since 2000, compared to a drop of 25 percent for boys.

However, millions of the hardest-to-reach children still remain in slavery.

USAID is working to address this problem. Through our Counter-Trafficking in Persons programming, we have supported grassroots organizations working to prevent all forms of human trafficking in over 68 countries and regional missions during the past decade. For example, in Albania, USAID is partnering with the Government of Albania and NetHope on a new app that will target at-risk youth to prevent human trafficking.

Two weeks after I ran into Kailash, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize—along with Malala Youssef—for his 34-year career as a child labor activist, during which he has freed tens of thousands of young Indians. As a grassroots activist, he has led the rescue of over 78,500 child slaves and developed a successful model for their education and rehabilitation.

I first met Kailash in 1998 when I joined the ambitious social movement he launched to eradicate child labor globally, the Global March Against Child Labor. With support from USAID and the U.S. Department of Labor, we worked together to document child labor around the world in photos and a film titled Stolen Childhoods, which shared child laborers’ stories in their own words.

In Kenya, where we filmed USAID programs with the Solidarity Center to educate former child coffee pickers, Kailash and our team also had the privilege of working with another passionate activist, Wangari Maathai. She helped our film team document the stories of street children in Kenya in 2002 and 2003. She subsequently became the first African woman awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.

During the next five days, there is something each of us individually can do to express our concern for the children who remain victims of slavery today. The End Child Slavery campaign site provides resources and suggested actions. The U.S. Child Labor Coalition also provides important links and resources, and serves as a convening point for U.S. Government agencies and civil society organizations to share information. We can also be proud of our work at USAID, which will continue, in collaboration with other governments and stakeholders, to protect children’s rights around the world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bama Athreya is a Labor and Employment Rights Specialist at the USAID Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

The Power of Toilets, Simple Medicines, and Strong Policies to Stop Diarrhea

Children outside of the health center in Kampong Thom province in Cambodia, where oral re-hydration therapy is provided to children who have diarrhea. PATH/Heng Chivoan

Children outside of the health center in Kampong Thom province in Cambodia, where oral re-hydration therapy is provided to children who have diarrhea. / PATH/Heng Chivoan

More than 2.5 billion people still do not have access to a toilet. As we #CelebratetheToilet on this World Toilet Day, we should remember that universal access to toilets is one of the many necessary steps to ending preventable death.

Day in and day out, I’m reminded of the power of innovation to save the lives of women and children. Often,we forget how successful low-cost innovations and solutions—and the policies that support them—have been in advancing health progress. Like the toilet.

It might seem like an odd thing to celebrate, but the invention of the toilet has been a critical contribution to modern-day public health. Access to toilets, safe water, vaccines and simple interventions like oral rehydration solution (ORS) and zinc have the power to stop deadly diarrhea and save lives. But like all health innovations and interventions, toilets need more champions and complementary policies to reach their full lifesaving potential.

 Children and their families attend community health education sessions in Kampong Cham Province. Diarrheal disease is a leading infectious killer of children under 5 years old. PATH/Heng Chivoan

Children and their families attend community health education sessions in Kampong Cham Province. Diarrheal disease is a leading infectious killer of children under 5 years old. / PATH/Heng Chivoan

Around the globe, local leaders and advocates are playing a critical role in bringing innovations, interventions and policy together to accelerate health gains within their countries. It was heartening to see India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, embracing innovative thinking and advocacy to solve the health problems caused by open defecation. As a result, he has the country talking about toilets. Diarrheal disease is devastating in India—as well as other parts of Asia and Africa—where it is one of the leading causes of death among children under the age of 5.

India is not the only country making progress in the fight against deadly diarrhea. Another example is in the Mekong Delta, where my organization, PATH, has helped policymakers in Vietnam and Cambodia evaluate and refocus their policy efforts to stop diarrheal disease—a leading killer of children in their region as well.

About 10 years ago, when new formulations of ORS and zinc, the two cornerstone interventions for severe diarrhea, were recommended for widespread use by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, it became clear that the diarrheal disease policies needed to be updated in both Vietnam and Cambodia. Unfortunately, making these updates was not a government priority at the time. Local health workers, NGO advocates and scientists knew more needed to be done to prioritize diarrheal disease so that lifesaving medicines could reach the children dying in their local communities.

Latrine in Cambodia. 2.5 billion people-- 1 in 3 worldwide-- lack access to a toilet, and open defecation is a major culprit behind the tragic number of diarrhea –related deaths. PATH/Anne Aumell

Latrine in Cambodia. One in three people worldwide–or 2.5 billion–lack access to a toilet, and open defecation is a major culprit behind the tragic number of diarrhea–related deaths. PATH/Anne Aumell

Using our unique advocacy model, PATH worked with these local champions to help them assemble a compelling case to present to the ministries of health in each country, which included a package of strong evidence based on the WHO’s global policy recommendations, more effective treatments, the high burden of disease, and support among communities and potential partners. This informed the governments’ policies and compelled action to increase access to ORS and zinc, better equipping health workers to deal with the scope of the diarrheal disease problem in both countries.

As the global health community, including USAID, works to end preventable maternal and child deaths in a generation, country leadership and collaboration for stronger advocacy is key. At PATH, we are always gratified to help local communities and technical experts take action to achieve policy improvements that will save lives.

Students learn healthy hygiene habits and help maintain school toilets in the GIZ Regional Fit for School Programme in Cambodia. Photo credit: Ivan Sarenas

Students learn healthy hygiene habits and help maintain school toilets in the GIZ Regional Fit for School Programme in Cambodia. / Ivan Sarenas

I am confident that we can continue to expand toilet use, improve water and sanitation, and advance diarrheal disease policies around the world if we equip and empower more local leaders and experts to be champions of health innovations, interventions and policies. Together, we can bring the basic essentials of our everyday lives to the rest of the world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Davis is President and CEO of PATH, an international NGO working to drive transformative innovation to save lives.

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