Great news on maternal and child health today. On behalf of the Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates committed $1.5 billion to support integrated women’s and children’s health programs in developing countries at the Women Deliver Conference in Washington, DC. The United States through the Global Health Initiative shares the goals of the Gates Foundation to improve the health and nutritional status of women and children worldwide. While progress in reducing maternal and under-five mortality has been made, much remains to be done. The new commitment of the Gates Foundation highlights the need for the global community to develop more integrated approaches to women’s and children’s health. It also plans to evaluate innovative programs and share effective strategies with other countries. This approach will help national governments achieve lasting reductions in maternal and under-five deaths. USAID welcomes the opportunity to partner with Gates and other partners in this effort.
Archives for USAID
Submitted by Jessica Scott
Administrator Shah took part in the first ever US-India Strategic Dialogue this week. The meeting included a host of senior leaders from both sides. Dr. Shah discussed development as part of the complex relationship between the two countries.
The final 314 American troops from Operation Unified Response were airlifted from Haiti on Tuesday. Even as troops were being pulled out of the country, they continued to work with USAID and the UN in nine camps housing Haitians who lost their homes. The Washington Post’s editorial page commemorated the transition with a lead editorial that mentions USAID in connection with the importance of continued U.S. involvement in Haiti’s recovery. USAID officials who have been leading this effort, including Paul Weisenfeld and Christopher Milligan, attended the World Summit on the Future of Haiti.
The USAID-Funded FIRMS Initiative is helping bridge the gap between Pakistani mango farmers and European consumers. Pakistan exports a relatively small percentage of its mango production. Under the FIRMS program, farmers are being trained in the best ways to pick, sort, grade, and package the Read the rest of this entry »
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Low attendance rates, inadequate infrastructure, and poorly trained teachers perpetuate theseserious gaps in education. Despite these challenges, education is a top priority for families.
USAID/Pakistan is making schooling more accessible to girls so to help them become pillars of Pakistan’s future progress. When girls attain higher levels of education, they are more likely to improve household living standards, have smaller and more sustainable families and their children are less likely to be malnourished. In short, they are better equipped, empowered and inspired to break the cycle of poverty.
At the Interaction Forum in Washington, D.C. on June 2, USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah said “Girls’ education is one of the most valuable interventions that can be made to improve long-term social outcomes.” Read his remarks here.
USAID/Pakistan, in coordination with other donors, has embarked on a large scale program to help Pakistan increase enrollments and expand educational opportunities, improve the quality of learning, rebuild schools and increase support for higher education. To date, USAID programs ensured that approximately 900,000 school-aged children were able to attend classes.
USAID/Pakistan plans to renovate 4,000 primary schools to repair the schools, provide furniture, toilets and clear water for students throughout the country; renovate primary schools to include the middle school grades (six to eight), especially for girls; and is increasing student achievement in science, math, English and computer literacy – four critical subjects at the middle and secondary school levels, and upgrading teacher skills.
In addition, a new USAID educational outreach program through the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop will build language, problem-solving and analytical thinking skills for children across Pakistan. The project will feature puppet-based television broadcasts, complementary radio programming and a dynamic website where children can interact with their favorite puppets, live shows staged from vehicles set up as theatres will reach remote, rural areas, including conflict-affected districts. Messages will promote learning while reflecting Pakistani culture and values, based on the country’s education curriculum. Read more here.
By Zack Taylor
On October 8, 2005, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and AJK, killing 74,000 people and injuring 70,000. In the years since the devastating earthquake, reconstruction of the region has been an important component of the development portfolio at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Pakistan.
Read more about efforts to rebuild lives and livlihoods of the families and communities who live in this remote, mountainous province in Pakistan.
In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, the U.S. government mobilized all of its available resources. Military helicopters transported survivors out of destroyed cities and brought in thousands of tons of relief materials such as food, medical services, clothing, and tents in collaboration with the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team. Heavy machinery moved debris to search for victims and set the stage for rebuilding.
The close teamwork of Pakistani and U.S. governments, along Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
submitted by Jonathan Hale
Earlier this week, I flew four hours from Moscow to Sarajevo. Bosnia and Herzegovina is mountainous and very green in the spring. While it is a post-conflict country, people here are still in many ways searching for the path towards sustainable peace and prosperity. Divisions still run deep. Life remains segregated by ethnic community. There are separate schools within the same buildings. Multiple layers of segregated government and politics. There are even segregated telephone systems! Speaking with our very talented local foreign national staff, it is clear that there are still deep and painful memories of war here, even though it ended more than a decade ago. It’s striking to note that, according to the UNDP, a considerable proportion of Bosnians (up to 19% per UNDP figures), which enjoyed a relatively high living standard before the war now live at or below the poverty line.
I spent Wednesday and Thursday on the road. We drove around the country from Sarajevo to Mostar, Grude, Jajce, and Banja Luka in the Republika Srpska, and back. Along the way, I saw some hope along with the challenges. In Grude, I met with a mayor that is pressing for reforms to make government more responsive to the needs of the people. I understand there are a handful of other mayors and local officials like him throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina. I had the privilege of participating in a community event Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Kanjeer, Pakistan – Bakhtawar was a good student in the fifth grade at a small school located in a Southern Pakistan village.
She enjoyed learning, laughing with her friends, and spending time with her family. But one evening, as she sat nervously in a chair beside her parents at the local meeting hall, she knew that everything about her childhood was coming to an end. No more school, no more girlfriends, no more fun.
At 15, Bakhtawar was about to become engaged to be married. Read her story here!
The impacts of early marriage are substantial not Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
submitted by LaToya Butler
Dr. Rajiv Shah, our Administrator, has just accepted the Combined Federal Campaign’s Annual Summit Award on behalf of the agency for the second consecutive year.
The CFC coordinates fund-raising efforts of various charitable organizations so that federal donors will have the opportunity to make charitable contributions through payroll deduction. This year’s campaign: “The Compassion of Individuals – The Power of Community,” encompasses one way that staff can serve broader communities both domestic and overseas.
More than 1,000 members of our team donated over $600,000 to the CFC in 2009. Despite 2009 being a tough economic year, USAID managed to increase its contribution efforts by nine percent over 2008.
Congratulations to the dedicated team at USAID for all of the effort and generosity involved in achieving this high level of participation in a worthy cause.
Economic growth is critical to reducing poverty and building a better future. The African Growth and Opportunity Act was signed into law 10 years ago to support free markets and growing economies throughout Africa, and USAID has been building on AGOA by supporting entrepreneurs, promoting exports, and creating trade networks. And the results have been incredible. Success stories throughout Africa—from fair-trade cotton farmers in Senegal to a blooming flower market in East Africa—illustrate how trade improves lives. Read a brand-new collection of stories from the field.
On Friday, May 28th, FEMA Deputy Administrator Timothy Manning and I signed a work plan with the Russian government to expand bilateral cooperation through 2012 on responding to international disasters and humanitarian crises. The signing in Moscow concluded the annual meeting of the U.S.-Russia Joint Committee for Emergency Management and Disaster Response. This committee was formed in 1996 and now serves as one of the working groups under the Bilateral Presidential Commission established by Presidents Obama and Medvedev last year. The U.S. delegation from FEMA, USAID, and the Department of Transportation discussed ways to enhance preparedness and response capabilities for disasters at home and abroad. The Russian delegation, led by First Deputy Minister of the Emergency Situations Ministry (EMERCOM) Ruslan Tsalikov, was especially interested in sharing humanitarian aid best practices, and proposed partnering with USAID to address food security issues in the region.
The committee meeting was the culmination of an exciting week for cooperation in this area. During the earlier part of the week, a FEMA-USAID delegation held a joint table top exercise with EMERCOM that simulated an earthquake scenario. American and Russian experts jointly examined response considerations related to declaring a disaster, deploying teams to another country, coordinating search and rescue with humanitarian response, and demobilizing. Specialists from Fairfax County’s Task Force 1 Search and Rescue team, who responded to the earthquake in Haiti, had the opportunity to sit across the table from Russian responders who also served in Haiti, and to share lessons learned from that experience. The exercise is part of U.S. efforts to support the Russian Government’s goal of meeting the standards for the United Nations’ highest classification of search and rescue teams.
Russia’s commitment to cooperating with the U.S. in addressing humanitarian crises is another sign of its reemergence as strong global partner and international donor. U.S. and Russian teams are already working together to improve rescue efforts in response to natural disasters and terrorism, and this is just one of many areas in which we are collaborating on global development. USAID/Russia also partners with the Ministry of Health to send Russian medical experts to countries in Africa and with Russia’s new agency for humanitarian cooperation, Rossotrudnichestvo, to strengthen its capacity to provide aid.
After spending the week in Russia, I am even more convinced that the U.S. and Russia have much to gain by working together to address the big challenges of the 21st century. I believe USAID should continue to be at the center of much of that cooperation and partnership.
Now I am off to Bosnia for the next phase of my trip.
Death rates in children under 5 are dropping in many countries at an accelerated pace, according to a new report in ‘The Lancet’ based on data from 187 countries from 1970 to 2010. Worldwide, 7.7 million children are expected to die this year down from the 1990 figure of 11.9 million.
Global child survival programs have focused on reaching increased numbers of children with basic health interventions, which scientific research and field programs have demonstrated to reduce the susceptibility of children to serious illnesses. Vaccines, vitamin A supplements, better treatment of diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria, insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria, more education for women, reduced numbers of high risk and closely spaced births, and AIDS medicines in high-HIV prevalence countries are among the factors that have helped lower death rates. USAID has supported much of the research that identified and proved the effectiveness of high-impact interventions, from Oral Rehydration Therapy and vitamin A to community treatment of pneumonia and essential newborn care.
USAID’s work with developing country governments alongside UNICEF, the World Health Organization, World Bank, other donors, NGOs and private sector partners has contributed to successes at an unprecedented global scale. When the U.S. Child Survival program began in the early 1980s, it was estimated that almost 15 million children died each year in the developing world. Without reduced rates of mortality, the number of deaths today would be about 17 million each year. However, The Lancet report notes that, despite significant progress, the rate of decline in infant and child mortality is still not fast enough to meet the 2015 MDG target. This underscores the importance of the Global Health Initiative’s increased focus on maternal and child health.