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USAID’s Evaluation Policy: Setting the Standard

By: Ruth Levine, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning

In a major address today, Dr. Shah will announce USAID’s new evaluation policy, evidence of the renewed emphasis the Agency is placing on evaluation, measuring and documenting program achievements and shortcomings, and generating data on what works to drive decision-making.

The policy marks a significant change from current practice, yet builds on the Agency’s long and innovative history with evaluation.  It seeks to redress the decline in the quantity and quality of USAID’s recent evaluation practice.

And it is my pleasure to offer you a sneak peek. Key points include:

1.       Defining impact evaluation and performance evaluation and requiring at least one performance evaluation for each major program and any untested and innovative interventions, and encouraging impact evaluation for each major development objective in a country program, especially for new or untested approaches and interventions:

2.       Calling for evaluation to be integrated into programs when they are designed;

3.       Requiring sufficient resources be dedicated to evaluation, estimated at approximately three percent of total program dollars;

4.       Requiring that evaluations use methods, whether qualitative or quantitative, that generate the highest quality evidence linked to the evaluation questions and that can reasonably be expected to be reproducible, yielding similar findings if applied by a different team of qualified evaluators;

5.       Building local capacity by including local evaluators on evaluation teams and supporting partner government and civil society capacity to undertake evaluations; and

6.       Insisting on transparency of findings with the presumption of full and active disclosure barring principled and rare exceptions.

This policy – which you will find here – sets a new standard for evaluation practice. Thank you to those who informed its development. Watch this space for updates on how the Agency implements its renewed commitment to evaluation.

In the News: 1/10/2011–1/14/2011

January 11: The Washington Post published a story that while many lives were saved after the Haiti earthquake, one year later, many Haitians remain impoverished. However, USAID’s $19 million cash for work program employed 350,000 people after the earthquake.

January 11 : AP and The Seattle Times wrote that the Gates Foundation and USAID have partnered to offer a $2.5 million prize to Haitian cellular operator Digicel, the first company to launch a service for Haitians to do banking by mobile phone. According to USAID’s Haiti mission director, “the project already has increased significantly the number of Haitians with access to banking services.”

January 11: The LA Weekly blog reported that according to a State Department fact sheet, food security in Haiti has improved due to the work of USAID. Before the earthquake, about 80 percent of the Haitian population was living below the poverty line. But in three months after the earthquake, USAID’s emergency food relief found its way to 4 million people.

January 12: AOL News reported that while more than $1 billion has been spent in Haiti since the earthquake, only about 1,000 permanent houses have been built to replace the ones that were destroyed during the quake. Meanwhile, USAID continues to receive emails daily from organizations seeking funding.

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Afghan Partnership Opens Modern Carpet Processing Facility

By: Robert Sauers, USAID Afghanistan.
Originally posted in DipNote the U.S. Department of State Official Blog

Afghan carpet seller

Afghan carpet seller watches pedestrians as he waits for customers in Kabul. October 21, 2007. AP File

The Paiman Atlas Group celebrated the opening of its new modernized carpet processing facility yesterday in Dasht-e Barchi, Kabul. Supported by a public-private partnership facilitated by USAID’s Afghanistan Small and Medium Enterprise Development (ASMED) project, Paiman can now produce up to 100 square meters of carpet per day, a 120 percent increase from its previous capacity.

With revenues of more than $150 million in 2009, carpets are Afghanistan’s leading export. However, the current lack of large-scale processing facilities in Afghanistan results in more than 80 percent of Afghan carpets being shipped to Pakistan for finishing. These carpets are then exported with “Made in Pakistan” labels, resulting in a loss of opportunity for Afghans to capture the full value of their products. With the new machinery, Paiman’s processing complex will enable Afghan carpet producers and traders to export their products directly under the “Made in Afghanistan” label.

Paiman is a partnership of six Afghan carpet producers and exporters whose vision is to create domestic processing and finishing services for Afghan carpets. The new carpet finishing complex will help Paiman export Afghan carpets directly through Turkey to U.S. and European Union customers and will encourage other Afghan producers and exporters to explore direct export opportunities.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Commerce Ailaqi remarked that Afghanistan’s “carpet industry is the outcome of hard work, creativity and art of Afghans with endless dedication and a rich history that creates jobs for more than two million men and women. It is a great source of income for people and for the country.” Paiman Chief Executive Officer Hasmatullah Haidar, and representatives from the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Afghan Carpet Exports Guild also attended the opening celebration.

Through its ASMED project, USAID seeks to improve private sector productivity and increase employment opportunities in Afghanistan. The project encourages the development of Afghan businesses through support for capacity building, technology transfer, and investment, including public-private partnerships.

2010: A Year in Review

With 2011 on the horizon, USAID looks at back at its accomplishments in 2010. Among them:

  • Supported the game-changing CAPRISA study, which in July provided the first ever proof of concept that a vaginal microbicide could safely and effectively reduce the risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV from men to vulnerable women. Science Magazine recently named the CAPRISA study one of the top ten breakthroughs of 2010.
  • Piloted a groundbreaking mobile banking technology to increase Haitians’ access to much-needed financial resources following January’s devastating earthquake.
  • Provided shelter, food and medical supplies for the more than 20 million people affected by the floods in Pakistan this summer.
  • Assumed leadership of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s signature food security initiative, in December. USAID quickly established the Bureau for Food Security committed to addressing chronic hunger.
  • Announced the first recipients of Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) funds that will, among other outcomes, improve rural solar access and produce affordable, fuel-cell powered bicycles. The DIV promotes innovative and scalable solutions to core development challenges.
  • Launched a country-based strategic planning approach, with 20 Country Development Cooperation Strategies (CDCS) already underway. The CDCS will help the agency make evidenced-based decisions, prioritize investments, and hold itself accountable for results.

For more about USAID, please visit www.usaid.gov.

In the News

December 27: The Digital Journal reported that the European Union contributed 36 million euros to help fund phase two of the Philippines’ Heath Sector Policy Support Program. The money will be used to improve the health of the poor and disadvantaged people in the country. USAID is a supporter and donor of the program.

December 29: The Australian published a report that an Australian man accused of soliciting a $190,000 bribe over a building contract in Afghanistan will be extradited to the U.S. to face trial. The man was caught in an undercover sting conducted by USAID and involved contracts dealing with the construction of schools and hospitals.

Leading Through Civilian Power

After months of effort and meaningful discussions, today I was happy to join Secretary Clinton to unveil the first ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) at a State Department town hall.

Complementing the Presidential Policy Directive on development that was released earlier this year, the QDDR helps make real the commitment the Secretary has shown to creating a modern, efficient diplomatic and development architecture.

For USAID, the QDDR provides an opportunity for this Agency to demonstrate its capabilities, elevating the role development plays in our nation’s foreign policy while empowering us to be inclusive leaders. It affirms USAID mission directors as the top development advisers in U.S. embassies and grants USAID the hiring authority to attract and recruit top talent. It also recognizes USAID as the lead agency in charge of President Obama’s chief development initiative, Feed the Future, and positions us to lead the Global Health Initiative by the end of FY 2012.

Critically, the QDDR endorses the suite of reforms we began earlier this year—USAID Forward—recognizing this Agency’s need to develop new systems and capacities to deliver against these new opportunities. We will continue to streamline our work and cut red-tape, transforming our Agency into a modern, efficient development enterprise. But we also must renew our engagement with our interagency partners in a spirit of inclusive leadership and cooperation, and focus thoughtfully, aggressively, and primarily on delivering results for those we serve.

We should keep in mind that in the end, success for this Agency and the people we serve will not be delivered in a directive or a document, no matter how powerful or carefully crafted. Our success will be determined by the hard work and enlightened leadership we show. The QDDR has provided us a blueprint to effectively channel our efforts, but it is only as powerful as we make it.

USAID Administrator Statement on the Passing of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke

The following is a statement from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah on the passing of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.

“Last night, we received the sad news that Richard Holbrooke passed away. Richard’s passing will be deeply felt by his family, those he worked with and those he served.

Much has been mentioned about Richard’s tireless commitment to diplomacy, one that stretched across five decades and was marked by incredible accomplishment-supporting the Paris peace talks as a foreign service officer in Vietnam, helping to normalize our relations with China as the youngest ever Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and designing the Dayton Accords that ended the war in Bosnia. He was one of this nation’s finest, most dedicated public servants and architects of peace.

But Richard was also deeply committed to development. He worked at USAID in the early years of his career and was a relentless champion of development in this country’s foreign policy pursuits. As Ambassador to the United Nations, Richard elevated the cause of AIDS and the concerns of Africa to the top of the international agenda. And most recently, as Special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, he recognized the critical role development played in countering and ending violent conflict.

Islamabad, January 13, 2010 – U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Holbrooke exchanges signed documents with Mr. Shahid Rafi, Secretary of the Ministry of Water and Power Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy in Pakistan

The late U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Holbrooke exchanges signed documents with Mr. Shahid Rafi, Secretary of the Ministry of Water and Power Photo Credit: U.S. Emabssy in Pakistan

I know many of you have worked closely alongside Richard and learned much from him.  As a colleague and friend, he pushed us to excel and brought his tremendous intellect and diplomatic tact to our shared mission.  I will be forever grateful for his friendship, mentoring and support and will deeply miss his larger-than-life personality.

Please join me in extending condolences to his wife Kati and the rest of his family, and let us honor Richard’s enduring contributions both to his country, and to the cause of peace around the world.”

From the Field

In Albania, we will open a Taxpayer Service Center in Tirana. Based on a new client-centered model, Albania’s General Directorate of Taxation, with the support of USAID and the MCC Threshold Program, will open a new service center in Tirana. The project has supported the remodeling of the infrastructure, including key IT infrastructure that will allow for a customer queue system and 20 customer service windows for taxpayers. Tax administration reforms are important to increase transparency and reduce corruption in Albania’s business environment.

In Paraguay, we will celebrate the results of a seven year citizen’s initiatives program to improve democracy.

In Zimbabwe, Mission Director Karen Freeman joined Ambassador Charles Ray and Zimbabwean government officials to bestow the 10th annual Auxillia Chimusoro awards to Zimbabweans who have excelled in their involvement in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe. The awards are given to individuals and organizations that have made substantial contributions in communication, leadership, social investment and other areas to mitigate the effects and impact of HIV/AIDS. The awards are named after Auxillia Chimusoro, one of the first individuals to disclose their HIV positive status in Zimbabwe. This year, the awardees included Catherine Murombedzi, the first journalist in Zimbabwe to disclose her HIV positive status, Head of the HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Dr. Owen Mugurundgi, and the late Dr. Monica Glenshaw, a former District Medical Officer for Manicaland.

In Iraq, we will join The Ministry of Health (MoH)for their  Annual National Conference.  This year the conference will focus on “Training Management in Health Institutions”. The MoH Human Resource and Development Center (HRTDC), International Medical Corps (IMC) and USAID/Tatweer are partners in this conference. Papers from each Directorate of Health from each province will be presented.  Several workshops will also take place, topics include: planning and implementing the training process and developing training curricula, the role of IT in improving health information systems, the impact of training on MoH service delivery, accreditation and quality assurance of training and budget preparation for training.  Additionally, as USAID/Tatweer comes to a close, the conference will highlight MoH and USAID/Tatweer successes in developing sustainable capacity and affecting system reform in the Ministry.

In Honor of International Human Rights Day

Today, in honor of International Human Rights Day and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, U.S. Embassies and USAID missions around the world are opening their doors to civil society; to the Russian journalists who bravely report on corruption and abuse in the face of grave danger; to the Egyptian human rights activists who fight every day for justice; to the Kenyan political activists who recently helped shepherd a peaceful vote on a Constitutional referendum.

In 1994, USAID became the world’s first donor agency to establish democracy, human rights, and governance as core development objectives.  Since then, USAID has become the leading development agency on these issues.  With over 400 experts worldwide, USAID manages and programs the vast majority of the U.S. Government’s total budget—over three billion dollars this year alone—devoted to these issues.

These investments are critical to our national security and to reflect our national character, making the word safer and more equitable. That’s why the Obama Administration has laid out an ambitious democracy, human rights, and governance agenda for USAID.  We are engaged in a renewed focus to help our partners deliver for their citizens.

In Colombia, USAID created an early warning system to help prevent human rights violations by illegal armed actors, paramilitaries, leftist guerrillas, and drug mafias.

In Indonesia, USAID worked across 9 provinces with nearly 600 local nongovernmental organizations to increase citizen participation in local governance and social service provision.

Across Asia, USAID helped uphold rights to access for at-risk populations, including transgender communities and men who have sex with men, to HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment, as well as building regional and in-country capacities to respond.

In Egypt, USAID is supporting disability advocates to organize and lead the development of policies and programs targeting the inclusion of people with disabilities, impacting over 15,000 Egyptians with disabilities at both the local and national levels.

And in the Democratic Republic of Congo, USAID and its partners helped provide medical services, fight impunity, and promote community awareness of and response to sexual and gender-based violence for more than 100,000 survivors of rape.

At USAID, we cherish the fundamental liberties contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and we promote democratic institutions to fulfill these rights for every global citizen.

Every day, we are dedicated to making USAID the leader on advancing democracy, human rights, and governance globally.  Today on this day, with our friends, with our allies, and especially with human rights activists around the world, we support and honor the global efforts to expand human rights for all.

Seeing the Victory Through: The 50th Anniversary of the Marshall Plan

Watch this historic video from 1997  on the Marshall Plan that was established in 1949 by Secretary of State George C. Marshall based on the urgent need to help the European Recovery after World War II. This video portrays U.S. aid over the years.

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