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USAID’s Frontlines – June 2010


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

Administrator Rajiv Shah supports the new $3.5 billion Feed the Future initiative with trips to two target countries, Bangladesh and Sudan

USAID responds to two back-to-back natural disasters in Guatemala in May

In the Agency’s new science and technology office, scientific breakthroughs are being touted as a way to tackle health, agriculture and water challenges in developing countries

Preventing trade in “conflict diamonds” in Central African Republic starts with helping miners clearly establish ownership rights to diamond-rich properties

The 2010 InterAction forum draws hundreds to debate the methods, policies, goals and rationale for U.S. foreign aid


Read these stories and more in the new issue of FrontLines. If you would like to automatically receive FrontLines every month, you can subscribe here.


USAID in the News June 28 – July 2

submitted by Amanda Parsons

For USAID Afghanistan civilian aid worker Laura Mendelson, tough negotiations with tribal leaders, anger from villagers and constant enemy fire are all in a days work. A Sunday Washington Post Magazine article outlines her efforts, the progress made and struggles faced by all aid providers on the ground in the war torn country.

After spending decades in exile, Saad Mohseni returned to become one of the most powerful influencers in Afghanistan. Today, he owns radio and television networks, an advertising agency, and a movie production company, among other businesses. Realizing that media messaging would be one of the most effective ways to responsibly rebuild the nation, USAID issued grants to help fund Mohseni’s work to build free press. The New Yorker and NPR profile the burgeoning media mogul and his recent successes thanks to United States support.

“Father of the Green Revolution,” Norman Borlaug established the World Food Prize in 1968. The international award recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. As 2010’s winners were announced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, together with US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah, announced the creation of the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative—a cooperative venture of USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that, as Voice of America reports, will combine the two agencies’ resources, knowledge, commitment and expertise to work together for the realization of Borlaug’s dream of feeding the world.

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Changing Tides

Ifikhtar Ahmed is the marketing manager of I.A. Khan Enterprises, a home-based business that produces local delicacies like tangy pickles and sohan halwa, a popular dessert, in this central Punjabi city of four million.

And while Ifikhtar’s position as a manager would be considered normal by even the most traditional in Pakistan, what makes his role unusual is that the company’s managing director is his wife, Amna.

In this socially conservative country, few women venture into the mainstream workforce and contribute to the country’s economic growth. Most Pakistani husbands will not entertain the idea of ceding authority to make decisions, business or otherwise, to their wives. (Read more here.)

This Week at USAID – July 6, 2010

At a forum organized by Global Washington and hosted by Seattle University, Maura O’Neill, USAID’s Counselor for Innovation, will participate in a discussion about Washington State’s contribution to the global development sector and will offer recommendations for improving the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance.

Administrator Shah will join Secretary Clinton at the State Department to address the 2009-2010 Jefferson Science Fellows.  The ten Fellows are tenured professors assigned for one year at State and USAID.  Their universities contribute to the success of this public-private partnership.

USAID will be recognizing World Population Day on July 11th.  USAID’s Family Planning program is one of the success stories in U.S. development assistance.  Since the launch of the program in 1965, families are better able to feed, clothe, educate, and provide health care for their children.

‘Gul’s Girls’

Denied an education herself, one local woman works tirelessly for her local school with USAID support.

Gul Laila can’t read or write, but she still arrives at the local school early every morning. Before heading off to her regular day job as a domestic worker, she stops by the school to ensure all the teachers have shown up for work. Once a real problem, faculty absenteeism has no longer been an issue since the School Management Committee elected Gul as its chairwoman.

Denied an education herself, Gul now works tirelessly to make sure that her daughters and all the other girls of this remote village in Pakistan’s Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) region have access to school.

“When I was growing up, we girls were often discriminated against.” Gul said. “Our parents sent our brothers to school, while asking us to cook for them and
clean their uniforms. … I don’t want our daughters to have the kind of lives we had. I want them to be educated and make their own decisions.” (Read more here.)

THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S WORK IN HAITI

submitted by Anna Gohmann

Bringing Jobs Beyond Port-au-Prince: USAID food security partner ACDI/VOCA established 178 food-for-work teams comprising 21 persons each to undertake road repairs and soil conservation activities. As of June 15, the food-for-work teams had repaired 53 km of road in La Vallee municipality and 90 km of road in Cote de Fer municipality, both in Southeast Department. The beneficiaries are primarily displaced Haitians who reside with host families.

Clearing Earthquake Debris: USAID, the international community, and the Government of Haiti have moved at least 503,500 cubic meters of rubble between January and June of 2010.

Making Headway on Sanitation Goals:
As of June 16, Water, Sanitation, and Health (WASH) Cluster partners have constructed more than 11,000 toilets, 2,932 showers, provided 5 liters of water per person per day, established 450 private water kiosks; trained 3,238 hygiene promoters; and distributed 200,000 hygiene kits. USAID is one of the largest funders of WASH cluster efforts.

For more information  email: usaidpressofficers@usaid.gov.

4 People Who Can Change Ghana

submitted by Amanda Parsons

Henry Adobor Aceritas will start raising Boer goats for the local market. Tenu Awoonor is going to build Student Card Limited, a company designed to provide cashless payments for school fees and student lunches with the use of a multifunctional identification card. Paul Ansah’s ANSA Systems Limited will work to provide reliable utility power for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilities. Kojo Taylor’s MicroClinics will work on improving access to primary healthcare and essential drugs in rural communities.

What do these four people have in common?

All are recipients of African Diaspora Marketplace grants. USAID and Western Union sponsored the program in which recipients receive as much as $100,000 in grant funding to better their communities in Ghana. The (ADM) finalists were chosen by an independent panel of volunteer judges from business, non-governmental organizations, diaspora development organizations and academia in an effort to increase opportunity in Sub-Saharan Africa through fostering sustainable start-ups and established enterprises. Fourteen candidates–all who presented business plans and work with African diaspora throughout the world to help guide them as they set up their businesses–were chosen from a pool of 733 applicants.

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Pic of the Week – USAID Health Huts

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah meeting with expectant mothers on health issues

A community health hut is an innovative approach to ensure health services for those who don’t have the money or the transportation to travel great distances to see a doctor.  USAID supports a nationwide network of nearly 1,500 huts in Senegal, staffed by almost 10,000 volunteers, covering a population of nearly two and a half million people. These often small, one or two-room structures are widely accessible around the country, including remote, rural areas where there may be no other health provider available.  It is community-managed, financed and volunteer-staffed, which means it’s not government driven, but in the hands of the people.  USAID began supporting these structures in the early ‘80s and since then, as the largest and most consistent donor, its support has become synonymous with comprehensive community care here.   In fact, it is a very important aspect of the malaria prevention and treatment program (the President’s Malaria Initiative) and critical to family planning and reproductive health programs, all of which work hard to reduce maternal and child mortality, as part of the Millennium Development Goals.

Insecticide-treated Mosquito Nets Save Lives

Men ferry bales of ITNs across a river during a net distribution campaign in Nimba County, Liberia. PMI has purchased millions of nets for distribution throughout Africa.

In Africa, malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes that bite predominantly at night. Therefore, sleeping under an insecticide-treated net (ITN) can greatly reduce the risk of infection because ITNs repel mosquitoes and kill those that land on them. Increasing ownership and use of ITNs is a key component of President Malaria Initiative’s (PMI’s) prevention strategy. Launched in 2005, PMI is led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). PMI is a key part of the Administration’s Global Health Initiative to help partner countries achieve major advances in health by working smarter, building on past successes and learning from past challenges. 

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USAID Partners with U.S Army Medical Research Unit to Improve Malaria Diagnosis in Africa

Simba Mobagi, a lab tech in Rachuonyo district hospital in Kenya, works with Maj. Eric Wagar to accurately diagnose malaria in blood samples. (Photo by Rick Scavetta)

By Rick Scavetta  and Chris Thomas

Inside Rachuonyo district hospital in Kenya, Simba Mobagi peers through his laboratory’s only microscope at a sick woman’s blood sample. The 33-year-old laboratory technologist’s goal – rapidly identifying malaria parasites. Dozens more samples await his eyes. Each represents a patient suffering outside on wooden benches. Mogabi takes little time to ponder his workload. He quickly finds malaria parasites, marks his findings on a pink patient record and moves to the next slide.

For more than 40 years, U.S. Army Medical Research Unit-Kenya – locally as the Walter Reed Project – has studied diseases in East Africa through a partnership with the Kenya Medical Research Institute.

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