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The White House (Blog): Supporting Human Rights in Burma

This post originally appeared on The White House Blog.

Yesterday’s announcement that President Obama will become the first U.S. President to visit Burma marks an historic step in the United States’ engagement with Burma. In the past year, since President Obama first noted “flickers of progress” in Burma – and since Secretary Clinton became the most senior U.S. official to visit since 1955 – we have seen continued progress on the road to democracy. Several opposition political parties have been permitted to register legally for the first time and their members – including Aung San Suu Kyi – have been elected to parliament. Restrictions on the press have been eased. Legislation has been enacted to expand the rights of workers to form labor unions, and to outlaw forced labor. The government has signed an action plan aimed at ridding its army of child soldiers; it has pledged to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to help ensure that Burma’s natural wealth is not squandered to corruption, and it has announced fragile ceasefires in several longstanding ethnic conflicts.

Seeing these signs of progress, we have responded in kind, with specific steps to recognize the government’s efforts and encourage further reform. We have eased sanctions, appointed our first ambassador in 22 years, and opened a USAID Mission. At the same time, we have also updated sanctions authorities that allow us to target those who interfere with the peace process or the transition to democracy, and we created a ground-breaking framework for responsible investment from the United States that encourages transparency and oversight.

We are clear-eyed about the challenges that Burma faces. The peril faced by the stateless Rohingya population in Rakhine State is particularly urgent, and we have joined the international community in expressing deep concern about recent violence that has left hundreds dead, displaced over 110,000, and destroyed thousands of homes. There is much work to be done to foster peace and reconciliation in other ethnic conflicts, develop the justice sector, and cultivate the free press and robust civil society that are the checks and balances needed in any stable democracy. But we also see an historic opportunity both to help Burma lock in the progress that it has made so far — so that it becomes irreversible — and to meet the many challenges in front of it. In May 2011, as the Arab Spring took hold, the President noted that America’s interests are served when ordinary people are empowered to chart their own political and economic futures. And to governments, the President made a promise: if you take the risks that reform entails, you will have the full support of the United States.

Last month, as part of our effort to fulfill that promise, the Obama administration held the first-ever official bilateral dialogue on human rights with the Government of Burma. Led by Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy Human Rights and Labor, the purpose was to initiate a new channel between our two countries to discuss challenges ahead – a high-level exchange on urgent and delicate issues that would have been unthinkable a year ago. Our delegation included not only Posner, Ambassador Derek Mitchell, and other State Department officials, but also senior officials from the White House, the Vice President’s office, USAID, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense, including both civilian officials and uniformed military. The delegation included experts on labor rights and economic development, rule of law and political reform, ethnic conflict and reconciliation, land-mine removal and criminal justice. Our hosts included senior advisors to President Thein Sein and ministers and senior officials from across the Burmese government and military. Aung San Suu Kyi attended in her capacity as a member of parliament and the chair of a new legislative committee on the rule of law.

Before the official dialogue began, the U.S. delegation spent three days in Rangoon meeting with former political prisoners, ethnic minority leaders, labor advocates, LGBT organizations (who said that this was the first time any government had ever invited them to meet together), and other members of Burma’s nascent civil society. When we sat down for our official dialogue in Naypyidaw, we were able to convey the concerns raised in these meetings to our counterparts, and also stress the importance of their building an inclusive reform dialogue that will seek input from Burmese civil society.

The U.S. government engages with many countries around the world in official dialogues on human rights. While these discussions are often a useful forum for diplomacy, it is fair to say that these conversations can sometimes be stilted, characterized by predictable presentations rather than a spontaneous back-and-forth in which uncertainty can be expressed. The U.S.-Burma dialogue was unusually high-energy and candid.

We both recognized the need to empower reformers in and out of government, protect against backsliding, and ensure the broader Burmese public feels the changes afoot. One of the most challenging aspects of reform is enlisting the country’s military, which governed the country through authoritarian rule for five decades. U.S. Army Lieutenant General Francis Wiercinski drew on his own experiences to make a powerful case to senior officials from the Burmese Defense Ministry that national security is helped rather than hindered by transparency and independent monitoring, and by compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights law. The discussions, which emphasized areas where commitments to reform are necessary – including on child soldiers, forced labor, and in conflict areas – underscored that the gradual process of normalizing our military-to-military relationship will hinge on progress on human rights.

Many of the issues that we discussed in detail will likely feature in the President’s upcoming trip to Burma. These included:

  • Prisoners of conscience. The release of more than 700 political prisoners in the last year has been unprecedented. But as Secretary Clinton has made clear, for the United States, even one prisoner of conscience is too many, and the State Department has passed along a list of those we are concerned remain imprisoned. In addition, as one ex-prisoner put it, “we have been released, but we are not free.” The released prisoners have a huge amount to offer a democratic Burma, but, as we noted, the government will need to lift outstanding travel and other restrictions in order for them to participate fully in society.
  • Political reforms. Reforms have begun to change the political landscape, particularly as parliament has become more inclusive, and as representatives are increasingly answerable to their constituents. But efforts to build civil society, make government ministries responsive to the public, and create a more inclusive political process have just begun. In particular, the central government needs to tackle the challenge of ensuring that any reforms that are made by the parliament and central government are felt at the local level and especially in Burma’s border areas where the majority of the country’s ethnic minorities reside.
  • Rule of law. The parliament and the executive branch have tackled part of an ambitious agenda for remaking Burma’s law and legal institutions. But the judicial branch remains the least developed of Burma’s political institutions. Judicial reform, repealing outdated and restrictive laws, educating citizens of their rights, creating a vibrant civil society to protect those rights, and remaking the legal system and the legal profession all are required to lay the foundation of rule of law in Burma, and all have a long way to go.
  • Peace and reconciliation. The challenge of ongoing ethnic and sectarian violence – including in Shan State, Kachin State, and Rakhine State – remains an area of deep and ongoing concern. If left unaddressed, it will undermine progress toward national reconciliation, stability, and lasting peace. Serious human rights abuses against civilians in several regions continue, including against women and children. Humanitarian access to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons remains a serious challenge and on-going crisis. The government and the ethnic nationalities need to work together urgently to find a path to lasting peace that addresses minority rights, deals with differences through dialogue not violence, heals the wounds of the past, and carries reforms forward. The situation in Rakhine State and the recent violence against the Rohingya and other Muslims last week only underscores the critical urgency of ensuring the safety and security of all individuals in the area, investigating all reports of violence and bringing those responsible to justice, according citizenship and full rights to the Rohingya, and bringing about economic opportunity for all local populations.

Ultimately, Burma’s reforms will succeed or fail based on the efforts of the Burmese people themselves. President Obama’s policy approach has been to support reform and those championing it – an investment in Burma’s future that the President will personally reinforce later this month in Rangoon. Behind this investment is a commitment to helping the Burmese people see the promise that lasting reform holds for their country. As they take charge of their destiny, the American people stand ready to help.

Samantha Power is the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council

Semper Fi USAID: Ooh-rah!

My seminal experience with USAID came in 2007 in Ramadi, Iraq. As a part of President George W. Bush’s surge efforts, I found myself leading a very young, inexperienced Marine civil affairs unit with the mission of conducting stabilization and reconstruction in a badly damaged city.

Lieutenant Colonel Lee Suttee, Marine Corps Fellow to USAID

Our USAID representative, in the first wave of the so called civilian surge, arrived about two months into our year-long tour and made an immediate impact on our way of thinking as well as our approach to the seemingly insurmountable problems the people of Ramadi faced. He and his implementing partners spent time educating us, helping us gain access to key city officials, and influencing our activities.

The partnership and collaboration between USAID and my small group of Marines was essential in making a difference for the people in what was once called “the most dangerous city in the world.” As the Marine Corps Fellow to USAID, I hope to strengthen this important relationship and to make an installment on a rather large debt of gratitude. Semper Fidelis!

 

 

Lessons on Youth Leadership from Garissa, Kenya

Many of us youth development practitioners have been eagerly anticipating the release of USAID’s youth policy with the hope that it will increase awareness of the importance of youth issues to development. I know from EDC’s work around the world how integral youth are to economic, social and political development.

Children around a laptop in school. Photo Credit: USAID

One of the main principles in the youth policy is youth participation and youth leadership. In my work with youth in Garissa, Kenya, I see how young people have jumped at the chance to get involved in their communities, when given channels to apply their ideas and energy. Young women and men producing and broadcasting their own radio stories throughout North Eastern Province about news that matters to them is a great example. Youth led programming‐with youth in real decision‐making roles is essential, but it is far from easy and quick; it takes time and involves lots of trial and error. So it’s important for us to understand this when designing programs—we need to be ambitious but also patient and target a range of outcomes, that include building the capacity of young people not just as leaders, but as team members that are able to work together to problem solve and make decisions. I’m hopeful that we, as practitioners, and our colleagues at USAID can design programs that reflect this complex process.

The Youth Policy’s emphasis on families and communities is another principle that the Garissa experience has demonstrated. As important as ‘youth‐led’ programming is, youth still need support and encouragement to take on new roles and responsibilities. In fact, I think parents are often the best partners we have in communities because they know first‐hand how much their children are frustrated or depressed when they do not have opportunities. We hear directly from parents in Garissa how much they want to help their children do something that stimulates them or gives them inspiration, such as access to training or scholarships. Programs need to include parents consistently therefore, and not just at the launch of the project or when problems arise.

I’m also hopeful that the Youth Policy will reinforce USAID’s gender policy to continue to highlight the importance of gender within youth programs and development programs more broadly. All too often, the different needs and considerations for reaching young women and young men are not part of youth program design. We see this particularly in workforce programs in which it is rare to see specific workforce strategies for young women vs. men. As youth employment receives more attention, we can’t forget that meaningful solutions for addressing youth employment must consider the unique constraints affecting young women’s and men’s employment and livelihoods opportunities.

About the Education Development Center, Inc.: EDC designs, delivers and evaluates innovative programs to address some of the world’s urgent challenges in education, health and economic opportunity. EDC has designed and managed youth and workforce development programs in over 25 developing countries. Our programs focus on changing the life trajectory of youth who have been left out and left behind. EDC offers an integrated package of education, supports and experiences to ensure young people transition to successful, productive adulthood. Our focus on earning, education, and engagement and three primary cross‐cutting strategies make EDC’s work unique.

A Welcome Call to Action: Working with Youth in Development

As an active member of the Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD), Plan International USA applauds USAID on the launch of the Youth in Development Policy! Along with many others in the development community, Plan has been anxiously awaiting the Policy’s launch. Plan’s work focuses on empowering children and youth in 50 developing countries, and this Policy offers an important reinforcement of the need to engage this population for lasting impact. We also congratulate Maame Yankah, a Youth Ambassador for Plan, for her participation in the Policy Launch Event, but more importantly for her many contributions to communities in Ghana and the US.

Student Nana Kweku Boateng in Junior High School in Koforidua, Ghana. Photo Credit: USAID

The launch of the Youth in Development Policy marks an important shift in our conversation. Many of us as youth champions are well‐versed in answering the question, “Why work with youth?” The reasons to involve youth as partners are many, and their talents, determination, and influence on the world stage is unprecedented. Yet today, with the heightened status of youth engagement within our own government, we can now embrace youth participation as an assumed component of our programming, and focus on responding to the more difficult question, “How should we work with youth?” Plan looks forward to collaborating with USAID, peer organizations, colleagues in the field, and of course the youth themselves, to collect viable answers to this question.

Now with USAID’s new Youth in Development Policy in our hands, how do we turn it into practice? For many organizations, working with youth may require a departure from current ways of operating and a renewed reliance on the youth community. Plan has made youth a heightened priority for several years, and to truly consider them partners, we will continue working with youth through these 3 steps:

1.Put Youth in the Driver’s Seat
It’s not enough to consult youth; they must be active participants and leaders in development. Because youth have unique needs and perspectives, only they possess the information to make youth programming relevant. Plan will continue to incorporate youth in the design and implementation process by calling on their experience and technical knowledge in such fields as economic empowerment, education, transparency and governance, and health. Not only will this channel youth energy into community‐building and their own personal growth, it will also breathe new life into the work that we do by dispelling old assumptions and continually driving new approaches. From a youth‐run television station in Malawi, to a performance group raising awareness about sexual abuse in India, youth are leaders in Plan’s global programming. We will look to these and other programs to track effective ways that youth can drive the development process.

2.Review and Revamp Internal Policies
USAID’s Youth in Development Policy encourages organizations to embrace youth in development as a cross‐cutting issue. As such, Plan International USA will take the Policy to heart in our own internal operations. Plan will continue to involve our domestically‐based Youth Advisory Board in organizational decisions. We will rely more heavily on our Youth United for Global Action and Awareness (YUGA) members to inspire awareness raising efforts on global issues among their peers here in the US.
Through the Because I am a Girl Campaign, Plan will continue to highlight the need for gender equality, as young women and girls face additional societal barriers. Plan will also increase efforts to measure youth involvement and youth‐led impact, involving youth in the monitoring and evaluation processes and in improving the evidence base.

3.Engage in Sharing and Learning
With the Youth in Development Policy, Plan is challenged to both share and learn from examples of what works to engage youth. In order to assure the greatest return on investment with limited resources, the youth community must be committed to communicating best practices and forming a community of learning. With this new focus on youth, we are accountable to not only our donors and partners, but especially to youth around the world. We need to work together to deliver the most responsible, impactful, innovative, and youth‐led programming possible. Only together as a united force can we adequately reach the scale necessary to meet the demands of the global youth population.

As a community, we won’t have the answers on how best to engage youth overnight. But with the launch of the Youth in Development Policy, we now have a call to action on behalf of the world’s youth. Plan International USA and the AIYD members are honored to have USAID’s support with our ongoing youth programming. Going forward, we will delegate more trust and authority to our youth partners. We also hope to engage with new youth champions, inspired by youth’s heightened profile within USAID. Congratulations to USAID on this momentous occasion‐ now it’s time for development actors and youth around the world to put the policy into motion!

About Plan International USA: Plan International works in more than 50 developing countries to end the cycle of poverty for children by developing long‐term sustainable solutions. Founded in 1937, Plan’s vision is of a world in which all children realize their full potential in societies that respect people’s rights and dignity. In addition, Plan International USA engages youth at an individual level through its Youth Engagement and Action (YEA) program, which involves a network of students and youth, as well as teachers and adult allies, in taking action on global issues. YEA’s mission is to build a global, youth‐led grassroots movement to help end the cycle of poverty for children and communities. YEA facilitates engagement through group meetings, school curriculum development, and advocacy reinforcing Plan’s global community development work. Within the United States, programs include educational outreach initiatives, organized retreats, and other special events and activities for youth participation, designed to help young people develop an understanding of the challenges faced by youth in the developing world.

Returning home for HIV & AIDS treatment, an Ethiopian woman finds much more

In 1992, Neima Mohammed left Ethiopia for Djibouti with hopes of building a better life for her family. Living at a refugee camp 10 years later, the family made plans to travel to Australia and applied for a visa, which required an HIV & AIDS test. While her husband and two sons tested negative, Neima tested positive. Neima’s husband immediately left her, and before long, she became ill and bed-ridden.

This story might have ended with Neima’s fateful decline in health. Fortunately, thanks to friends back home, Neima learned Ethiopia was embarking on efforts to provide free antiretroviral treatment to thousands of people living with the disease. Without hesitation, Neima returned home. She didn’t expect to survive, but simply hoped to find comfort through treatment in the mosaic city of Dire Dawa. Dire Dawa – which neighbors the city of Harar where Niema was born and raised – is an industrial center for eastern Ethiopia and a business corridor to Djibouti and Somaliland.

Back in Dire Dawa, Neima’s condition worsened as she waited to become clinically eligible for treatment. She was critically ill when admitted to Dil Chora Hospital, but CD4 machines to test her white blood cell count were only available at a few facilities in Addis Ababa – 510 kilometers from Dire Dawa. It would take a minimum of three to four months to get her results. Her physician decided to put her on treatment without waiting for the test.

 

Much has changed for patients since Neima was first treated. CD4 machines are now operational in more than 150 health facilities nationwide, and reagents for testing are regularly refilled. Test results can be ready in as little as 30 minutes. The national HIV & AIDS Resource Center estimates that there has been a ten-fold increase in the number of people tested for HIV each year since 2005. Currently, 36 percent of women and 38 percent of men have been tested and received their test results.

The Supply Chain Management System (SCMS), a PEPFAR-funded program and administered by USAID, works with Ethiopia’s Pharmaceutical Fund and Supply Agency (PFSA), nine regional health bureaus and more than 1,717 health facilities to improve access to HIV & AIDS treatment. SCMS procures and supports the Pharmaceutical Fund and Supply Agency (PFSA) in distributing antiretroviral medicines, other essential drugs, test kits, laboratory commodities, food-by-prescription and health system strengthening commodities, such as warehouse equipment, vehicles, generators and cold rooms. SCMS has also trained more than 2,400 health professionals and pharmaceutical logistic workers from health facilities on logistics management information systems, forecasting and quantification, warehouse operations and management. This training is instrumental in helping ensure an uninterrupted supply of HIV & AIDS commodities for health facilities, like Dil Chora Hospital, that provide life-saving services to patients like Neima.

Caption: Neima collects her ARVs from Dil Chora Hospital ART pharmacy every two months Photo Credit: Dereje Bisrat, Supply Chain Management System

Neima is now newly married to a man who also lives with HIV & AIDS. Thanks to the medicine she received at Dil Chora Hospital, she was able to give birth to a healthy boy and prevent the transmission of HIV to her son during labor. During and after her pregnancy, Neima found nourishment with ready-to-use therapeutic food through the food-by-prescription program run by Save the Children US and World Food Program and supported by PFSA and SCMS.

Currently there are 280 health facilities providing food-by-prescription services in Ethiopia. More than 81,000 people benefitted from the program between 2009 and 2011. Due to PFSA’s reliable distribution of commodities to treatment sites, Neima has been on uninterrupted antiretroviral treatment since 2006.

Neima now serves as a peer educator at Dil Chora Hospital. She never stops thanking the hospital for the commodities and services they make available to the thousands of Ethiopians infected with HIV & AIDS.

For more information about SCMS go to www.scms.pfscm.org or follow them on Facebook.

Skills-Based Volunteering in Global Development

In case you missed it: Here’s a great piece by Amanda MacArthur, VP of CDC Development Solutions. Originally posted at CSRWire.

Skills-based volunteering is on the rise. In 2011, four times as many companies sent employees to volunteer professional skills in countries such as Ghana, India and Nigeria compared to just six years ago according to the CDS’s 2012 International Corporate Volunteer Benchmarking Survey. Volunteers – and their employers –often call the experience life changing.  NGOs, nonprofits, government agencies and other organizations say expertise in areas such as technology, supply chain management and marketing allows them to advance in ways they otherwise never could.

Over the past few years, companies such as IBM, Pfizer, PepsiCo  and Dow Corning have sent employees on skills-based, pro bono, short-term volunteer assignments in emerging markets for leadership development, product innovation opportunities and to better understand emerging markets while providing much needed assistance and enabling skills transfer.  Now, companies can also send their employees on volunteer assignments that link directly to U.S. global development goals that help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues – clean water, education, food security and healthcare.

The Center of Excellence for International Corporate Volunteerism (CEICV) is the result of a new partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and IBM, which operates the largest skills-based International Corporate Volunteer (ICV) program. CEICV, which is implemented by CDC Development Solutions, enables companies to learn how to create and manage International Corporate Volunteer programs and highlights the potential for these programs to support broader development goals in critical emerging markets around the world.  The aim is to help build the capacity of beneficiary organizations in emerging markets through short-term partnerships with highly-skilled corporate volunteers.

Read on for the complete article, including more details about the first USAID/IBM supported trip to Ghana

Photos: World Food Day


Handwashing Partnership Turns Five

Guest authors Katie Carroll and Patricia Mantey from the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing.

For the fifth consecutive year, on October 15, 2012, hundreds of millions of people around the world will celebrate Global Handwashing Day. This year we have much to celebrate. In 2011, 600,000 fewer children under five died than in 2008, the first year Global Handwashing Day was celebrated. In 2012, Global Handwashing Day will share its fifth birthday with more than 121 million children who are also turning five this year.
Thanks to the support of USAID and other public and private partners, Global Handwashing Day has grown from a one-day celebration in a few cities to a worldwide movement for handwashing with soap. The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW) and its partners encourage everyone to join in our fifth birthday celebration to promote handwashing with soap.

Every day, USAID promotes handwashing with soap through its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) or WASHplus program.  The project, operated by FHI 360, CARE and Winrock International, aims to increase access to and lower the cost of water and sanitation services, and improve personal hygiene habits.  The “plus” represents the project’s efforts to combat pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses caused by indoor air pollution from inefficient or misused cooking stoves

In Zambia, a new school program called SPLASH focuses its efforts on boosting child education as it relates to good hygiene practices. They do this by working with schools to improve both access to better hygiene facilities, such as latrines and hand washing stations, and by teaching students and staff how important good hygiene practices are in making them healthier, like washing hands with soap at key times (after using a latrine or before eating). By reducing the number of days students and teachers miss school due to diarrheal diseases caused by poor sanitation, unsafe water, or the inability to wash their hands with water and soap, they have more opportunities to learn.

In Madagascar, USAID is working with communities in urban areas to provide public-private solutions that provide more options for households who can’t afford or aren’t able to build their own latrines and hand washing stations.  A growing number of communities run WASH blocks that provide latrines with sinks and soap for handwashing, as well as showers and in some cases laundry areas for anyone to use for a small fee.  Some of these blocks get as many as 200 users per day. Claudine, who is the chair of the WASH committee in her neighborhood, welcomed the construction of a WASH block for her community. “Our neighborhood is poor and our living environment is dirty, and we do not have enough water,” she said. “So the WASH block was something that the community really needed.”

Because of their weakened immune systems, people living with HIV and AIDS have an especially high need for clean water to wash their hands and safely drink, as well as access to a clean and safe latrine.  In Kenya, USAID is training partners on the ground to train their community health workers on ways that people living with HIV and their families can improve water, sanitation, and hygiene practices, including hand washing with soap to reduce their chances of getting diarrhea.  Community health workers use pictoral cards (available in both English and Kswahili) to show HIV positive clients and their caregivers or family members how to wash hands correctly, build a water saving device called a tippy tap to wash hands, and other healthy hygiene practices.

There are many examples of how Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing has progressed with its mission of encouraging proper handwashing.  But the more people we can get to the spread the message, the fewer people will get sick or die from diarrheal disease.

Feed the Future: Partnering with Civil Society

New video from last month’s Feed the Future: Partnering with Civil Society event featuring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, and journalist Nicholas Kristof.

USAID’s Commitment to Transparency

At USAID, transparency is an important part of our commitment to achieving sustainable development results and to doing business well. It is a core tenet of who we are as an Agency rather than a set of actions and ensures that we are good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.

Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss this Administration’s commitment to transparency on a panel with Gayle Smith, special assistant to the President and senior director at the National Security Council; Robert Goldberg, director of Foreign Assistance at the State Department; Sheila Herrling, vice president for Policy and Evaluation; David Hall-Matthews, managing director of Publish What You Fund; and Paul O’Brien, vice president of Oxfam America. The event, hosted by Publish What You Fund and ONE, featured the launch of Publish What You Fund’s informative and authoritative Aid Transparency Index 2012. The Administration welcomes civil society efforts to monitor foreign aid progress on transparency and hopes that the index will continue to expand as more non-governmental organizations make their aid data available.

Along with our inter-agency partners, USAID has been pursuing innovative ways to increase transparency, and I highlighted some of the steps we’re taking:

  • A completely redesigned USAID.gov website, including an interactive map that allows you to navigate around the world to view projects and programs;
  • Detailed program information on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, which shows in a visual, easy-to-understand way USAID and other  U.S. Government agencies’ foreign assistance information;
  • Crowdsourcing and hackathon efforts, like  the Food Security Open Data Challenge, that make open data accessible to technology developers, decision makers and citizens so they can make better informed decisions and inspire entrepreneurial innovation;
  • Our Evaluation Policy that helps us all understand what we have done well and what we need to improve, and is made available within 90 days of completion on the Development Experience Clearinghouse; and
  • USAID’s posting of U.S. Overseas Loan and Grants to Data.gov that has been viewed 63,500 times, and is currently the second most popular data set on that site.

USAID also represents the U.S. Government in international negotiations on transparency principles and standards in venues like the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, the OECD-DAC and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). With the publication of last week’s OMB Bulletin, a document that sets policy and institutionalizes the collection and management of foreign assistance data, we’re moving forward to complete and publish a U.S. IATI Implementation Plan by December.

President Obama has made transparency a key priority of this Administration – one that goes beyond just making data available but making data useful. At USAID, we know that transparency is vital to achieving the development impacts that we and our partners seek, and we will continue to take a leadership role in working with our partners inside and outside of government to make our information more transparent, accessible and useful for development work. I encourage you to read more about USAID’s activities to promote transparency.

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