USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for 50th Anniversary

50 Years of Partnership with Kenya – Part 3 of 4

USAID’s health and population program is a top priority for USAID’s mission in Kenya. USAID works with partners in Kenya to bring health workers directly to the communities.  These health workers provide information and care about HIV/AIDS and malaria programs, as well as work with community religious leaders to discuss family planning.  USAID supports HIV/AIDS programs in each Kenyan province, has provided millions of treated mosquito nets to communities throughout the country, and has led a successful program that shows family planning is possible without violating religious or cultural beliefs.

An Intern Looks at 50 years of USAID

Many Americans born before the baby boomer generation reference the adage “walking to school uphill both ways” to summarize the hardships they faced to gain access to an education.  Whether or not older generations actually faced an uphill walk to school, they certainly had to look harder—and in more places—for information. Today, it is quite clear that the near-immediate access to information for many young people in the United States today has made our lives easier, our motivations clearer, and our goals more readily realized.

As USAID approaches its 50th anniversary, it is important to recognize the work of people on both sides of this spectrum: from seasoned professionals who have worked for the Agency since its earliest days, to the younger generations, whose contributions have helped the Agency evolve but stay true to helping people who need it most.

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50 Years of Partnership with Kenya – Part 2 of 4

USAID and Kenyan partners created the Northern Rangelands Trust, or NRT, which is an umbrella organization that oversees local conservancies owned and managed by local communities.  The roles of NRT include building capacity, ensuring financial transparency, and improving local security for both pastoralists and tourists.  NRT also provides a means for granting microfinance loans – just one of the many ways that this program has encouraged women’s empowerment.   In the past five years, USAID has helped NRT maintain its presence and gain momentum in Kenya.

In the coming weeks, we will highlight 2 more videos celebrating 50 years of partnership with Kenya.

Celebrating USAID at 50: A Family History of Development

USAID’s efforts in international development are often represented merely by quantitative improvements within the Agency’s mission countries, but Mark Oviatt, currently part of USAID/Sri Lanka, shares some sentiments that prove USAID’s presence is more than just numbers.

Mark Oviatt’s history with USAID began long before he was employed by the Agency.  Mark was raised overseas and was able to witness his father contribute to some of the Agency’s best-known accomplishments, including building the Friendship Highways in Thailand and Vietnam and developing the model village, Djoliba, in Mali.  Mark noted that the best part of growing up as a USAID dependent was “all of the adventure of new cultures, experiences, boarding schools,” and visiting his father’s projects and seeing and hearing change firsthand.  His father’s large role with USAID – even before it became USAID – set the tone for Mark’s future involvement with international development.

Mark’s first direct work with USAID began in Iraq in 2003 when he was placed in charge of restoring, refurbishing and rebuilding all of Iraq’s water and sanitation systems.  He worked on what probably remains the most ambitious rural water project in the world – designing and implementing ways to bring clean drinking water to hundreds of remote villages throughout Iraq.  This water project, in conjunction with hygiene programs and major treatment plant interventions, reduced the region’s infant mortality rates, shortened the distance women had to walk to fetch water for their families, and increased overall general health of villagers by reducing gastrointestinal disease.  Mark’s time in Afghanistan with USAID was also lucrative for the region.  Through training, marketing programs, and new crops, many farmers were able to increase their incomes.  Increased incomes meant more financial stability that allowed families to send their children to school and college, as well as reduce their dependence on cultivating illegal high value crops.

In Sri Lanka, Mark’s current post, recently returned Internally Displaced Persons, former combatants, war widows, and victims of conflict are restarting their lives for the first time in nearly 30 years because of USAID efforts.  The Agency is providing small grants to help villages rebuild livelihoods and regain a semblance of community life.  These and many other similar interventions follow on the heels of the tsunami in 2004, which devastated the islands’ low land populations and left 2.5 million homeless and 40,000 dead.

Mark’s story shows how USAID’s young history of 50 years has made significant impacts to both international development and individual lives.   “Looking back,” Mark said, “Even from now in Sri Lanka where we are working to restart rural livelihoods, I have a sense that my upbringing as a USAID dependent set a path or was the underpinning foundation for what I have been doing since beginning work with USAID in 2003.”

50 Years of Partnership with Kenya – Part 1 of 4

Agriculture is the largest single employer in Kenya and counts for one fourth of the country’s GDP, but the current agricultural production methods in Kenya are inefficient, causing economic stagnation and poverty.  USAID and partners on the ground in Kenya have developed competitive programs for maize, dairy, passion fruit, and small hold farmers to help improve productivity.  These initiatives – like USAID’s Feed the Future – have transformed lives, promoted sustainable agricultural development, and improved the nutritional options for many of Kenya’s people.

In the coming weeks, we will highlight 4 videos celebrating USAID’s partnership with Kenya. The first video in this series shows the variety of agriculture programs and activities that have occurred over the past 50 years and the impact that they have had on the people of Kenya.

USAID at 50: Improving Health Services in Ethiopia

To commemorate USAID’s 50th anniversary and the concentrated efforts to improve health in Ethiopia, USAID co-sponsored the 2011 annual Every One Campaign Race to raise awareness about maternal and infant mortality rates within the country. While Ethiopia has some of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world, USAID and its partners are working to strengthen health systems, train skilled providers, and expand the coverage of important health services such as vaccinations and pre-natal care. Death rates among children under five have almost halved across the past twenty years.

The event was attended by world long distance record holder Haile GebreSelassie and 2010 New York marathon winner GebreEgzabhir GebreMariam. Festivities included a pre-race concert, entertainment, and even a skit that demonstrated the importance of health care centers as safety mechanisms for mothers and children.

No mother should die giving birth.

50 Years of Stabilizing Countries and Supporting National Security

This week, we’re highlighting how in volatile regions, USAID works side-by-side with the military, playing a critical role in our nation’s effort to stabilize countries, and build responsive local governance. Development efforts can also prevent conflict from occurring and future military involvement by helping countries become more stable, prosperous and less prone to violent extremism. In the videos below, former Secretary Gates and Vice Chair ADM Winnefeld speak from decades of experience in American foreign policy and on behalf of the U.S. military about this important partnership.

Left: Former Secretary Gates congratulates USAID on its 50th Anniversary and reaffirms his support for USAID and how development programs support our national security and contribute to our economic future.

Right: Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld, Jr. Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff congratulates USAID on its 50th Anniversary and reaffirms the military’s support for USAID.

Thank you both for this lasting gift and for your continued service to our great nation.

50 Years of Achieving Real Results in Childhood Literacy

For the past 50 years, USAID and a growing number of partners have been working to improve the quality of education in developing countries with an emphasis on boosting child literacy.  In February of 2011, USAID launched its evidence-based education strategy – shifting the focus of global education toward achieving real results in childhood literacy, higher education and equitable access to schooling for children in conflict and crisis environments.

From the USAID photo archives, the following image shows Salvadoran children playing in the schoolyard of a newly constructed school in 1969.  In close coordination with the Office of Planning and School Construction, USAID financed the construction of hundreds of schools in El Salvador during the 1960s.

In the second image, taken this year, Markoli confidently grips her notebook as other students gather behind her outside of a schoolhouse in Geia village.  While the school provides primary education up to grade level 3, the age range of students varies greatly as this is the first school for the Bodi people of Geia in the remote area of South Omo, in southern Ethiopia. This school was built by the local community with funding from the USAID Teach program.  The villagers provided the labor, and USAID funding provided the materials and funding for a teacher.

50th Anniversary Blog Series – Optimistic, Momentous, Divine and Full of Joy

Over the past few months, this blog has hosted a series of posts to highlight five decades of USAID’s history. While 50 years of saving and improving lives is quite an accomplishment, let us step back and consider another significant milestone achieved this year.

On June 2, USAID’s mission in Mongolia celebrated its 20th year of partnership with the country. To mark this occasion, the people of Mongolia celebrated their many accomplishments achieved over the past 20 years—including a democratic transition to a free market economy!—and by looking forward to Mongolia’s future.

We welcome you to watch (and share!) this short video of Mongolians sharing their universal hopes and dreams for their country.

A Look Back at our 25th Anniversary: Foreign Aid Helps Developing World

USAID 50th anniversary banner

Featured in the 1986 December edition of Frontlines

“No other program rivals AID’s global accomplishments.  Twenty-five years have given us confidence in people in less developed countries and in our ability to help them solve their problems and live better lives,” Administrator Peter McPherson declared before a National Press Club audience in Washington, D.C., Nov. 12.

In an address marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Agency, McPherson said that AID’s accomplishments are underestimated and misunderstood by the public.

Secretary of State George Shultz cuts AID’s 25th anniversary cake. The cake’s size, according to Administrator Peter McPherson, represents the small budget allocated for AID activities. Photo Credit: USAID

“Foreign aid works,” he said.  “The problem is, too few Americans know how it works.  And, they aren’t going to support a program they don’t know much about, especially when budgets are tight.”

McPherson stressed that foreign assistance is carefully planned to promote peace and prosperity.  “Foreign aid is not a handout, Development of the Third World is an investment that benefits both Americans and the people of developing countries,” he said.

He noted that the assistance that helped to develop the economies of South Korea, Mexico and other countries has substantially benefited U.S. business.   “Mexico, which received $1.7 billion worth of U.S. products in 1983 alone,” he reported.

Economic and political stability is critical to U.S. national security, said McPherson.  “America does best when we have a prosperous, growing world; the Soviets do best when things are in turmoil.” He said responding to a question.

McPherson outlined significant improvements in the quality of life in the Third World that AID has helped to bring about in the past 25 years.  Child mortality has been cut in half, he said.  Today, most children enter primary school, while very few did so in the 1960s.  He also noted that life expectancy has increased by 10 to 20 years in the Third World.

McPherson likened AID’s role in the “Green Revolution” in Asia to the Marshall Plan, which revitalized postwar Europe.  “Twenty years ago, India had a famine of historic proportions.  Without the miracle wheat and rice varieties developed and provided to India with AID’s help, this region would probably still face the risk of famine,” he said.

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