We have a long history of addressing malnutrition and it remains one of our top priorities.
Check out our current work at Feed the Future.
Archives for 50th Anniversary
We have a long history of addressing malnutrition and it remains one of our top priorities.
As featured in the White House Blog
Last week, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah gave a major address to over 200 non-governmental organizations, think-tanks, academics, and international development leaders hosted by the Center for Global Development. The text of the speech as prepared for delivery can be found here. Dr. Shah’s speech on The Modern Development Enterprise addressed the current state of development and formally announced the Agency’s 50th anniversary.
In his speech, Dr. Shah recognized the important role of religious and community groups in providing assistance to those most in need around the world. I thought you’d be especially interested in the excerpts below:
- American Values: When we prevent violence in Southern Sudan, we’re not just avoiding future military involvement; we’re also expressing America’s values. When schoolchildren organize bakesales to pay for anti-malarial bed nets, they are expressing America’s values. When more American families gave money to the Haiti relief than watched the Super Bowl, they were expressing America’s values. When church groups across America raise money and volunteer to support children orphaned by AIDS, they are expressing America’s values.
- Communities of Faith: I’m proud to know that USAID is one of CRS’s largest supporters. But I’m also proud to know that we support a wide-range of faith-based organizations, from Samaritan’s Purse to the American Jewish World Service. Organizations of faith not only express the moral values of millions of Americans, they also provide some of the most dependable support systems for millions in the developing world. In Kenya for example, 30% of all healthcare services are provided by Christian Hospitals. Our success depends on listening to communities of faith, connecting with them deeply, and supporting the vital work they perform around the world.
- Food Security: Instead of merely providing food aid in times of emergency, we are helping countries develop their own agricultural sectors, so that they can feed themselves. We launched Feed the Future – bringing together resources across the federal government and engaging in deeper partnerships to extend the impact of our efforts. We are now leveraging more investment from countries themselves and from other donors. Firms ranging from General Mills to local African seed companies are all doing more. As a result, in just five of our twenty focus countries we will be able to help nearly 6.5 million poor farmers – most of them women – grow enough food to feed their families and break the grip of hunger and poverty for tens of millions of people.
- Global Health: In our Global Health Initiative, instead of a scattered approach that fights individual diseases one at a time, we are pursuing an integrated approach that will generate efficiencies and strengthen health systems. We are now working with partners such as the NIH, CDC and PEPFAR to leverage recent advances in science and technology, especially in high return areas such as vaccinating children, preventing HIV, malaria and TB and focusing on childhood nutrition during pregnancy and the first two years of life.
- Smart and Transparent Investments: I want the American taxpayer to know that every dollar they invest in USAID is being invested in the smartest, most efficient, and most transparent way possible.
- 50th Anniversary: This year, USAID will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Our legacy is filled with incredible accomplishments. Throughout those fifty years, we have contributed greatly toward ending an incomprehensible measure of human suffering, and I urge you to learn more about our Agency’s rich legacy through our newly launched anniversary Web site, http://50th.usaid.gov. But if I am lucky enough to live another 50 years, I hope I am also lucky enough not to witness our centennial. Instead, I hope we will be commemorating the success of USAID’s mission.
Ari Alexander serves as Deputy Director at the Center for Faith-based & Community Initiatives and the Coordinator of Global Engagement.
Today, USAID is fundamentally changing—becoming more efficient, effective, and businesslike—which ultimately helps our investment dollars go further.
Our effort to transform how development is delivered reflects the beliefs of the President and the Secretaries of State, Treasury and Defense: development is as critical to our economic prospects and our national security as diplomacy and defense.
We have an obligation to make sure our reform efforts go beyond building an updated version of an aid agency. We are seeking to build something greater—the world’s first modern development enterprise.
Executing a Clear and Focused Strategy. Like an enterprise, we are developing and executing innovative and focused strategies across our areas of excellence.
We recognize the enormous development progress the world has made in recent decades. But we also realize that more has to be done, and more of the same will not be enough. We must embrace a spirit of innovation to change the way we work.
- Food Security. Instead of merely providing food aid in times of emergency, we are helping countries develop their own agricultural sectors so they can feed themselves.
- Global Health. We will transition away from a scattered approach that fights individual diseases one at a time; we are pursuing an integrated approach that will generate efficiencies and strengthen health systems.
- Disaster and Crisis Response. Based on lessons learned in Haiti and Pakistan, we’re reforming our approach to disaster assistance to speed the time between response, recovery and long-term development.
- Economic Growth. We are rejecting the traditional assumption that a series of development projects alone will lead to growth and are instead developing partnerships for growth with countries committed to enabling private sector investment.
- Democracy & Governance. Instead of merely paying to hold elections, we are now funding new open government technologies to quickly and significantly increase transparency, so citizens can hold their own governments accountable.
We are bringing a similar spirit of innovation, science, technology and strategic thinking to areas such as education, water, and climate. In each of these core areas, we have already or will soon release comprehensive strategies that detail how we can achieve development gains faster, more sustainably, and at lower cost so more people can benefit.
Measuring and Evaluating Our Work. Like an enterprise, we are relentlessly focused on delivering results and learning from failures. USAID used to be the world leader in development evaluation, but we have fallen from that distinction.
We are working to ensure we’re spending American taxpayer money in the most responsible way possible. To help meet this goal, we’ve introduced an evaluation policy that will set a new standard in development. This policy includes:
- Independent third-party evaluation of major projects;
- Baseline data collection and study designs to measure our actual impact in the field; and
- Public release of evaluations within three months, whether they indicate success or failure.
Delivering Shareholder Value. Like an enterprise, we are focused on delivering the highest possible value to our shareholders—the American people and the Congressional leaders who represent them.
We have created a suspension and debarment taskforce to monitor, investigate, and respond to suspicious behavior among our contractors and partners.
We will also deliver savings by reducing our footprint in countries where development successes have created the conditions where American assistance is frankly no longer necessary. By 2015, we believe USAID can graduate away from assistance in at least seven countries, starting with Montenegro in 2012.
Serving Our Customers. Like an enterprise, we are listening to and improving the way we serve our customers—in our case, the people of the developing world.
We seek to do our work in a way that allows us to be replaced over time by efficient local governments, thriving civil societies and vibrant private sectors. We have launched aggressive procurement and contracting reforms, and to improve competition, we’ve announced that no contract extensions in excess of $5 million will be non-competitively granted without the personal clearance of the USAID Administrator.
As USAID approaches its 50th anniversary this year, we are reflecting upon about the ultimate benefits we’re delivering. We’re not only helping the people we serve, we’re creating jobs for Americans, helping keep us safe at home, and reflecting our core American values.
We create economic opportunity by helping develop strong trade partnerships in countries that will be the growing markets of tomorrow—relationships that create jobs here at home.
We keep America safe by playing a direct role in national security—working directly with the military to help stabilize volatile regions like Afghanistan and Pakistan, or preventing conflict in Southern Sudan.
And our work reflects our American values—working with students, families and communities of faith to address the needs of the developing world.
Ultimately, creating the modern development enterprise will help advance prosperity and security both in the developing countries that need it most, and within our own borders. This reflects the beliefs of both President Obama and Secretary Clinton—that together we have the power to create the world we seek if we have the courage to embrace the opportunity.
Now is the time to invest in USAID’s capabilities, so we see the day when our assistance is no longer necessary.
If you missed the speech, you can see it here.
As we mark the one-year anniversary of the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, it’s important to reflect on the lives lost and shattered by this devastating tragedy. But we should also remind ourselves of the commitment of the Haitian people and the international community to rebuilding the country. I was privileged for much of the past year to lead USAID’s Haiti Task Team, charged with coordinating reconstruction efforts in Washington. Seeing Haitians pick themselves up and dedicate themselves to rebuilding their lives after having suffered so dramatically was inspirational. Seeing my colleagues at USAID and other agencies work long hours away from their families and under extraordinarily difficult circumstances to begin the process of recovery and reconstruction was a source of pride. Anyone who has traveled to Haiti over the past year has heard countless stories of heroes that are etched in our minds.
2010 was a year of multiple challenges for Haiti, which suffered not only the earthquake, but also Hurricane Tomas and a dangerous cholera outbreak that continues to threaten the lives and health of Haitians across the country. This is indeed a pivotal moment for the country. Haiti will eventually have a new government, and reconstruction efforts, which have been in the planning phase for many months, will soon begin apace. We are at a point where we will start to see real gains being made. This opportunity for progress is due in large part to the hard work of the Haitian people, with the support of the international community. Together with our U.S. Government colleagues and the international community, we’ve worked with the Government of Haiti to save lives, respond to urgent needs, and lay the foundation for real improvements in the quality of life in Haiti.
Over the past year, we’ve helped provide safer housing for almost 200,000 displaced Haitians; supported vaccinations for more than 1 million people; cleared more than 1.3 million cubic meters of the approximately 10 million cubic meters of rubble generated; helped more than 10,000 farmers double the yields of staples like corn, beans, and sorghum; and provided short-term employment to more than 350,000 Haitians, injecting more than $19 million into the local economy. We’ve provided nearly $42 million to help combat cholera, helping to decrease the number of cases requiring hospitalization and reducing the case fatality rate. By introducing innovations like mobile banking and vertical farming, we’re having a long-term impact on improving the lives of those we serve. We’re partnering with the Government of Haiti in all of our efforts, ensuring that what we do will be sustainable for years to come.
The U.S. Government has developed a robust and ambitious long-term development strategy for our work in Haiti that aligns with the Government of Haiti’s national development plan. Our strategy focuses on rebuilding four key areas: health, infrastructure, economic growth, and governance. We’re placing a priority on innovation and alliances with the private sector and ensuring that we operate responsibly and accountably. And while we will continue to work on rebuilding Port-au-Prince, we’re also encouraging decentralization by tackling poverty and other development challenges in population centers across the country.
Haiti faces a long and difficult road ahead, but we can take encouragement from the resilience and courage of Haitians themselves. During my many visits to Haiti, I’ve heard repeatedly from the Haitian people that they recognize the magnitude of the challenge of rebuilding their country, but because they are no strangers to struggle, they are prepared for the tough task ahead. Together with the rest of the U.S. Government, we at USAID are committed to fulfilling President Obama’s pledge to support the Haitian people’s efforts to rebuild over the long term.
The Program of Science and Technology Cooperation broke ground for USAID. It may have also, been premature.
PSTC introduced biotechnology to developing nations, directed attention both to personal computers and the Internet, pioneered in the protection of biodiversity, and indirectly strengthened the role of science at USAID. Created by a Democratic administration, supported through the following two Republican administrations, and abolished during another Democratic administration, PSTC was deliberately insulated from many USAID procedures.
Back when the United Nations Conference on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) took place in 1979, I served as Deputy Director of the USAID Office and as the Agency’s liaison for the Conference planning.
The Conference raised global interest in science and technology as development tools, directing attention specifically to the needs to strengthen research and development of new technologies to meet the needs of the poor. However, it took place in the midst of demands by poor nations in the United Nations for a New International Economic Order in which economic power shifted from donors to recipient nations. The Conference resulted in a resolution calling for a billion dollar fund for S&T under control of a new UN body. While that organization was created, it never received nearly the proposed funding and was abolished after several years of work.
Although there were once plans to create an independent government Agency in the field of science and technology cooperation, Congress only approved a Program, the PSTC, with the proviso that it be located within USAID. The first year funding (FY1980) was $12 million, with additional funding each subsequent year until the 1990s.
Under the Reagan administration, the PSTC was chartered to fund more innovative and collaborative scientific and technological efforts than had been supported by USAID previously. It was seen as complementary to established USAID efforts such as its support for the International Agricultural Research Centers and its support for development of technologies related to family planning and tropical diseases. PSTC introduced peer-reviewed small research grants for innovative scientific research to the foreign assistance program.
Most of the resources for the program were devoted to these research grants.
Networks were created to carry out research on selected problems: diagnosis and epidemiology of acute respiratory infections in children, rapid epidemiological assessment methods, mosquito vector field studies, tropical trees, and biological nitrogen fixation (to reduce the need for expensive fertilizers)
Individual grants were also made in a number of research areas including biotechnology and immunology, and chemistry for world food needs.
The program received thousands of research proposals over the years of its existence; hundreds were funded – too many to describe in this brief statement. A few examples might give a flavor of what was accomplished:
- Pneumonias were and are a major cause of death in young children. Those caused by bacteria often respond to antibiotics, but antibiotics don’t help patients with viral pneumonia. When the network studying the epidemiology of respiratory disease was created, the frequencies of the specific viral and bacterial agents causing pneumonia in developing nations was unknown. Taking advantage of newly available diagnostic reagents, the NRC made 14 grants to teams in Africa, Asia and Latin America, creating a network to improve understanding of the epidemiology of pneumonias. Considerable attention was given to standardizing the research techniques among countries. A special issue of a major journal was published with results from the network’s studies, and the World Health Organization revised its guidelines for treatment of pneumonias in developing countries based significantly on the network’s findings.
- The PSTC biotechnology programs were probably the first significant source of funding for biotechnology research in developing nations, helping to begin establishing capacity to use the new techniques in biomedical and crop research. Some of the results were impressive. For example, Joanna Dobereiner, a Brazilian scientist, used advanced techniques to study nitrogen fixing organisms. She showed that they existed in conjunction not only with legumes but also with grasses. Her most spectacular results were observed with some varieties of cane sugar which can produce 200 kg of Nitrogen per hectare from associated nitrogen fixing bacteria, and high yields – above 160 tons per hectare – without nitrogen fertilizer. We learned that these varieties were eventually used widely in Brazil.
- A small grant allowed Costa Rica to establish an Internet backbone for its universities. NASA connected the Costa Rican backbone via satellite to the global Internet without charge to Costa Rica. The Costa Rican backbone quickly grew into a Central American Internet backbone, and introduced the agency to the Internet – all with a $150 thousand investment.
- A grant to Indian meteorologists, supplemented by access to supercomputers donated by the NOAA’s National Weather Service, allowed collaboration on the study of the Indian monsoon, and introduced the Agency to the study of climate.
Often the researchers worked under extremely difficult conditions. Perhaps the most severe were those faced by a team studying biodiversity in Rwanda. When the holocaust occurred in that country, the principal investigator of the PSTC project was able to walk to the Kenyan coast, and his American collaborator arranged for his further travel to the U.S. He worked in his partner’s lab in the United States until it was safe for him to return to Rwanda. His team of fieldworkers took all the materials and data that had been gathered into their homes and continued to work there during the crisis. A number of other activities were also conducted under the program. For example, the NRC conducted a number of meetings to discuss S&T priorities, publishing findings under the imprimatur of the National Academy Press. A conference in 1982 focused on biotechnology, leading to the PSTC priority programs mentioned above as well as to initiatives in other organizations. A set of four publications in the 1980s on microcomputer policy and applications in developing nations was widely influential. The Press also published a number of monographs on under-exploited resources of potential economic value to developing nations.
The program also provided the core funding for a cooperative agreement with the American Association for the Advancement of Science which allowed offices in USAID to offer fellowships for post-doctoral scientists to work in USAID for a year or two in order to learn about international development. Hundreds of scientists eventually participated in this program including Kerry Ann Jones, currently Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment and Science and Jill Conley, currently managing the international program for the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute. Some others, such as David O’Brien, remained in USAID as career officers.
Thus, PSTC served as a model for other projects. Lessons learned during the PSTC’s years of operations were applied not only in other offices of USAID but in other agencies. However, PSTC may have been created before its time. When the program was started in 1980, developing nations had relatively little scientific capacity and the opportunities for collaboration were limited. Today, according to the latest figures from UNESCO, there are 2.7 million researchers in developing nations compared with 1.4 million in the United States; almost one-third of the world’s scientific publications are produced in developing countries, compared with one-fifth in the United States.
Now there are good opportunities for true collaboration between American and developing country researchers in almost all areas of science. Moreover, the importance of technological innovation in economic development is much more widely recognized in developing as well as developed nations. Today a reinvented PSTC might be even more successful.
The work of USAID has been far-reaching and long-standing as evidenced by this photo of a Peace Corps volunteer working in the ORT center funded by USAID. In the mid 1970’s Joan Wadelton, a Peace Corps Volunteer from Princeton, New Jersey, holds one of the children she helps at a maternal and child health center in Niger. The center is operated by ORT, a voluntary agency, and the Nigerienne Ministry of Health, is financed by USAID. Photo is from USAID.
As part of our “50 Weeks to 50th Years” series, we remember a dedicated leader in the development and diplomacy community – the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. He began his career in international development in Vietnam and was an instrumental figure in ending violence in Bosnia. His recent, critical work in countering and ending violent conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan will have a lasting impact. USAID mourns the loss of this tremendous public servant.
As featured on Dipnote
On behalf of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) team, thank you to the thousands of friends, around the world and in the United States, who have reached out to express their heartfelt condolences over Ambassador Holbrooke’s passing. He inspired the deepest loyalty and love in those who worked for him and with him.
Ambassador Holbrooke epitomized great diplomacy: loving his country and its values, and using every tool at his disposal to solve problems and improve lives. “Diplomacy is like jazz,” he liked to say, “improvisation on a theme.” Over the course of his career, his diplomatic efforts have touched nearly every country in the world. As Secretary Clinton noted shortly after his passing: “…From his early days in Vietnam to his historic role bringing peace to the Balkans to his last mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Holbrooke helped shape our history, manage our perilous present, and secure our future.”
All of us that he touched mourn this loss. But we are also mindful that his critical work — making the world a safer, more peaceful place — must continue, as he would have wanted most of all. Ambassador Holbrooke was a man who stared down adversity, and chaos, and never faltered. The important mission that guides our work remains. We will carry forward his legacy, and we will not falter either.
For those who would like to submit a personal message of condolence, please use the following email address: HolbrookeCondolences@state.gov.
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.
Check out what Frontlines covered 25 years ago, in its November 1985 edition. On page 2 read about how former USAID Administrator Peter McPherson announced that 1990 was the goal to end polio in the western hemisphere. Although it took four more years to meet that goal, in 1994 Western Hemisphere was certified polio-free, followed by the Western Pacific Region (2000) and the European Region (2002).
Beginning in the mid-1980s, USAID provided $50 million, about one-half of the total donor assistance to polio eradication programs in the Latin America and Caribbean region, and it was this initial large-scale financial investment that contributed to the eventual eradication of the disease in the region.
Following successful investments in eradicating polio in the Americas from 1988 -1994, in 1996 USAID joined the global Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI), a public-private partnership with international organizations; civil society and governments.
In 2008, only parts of four countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria – remain ed endemic for the disease. In collaboration with WHO and other partners, USAID continues to provide technical and financial assistance to achieve global polio eradication with an estimated $500 million invested to date.