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Archives for Asia

Diving with Decapods: the Smithsonian-Indonesia PEER Partnership

A woman examines a piece of coral on a lab table, while an outstretched arm holds the coral

Angka Mahardini from Diponegoro University, sampling a dead coral head from Bali

If you are one of the 7 million people who visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History each year in Washington, D.C., then you may have seen a coral reef exhibit in the Sant Ocean Hall.

This exhibit shows the dazzling array of different species you can find in a dead coral head, just one small section (about a cubic foot) of these vast reef systems. The data for this exhibit came from Indonesia’s Diponegoro University to tackle the immense diversity of the country’s coral reefs, explain why they are so diverse and help determine how to best manage and sustain these incredible ecosystems. The work is supported by USAID’s Partnership for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) program.

The PEER program funds scientists and engineers in developing countries who partner with U.S. Government-funded researchers to address global development challenges, in this case, using decapods found in coral reefs to assess reef health and help determine management units.

Decapods are crustaceans, which consist of different types of crabs, lobsters and shrimp, and play a critical role in maintenance of coral ecosystems. Christopher Meyer, the U.S. partner for the PEER project from the Smithsonian Institution, has been studying marine life for 30 years. The ocean, and especially reefs, still have many fundamental unknown qualities, which drove Meyer to pursue his career exploring marine life. This PEER program gives him an opportunity to pursue questions in this biological hotspot that haven’t been asked before.

Meyer and his Indonesian research partner, Ambariyanto, who uses one name, are working with multiple universities, government partners and foundations in Indonesia to analyze local coral reefs in order to better understand how to prioritize critical coral reef conservation units in the region.

A woman looks into a microscope in a lab

Coral reefs are essential for healthy ocean ecosystems.

One third of all saltwater fish depend on coral reefs at some stage in their life. Fish make up an estimated 40 percent of all animal protein in the Indonesian diet, making healthy reefs critical to regional food security.

Fish are also an important component of the Indonesian economy exporting close to $4 billion worth of fish in 2012. Meyer says that marine conservation can be harder to promote, because anything covered by water is out of sight. If you can’t see what lies beneath, you are less likely to appreciate the full impact humans are having.

Current estimates predict that by 2050, nearly all coral reefs on Earth will be at a highly threatened status. Causes for the endangerment of coral reefs include pollution, overfishing, natural disasters and climate change.

Meyer’s attraction to Indonesia stems from the intricacy and pure spectacle offered by its coral reefs. “To have the most impact in sustaining coral reefs, you have to focus on countries like Indonesia, due to both the uniqueness of their ecosystems and the heavy dependence on fish in the local diet,” he explained.

During his research with Ambariyanto, they found that one coral head alone can serve as host to almost a hundred decapod species. Twenty-five coral heads from Bali alone contained over 300 species. Coral heads in Indonesia contain more than twice the number of species than those from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. All this from a ‘dead’ piece of coral, now used as a barometer to measure ocean conditions.

Funds for developing country researchers can be few and far between. Meyer said that “PEER helps international researchers have an equal partnership with U.S. researchers, which builds and sustains relationships after the project.”

A large component of this PEER project helps Indonesia become a more self-reliant country by building research capacity. “The most important thing I can do is to help create the next generation of scientists in Indonesia,” Meyer says. “Decisions about how to manage marine resources are up to Indonesians. We can work together to develop tools to help make good decisions.”

A man stands in front of a white board, while people sit around him

Chris Meyer teaching in Bali

Two Indonesian students got a chance to work with Meyer for a few months at the National Museum of Natural History. Both learned new research skills in museum curation and genomic analyses. It is currently cheaper to bring samples for DNA work to the United States than it is to do the work in Indonesia. However, it is becoming more difficult to send DNA from one country to another, so gaining knowledge in DNA approaches will contribute to future research efforts in Indonesia.

The PEER project will be disseminating the researchers’ results in Indonesia this summer to government and fisheries representatives. Meyer says, “We aim to provide a standardized method for collecting data for coral reef assessment and sustainability, helping to provide guidelines on fishery management, which in turn helps preserve food security.”

A lot is still unknown about coral reefs, but you can bet that Meyer is ready and willing to dive in and explore coral reefs for years to come.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Cardelle is a Communications Analyst in USAID’s U.S. Global Development Lab.

The Beauty of a Wastewater Treatment Plant

A concrete area with water flowing through it

Before: Wastewater flowed untreated through this neighborhood, increasing the risk of waterborne and airborne diseases. / Center for Urban and Regional Excellence

Most people are familiar with the breathtaking view of the Taj Mahal with its waterways, walking paths and topiary. Of course, this is the perspective from the south, but personally I find that the view from the north is just as moving. From there, you can see the mighty Yamuna river. The poet Rabindranath Tagore once wrote: “The Taj Mahal rises above the banks of the river like a solitary tear suspended on the cheek of time.”

But the Yamuna is not the same river it was when Tagore wrote those words or when Shah Jahan commissioned the Taj Mahal. Nowadays, the Yamuna is one of the most polluted waterways in India, putting communities at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.

I’ve worked as a health and development professional for 22 years and arrived in India a little more than a year ago to be the Mission Director for USAID. If there is one thing my career has taught me, it is to never lose hope that every problem has a solution. That is exactly what people in a slum community in Agra achieved with the help of the local municipal body.

In 2009, this slum community near the Taj Mahal did not have access to sanitation facilities, disposal systems or waste collection. Therefore, 85 percent of residents resorted to open defecation. For the most part, the waste flowed directly into the river, from which residents—and many others—draw their water for drinking and irrigation. Needless to say, this caused high rates of sickness and even death.

The Agra Municipal Corporation — the local governing body for the city — collaborated with a USAID-supported NGO called the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence to reduce the risks of disease. The solution was to construct a wastewater treatment plant that would make the waters flowing by the mausoleum cleaner — and the more than 2,000 people living in this settlement healthier.

The wastewater treatment plant, designed by sanitation experts, was completed in 2011 and does not use polluting chemicals. Instead, it uses natural methods that required a relatively low primary investment, low power consumption and low maintenance demands, making it cost effective to build and operate.

From nearby houses, the treatment plant resembles a picturesque wetland tucked into their neighborhood.

Additionally, the treatment system is designed to channel treated water back into the community’s systems, allowing it to be reused by farmers and for toilets. The result is less water wasted and less wastewater polluting the Yamuna and the local environment.

An area of concrete with a metal grate, with water flowing on either side

After: This wastewater treatment system cleans water and channels it back into the community to be reused by farmers and for toilets. / Center for Urban and Regional Excellence

After construction was complete, USAID trained engineers and community members on the plant’s operation and maintenance. In 2017, the Agra Municipal Corporation took over all operations and committed to ensuring the plant improves residents’ lives for years to come.

One development project isn’t going to make the Yamuna river perfectly clean, but life has improved for these Agra residents living in the shade of the Taj Mahal. The community is no longer one of the many communities whose daily defecation pollutes the surrounding environment, threatening their health and the health of their neighbors. It’s also proof that a wastewater treatment system and its maintenance can be affordable.

What the Agra Municipal Corporation and our NGO partner managed to do with USAID support is impressive. Now, other municipal corporations are following Agra’s model — such as East Delhi and Rourkela. I encourage others to also follow their example.

The Government of India is working to make the entire country clean by 2019 through its Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission. At USAID, we are committed to helping in any way we can. Every step taken towards providing people with clean water and access to sanitation facilities is a step in the right direction.

 

 

A brick building with a small canal flowing past it, with plants growing alongside the canal

From nearby houses, the treatment plant resembles a picturesque wetland tucked into their neighborhood. / Center for Urban and Regional Excellence

 

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Mark Anthony White is the Mission Director for USAID in India. Follow @usaid_india

Partnering to Improve Women’s Lives in Bangladesh

On International Women’s Day, USAID recognizes a joint mission with the U.S. Pacific Command to repair devastating childbirth injuries and improve the lives of women in the Asia-Pacific.

Sukuri waits for fistula surgery at Kumundi Hopital in March, 2014. Locked in a cycle of her husband leaving her to remarry and then returning to her, she hopes for the repair of her fistula and a united family. / Amy Fowler, USAID

Sukuri waits for fistula surgery at Kumundi Hopital in March, 2014. Locked in a cycle of her husband leaving her to remarry and then returning to her, she hopes for the repair of her fistula and a united family. / Amy Fowler, USAID

The prospect of motherhood often brings anticipation and joy. But for women living in extreme poverty, motherhood can bring fears of obstetric complications or death, or a prospect of rejection or broken families if they suffer permanent disabling injuries.

Particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, many women who give birth find themselves with a devastating maternal injury. Called obstetric fistula, the condition is a hole in the birth canal that results in chronic, uncontrollable leakage of urine and/or feces. Fistulas are commonly caused by obstructed labor without access to timely and skilled medical care, such as cesarean section.

All too often, women with fistula are abandoned or neglected by husbands, unable to work, ostracized from their communities, and left to deal with heartache after a stillbirth.

For Hosnera, a housewife in Bangladesh, the future looks brighter thanks to USAID’s Fistula Care Plus project. Fistula Care Plus trains doctors and nurses to perform fistula surgery and provide expert pre- and post-operative care and work in communities to prevent fistulas through access to quality, timely care during labor.

Hosnera has lived with a fistula for 10 years and Bangladeshi doctors have been unable to repair it. After receiving training from USAID, doctors at Kumundini Hospital successfully performed the surgery and Hosnera is now fistula free.  

Hosnera at Kumundi Hospital in March 2014. With training from Fistula Care Plus, doctors at Kumundini Hospital were able to successfully perform the surgery. Photo by Amy Fowler, USAID

Hosnera at Kumundi Hospital in March 2014. With training from Fistula Care Plus, doctors at Kumundini Hospital were able to successfully perform the surgery. Photo by Amy Fowler, USAID

Other Bangladeshi women are not so fortunate. Throughout the country, an estimated 71,000 women have fistulas that require surgery, and each year an estimated 2,000 more Bangladeshi women develop them. The 13 centers and hospitals in Bangladesh that conduct fistula repair can only perform about 1,000 operations per year, leaving about half of the women with untreated maternal injuries. To address this gap, USAID and the Department of Defense (DOD) are working together to help boost the number of local fistula surgeons, as well as surgical repairs.

USAID and DOD collaborated on a joint medical mission in November 2016 to train local Bangladeshi medical personnel on improved techniques for fistula repair and prevention. The training was possible through a one-year interagency agreement between USAID and the U.S. Army Pacific Command (PACOM). The first phase involved a two-week intensive training on fistula repair and prevention among a team of Bangladeshi medical students, nurses and surgeons from PACOM’s Regional Health Command-Pacific, surgeons from Tripler Army Medical Center and USAID health officers.

“This effort helps advance U.S. Pacific Command and Regional Health Command-Pacific’s mission to prevent disease and improve the health of systems and individuals across the Asia-Pacific,” said Brigadier General Betram Providence, commanding general of Regional Health Command-Pacific. “Together we can help Bangladeshis have access to basic or specialized medical care.”

During the training, the DOD team demonstrated improved techniques that help prevent fistula, as well as improved surgical methods with the use of certain tools. DOD also assisted Bangladeshi surgeons during fistula surgeries, some of whom had been trained through the USAID project. A second phase of the mission is scheduled in April 2017.

“I appreciate the PACOM team giving me the opportunity to share knowledge and skills,” said Prof. Begum Nasrin, one of the trainee fistula surgeons. “I think my knowledge from this training will be help me alleviate the patient’s sufferings. I hope for more of this kind of program in the future.”

By the end of the joint mission, the team successfully completed 36 fistula-related surgeries helping women live happy lives with their family. One of the women was brought to Kumundi Hospital last fall for repair surgery during the visit with PACOM surgeons. Since the birth of her last baby nearly four years ago, she had suffered from recto vaginal fistula, a condition characterized by continuous leaking of the stool through the vagina. Today, she is finally free of fistula.

“The terrible days with leaking stool are over,” she said. “I am now enjoying a different and better life. Thanks to the friendly doctors for making it happen.”

Since 2005, USAID has tested new approaches to identify women with fistulas in Bangladesh before taking expensive trips to hospitals for curative treatment. USAID has improved the surgical and nursing skills of health care personnel to prevent and surgically repair obstetric fistula, uncovered the unintentional creation of fistula in caesarean section and hysterectomy, and has supported the repair of obstetric fistula for more than 2,000 women.

“Our collaboration with PACOM helps build enduring, strategic relationships with partner nations,” added Natalie Freeman, USAID Senior Development Advisor to PACOM. “Working together helps us achieve common ground.”

USAID and DOD have partnered since 1961 to make best use of our combined skills and resources and help improve lives around the globe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristen Byrne is the Strategic Communications and Outreach Specialist for USAID’s Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation.

Empowering Vulnerable Communities in Cambodia

In commemoration of World Day of Social Justice on February 20 – which promotes efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion and unemployment – we honor individuals such as Latt Ky, who have dedicated their lives to upholding the principles of social justice and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.


Radio talk-show on Land Rights and Facing Justice in Cambodia in 2016 (Latt Ky on left). /ADHOC

Radio talk-show on Land Rights and Facing Justice in Cambodia in 2016 (Latt Ky on left). /ADHOC

As the director of land and resources at the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, Latt Ky is an advocate for land and housing rights in Cambodia.

The issue has long been near to his heart. In 1990, at the age of 16, his family was removed from their home without compensation in Banteay Meanchey province in northwest Cambodia. His father sold their motorcycle — a prized possession — to afford the move to a new home. After that experience, Latt Ky was inspired to fight for the same justice his family was denied.

He decided to become a human rights activist, first working as a database operator for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which advocated on behalf of millions of victims of the 1975-1979 genocide in Cambodia.

Provincial Workshop on Promotion Land Rights, Natural Resource Rights and Legal enforcement, Help at Steung Treng province in 2016 (Latt Ky on the right). /ADHOC

Provincial Workshop on Promotion Land Rights, Natural Resource Rights and Legal enforcement, Help at Steung Treng province in 2016 (Latt Ky on the right). /ADHOC

In 1996, Latt Ky started working as a land rights program officer at the USAID-supported Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, the country’s oldest human rights organization.

It was founded by former political prisoners in December 1991 — shortly after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, which put an end to several decades of civil war in Cambodia. The association empowers ordinary citizens to claim respect for their rights and helps victims of human rights abuses in their quest for justice.

Latt Ky is now leading efforts to empower vulnerable or marginalized rural communities that have been affected by land rights violations.

An investigation the land rights cases in Boeng Pram commune, Bavel District, Battambang Province in 2015 (Latt Ky on the left). /ADHOC

An investigation the land rights cases in Boeng Pram commune, Bavel District, Battambang Province in 2015 (Latt Ky on the left). /ADHOC

“I do my best for the interest of the communities,” he said.

This includes trainings on fundamental human rights and the principles of democracy, as well as community organizing and the importance of seeking legal assistance for evictees. He also helps individuals learn how to advocate for their rights, while monitoring and documenting violations of these same rights.

Latt Ky says that while citizenry in general have become more informed of their rights in the last 20 years, and policy and legal frameworks in Cambodia have also been improved, there is still more work to be done. The struggle is in limited implementation and practice of these rights, he said.

Community Network Meeting at Provincial Level, Help in Tboung Khmum province in 2016./ ADHOC

Community Network Meeting at Provincial Level, Help in Tboung Khmum province in 2016./ ADHOC

Through his leadership with the association, he monitors over 100 land and natural resource rights violation cases annually, involving thousands of families. He also plays an important role in seeking resolutions for these cases through both courts and alternative dispute resolution systems.

These efforts have been widely praised by the communities that have received his assistance.

Over the years, Latt Ky has faced personal challenges, including being temporarily detained in 2001 during the investigation of a land conflict in the Prey Tea village in Vihear province.  He was also questioned and detained for several hours in 2008 while observing the forced eviction of citizens in Kampong Speu province.

Latt Ky during a Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association workshop in Koh Kong Province. /ADHOC

Latt Ky during a Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association workshop in Koh Kong Province. /ADHOC

In spite of challenges, Latt Ky continues to bring affected communities together with the government to try to find a peaceful and long-lasting resolution to land disputes. His efforts have resolved even the most complex of cases.

Through his work with USAID, Latt Ky noted that communities are now actively exercising their rights to address land and natural resource management and rights violations. He has also seen positive changes in the approach of local government officials working with the affected communities.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tizeta Wodajo, Elections and Political Processes Team Lead, USAID/ Cambodia and Jessica Benton Cooney, Communications Specialist, USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

How USAID and the Military Are Building Resilience in the Asia-Pacific

As part of the Groundwater Modeling Workshop, participants visited the Batheay district of Kampong Cham province in Cambodia, where they examined groundwater pumping wells, like the one pictured, and discussed methods for determining groundwater flow direction. /Cambodian Ministry of Environment

As part of the Groundwater Modeling Workshop, participants visited the Batheay district of Kampong Cham province in Cambodia, where they examined groundwater pumping wells, like the one pictured, and discussed methods for determining groundwater flow direction. /Cambodian Ministry of Environment

‘A’ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia. (No task is too big when done together by all.)—Hawaiian saying

As members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress gather in Hawaii this week to shape the direction of conservation and sustainable development, USAID celebrates its partnership with U.S. Pacific Command and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect the livelihoods of families in the Asia-Pacific.

Collaboration between USAID and the Department of Defense (DOD) is decades strong. While both organizations have very different missions, we often find ourselves in the same spaces, in places where the most vulnerable live, and during times of complex crises that require a “whole-of-government” approach to save more lives, end extreme poverty around the globe, and build resilient democratic societies.

Richard Byess, program officer at USAID/Cambodia; Natalie Freeman, USAID senior development adviser at U.S. Pacific Command; and John Daley, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers liaison officer in USAID’s Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation, offer their on-the-ground perspectives on what can be achieved when a spirit of civilian-military cooperation thrives in places like Cambodia and Bangladesh.

Q: Why is the Asia-Pacific region a natural space for cooperation and collaboration between USAID and the Department of Defense?

Freeman: The Asia-Pacific is home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population and composed of countries and thousands of islands that take up half of the earth’s surface. For the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), Asia is an exciting and pivotal time for U.S. policy in the region. In the past 30 years, we’ve seen a boost in prosperity, propelling hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty, and a growing middle class.

But despite this, there is a possibility that the region’s prosperity may be derailed because we have yet to address complex development challenges, such as governance in certain countries that inhibit marginalized societies from reaching their full potential, which impact not only our partner nations, but also PACOM, and U.S. national security. This is why USAID is working with PACOM and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to ensure that the progress we gain together will be sustained for the long term.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Cambodian Ministry of Environment study tools that could be used to evaluate the effects of climate change on groundwater resources in Cambodia, August 2016. /Cambodian Ministry of Environment

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Cambodian Ministry of Environment study tools that could be used to evaluate the effects of climate change on groundwater resources in Cambodia, August 2016. /Cambodian Ministry of Environment

Q: What does civilian-military cooperation look like “on the ground”?

Byess: In the past five years in Cambodia, USAID has worked with the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) on some 58 civilian-military activities, most of which have improved learning conditions for children and have provided access to health services for local residents. Together, USAID and ODC have also rehabilitated schools and health clinics, much of which was possible through the State Partnership Program with the Idaho National Guard.

There are also numerous water programs that USAID, PACOM and USACE have collaborated on throughout the Asia-Pacific that have helped people adopt more resourceful and efficient ways of accessing and managing groundwater resources.

 

Q: How is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers working with USAID to help families in the Asia-Pacific, especially in the face of climate change?

Daley: A recent example of collaborative USAID/DOD programs in the Asia-Pacific is the Groundwater Modeling Workshop, held in August 2016 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for multiple ministries and local civil society organizations. The workshop was requested by the Cambodian Ministry of Environment to explore the effects of climate change on the depletion of groundwater sources in Cambodia. USACE provided groundwater modeling instruction, and at the workshop’s end, participants walked away with tools and concepts to better understand the impacts of climate change, and other influences, on Cambodia’s rivers and waterways. The workshop was funded by PACOM and supported by USAID’s Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation.

Freeman: Climate change is one of those areas that make sense to work together on because it impacts all of us. In Bangladesh, for example, USAID and USACE have been working together since 2011 as partners in a $40.5 million multipurpose cyclone shelter project to help prepare Bangladeshis for future tropical cyclones. So far, 60 to 70 cyclone shelters have been constructed, and the project is anticipated to be completed in December 2017, with a goal of constructing 100 safe havens for up to 180,000 people.

Q: What advice would you give to other USAID mission staff when working with the military?

Byess: It is USAID’s policy to cooperate with DOD in order to support the Agency’s mission and advance development objectives. Our interagency partners can be most effectively brought in when we avoid duplication of effort and resources.

Freeman: Cooperation is necessary at the policy level. At USAID, we are working to institutionalize the sharing of USAID country development cooperation strategies with DOD while in draft. We also encourage DOD to welcome USAID input into DOD policies, strategies and plans that impact our shared space. This exchange is critical for our partnership and allows it to have lasting impact.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristen Byrne is a strategic communications and outreach specialist with USAID’s Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation.

 

Building Back Together: Nepal, One Year Later

USAID recovery and reconstruction projects, like Baliyo Ghar, train construction professionals and homeowners on how to build back safer using local materials and earthquake-resistant best practices. / Laxman Shrestha for USAID/Nepal

USAID recovery and reconstruction projects, like Baliyo Ghar, train construction professionals and homeowners on how to build back safer using local materials and earthquake-resistant best practices. / Laxman Shrestha for USAID/Nepal

Today marks a most solemn occasion — it has been a year since the devastating 7.8 earthquake in Nepal took 9,000 lives and injured 25,000 people. Nepalis lost their homes, their treasured monuments and, in some cases, their livelihoods. The past 12 months have been some of the most difficult Nepal has ever faced.

Since April 25, 2015, Nepal has suffered 445 aftershocks greater than 4.0, and a prolonged border and fuel crisis. There is no doubt Nepal has weathered a very turbulent series of storms.

But the clouds are beginning to clear.

This optimism is born of my firsthand experience working in Rwanda for the last four years. Like Nepal, Rwanda is a landlocked country reliant on its neighbors for access to waterways, fuel and other important imports. Rwanda also suffered a very dark hour in 1994 when it turned on itself.

But through significant reforms, Rwanda has seen sustained economic growth over the last decade, transforming into a knowledge-based, service-oriented economy — making it an increasingly valuable neighbor. The last parliamentary elections saw a majority of the seats taken by female candidates; other development successes, such as rapid poverty reduction and reduced inequality, have set the stage for even more success.

Rwanda’s story offers hope, assuring people that even in the darkest of times, a nation can emerge stronger and more focused on creating the future it wants — vibrant and reflective of people’s hopes and dreams.

To jumpstart recovery in the agriculture sector, USAID is delivering much-needed agricultural tools and supplies to farmers. / Derek Brown for USAID/Nepal

To jumpstart recovery in the agriculture sector, USAID is delivering much-needed agricultural tools and supplies to farmers. / Derek Brown for USAID/Nepal

Immediately after the earthquake, USAID mobilized its partners to provide recovery support. Our health programs are preventing the spread of diseases by ensuring access to clean water and proper hygiene, delivering family planning services and counseling to women, and distributing Vitamin A supplements to 3.2 million under-5 children.

Our education programs helped get children back to school quickly and created safe spaces for them. Our agricultural programs have distributed supplies and other farming tools so that fields and gardens could get replanted. And with the spike in human trafficking, our counter trafficking in persons programs are working to reintegrate women and girls back into their communities.

USAID’s reconstruction investments include our contribution to the World Bank’s Multi-donor Trust Fund, which is supporting an earthquake beneficiary survey and providing cash subsidies for housing. The survey, deployed in all of the 14 most-affected districts, assesses earthquake damage, house by house, informing the Government of Nepal’s National Reconstruction Authority who is in most need of the cash grants.

Another way USAID is supporting Nepal is through training and technical assistance. USAID is funding two housing reconstruction projects, Baliyo Ghar and Sabal, to train more than 13,500 local construction professionals and educate 285,000 affected homeowners on building earthquake-resistant homes over the next five years. These projects will also establish local-level reconstruction technology centers and demonstration homes, and offer vocational trainings.

Finally, USAID is supporting communication and outreach in partnership with the Government of Nepal so that affected households know where to access resources and services and are armed with simple, actionable steps to build back safer.

As we put the past year behind us, it is important to take a step back and acknowledge

everything we accomplished together with the people of Nepal. When disaster struck and before aid arrived, Nepalis picked each other up and supported their families and neighbors with shelter and food.

They define resilience and defy despair. I have only been here two weeks, and yet it is clear these qualities are inherent in the Nepali people. They are the heroes of the past year.

Over the next two weeks, USAID’s mission in Nepal will remember the 9,000 people who perished a year ago today and honor the local heroes who represent the best of Nepal. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (#RebuildingLives) as we pay tribute to Nepal.

On behalf of the mission, I extend my deepest condolences to those who have experienced loss over the past year, and assure the people of Nepal that we remain a committed partner as we build back together. I’m hopeful for Nepal’s future, and I look forward to serving as USAID Nepal’s new Mission Director.

We stand with you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Malnak is the new Mission Director for USAID/Nepal.

The Real Heroes Behind USAID’s Nepal Earthquake Response

Nepal_Rubble

Last year’s earthquake in Nepal claimed the lives of nearly 9,000 people, injured more than 22,000 others, and damaged or destroyed more than 890,000 homes. / Kadish Das Shrestha, USAID

On April 25, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck central Nepal—the worst to hit the country in over 80 years. It caused widespread damage across the country, nearly destroyed entire villages, and triggered landslides and avalanches. The earthquake was followed by more than 100 aftershocks, including a magnitude 7.3 trembler on May 12.

I had lived and worked in Nepal for 18 years, establishing very close personal and professional ties during my time there. When I got first word of the earthquake, I immediately felt terror for the people and places I had come to love. Then, I went into response mode.

A medium sized urban search and rescue team made up of 57 members of the Los Angeles County Fire Department and 60,000 pounds of equipment, activated by USAID, board a C-17 Globemaster III at March Air Reserve Base, April 27, 2015. The team is in response to the magnitude 7.8 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks which struck near the city of Kathmandu, Nepal on April 25. The C-17 is assigned to the 337th Airlift Wing, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. (US Air Force Photos by Master Sgt. Roy A. Santana/Released)

Within hours, USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team deployed to Nepal. / U.S. Air Force photos by Master Sgt. Roy A. Santana

Within hours, I was in a U.S. Air Force C-17 on the way to Kathmandu, leading a 136-person Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) deployed by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance to coordinate the U.S. government’s response efforts.

Some of our work made front-page news, especially when our urban search-and-rescue teams assisted in two miraculous rescues: the first, a 15-year-old boy who was pulled from the rubble five days after the quake hit. The other involved a 41-year-old woman who was saved from a collapsed building 50 miles east of Kathmandu.

Nepal Rescue

The DART’s urban search-and-rescue teams helped rescue 15-year-old Pemba, five days after the earthquake hit. / Fairfax County Fire and Rescue

But in my opinion, the unsung heroes of this disaster were the Nepalese people, themselves, many of whom were able to play critical roles in their country’s response—all while dealing with a tremendous sense of loss.

More than a thousand people had the ability to save lives in their neighborhoods, communities and villages thanks to training and tools USAID has been providing for more than two decades.

Nepal sits on the boundary of two massive tectonic plates. Previous large-scale earthquakes occurred in 1833 and 1934, and we knew it would only be a matter of time before another catastrophic quake struck.  While we can’t stop earthquakes from happening, we knew we could help people better prepare and respond to disasters.

Bal Krishna 1

USAID’s DART meets with Dr. Vaidya, who implemented a disaster plan in his hospital with the skills he learned from a USAID program. This planning allowed Nepal’s largest medical facility to remain open after the earthquake, helping to save many lives. / USAID

Since 1998, USAID has supported the Program for the Enhancement of Emergency Response. This program helps Nepal’s disaster management agencies organize and conduct trainings on medical first response, collapsed structure search-and-rescue, and hospital preparedness for mass casualties following a disaster.

After taking one of these trainings, Dr. Pradeep Vaidya helped his hospital develop a disaster plan. As a result, Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Teaching Hospital fastened furniture to the walls, laminated windows, prepositioned supplies, and installed a seismic-resistant blood bank.

These efforts allowed the hospital to stay open right after the earthquake; its doctors treated 700 patients and performed more than 300 surgeries.

CADRE

More than 600 people like Sanam and Kritica put their USAID training into action after the earthquake hit, helping their fellow Nepalese by providing first aid and distributing relief items./ Kadish Das Shrestha, USAID

We’ve also been training communities on basic life support, light search and rescue, dead body management, and best practices on how to respond to multiple casualties through a program called Community Action for Disaster Response, which we support in partnership with the American Red Cross and the Nepal Red Cross Society.

Because of this training, 600 team members deployed to hard-hit areas after the April 25 earthquake to participate in search-and-rescue operations, provide first aid to the injured, and assist with damage assessments and distributions.

Imagery captured during an aerial survey flight flown by members of Joint Task Force 505, May 7, shows areas affected by an earthquake in outlying villages near Kathmandu, Nepal. The Nepalese government requested the U.S. government’s assistance after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country April 25. U.S. military services came together to form JTF 505, which works in conjunction with U.S. Agency for International Development and the international community, to provide unique capabilities to assist Nepal. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by MCIPAC Combat Camera Staff Sgt. Jeffrey D. Anderson)

Experts trained by USAID assessed more than 126,000 structures to ensure they were safe after the earthquake. / U.S. Marine Corps photo by MCIPAC Combat Camera Staff Sgt. Jeffrey D. Anderson

Finally, for more than 15 years, we’ve been building a qualified pool of engineers and technical experts through our partnership with the Kathmandu-based National Society for Earthquake Technology.

We trained people on how to conduct seismic risk assessments and develop earthquake preparedness plans. After the earthquake struck, our partner mobilized 400 earthquake damage inspectors and 450 volunteers who surveyed more than 126,000 structures to ensure they were safe.

At the same time, we also trained homeowners and masons on how to make buildings more earthquake resistant—work that still continues to this day.

Nepal_Construction

Homeowners and masons rebuild using seismic-resistant building techniques. / NSET

While the April 25 earthquake caused significant damage, I’m proud that the preparedness investments we put in place prior to the disaster helped save lives. We now have a cadre of earthquake experts in the region with a depth of knowledge to make a difference in their communities. And these experts are grateful.

USAID Bill Berger head shot

After living in Nepal for 18 years, and working to help the country prepare for disasters, USAID’s Bill Berger led the Disaster Assistance Response Team that responded to last year’s earthquake. / Kadish Das Shrestha, USAID

All during my time in Nepal, I had people come up to me and tell me amazing stories of how their training helped them save others. By my calculation, we trained about a thousand Nepalese who then went out as first responders after the earthquake.

These investments must continue. History has shown that another big earthquake will be coming, perhaps even worse than the April 25 disaster. Hopefully, these stories prove that if you equip people with the right tools and training, they can make a real difference.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Berger is the Senior Regional Advisor for South Asia for USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. During the Nepal earthquake response, Berger served as USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team Leader.

Could Sri Lanka’s 2015 Elections Signal a New Era of Democracy?

Sri Lankans line up to cast their vote during the country’s presidential election in January 2015. / USAID

Sri Lankans line up to cast their vote during the country’s presidential election in January 2015. / USAID

Sri Lanka held two elections this year that were markedly different from those in the past. Why? Nobody could predict the outcome. It was a true victory for democracy.

In the election for president in January, Sri Lankan citizens succeeded in making their voices heard, voting for an unconventional choice—a candidate who did not belong to any established political party. In August, parliamentary elections led to a coalition government instead of a majority party holding power.

The news media framed the outcomes as a signal that citizens were voting against a history of nepotism, corruption and abuse of power. Turnout was high—at about 82 percent and 78 percent, respectively. International and domestic election monitors praised the elections as some of the most transparent and credible in the Asian region.

A changing political landscape

But it hasn’t always been like this. In past elections here, we’ve seen violence, vote rigging and mudslinging. This year, we were impressed with how well organized the Sri Lankan election officials were and the level of planning and professionalism that made these elections a success.

Sri Lanka has come a long way. USAID has supported this small island nation off the southern tip of India by investing in its economy, society and institutions since 1956. The cornerstone of our work this year has been supporting free and fair elections and a democratic transition.

Domestic election monitors at a polling booth during 2009 elections in Sri Lanka / USAID

Domestic election monitors at a polling booth during 2009 elections in Sri Lanka / USAID

Our work has included training and deploying 15,000 election observers to oversee polls, providing mail-in ballots, establishing counting centers, and conducting workshops on electoral laws, financial management, and how to take security precautions and report elections violence at polls.

During the parliamentary elections, we noticed how USAID-trained election monitors worked with polling officials and the police to immediately stop a political candidate from campaigning at a polling station on Election Day—a violation of electoral law. They took him away from the crowd of voters and brought the situation under control so well and amicably that no one seemed to notice.

The election monitors also paid close attention to the dynamics in each of the voting districts. For example, in a district close to Colombo, they noticed a tense atmosphere—small groups of people were whispering to each other as they watched vehicles and passersby suspiciously. Keeping close watch, the election monitors asked police to be on hand in case of trouble.

USAID has also supported the design and printing of an election observation handbook, a trilingual guidebook on the electoral process, and a braille pamphlet on the electoral process for the visually impaired. We’ve supported voter education, helping vulnerable families register to vote and obtain necessary identification documents.

New direction for elections

During the August elections, the law appeared to be enforced equitably, irrespective of the wealth and status of candidates and voters, and election violations were addressed quickly. Invalid votes were low compared to previous years.

Thanks to newly enforced election regulations, government institutions and the state media took a more neutral stance, showing less bias to the ruling party, a common practice in the past. Government institutions were mandated to remove political billboards and posters and reduce the number of rallies and people who canvassed homes.

And in the weeks leading up to the elections, more Sri Lankans stayed informed by hearing from political candidates directly on social media platforms instead of depending only on the traditional news media.

The nation and the region can learn from the practices of the 2015 elections. We fervently hope to see these practices in future elections.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Anil Liyanage and Angelina Hermon are Foreign Service Nationals working with USAID in Sri Lanka.

Passanna Gunasekera, a Program and Outreach Specialist working with USAID in Sri Lanka, contributed to this blog.

Disruptive Innovations Bringing Nepal Closer to Ending Extreme Poverty

Nurses apply chlorhexidine to the umbilical cord of a newborn at Nepalganj Medical College & Teaching Hospital. USAID is helping Nepal bring the life-saving antiseptic gel to villages, communities and health centers across the country. / Thomas Cristofoletti for USAID

Nurses apply chlorhexidine to the umbilical cord of a newborn at Nepalganj Medical College & Teaching Hospital. USAID is helping Nepal bring the life-saving antiseptic gel to villages, communities and health centers across the country. / Thomas Cristofoletti for USAID

In the maternity ward of a USAID-supported hospital in Dhulikhel, a town on the eastern rim of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, I watched a nurse apply a disinfectant gel to the umbilical cord of a newborn baby. That tube of the antiseptic chlorhexidine — worth under 15 cents — has been shown in a randomized control trial, to reduce neonatal mortality by a remarkable 34 percent in Nepal.

All around the country, more than 50,000 female community health volunteers  are sharing this innovation and saving thousands of lives in the process.

Thanks to simultaneous advances in health, education, nutrition and access to energy, Nepal stands at the edge of its prosperity. On the path to overcoming the remnants of internal conflict and transitioning to democracy, the Nepalese have cut extreme poverty by 50 percentage points in the last two decades.

Gita, a female community health worker, visits a pregnant woman and her family to show them how to use the chlorhexidine antiseptic gel and how to apply it to the umbilical cords of newborns.   / Thomas Cristofoletti for USAID

Gita, a female community health worker, visits a pregnant woman and her family to show them how to use the chlorhexidine antiseptic gel and how to apply it to the umbilical cords of newborns. / Thomas Cristofoletti for USAID

Innovative programming like chlorhexidine application is growing more common in Nepal and around the world. USAID is also supporting creative community-based approaches to countering human trafficking, including a novel effort to criminalize organ sales that has won landmark court cases, setting new precedent in Nepalese law for holding traffickers accountable.

Suaahara, a comprehensive nutrition program  that translates to “good nutrition,” teaches skills for nutrient-rich backyard vegetable farming, raising poultry, improving sanitation and hygiene, and controlling pests through demonstration farms and new mothers’ discussion groups.

A focused effort to improve early-grade reading is supporting the Ministry of Education’s School Sector Reform Plan by strengthening curricula and training teachers, school committee members, parents and technical support staff in more than 27,000 Early Childhood Education Development centers across the country. Just a 10 percent increase in the share of students with basic literacy skills can boost a country’s economic growth by 0.3 percentage points, while laying the foundation for their later learning.

We need these kinds of disruptive innovations to help bend the curve toward increased child survival, better access to justice, lower malnutrition, greater literacy and skills, and, ultimately, the end of extreme poverty. Solutions like these will drive broader development progress and elevate our efforts to realize transformative change, and now, 2015, is the time to do it.

This year will be a pivotal year for international development. In Addis Ababa this summer, leaders will come together at the third Financing for Development conference to agree on a new compact for global partnership.

In the fall at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, heads of states will ratify a post-2015 development agenda, a universal, more comprehensive, more ambitious follow-on to the Millennium Development Goals, outlining a vision for the next 15 years of development progress. And in Paris next December, member states will adopt a new agreement to combat global warming at the 21st Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Substantial challenges lie ahead for Nepal. Tensions from the recent conflict remain, simmering below the surface. The government has set a January 2015 deadline to approve a constitution – after a failed attempt in 2012 – to be followed by local elections, which haven’t been held in 16 years. And a quarter of Nepal’s population still lives on less than $1.25 a day.

Based on current projections, Nepal is likely to eradicate extreme poverty before 2030. If Nepal can navigate the pitfalls ahead, it is well-positioned to see long-term, sustainable growth by developing its immense hydropower potential, exploiting its unparalleled tourist draw, and producing goods and services for the growing middle class on its doorstep – the belt from eastern Pakistan through northern India to Bangladesh that constitutes the most densely populated area on earth.

A worker for Lomus Pharmaceutical packs tubes of a chlorhexidine antiseptic gel that is one of Nepal’s great innovations and success stories in global health. The gel, when applied to the cut umbilical cord stumps of newborns, instead of traditional substances like oil, curry powder or ash, can reduce the risk of infant death by up to a third.  / Thomas Cristofoletti for USAID

A worker for Lomus Pharmaceutical packs tubes of a chlorhexidine antiseptic gel that is one of Nepal’s great innovations and success stories in global health. The gel, when applied to the cut umbilical cord stumps of newborns, instead of traditional substances like oil, curry powder or ash, can reduce the risk of infant death by up to a third. / Thomas Cristofoletti for USAID

While the solution to a vexing challenge like neonatal mortality may seem as simple as applying a bit of antiseptic ointment at the right time, this breakthrough came only after a dedicated and concerted effort to hammer away at the problem. USAID worked in partnership with academic researchers, government service providers, community extension workers, private-sector drug manufacturers and others to rigorously pilot, test and scale the Chlorhexidine project.

One particular obstacle, for instance, was that in much of Nepal mothers traditionally rub substances like cooking oil, ash, or even cow dung, on their babies’ umbilical stumps. For widespread adoption to be viable, USAID and its partners had to develop a gel that could be applied similarly to traditional salves, and spend as much effort on behavior change and institutional strengthening as on the technology.

By focusing our efforts on disruptive innovations such as Nepal’s successful chlorhexidine project and using the U.S. Global Development Lab to design, test and scale similar interventions around the world, USAID will help bend the curve towards the end of extreme poverty.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alex Thier is the Assistant to the Administrator in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning. He tweets from @Thieristan

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Lessons Learned a Decade after the Indian Ocean Tsunami

Ten years ago today, the Indian Ocean tsunami roared across more than 3,000 miles and a dozen countries from Southeast Asia to Africa, killing 200,000 people and leaving 40,000 missing. I remember watching the news from my parents’ kitchen, in the aftermath of Christmas, as hour by hour the enormity of the disaster registered on the world.  And it was Aceh, a conflict affected province of Indonesia, that suffered the greatest impact, accounting for nearly half of the total casualties.

Eight days later, I was in Aceh.   I will never forget the surreal sights and stench of such massive destruction.  In a humid heat, bodies were still trapped beneath towers of debris and piled along the road.  Boats were in trees and houses were upended.  Survivors and humanitarian workers alike had a dazed look.

The December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history, destroying lives, homes, and livelihoods. In the disaster’s immediate aftermath, USAID provided emergency support in the form of food, shelter, water, sanitation, and medical supplies. In the years that followed, USAID has continued to work alongside survivors to help affected communities rebuild and create jobs.

The December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history, destroying lives, homes, and livelihoods. In the disaster’s immediate aftermath, USAID provided emergency support in the form of food, shelter, water, sanitation, and medical supplies. In the years that followed, USAID has continued to work alongside survivors to help affected communities rebuild and create jobs. / USAID

In the face of this utter tragedy, the world mobilized to save lives and reconstruct.  The tsunami generated an unprecedented outpouring of support from the international community. Indonesia received more than $7 billion in aid, the most generous response ever to a natural disaster.  In three years, Indonesia built new airports, roads, schools, and over 130,000 new homes.

USAID was front and center in the response, deploying a multi-country Disaster Assistance Response Team to the most affected areas immediately following the tsunami. USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and Food for Peace provided more than $96 million in emergency support in the form of food, shelter, water, sanitation, and medical supplies. In the immediate aftermath USAID airlifted 20,000 kitchen sets, 20,000 mosquito nets, 8,400 ten-liter water containers, 2,000 hygiene kits, 230 rolls of plastic sheeting, and two 12,000-liter water bladders. Partners built or rehabilitated more than 1,600 water systems in villages throughout Aceh, benefitting more than 77,000 people. Repaired sewages systems and sanitation facilities improved hygiene conditions for over 90,000 people. In the years that followed, USAID has continued to work alongside survivors to help affected communities rebuild and create jobs.

So what have we learned since 2005? Below are six lessons that inform the way we respond to disasters a decade after the Indian Ocean tsunami:

1. Early Warning Leads to Early Action

Although there was a lag of several hours between the earthquake and the tsunami, almost all of the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami were taken by surprise, because there were no early detection or early warning systems in place.   In the aftermath of the tsunami, USAID provided $16.6 million to support the development of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWS), an integrated early warning and mitigation system that allows countries in the Indian Ocean region to detect and prepare for tsunamis and other coastal hazards. When the Banda Aceh earthquake struck in 2012, the IOTWS system successfully alerted communities across the Indian Ocean and millions of people were able to move away from the coastline.  As a result of these and other early warning efforts, countries and communities, USAID and its development partners are better prepared to respond and mitigate the impact of disasters before they strike.

In addition to aiding recovery and reconstruction, USAID has supported the development of a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean region to help governments detect and prepare for tsunamis in the future. / USAID

In addition to aiding recovery and reconstruction, USAID has supported the development of a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean region to help governments detect and prepare for tsunamis in the future. / USAID

2. Effective Civil-Military Cooperation is Essential

More than 15,000 U.S. soldiers participated in Operation Unified Assistance, the U.S. military’s response to the Indian Ocean tsunami.  Without the unique strategic and tactical lift capabilities of the military, we would not have reached remote places with life-saving supplies as quickly.  Yet, civil-military coordination was a major challenge, with 17 militaries and hundreds of international NGOs responding.  Over the past decade, UN agencies, donors, relief organizations, and the U.S. and other militaries have learned to coordinate more effectively on disaster responses, from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to last year’s typhoon in the Philippines. USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance is the designated U.S. government lead agency in disasters and has worked closely with the military and other U.S. government agencies to create a more seamless system for calling forward needed capabilities. In the current Ebola crisis, USAID and the U.S. military are working hand in glove to sustain an agile and effective response to one of the most complex emergencies of our time.

3. Focus on Jumpstarting Economies

In Aceh, Indonesia, USAID, in partnership with Chevron developed and hosted three-month vocational courses for hundreds of young people from the region, like Junaidi and Syahrizal (pictured). Courses ranged from welding and masonry to bookkeeping and automobile repair. These courses gave graduates the skills they needed to rebuild their communities, and also improved their ability to find jobs with higher wages. / USAID

In Aceh, Indonesia, USAID, in partnership with Chevron developed and hosted three-month vocational courses for hundreds of young people from the region, like Junaidi and Syahrizal (pictured). Courses ranged from welding and masonry to bookkeeping and automobile repair. These courses gave graduates the skills they needed to rebuild their communities, and also improved their ability to find jobs with higher wages. / USAID

In Indonesia, the 2004 tsunami completely razed coastal towns like Banda Aceh, but left others further from the shore untouched. The massive outpouring of aid in the aftermath of the tsunami provided life-saving relief to devastated communities, but also threatened to create a second crisis by smothering local markets that remained active across the country. The tsunami helped catalyze a greater understanding of the power of pivoting quickly from delivering commodities to a focus on using cash for work and other strategies to revive local markets.  USAID supported cash-for-work recovery projects that employed 70,000 people, and helped finance the construction of 278 fishing boats to revive Aceh’s fishing industry. In partnership with Chevron, USAID also developed and hosted three-month vocational courses for hundreds of young people in Aceh, like Junaidi and Syahrizal (pictured above). In the decade since the tsunami, the humanitarian community has increasingly recognized the value of cash-based approaches to emergency responses. USAID has continued to be a trailblazer in these efforts, using mobile e-payments and harnessing public-private partnerships to help jumpstart economies after a crisis, including in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

4. Give Cash, not Goods

The second stop on my 2005 trip was Sri Lanka, where I encountered a depot of donated goods—a new shipment of bikinis, ties and other donations clearly ill-suited to meet the needs of ordinary people trying to survive the aftermath of the tsunami. The outpouring of generosity after the Indian Ocean tsunami was truly impressive and unprecedented. However, it also led to massive “goodwill dumping,” as well-meaning people flooded the region with unnecessary goods that overwhelmed transit points and ended up as trash. As this experience and many other disasters have illustrated, donating cash instead of goods is always the best option, allowing victims to get the quickest access to basic items in local markets

5. Disasters Can Spur Conflict Resolution

The Indian Ocean tsunami caused massive social upheaval, uprooting the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people.  Sinhalese and Tamil communities came together in Sri Lanka around the common enemy of a natural disaster.  In Sri Lanka, I saw an Office of Transition Initiatives program that brought together Sinhalese and Tamil youth to work side by side to clean the debris and rebuild their communities. And, recognizing that their own people needed to rebuild not fight, the Free Aceh movement signed a peace deal with the Indonesian government in August 2005. Indonesia’s experience sparks important lessons for how— if given the right circumstances and leaders willing to put their people first— disaster response can catalyze opportunities for peace and inclusive governance.

6. Build Resilience

Most importantly, we know that tsunamis, typhoons, droughts and other shocks will continue to batter communities, hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.  Since 2011, USAID has been at the forefront of a global conversation on building resilience.  We know that all our development gains can be wiped out in an instance if households, communities, countries and regions are not better able to adapt, prepare, and recover from the shocks we know will continue to occur. That is why in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and Swedish sida, we launched the Global Resilience Partnership, which will drive evidence-based investments and innovations that enable cities, communities, and households to better manage and adapt to inevitable shocks.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy Lindborg is the USAID Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance. Follow her @nancylindborg

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