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Pounds of Prevention: Focus on Mozambique

An emergency responder flashes the red cyclone flag to warn people in his community. Photo by USAID/FEWSNET

In this next edition of “Pounds of Prevention,” we travel to the country of Mozambique. Over the past decade, Mozambique has set up a cyclone early warning system that combines technology with community organization and mobilization.

Every year when the cyclone season arrives, and flooding threatens the countryside, the people in Mozambique are better prepared to take the right action at the right time. Countless lives have been saved. Moreover, the resources spent mounting a humanitarian response have decreased.

USAID is proud to be a partner in this endeavor and commends the people of Mozambique on their accomplishments in disaster risk reduction.

USAID’s FrontLines – April/May 2012

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Read the latest edition of USAID’s premier publication, FrontLines, to learn more about the Agency’s work with partnerships and in the countries that make up the Latin America and Caribbean region.

The Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP) is the brainchild of an Armenian-American diaspora-led organization, which launched its efforts in 2003 to strengthen the eye-care system and reduce preventable blindness in Armenia. In 2004, USAID and AECP joined forces. Through the partnership, USAID/Armenia helped AECP scale up its programs, which complemented the mission’s health care goals for the country. For part of that effort, AECP brought in a mobile eye hospital, which made stops in 90 percent of Armenia’s communities to provide eye exams and necessary treatments. Pictured: a man receives an eye exam. Photo credit: AECP

Some highlights:

  • Soap. Water. Tippy Tap. After answering nature’s call, some Senegalese wash up in ways both inventive and resourceful.
  • What is proving good for economic growth in post-war Sri Lanka is also providing a positive communal experience for people from all sides of the two-decades-long conflict.

Subscribe to FrontLines for an email reminder when the latest issue is posted online.

How USAID is Putting Local Wealth to Work

In the 1960s, during USAID’s founding decade, official development assistance represented 70 percent of all capital flows to developing countries. Today, foreign aid makes up just 13 percent, having been replaced over time by trade, investment, and other sources of private capital.

This changing landscape means our impact can be even greater. Rather than using our development dollars to substitute for missing private capital, we can use them to attract it. Even better, we can unlock existing local wealth and put it to work for development.

That’s what we do at the Development Credit Authority (DCA). In our 12 year history issuing credit guarantees, DCA has worked directly with more than 200 local private financial institutions, reaching more than 100,000 credit-worthy, but underserved borrowers. In 2011 we established 37 guarantees that will mobilize an additional $200 million in commercial capital in 21 countries.

Among the highlights, we supported the first-ever municipal bond offering in Serbia, a historic step in the development of their local capital markets. We finalized a $25 million deal with J.P Morgan Chase and a group of impact investors that will fuel economic growth in East Africa by providing equity financing for small businesses. And we signed a $34 million guarantee in Egypt that will mobilize capital for small businesses that lack access to credit following the turmoil of the Arab Spring.

Aside from these unique deals, DCA created a Strategic Transactions Group in order to develop capital markets alternatives to typical development solutions. At the Agency level, Field Investment Officers are being deployed to our regional missions to originate innovative deals and ensure financing solutions become a critical component of USAID programming.

This is a good start. In the coming year we will further deepen our work across the Agency, helping to incentivize private investment so that development continues long after we exit.

Strengthening the Fight against Modern Slavery: USAID’s Counter-Trafficking in Persons Initiative

Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca, Department of State. (Official Photo)

Earlier today, I had the privilege of joining USAID Administrator Raj Shah at the White House to announce the Agency for International Development’s new counter-trafficking in persons (C-TIP) initiative. As the Ambassador who spearheads the United States’ diplomatic efforts on this issue, I’m always happy to see our partners across government strengthening their efforts to combat modern slavery. USAID’s work against trafficking is critical to this struggle, and this new policy shows what a priority it is for the Agency’s top leadership. I’m particularly optimistic about some of the new tools and techniques that this new C-TIP policy will help develop and promote.

Both at the State Department and at USAID, we are supporting programs around the world that fight human trafficking using the 3P Paradigm—preventing trafficking, protecting survivors, and prosecuting those responsible for exploitation. Through rigorous monitoring and evaluation, we know which practices are working, and we’ll continue to support those things that are doing the most good. But the reality remains—every year there are about 4,000 trafficking prosecutions in response to a crime that victimizes as many as 27 million men, women, and children around the world.

That’s why the new C-TIP policy’s focus on innovation is so important. As we move forward with this struggle, we’re going to need to change the way we fight this crime. Whether through new applications of empirical research, harnessing modern technology and social networks, or integrating anti-trafficking initiatives into other development efforts, we need to explore new approaches and cultivate new ideas as we work to eradicate this crime once and for all.

But USAID’s new policy shows a true understanding that before we can make real progress against this crime on a global scale, we need to get our own house in order. In the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), Secretary Clinton made clear that the State Department and USAID would be tasked with stepping up their own internal anti-trafficking efforts. The new C-TIP initiative answers that call, building on the Agency’s Counter-Trafficking Code of Conduct that holds USAID employees and partners to the highest standards of behavior.

As USAID works to implement this new policy, I look forward to collaborating with Administrator Shah and his team as we make new inroads in the fight against modern slavery. Together, we will work to carry out the Obama Administration’s commitment to deliver once and for all on the American promise of freedom.

USAID Training Brings Justice to Victim of Trafficking Attempt

While USAID’s observation of the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence ended last week, stories like the one below will continue to occur – and USAID remains committed to working to end human trafficking in Nepal, Asia, and around the world.

“[USAID’s training helped me] take action to protect my own daughter, who was so close to being sold by brokers. I was lucky,” said Sanu Tamang, a resident of Syaule village in Nepal’s Sindhupalchowk district.

Tamang had attended a community orientation training session in May that was organized by USAID’s Combating Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) program. Since 2010, the CTIP program has worked with the Government of Nepal and civil society organizations to address the protection, prosecution, and prevention of trafficking. CTIP is a five-year program implemented in six districts of Nepal, identified by Nepal’s government as source, transit, and exit districts.

Earlier in the year, Tamang’s neighbor, Ravi, had lured Tamang’s daughter and her sister-in-law into travelling to India for an attractive job opportunity. The girls met Ravi in Kathmandu, where he had hired a taxi to drive them across the border into India. Suspecting the movement, an NGO vigilante team and border security force trained under a previous USAID program intercepted the taxi.  While the girls were being questioned, Ravi and his friends escaped.

The girls eventually returned to their family.  Upon returning, they and their family came to fully understand how close the girls had been to being trafficked.  A shocked Tamang, now more aware of the laws and systems to punish traffickers, filed a legal case against Ravi and his friends.  He contacted the USAID-supported national Center for Legal Research and Resource Development for legal aid and counseling to strengthen his case and submitted a report to the police.  An investigation ensued, and Ravi was arrested.

Glad that he was able to take action, Tamang shared, “No trafficker should be able to get away without being punished and no victim deprived of justice.  I want to ensure that traffickers like Ravi don’t get an opportunity to exploit other girls.”

Trafficking in persons is a serious problem in Nepal, with an estimated 15,000 Nepali women and girls trafficked annually to India and another 7,500 trafficked domestically for commercial sexual exploitation. In addition, an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 Nepali women become involuntary domestic workers each year within Nepal. While most attention is focused on the exploitation of women and children, cross-border labor trafficking of men is also a growing concern.  Nepal is on the Tier 2 list in the U.S. State Department’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report.

For more information on USAID/Nepal’s efforts to prevent trafficking, please visit

Climate Change in the Context of Development

I am in Durban, South Africa at the Seventeenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-17).  These annual negotiations address issues of great importance for developed and developing countries (e.g. finance, technology transfer, adaptation, mitigation, reducing deforestation, capacity building) during the two weeks.  On the margins of COP-17, USAID has organized and participated in several side events at the U.S. Center that address climate change issues in the context of development.

Women Farmers in Kenya Holding Tree Seedlings. Photo Credit: Andrea Athanas (AWF)

Developing countries are key partners in achieving success toward climate-resilient, low emissions development.  For this reason, in December 2009 at COP-15 in Copenhagen, President Obama and the leaders of other developed countries agreed to provide up to $30 billion in Fast Start Financing between 2010-2012 to help developing countries address climate change mitigation and adaptation.   The U.S. government is committed to providing our share of the $30 billion.

Last week I joined U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change  Jonathan Pershing and OPIC President Elizabeth Littlefield at a side event on Fast Start Financing to discuss how we are meeting this commitment in a transparent manner.  Working across Agencies, the United States has recently released our FY 2011 report on Fast Start Financing which details U.S. assistance in adaptation, clean energy, and sustainable forestry.  The report details U.S. Fast Start Financing in FY 2011 and our contributions toward advancing progress in climate change globally.

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Building a Better Future for Persons with Disabilities

USAID is commemorating International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is observed on December 3rd worldwide. According to the UN, persons with disabilities make up an estimated 15 percent of the world’s population. Below is a blog post from Montenegro exemplifying how our agency and partner organizations work to improve the lives of persons with disabilities in developing countries.

The Strength of a Mother’s Love: The Story of How USAID and ORT Are Helping a Mother Build a Better Future for her Son and Other Young Disabled Adults

I feel that I share a special connection with Vesna Odalović because our sons were both born in the same hospital on the same day, but two decades apart. Vesna believes that this means we were destined to meet. But fate can be cruel and random: Vesna’s son, Saša, developed signs of autism when he was one year old.

“He went from being a happy, verbal little boy to a silent, withdrawn one almost overnight,” she says sadly.

By the time Saša was six, he had a store of only 15 words. He struggled to communicate with the outside world, and was very shy. But 15 years later, Saša is a happy, talkative young man who answers the phone to clients, performs complex graphic design tasks, and is considered (by his mother) to be the only responsible one in the four-member Odalović family!

What has made the difference? Simply, the sheer determination of a mother that her son would grow up to be an independent, self-confident young man. It was this that drove Vesna to establish “Our ID Card”, a graphic design and printing house that exclusively employs young adults with disabilities. It is the first social enterprise in Montenegro, a business whose goal is not profit-making but rather the integration of young adults with disabilities into the economic and social life of the community.

World ORT (Obshestvo Remeslenofo zemledelcheskofo Truda in Russian), one of the largest Education and Training NGOs in the world was awarded a grant from USAID’s Democracy and Humanitarian Assistance office  (DCHA) to support the work of this organization through a special program established to increase the participation of people with disabilities in USAID developments efforts. Thanks to this program, Saša works for his mother’s company along with five other people with disabilities. They are able to gain valuable technical and social skills, not to mention self-confidence and increased self-worth.

“Our speech therapist says that the improvement in Saša’s speech since he has started work is nothing short of a miracle”, says Vesna, glowing with pride and happiness. “The other day he dealt with a difficult customer all on his own – something that would have been unthinkable only a year ago.”

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Engaging Universities to Address the Global Food Security Challenge

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a national association of 217 state university systems, land-grant universities, and related organizations across all 50 states. This week, USAID Administrator Raj Shah and several Agency representatives are attending APLU’s Annual Meeting, the premier annual summit for senior leaders of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and state universities.

USAID has enjoyed a long and productive history of partnerships with U.S. universities — partnerships that are critical to our success in many areas and dating back to our very founding 50 years ago. These institutions’ education, research, and engagement missions directly align with USAID’s charge to help people overseas struggling to make a better life. USAID partnerships with U.S. universities have focused on research and graduate training for promising young developing country scientists and on strengthening colleges and universities abroad to create the next generation of agricultural leaders. Together, we have made great progress. But there is still so much more to be done.

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Why Development and Diplomacy Matter in National Security

U.S. national security rests on three pillars: Diplomacy, Development, and Defense.   Although other departments and agencies of the U.S. government certainly contribute to the nation’s security, these three Ds, represented by the Department of State (State), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Department of Defense (DoD or Defense) provide the foundation for promoting and protecting U.S. interests abroad. Each represents a critical component of national security with unique roles and responsibilities. The functions performed by each of the “three Ds” provide greatest value to the nation when they are complementary and mutually reinforcing.

State and USAID’s diplomats and development experts work hand-in-glove with their military counterparts to promote growth and foster stability.  They don’t think about which subcommittee funded them or what their respective agency budget allocations are.  All they know is that they work together, with a common purpose, and often in dangerous and deadly environments.   We need a budget that reflects that reality.

Here are some examples of the integration of our civilian and military efforts in some of the most critical areas around the world:

In Afghanistan, USAID programs are designed to support US foreign policy, with military stabilization programs informed by USAID technical expertise. Funding is provided by USAID/Kabul for Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) activities in the field as well as national-level programs. It would be physically impossible for USAID to operate independently in Afghanistan without close military support. USAID field program officers serve alongside military counterparts in forward operating bases and PRTs, where they undertake jointly planned civil affairs and quick-impact development programs.

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Challenges & Approaches to Reducing Gender Gaps

Today, at the Pre-G20 Side Event: “Growing Economies Through Women’s Entrepreneurship,” co-hosted by the United States and the OECD, the US Treasury Department and the IFC, implementing partner to the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), previewed the report “Strengthening Access to Finance for Women SMEs in Developing Countries,” (to be released in at the G20 Summit in Cannes on November 4) and USAID announced a new initiative to expand women’s leadership in the small and medium enterprise sector.  The report and USAID initiative are significant for both laying out the challenges and identifying possible approaches to reducing gender gaps.

Caren Grown is a Senior Gender Advisor at USAID. Photo credit: Caren Grown/USAID

First, across countries, data show a gender gap in venture creation and business ownership, especially as firm size increases.  It is difficult to draw solid conclusions, since the evidence base on women owned businesses is limited.  Yet, based on existing data, the IFC reports that small and medium enterprises with full or partial female ownership represent 31 to 38 percent of formal firms in this sector.  Women’s entrepreneurship is highly concentrated among smaller firms:  they represent between 32-39 percent of the very smallest firms, 30-36 percent of small SMEs and 17-21 percent of medium sized companies.[i]

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