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Archives for Cross-Cutting Programs

Partnerships to End Child Sex Tourism

Guest post by Marina Colby, the Legislative Advisor to ECPAT-USA

Child sex tourism is an egregious crime that can occur right under our noses by perpetrators who may believe that by having sex with children, they are helping them and contributing to the local economy. As one child sex tourist stated: “On this trip, I’ve had sex with a 14 year-old girl in Mexico and a 15 year-old in Colombia. I’m helping them financially. If they don’t have sex with me, they may not have enough food. If someone has a problem with me doing this, let UNICEF feed them.”

While it is difficult to determine the magnitude of the problem given the lack of research and the illicit nature of the issue, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), approximately 2 million children around the world are victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Many of these children suffer at the hands of child sex tourists, individuals who travel to engage in sexual activity with children.

Billboard on the road between Cancun and the Riviera Maya section of Mexico in 2007. Photo Credit: ECPAT

Despite growing awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation of children and human trafficking, child sex tourism continues to be a lucrative industry.  Even prior to the recent global economic crisis, the sex industry, including child sex tourism, has been a significant contributor to gross domestic product (GDP) in a number of countries.  We are now seeing emerging destinations for child sex tourists in the Americas, Africa and Eastern Europe. It’s important to note that this type of exploitation can occur anywhere in the world and no country or tourism destination is immune.  Moreover, child sex tourists may be foreigners or domestic nationals who are traveling within their own country.

Countries with thriving sex tourism are also likely to suffer from widespread poverty, weak rule of law, and vast income gaps. Such poverty often correlates with illiteracy, limited employment opportunities, and bleak financial circumstances for families. Children in these families can become easy targets for human traffickers and sex tourists.

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USAID and Intel Meeting Affirms Partnership; Expands Collaboration

By: Cecilia Brady, Alliance Advisor

Earlier this month, USAID and Intel Corporation held their annual management review meeting to analyze the achievements of the longstanding collaboration between the two organizations, and to discuss expanding their cooperation.

Tour guide in Vietnam now uses broadband internet access to communicate with clients and head office. Photo credit: Intel® Corporation

Intel, a global technology company based in California, is perhaps best known for its microprocessors that are ubiquitous in personal computers; the company also manufactures integrated circuits, flash memory and other technology-based products and devices.  Intel’s stated vision over the next decade is “to create and extend computing technology to connect and enrich the lives of every person on earth” – a good fit with USAID’s goal of mobilizing the ideas, expertise and resources of the private sector to achieve development objectives.

USAID began its relationship with Intel in2004, and in 2006 signed a global agreement to partner on three issues: improving education with information and communications technologies (ICT), enabling last-mile Internet connectivity, and supporting ICT usage by small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  This strategic partnership has allowed USAID to utilize Intel’s technology to deepen the impact of our development projects, and to access the deep expertise and innovative thinking within one of the world’s leading technology companies.

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Working to End Modern Day Slavery

Sarah Mendelson, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance

Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will release the eleventh annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report and the world’s attention will turn to the global fight against human trafficking and the persistence of this problem in at least 181 countries around the world.

The International Labor Organization estimates that 12.3 million people globally are victims of trafficking—trapped in forced labor, debt bondage, or sexual exploitation.  An accurate number of victims is hard to determine, however, because they are often a hidden population, kept under guard in mines, fishing boats at sea, back alley sweatshops, and brothels.  Trafficking is a crime, a human rights abuse, and a development problem.

In our development programs, USAID is tackling the conditions that enable the trafficking of humans, such as barriers to education and job opportunities, ethnic and gender discrimination, weak rule of law, and the drivers of conflict and corruption.  Since 2001, USAID has worked in 70 countries to prevent trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute perpetrators.

In February 2011, we launched an agency-wide Counter Trafficking Code of Conduct (pdf 40kb), holding our contractors, grantees, and personnel to the highest ethical standards.  Next month, we will release a field guide to help our Missions implement anti-TIP programs, and in the fall, we will launch a new Agency-wide anti-trafficking strategy.  Below are some recent examples of our worldwide programs:

  • Through USAID’s ongoing partnership with MTV End Exploitation and Trafficking (EXIT) Alliance (pdf 130kb), we have reached over 560 million households through short films, documentaries, and online content designed to raise awarenessof trafficking and inspire young people to take action. This past Saturday, MTV Exit sponsored a concert attended by 20,000 young people in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan attended the concert as did U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney.
  • Earlier this month in Russia, USAID announced The Stop Human Trafficking App Challenge in partnership with the Demi and Ashton Foundation (DNA)and NetHope.  We are seeking to leverage innovation by supporting the best mobile application to combat trafficking there.  Contestants have until August 8, 2011 to submit entries, and the winning technology application will be implemented by a domestic anti-trafficking organization.
  • In January in Tajikistan, we supported the establishment of Central Asia’s first all-male shelter for victims of labor trafficking in partnership with the International Organization for Migration.  Responding to survey data in 2010 that suggested nearly 91 percent of TIP cases in Central Asia involved labor exploitation and that 69 percent of the victims were men, USAID expanded the rehabilitation and reintegration centers to serve this population. These centers will help raise awareness that men and boys as well as girls and women are vulnerable to trafficking.

Check out USAID’s IMPACT blog this week for more stories about USAID TIP programs around in the world in support of the TIP Report release.

Feed the Future: Innovative Mobile Banking Unit to Give Access to More Than 300,000 Farmers

By Renuka Naj, Supervisory Development Outreach and Communications Specialist

As part of Feed the Future, USAID in partnership with Centenary Bank launched a state-of-the-art mobile banking unit.  This unit will bring financial services to more than 300,000 farmers and agri-business enterprises in Amolatar and Amuru districts of northern Uganda.

Under a 50-50 cost-sharing partnership, USAID and Centenary Bank each invested $210,000 for the purchase of the armored truck that will provide a vital service for clients who had little or no access to financial services in their communities.

The mobile unit will be fully staffed by Centenary Bank personnel, including tellers for opening and operating savings accounts, and loan officers.  The mobile bank will travel weekly to 25 locations, including rural trading centers and markets, providing a range of financial services.  About 4,000 people are expected to open accounts in the first year, with the numbers increasing to more than 10,000 in the next three years.

USAID has been working with farmers and producer organizations across Uganda for more than 15 years.  Through Livelihoods and Enterprises for Agricultural Development (LEAD) project, USAID is transforming Uganda’s agricultural sector from subsistence to commercial farming in line with the priorities of the Government of Uganda.

The mobile banking unit will broaden the impact of USAID Uganda’s Development Credit Authority Loan Guarantee Program, a credit facility offered through Centenary Bank, whereby USAID encourages rural lending by sharing some of the risks on agriculture-related credits to Ugandans.

Sustaining Human Life and the Environment

Ultimately, I believe, our planet’s sustainability will be determined by one overarching action: how mankind protects, supports and realizes the potential of human life and human systems and that of other species and ecosystems— and how sustaining life and the environment go hand in hand.

In that regard, I participated last month during World Water Week in a “WASH/Environmental Working Group” panel which addressed the linkage between the conservation of freshwater ecosystems and the protection of human health undertaken by water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs.

At that meeting, on behalf of USAID, I invited the NGO participants to continue our dialogue and meet with a wider range of USAID experts. On April 13, representatives from the WASH Advocacy Initiative, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Conservation International (CI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) came to USAID. They met with several USAID executives, including Eric Postel, newly confirmed Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade; Dr. John Borrazzo, Chief, Maternal and Child Health Division, Bureau for Global Health; representatives from USAID ‘s Bureau for Food Security and Bureau for Policy, Program and Planning; and myself.

The meeting examined ways in which the USAID and the NGO community might increase their impact on sustaining both human populations and ecosystems by working together to build on past success and develop new models of integrated freshwater supply and water supply, hygiene, and sanitation approaches, as well as ways to effect WASH-Food Security integration.

We discussed the USAID-funded WASH–NRM “Healthy Families, Healthy Forests” project in Madagascar being undertaken by CRS and CI to conserve biodiversity and provide critical health services to remote rural populations.  Another project, supported by USAID and TNC in Ecuador, established a revolving fund both to protect a major watershed and to provide water from that watershed to the urban poor. Additionally, we also addressed WWFs’ “Green Recovery” approach to assist people recovering from disasters by minimizing harm to the environment.

Looking ahead, we will continue to consider ways in which to forge this crucial linkage between the protection of natural resources and human health.

NOAA-USAID Join Forces for Global Development

As featured in the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy Blog by Hillary Chen

Hillary Chen is a Policy Analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of joining with scientists and development experts at a workshop jointly sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  The workshop focused on ways to re-energize scientific collaboration between the two agencies and help developing countries deal with challenges in climate change, biodiversity and human health, and geospatial analysis capacity.  It brought together NOAA’s and USAID’s scientific and technical experts in a range of fields including science-based ecosystem management, weather monitoring and forecasting, climate services and analysis, satellite-based and information services, and spatial analysis and geospatial technologies.

The workshop fits within the Administration’s larger efforts to make better use of science, technology, and innovation for global development under President Obama’s Policy Directive on Global Development.  OSTP Director John Holdren and USAID Administrator Raj Shah have noted that as a global leader in science, technology, and innovation with $148 billion invested in domestic research and development (R&D), the United States can have a significant impact in developing countries by applying its technical expertise to global challenges.

Past successful collaborations between NOAA and USAID include the Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System that was established after the devastating tsunami of 2004.  Current joint efforts between the two agencies include the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), which uses satellite and ground-based data to provide timely food security information for 25 countries in Africa and other parts of the developing world and the U.S. Coral Triangle Initiative Support Program, which aims to improve the management of millions of hectares of coastal and marine ecosystems to protect food security and strengthen resilience to climate change for the 363 million people who live in this area.  At a time when we are all reminded that natural disasters anywhere in the world can have widespread and even global implications, it was inspiring to see NOAA and USAID building their shared capacity to understand and respond to challenges beyond our borders.

This latest collaboration between USAID and NOAA is a great example of how U.S. R&D can be leveraged efficiently to accelerate growth and make societies around the world—including our own—more resilient to environmental changes around the globe.

Actress Lucy Liu: “Fight Human Trafficking by Nurturing Women and Girls”

Lucy Liu on field visit with UNICEF in 2008 to Cote d’Ivoire. Photo credit: U.S. Fund for UNICEF.In the past several years I’ve met with girls and women who have survived brutal treatment as sex trafficking victims, and have been involved with several documentaries about their struggle to survive and give back.

In the past several years I’ve met with girls and women who have survived brutal treatment as sex trafficking victims, and have been involved with several documentaries about their struggle to survive and give back.

Meena Haseena was nine when she was kidnapped from her home in Bihar, India, and taken to a brothel where she was beaten and raped for twelve years. When she ran away to get help from the police, they returned her to the brothel, asking only that she be spared beatings. (New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, chronicled her story in his book with Sheryl WuDunn, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.”)

This is human trafficking, a lucrative and growing transnational crime that brings in roughly $32 billion per year[1] internationally. Of those profits, $28 billion[2] are made from commercial sexual exploitation, which characterizes 79% of identified trafficking cases.[3] The victims are predominantly female.

As the United States Government takes this week to consider crime and violence perpetrated specifically against women, we must think of the circumstances that lead to girls and women like Meena being trafficked into captivity and viciously raped of their rights. In the brothel, Meena wasn’t allowed condoms, and so she bore a daughter and son in captivity. They were taken away from her and raised as slaves. When Meena learned that she might be killed, she managed to escape, but it took her 14 years to rescue her first child, a daughter, from the brothel.

The organization Apne Aap Women Worldwide ultimately helped rescue Meena’s daughter from the brothel and then started a boarding school in Bihar to protect and educate girls. In school, girls are not as at risk for being kidnapped. This is success. There are many organizations working to address child trafficking, and their solutions deserve attention.

UNICEF, for example, established anti-trafficking committees in three districts of India and trained police on relevant Indian laws that protect the rights of potential trafficking victims.[4] They learned that police and state authorities provide models for their communities by enforcing laws against the exploitation of women and girls. In those districts, if a girl goes to the police to report being trafficked into a brothel, we can only hope that the police won’t send her back, but instead, shut down the brothel.

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Improving the Lives and Livelihoods of Women at Work

Submitted by Arup Banerji, Director for Social Protection and Labor at the World Bank

As I write this from my home city of Kolkata (Calcutta), India, the changes for women here in India during the last 100 years—since the first International Women’s Day—are wonderfully evident. Women are among the top political leaders; they are CEOs of major corporations, especially in the Indian financial services and biotech industries; and they form the backbone of a thriving and dynamic NGO sector. Women are among India’s most renowned doctors and engineers, artists and sports stars, scientists and economists—in a way that would have been inconceivable even when I was a child (which was a little less than 100 years ago!)

Arup Banerji is the Director for Social Protection and Labor at the World Bank. Photo Credit: World Bank

But the reality below the surface of this feel-good story remains challenging, in South Asia and in developing countries worldwide. According to the ILO, only 37.6% of adult women in South Asia were employed(pdf) in 2008 (compared to 86.2% of men). These figures have barely budged since 1998, and are among the lowest ratios in the world, after the Middle East and North Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 63% of adult women work—still vastly fewer than the 85.4% of men who work there. And in both South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 60% of female employment is in low productivity agriculture, with relatively few women working in manufacturing or higher-productivity services. Of course, the fact that women are not employed does not mean that they aren’t working: Women’s work in the home and community, whether childcare, cleaning or cooking go unrecorded in the official statistics. For developed countries, the implicit value of women’s unpaid work is of the order of 10% of GDP; for developing countries, it is higher. But women still face barriers to obtain paid productive work.

These barriers are especially high for young women, who often lack the skills needed to enter productive work.  Part of the challenge is that for an economy to generate the skills needed for productivity and growth, it needs a wide-ranging set of interventions across the life-cycle and sectors. These are summarized in the new publication from the World Bank’s Human Development Network on the STEP” framework – or Skills Towards Employment and Productivity. STEP presents evidence and analysis showing that traditional training programs are insufficient to help people obtain and use the sorts of skills needed for today’s economies. The process has to begin with effective early child development policies—especially nutrition and pre-school stimulation—continue by ensuring that children learn in school, and guarantee that the labor market works well enough to match the skills that workers have with those employers demand.

However, beyond these longer-term issues, there is also evidence emerging around the sorts of active labor market programs that can address some key barriers to work for women. This is summarized in a recent World Bank Employment Policy Primer(pdf) on youth employment.

One example: In India, the Better Life Program in the 1990s aimed to give adolescent girls a ‘second chance’ education, through an integrated program that combined formal education with knowledge of life skills, vocational training and health services. A rigorous evaluation of the program found that girls who had completed the program were more likely to be literate, to have completed secondary education and to be employed.

Many of the women engaged in work today are in the informal sector—as self-employed entrepreneurs. Women own three of five micro and small enterprises in developing countries. The skills needed to be successful at this go beyond basic education. A Peruvian lending program(pdf) to poor less-educated women added entrepreneurship skills training to the lending, and found that this improved their business practices, and led to 16-28% greater sales.

But for formal work, having education and even skills may not be enough—those skills have to match those demanded by employers, even more so in countries where there is a flourishing private sector and thus available jobs. One set of programs that have had proven success are the “Jovenes” programs in Latin America, which work with the private sector to give beneficiaries specific skills demanded by employers.  In those programs, women participants have seen increases in employment by 6–12% in some countries.

Sometimes the barrier is information, since women often lack knowledge about which occupations are the most rewarding. The Jua Kali voucher program in Kenya(pdf) provided some of its female beneficiaries with information about wages in various occupations; a recent assessment finds that more than one in ten then switched to better paying jobs as compared to girls who didn’t get this information.

These are just some examples of success—many others exist, and yet others may be successful but have not been rigorously evaluated to know whether they work.  As we begin devising the World Bank’s 2012-2022 Social Protection and Labor strategy, we hope to deepen this knowledge about what works and what doesn’t, and to work as a global community to improve the lives and livelihoods of women at work.

Women: A Resource in Development

By: Caren Grown, Senior Gender Adviser

Seeing  the flurry of material published to commemorate Women’s History Month and the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, I was unsettled  by a popular view suggesting that women are an under-utilized resource of development.  This view cannot be further from the truth; in fact, women are the most over-utilized resource in development. Indeed both labor force and time use data show that women, on average, work about twice as much as men in both paid and unpaid work.  But women’s work is under-valued and under-paid, and much of it takes place outside the formal paid economy, from childcare to subsistence farming.

Caren Grown, Senior Gender Adviser at USAID.

It is important to recognize the progress that women have made in the paid labor market over the past thirty years. More women participate in paid employment, especially in non-agricultural employment, now than ever before, reflecting the growth in economic opportunities available to them. Up until the financial crisis in 2008, female labor force participation increased in almost all regions, with the fastest growth in being in Latin America and the OECD and among young adults. According to the recently released 2011 State of Food and Agriculture report, women comprise an average of 43 percent of the agricultural labor force of developing countries, ranging from about 20 percent in Latin America to almost 50 percent in Eastern and Southeastern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Yet it is also true that in most countries around the world, females face inferior employment opportunities relative to males; they are clustered in female-dominated job sectors or informal employment that is low-wage and insecure. Unfortunately, time series evidence on the female share of informal employment do notexist for most countries. Nonetheless, cross-sectional evidence since 2000 indicates that informal employment – which does not usually provide job security, benefits or adequate income – continues to represent a larger share of women’s employment than men’s.[1] Data limitations prevent tracking progress toward reducing sex segregation, both across and within occupations, which is related to women’s low wages and women’s reliance on informal employment, but it remains extensive.

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Making the Unavoidable Unacceptable

On World Water Day, March 22, safe drinking water and sanitation experts gather across the globe both to celebrate successes and to develop more effective, sustainable ways of meeting this vital development need. One element of those conversations is that the lack of safe drinking water and sanitation in developing countries poses a number of multidisciplinary challenges:

  • This is primarily a global public health challenge, but requires primarily public works solutions.
  • Water and sanitation are important in their own right, but both are also vital to sustainable progress for other important development challenges including health, nutrition, education (especially for girls), poverty alleviation, and human security.
  • Solutions require innovation, but most importantly they require appropriately and sustainably scaling the answers known since Roman times, or at least since the introduction of chlorine into New Jersey’s municipal water supply in 1903.

As challenging as it is, however, we can undeniably achieve universal access to water and sanitation with today’s technology, funding, and political leadership.

That last statement resonates most loudly for the 884 million people who lack safe drinking water today, and for the 2.6 billion people who lack improved sanitation facilities. The approximately two million deaths due annually to unsafe water and sanitation, and the waterborne diseases causing those deaths, can for the most part be prevented. And preventing them is not simply smart development policy for the United States; it is a life and death situation for millions of people, and a significant leadership opportunity for this Administration and country.

On World Water Day let us recognize that this challenge is not simply solvable. It is being solved by communities all over the world, and the government of the United States and its philanthropies, corporations, and citizens are helping in often very effective and sustainable ways. Health specialists, engineers, and economic development experts work together to not just drill more wells and build more latrines, but to strengthen capacity of indigenous groups and communities in developing countries to provide these services themselves.

So as USAID and its partners in the United States and abroad continue to implement fully the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 [PDF], some suggestions follow on how to accelerate that progress and make sure the work sustains itself over the long run:

2011 is the year of quality, effectiveness, and sustainability in the water and sanitation sector. Implementing agencies of the U.S. Government and outside entities (nonprofits, philanthropists, civic groups like Rotary International, corporate philanthropies, and private citizens) should always ask themselves the tough questions during the early stages of each program:

  • Is the activity they are implementing or supporting likely to endure technically? Are local businesspersons trained and incentivized to manage a supply chain?
  • Is the financial model in place to ensure that the funds will be available locally to repair, upgrade, or expand the system?
  • Is the ribbon-cutting ceremony not just the self-congratulatory end of the program, but simply the next step toward a sustainable water and sanitation intervention that endures 15-20 years?
  • Is there an ongoing monitoring and evaluation program whose successes and failures are frequently updated and knowable to all stakeholders?

In today’s tight fiscal times we need the answer to these questions to be “Yes” more frequently than in the past. This will get the biggest possible bang for our dollar, be it a development assistance or a philanthropic dollar.

So on World Water Day let us take a closer look at sustainably tackling the lack of safe drinking water and sanitation. This is an unassailably grave yet solvable development challenge, and a multi-track diplomacy opportunity with almost unlimited upside. The United States government and citizens have an opportunity to prevent more waterborne illness and mortality and should redouble efforts to do so in a sustainable, scalable fashion. Let us work together to turn water-related death and disease from an unavoidable fact of life to completely unacceptable.

World Water Day events in the Washington DC area:
The United Nations World Water Day website:
UNICEF / WHO Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation:

John Oldfield is Managing Director of the WASH Advocacy Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy effort in Washington DC entirely dedicated to helping solve the global safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) challenge. Its mission is to increase awareness of the global WASH challenge and solutions, and to increase the amount and effectiveness of resources devoted to solving the problem around the developing world.

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