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Engaging Presidential Management Fellows at USAID

Dr.  Shah recently met with a group of 75 Presidential Management Fellows (PMFs) and PMF alumni at USAID. The discussion focused on engaging the dynamic PMF community in the reforms associated with USAID Forward.

Presidential Management Fellow Class of 2008. Photo Credit: Harry Edwards/USAID

Notable guests at this event included Deborah Kennedy, the Director of Human Resources, and Ambassador Barry Wells, the Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Diversity. Deputy Assistant Administrators Mark Lopes and Barbara Feinstein, who started their careers as PMFs, were also in attendance. These senior leaders from across the agency offered advice and wisdom to the PMFs at USAID.

The Presidential Management Fellowship program is a prestigious two-year government fellowship that places recent graduate students in USG federal agencies. The PMF Program was established in 1977 to attract outstanding citizen-scholars to Federal service from a variety of academic disciplines and career paths who have an interest and commitment to excellence in the leadership and management of public policies and programs. The PMF Program is competitive and designed with a narrow focus: developing a cadre of government leaders. By drawing graduate students with a variety of backgrounds, the PMF Program provides a continuing source of trained men and women to meet the future challenges of public service. Students use this two-year fellowship as a stepping stone to highly visible and respected leadership positions in the Federal Government.

USAID, along with the State Department, is one of the most sought-after placements for PMFs, and PMFs at the agency are grateful for the opportunity to work here. The PMF community at USAID is a vibrant and dynamic group of young professionals and staff who are eager to be more deeply involved as leaders in agency reforms, such as those associated with USAID Forward.

Dr. Shah told the PMFs that we are at a unique point in time in the agency. He encouraged PMFs to be the voice of results-oriented thinking and learning, particularly around key USAID initiatives such as Feed the Future, Climate Change, and Global Health. As he said, “You can be the symbols of how we work in the future.” This was the first time Dr. Shah had met with the large PMF community at USAID, and he expressed an appreciation for the program as a tool for recruiting and retaining talent.

Many PMFs were inspired by Dr. Shah’s words: “You can be a part of the most significant transformation of a major bureaucracy in the most important area of how we as Americans express our values in the world.”

USAID’s Evaluation Policy: Setting the Standard

By: Ruth Levine, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning

In a major address today, Dr. Shah will announce USAID’s new evaluation policy, evidence of the renewed emphasis the Agency is placing on evaluation, measuring and documenting program achievements and shortcomings, and generating data on what works to drive decision-making.

The policy marks a significant change from current practice, yet builds on the Agency’s long and innovative history with evaluation.  It seeks to redress the decline in the quantity and quality of USAID’s recent evaluation practice.

And it is my pleasure to offer you a sneak peek. Key points include:

1.       Defining impact evaluation and performance evaluation and requiring at least one performance evaluation for each major program and any untested and innovative interventions, and encouraging impact evaluation for each major development objective in a country program, especially for new or untested approaches and interventions:

2.       Calling for evaluation to be integrated into programs when they are designed;

3.       Requiring sufficient resources be dedicated to evaluation, estimated at approximately three percent of total program dollars;

4.       Requiring that evaluations use methods, whether qualitative or quantitative, that generate the highest quality evidence linked to the evaluation questions and that can reasonably be expected to be reproducible, yielding similar findings if applied by a different team of qualified evaluators;

5.       Building local capacity by including local evaluators on evaluation teams and supporting partner government and civil society capacity to undertake evaluations; and

6.       Insisting on transparency of findings with the presumption of full and active disclosure barring principled and rare exceptions.

This policy – which you will find here – sets a new standard for evaluation practice. Thank you to those who informed its development. Watch this space for updates on how the Agency implements its renewed commitment to evaluation.

Secretary Clinton Holds Town Hall Meeting at USAID on the QDDR

On Friday, Secretary Clinton and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah spoke on the First Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), “Leading Through Civilian Power,” at a town hall meeting at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Here is the webcast in case you missed it.

Leading Through Civilian Power

After months of effort and meaningful discussions, today I was happy to join Secretary Clinton to unveil the first ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) at a State Department town hall.

Complementing the Presidential Policy Directive on development that was released earlier this year, the QDDR helps make real the commitment the Secretary has shown to creating a modern, efficient diplomatic and development architecture.

For USAID, the QDDR provides an opportunity for this Agency to demonstrate its capabilities, elevating the role development plays in our nation’s foreign policy while empowering us to be inclusive leaders. It affirms USAID mission directors as the top development advisers in U.S. embassies and grants USAID the hiring authority to attract and recruit top talent. It also recognizes USAID as the lead agency in charge of President Obama’s chief development initiative, Feed the Future, and positions us to lead the Global Health Initiative by the end of FY 2012.

Critically, the QDDR endorses the suite of reforms we began earlier this year—USAID Forward—recognizing this Agency’s need to develop new systems and capacities to deliver against these new opportunities. We will continue to streamline our work and cut red-tape, transforming our Agency into a modern, efficient development enterprise. But we also must renew our engagement with our interagency partners in a spirit of inclusive leadership and cooperation, and focus thoughtfully, aggressively, and primarily on delivering results for those we serve.

We should keep in mind that in the end, success for this Agency and the people we serve will not be delivered in a directive or a document, no matter how powerful or carefully crafted. Our success will be determined by the hard work and enlightened leadership we show. The QDDR has provided us a blueprint to effectively channel our efforts, but it is only as powerful as we make it.

Celebrating International Volunteer Day

USAID has partnered with the American people to leverage the skills of professional volunteers in meeting pressing development challenges in health, food security, climate change, economic growth and education.  In celebration of International Volunteer Day, we are proud to highlight a few of the great volunteers supported by the USAID’s Volunteers for Prosperity program who volunteer their time and skills to meet some of these development challenges.

In 1985, The United Nations General Assembly established International Volunteer Day with the hopes of highlighting the tremendous contributions that volunteers make worldwide.  Since then, governments, the UN system and civil society organizations have joined together around the world to celebrate the work of volunteers on December 5th.   This year, the UN Volunteers program has made volunteering for one or more of the Millennium Development Goals its theme.

The Volunteers for Prosperity program is focused on encouraging international voluntary service by highly skilled American professionals and partnering with U.S. based NGOs who have active volunteer programs abroad.   The Volunteers for Prosperity Service Incentive program supports skilled volunteers through a competitive matching grants process.    We are partnering with the IBM Corporation to launch an International Corporate Volunteer Program which intends to expand the number of companies and volunteers assisting in developing countries. Additionally, the Volunteers for Prosperity website serves as a clearing house whereby volunteers and volunteer organizations can connect.   To find out more about the program visit the new Volunteers for Prosperity website at www.volunteersforprosperity.gov.

Volunteers can have a profound impact on development and we are committed to finding innovative ways to incorporate the use of volunteer resources into the design and implementation of development programming.

Taking a Stand Against Violence Now

“Girls have been made to believe that they need someone to survive.”

These powerful words came from one of the commentators in the short documentary, SASA!, a film about women, violence and HIV/AIDS.

Sasa is Kiswahili for “now.” As in now is the time to take a stand against women’s violence. And we need to make this change now.

SASA! tells the powerful story of Josephine and Mama Joyce, two women from different countries, but in similar situations. Beaten, abused, pushed down, and left HIV positive by the men they married.

As young women, they were made to feel powerless and told they wouldn’t be happy unless they were with a man—even a man who abuses them.

Their situations are not isolated cases; globally, at least one out of every four women is beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused during her lifetime.

One out of four.

Gender based violence (GBV), is a pervasive public health and human rights issue throughout the world. GBV consists of sexual, physical, emotional and/or financial abuse and is manifested throughout the life cycle.

Furthermore, this type of violence against another human being has negative health consequences.

In Mama Joyce and Josephine’s situations, they were both left HIV positive. Josephine’s husband slept with other women, and when she brought up the use of a condom, he beat her. And even though she protested, he forced sex on her. Adding salt to the wound, her in-laws blamed their son’s death on her. Mama Joyce’s husband left her and his second wife, leaving Mama Joyce to take care of her ailing “co-wife.”

But these women remained strong. They became leaders in their communities, hold support groups, and encourage other women who are in similar situations.End Violence Against Women Graphic

USAID, through the Global Health Initiative, is fully committed to preventing and responding to gender-based violence. Interventions work with both men and women to address the multiple factors at various levels that fuel the issue, and we are looking to help make a change in these women’s lives now.

Helping Women Avoid HIV Infection and Transmission

HIV-positive and pregnant with her second child, Grace Abalo was like many other women in the developing world- in need of services to prevent her child from contracting HIV. Determined to have her baby born healthy, Grace and her husband joined a USAID-funded family support group at the health center near their home in Uganda.

There Grace learned how to access prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programs and other services that support their health in the long term, as well as strategies for positive living, safe infant feeding, and healthy child care.

“I learned why and how to adhere to cotrimoxazole prophylaxis, what antiretroviral therapy is, and which breastfeeding options would not put my children at risk of being infected,” said Grace.

Armed with knowledge and support, Grace was able to ensure her child stayed HIV negative. She and her husband continued to receive ongoing support through the network of people living with HIV/AIDS, and she has even begun to help other HIV-positive mothers take their children for testing and educates them on breastfeeding options.

With women of childbearing age accounting for more than half of the people living with HIV/AIDS, PMTCT programs are vital to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. And while these interventions are aimed at women, it is just as important to gain support and participation from their male partners. Like Grace, the support of the men in the life of an HIV-positive woman can make a tremendous difference. With education of men, comes the understanding of the disease, how it’s spread, and how to treat it. This then can result in positive changes in gender, social and cultural norms.

Across the world women just like Grace deserve a chance to have healthy babies. Through the Global Health Initiative, USAID will continue to work to provide every woman with the opportunity to have a healthy child.

Giving Girls a Chance Against HIV/AIDS

In Malawi, Chimwemwe Banda was abandoned by her parents when she was a young girl; she and her sister were left to take care of themselves. Without money to pay for basic needs or tuition, Chimwemwe was forced to drop out of school. In hopes of improving her situation, like many girls in Malawi, she entered into an early marriage— Chimwemwe was only 15 years old on her wedding day.  Soon after she married, Chimwemwe realized that life was not going to get better just because she had a husband.

Chimwemwe Banda is one of the many girls who has benefited from a Go Girls! community intervention. Photo Credit: Hilary M. Schwandt/AFP

Early marriage, along with behaviors such as transactional and intergenerational sex, contributes to girls’ vulnerability to HIV. Chimwemwe is just one of the 600 million girls living in poverty who are at increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Similarly, girls who are orphans, early school leavers, socially marginalized, and/or migrants have a heightened vulnerability to the virus. Worldwide, women and girls bear the brunt of the HIV/AIDS epidemic; according to the World Health Organization, AIDS is the leading cause of death among women aged 15-44 worldwide.

Socio-economic factors like poverty, along with gender norms such as expectations around early marriage, can lead to increased vulnerabilities that discourage girls from asserting control over the timing and circumstances of sex, including negotiating protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Most interventions to date have focused on individual-level behavioral change without sufficient consideration of the structural factors that fuel the epidemic. USAID is working to address this imbalance through the Go Girls! Initiative.

In fact, it was Go Girls! that stepped in to help Chimwemwe. With their assistance Chimwemwe dissolved her marriage. Her village developed a community mobilization team that recognized the detrimental effects of early marriage on girls, and advocated delaying marriage as a strategy for maintaining girls’ health and encouraging their educational pursuits.

Since the end of her marriage, Chimwemwe returned to school. She now leads a happier life and enjoys going to school everyday. “I feel good about being back in school,” she said. “If I had the opportunity to advise other girls, I would tell them not to marry early but to continue schooling because school is good. I am working hard at school every day so that I may have a brighter future.”

The 16 Days Campaign to End Violence Against Women: From 25 November to 10 December, USAID will post a blog each day that aims to prove a single point: The human race cannot progress when half of the world population lives without the same rights and respect afforded to its male counterpart. If you are moved by what you read and want to share, we’ve made it easy for you. Click here to find out how.

World AIDS Day 2010

On World AIDS Day, we commit to build upon our successes and continue to make smart investments that will ultimately save and improve millions of lives.  Join us this week as we highlight some of our successes and share stories of those helped by our programs.

If you’d like to learn more about the Go Girls! program, including how to access free copies of the Go Girls! program materials, contact ghcommunicationsteam@usaid.gov

 

USAID Commends Major Advance in HIV Prevention Research

Results released today from the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Initiative (iPrEx) study confirmed that daily oral use of a combination antiretroviral (ARV), Truvada, reduced the risk of HIV infection by 44 percent among men who have sex with men. This historic iPrEx trial provides the first proof of concept that oral PrEP of an ARV can prevent HIV transmission.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) congratulates the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology-UCSF, and most importantly, the 2,499 pioneering participants who volunteered for this important clinical trial on the promising results from iPrEx.  Global iPrEx is the first large efficacy study to evaluate the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men in Africa, Asia, and North and South America.

These promising results also encourage other research partners to continue working on more PrEP and microbicide options which may lead to new tools for HIV prevention.  The AIDS pandemic calls for a dynamic variety of HIV prevention methods to ensure those at risk have choices to use the one that best suits the needs of their lifestyle.

According to new UNAIDS estimates, women worldwide account for more than half of all HIV infections, and in sub-Saharan Africa continue to bear the brunt of the AIDS epidemic, USAID will continue critical research and development work in PrEP for women at high risk.  The FemPrEP clinical trial—led by FHI with support from USAID—is designed to test the safety and effectiveness of a daily dose of Truvada for HIV prevention.  Close to 4,000 HIV-negative women who are at higher risk of HIV are being enrolled in five sites in four countries: Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe; results are expected 2012.

Based on the positive results from the CAPRISA 004 trial which were released in July, USAID will continue to support the regulatory approval of 1% tenofovir gel after further confirmation of its effectiveness.  USAID is committed to ensuring the launch of a new generation of products designed expressly for women and capable of preventing the transmission of HIV.

Finding a woman-controlled method of prevention is critical in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  In line with President Obama’s Global Health Initiative, USAID is committed to focusing on the needs of women and girls in its health programming worldwide.

USAID continues to build on a solid foundation of robust science and new technologies, enabling innovation to redefine and strengthen U.S. development assistance globally.

USAID Provides Training to Masons in Haiti

A reception in a downtown hotel in Port-au-Prince is buzzing with excitement. Fellow classmates are chatting about their plans after graduation. Many are dressed in their Sunday best to mark the proud day.

One hundred and fifty newly trained masons successfully graduated a joint program sponsored by USAID/KATA and CEMEX, a building materials company.  The program trained young people living in poor neighborhoods on how to create quality masonry blocks.  Of 150 graduates, 75 of them are people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.

“The program helps them learn valuable skills and empowers them to improve their lives and the lives of their families,” said CHF International’s Haiti Director Alberto Wilde.

The graduates underwent a three month training that exposed them to masonry best practices and techniques. They also learned entrepreneurial skills to help them start micro enterprises. All students received molding, cement, sand, and a masonry guide at the end of the program.

“When I was working under somebody else I was making 2,500 gourdes ($62.50). But with my own business I make about 5,000 gourdes ($125). Of these 5,000 gourdes I have reinvested half in order that my business grows further. Now, I am planning to have a laborer in order to have even bigger productivity,” said Alcide Delcy, age 23.

The small business created by the USAID/KATA and CEMEX graduates can help support Haiti’s economic recovery. Their training also helps support the country’s efforts to build back better as homes and other buildings are constructed using higher quality blocks.

At the ceremony, CEMEX Representative Linda Gaillard said to the graduates, “You have the training in your heads and the tools in your hands. Now go out and do your best work.”

These words were met with loud cheers and big smiles.

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