USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Extreme Poverty

USAID in the News

US News and World Report reported on USAID’s contributions to the relief effort in the Philippines following the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan. The article focuses on USAID’s decision to purchase food directly from local Filipino distributors—a choice which will not only ease the logistical complications of getting supplies to the areas where they are needed, but also inject cash into the Philippine economy at a time when it is greatly needed. Jeremy Konyndyk, director of the U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance program at USAID, said, “We’re getting to a point where we can start thinking about recovery aspects, but we don’t want to declare victory prematurely. The destruction in those coastal areas was near total.”

This photo was taken in hard-hit Tacloban, where USAID, working with UNICEF, has helped repair the municipal water system. Photo credit:  IOM/J. Lowry

This photo was taken in hard-hit Tacloban, where USAID, working with UNICEF, has helped repair the municipal water system. Photo credit: IOM/J. Lowry

Thomas Reuters Foundation featured a story that examined the USAID relief efforts in the Philippines in the light of lessons learned from the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The piece quotes USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah saying that the Philippines’ “strong, capable central government” will help avoid problems in the reconstruction process. “To get reconstruction investment back into the (Philippines) economy and rebuild these communities will take a longer amount of time and will have to be very strategic and focused. But it will require very strong leadership from the government of Philippines and we expect we will see that,” said Shah.

GMA News reported on the scale of USAID’s relief operations for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, quoting Al Dwyer, the head of the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) at USAID, who said that the current effort in the Philippines “is much greater than what we have ever done in the past.” The U.S. is working with other countries to coordinate the response, and has donated at least $47 million in humanitarian assistance and sent 2.6 million food parcels thus far.

Another piece from GMA News focused on the $10 million that was pledged earlier in the week by the U.S. government to help restore clean water in Tacloban City and provide support to the logistical operations. USAID Assistant Administrator of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy E. Lindborg said that the funding “will allow much-needed relief supplies to reach to hard-hit areas and ensure that 200,000 people in and around Tacloban have clean running water.”

Devex reported on a speech given by Administrator Shah at Brookings Institution, which outlined the agency’s new three-part commitment to helping end extreme poverty. The approach will focus on public-private partnerships, country programs that demand mutual accountability and disaster-prone, fragile areas and communities. In the speech, Shah expressed that a focus on fragile areas must be better informed by an understanding of what results investment in these areas can be expected to produce.

Spy Ghana covered USAID scholarship awards to prospective students through the USAID West Africa Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Program at the University for Development Studies in Tamale. The scholarships will support 30 students at six universities in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Niger who wish to pursue master’s degrees in the fields of soil and water conservation, innovation communications, development studies, and science.

Dhaka Tribune featured a piece on the USAID Bengal Tiger Conservation Activity partnership with WildTeam focused on conserving the rich biodiversity of Bangladesh, particularly the Royal Bengal Tiger. The effort, named the Bagh Project, will devote approximately $13 million to wildlife conservation efforts through reducing illegal trafficking, minimizing human-wildlife conflict, enhancing outreach and engagement, and improving livelihoods for conservation.

A Global Effort to End Extreme Poverty

Alex Thier is Assistant to the Administrator for Policy, Planning, and Learning

Alex Thier is Assistant to the Administrator for Policy, Planning, and Learning

Yesterday, Administrator Shah and I participated in an excellent panel at the Brookings Institution to discuss a bold vision of a world without extreme poverty by 2030 – a commitment outlined by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union Address. At USAID, we recognize that – for the first time in history – a world without extreme poverty is possible.

This is an ambitious challenge: to lift more than 1 billion people out of extreme poverty. But we have built a solid foundation. USAID and the international community have improved economic opportunity, health, food security, education, equality, stability, and accountable governance for millions of people. In fact, nearly 700 million people have moved above the $1.25 per day poverty line since 1990. If we continue on this trajectory, we could reach zero by 2030.

Major initiatives are underway in areas like food security and energy to promote economic growth, and have begun to address the fundamental pathways out of poverty. In Feed the Future countries, extreme poverty rates fell by an average of 5.6 percent from 2005 to 2011. The energy-economic development work of Power Africa aims to reach 20 million new households and commercial entities in power-starved sub-Saharan Africa and expand opportunities for growth for the 85 percent in rural areas lacking any access.  Efforts to promote democracy, human rights, and good governance; accelerate child survival; empower women and girls; create resilient societies; and mitigate climate change are also essential to ending extreme poverty.

But can we accelerate momentum towards ending extreme poverty? To be successful, we need to employ broader, more coordinated efforts and more innovative solutions: we must leverage resources, build high-impact partnerships, harness technology, and prioritize evidence-based analysis.  Throughout the Agency we are adapting a new model for development – incorporating extreme poverty into our strategic planning and programming at the country level and increasing our use of inclusive growth diagnostics, which are rooted in and relevant to specific country contexts.

In addition, new and exciting partnerships are leveraging additional resources. Just this week, USAID, the Swedish International Development Agency, and Volvo forged a partnership to promote sustainable development in Africa through workforce development to include vocational training, traffic and road safety, and workplace health and wellness including HIV/AIDS prevention.

USAID as an Agency is postured to lead the global discussion and elevate the discourse on the challenges we face to continue this momentum. We need to grapple with such questions as: Do we know who poverty is and how they experience it? How inclusive is economic growth and is it effective in fragile states? Can we say with certainty how to accelerate poverty direction and what investments are the most effective?

Our discussion at Brookings was an impressive start to what we hope will be a fruitful, collaborative step forward toward global change. It will only be through continued global partnership and determination that we will be able to truly lift one billion people out of the most abject poverty in the next two decades—and eradicate extreme poverty entirely. But it is possible.

Learn more about how USAID is working to end extreme poverty.

Read Administrator Shah’s remarks at the Brookings Institution event, “Ending Extreme Poverty: Can It Be Done? If So, How?” on November 21, 2013.

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