Julie A. Howard is the U.S. Government Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future
My job as the Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future is to champion the cause for global food security. It’s good for health, it supports economic growth, and it promotes global stability. For as much as I value the work I do in Washington, it is opportunities to visit our programs in the field that really reinforce for me what a difference investments in food security can make.
I am in Zambia this week for the tenth annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum. Earlier today, I was with United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk when he announced a U.S. commitment of up to $30 million per year for four years to support trade expansion in Africa. This will facilitate U.S.-Africa trade and intra-regional trade. It will also leverage private sector resources and investments by other donors.
Following the day’s events at AGOA, I saw firsthand how this can work. USTR Kirk and I joined U.S. Ambassador Mark Storella for a visit to the Freshpikt canning factory – the only one of its kind in Zambia. Over the past several years, investments from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have helped the factory to source produce from smallholder farmers, which raises their incomes. In turn, this has provided consumers throughout the region the option to purchase high-quality, locally canned goods that are competing favorably against imported products. They are also being exported, which helps the Zambian economy.
During our visit, Freshpikt and PS International – a U.S.-based company specializing in international trade of bulk agricultural commodities – signed a letter signifying PS International’s intent to invest up to $30 million to increase Freshpikt’s capacity to can tomatoes for regional markets.
A main objective of Feed the Future, the U.S. global hunger and food security initiative, is to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and rural incomes through diversification and private sector development. Today’s visit was inspiring. I’m looking forward to spending the next few days in Zambia!
In Benin, we will hold the closing ceremony of the first annual Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) campaign in northern Benin (Atacora) funded under President’s Malaria Initiative. IRS applies insecticide and protects against mosquitoes that transmit malaria in the houses of rural communities that are most exposed to the disease.
In Ghana, we will launch the Les Aspin Anti-corruption and Good Governance training program. Les Aspin’s Africa training program involves participants from Ghana (4 persons), Kenya (4 persons), Uganda (2 persons), Tanzania (2 persons), Mali (2 persons) and Nigeria (2 persons). Selected participants include junior to middle level personnel of government and civil society organizations working in the area of anti-corruption and the administration of justice. The Anti-Corruption and Good Governance program, which is an annual event, is a capacity building activity in anti-corruption and good governance for government and civil society leaders from Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The six West and East African countries have been selected based on their political stability. The Les Aspin Center in Washington, D.C. conducts workshops in two phases: the orientation takes place in Ghana and the actual workshop takes place in the United States. For the current workshop, there are 16 participants representing civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, and government.
In Serbia, we will hold an event to mark our assistance to Serbian Berry Sector. This collaboration is significant to the progress and expansion of the berry sector in Serbia. Issues pertaining to export, coordination of assistance, new markets, policy issues and constraints will be addressed.
In Senegal, at Bembey University we will launch a higher education agreement with Fairfield University. This new partnership between the United States and Senegal seeks to introduce a service learning model to support health education for middle school students and teacher training in educational technology.
In Egypt, as part of the Improving the Performance of Nurses in Upper Egypt (IPN) project, we will hold the first networking meeting for participating nurses from Qena hospitals.
In Indonesia, we will be sending thirteen students for studies at Georgia State University (GSU) to earn Masters in Applied Economics with a focus on fiscal policy. Most of the students come from the Government of Indonesia’s Fiscal Policy Office of the Ministry of Finance and have spent the last year studying at Gadjah Mada University (GMU) in Yogyakarta to improve their knowledge of this complex issue.
In Indonesia, in collaboration with AusAID we designed and implemented a school reconstruction project for 34 West Sumatra primary schools using a “build back better” principle, which underscored that schools were to be reconstructed after earthquake damage to meet Indonesian seismic standards. USAID reconstructed 20 primary schools, including procurement of furniture and books. Project construction was completed in early April. This week, we will handover these Padang Schools to the West Sumatra people.
Also in Indonesia, we will hold a TechCamp. TechCamp Jakarta is a hands-on, two-day event that brings together civil society leaders, technologists and local officials in Jakarta to identify technologies that can make a positive impact in local communities. It focuses on providing a unique interactive opportunity for technologists, civil society groups, and officials from across Indonesia and the United States to collaborate and discuss ways in which new technology can be used for social good. The aim is for TechCamp to become a self-organizing, self-replicating event that can be organized by communities all over the world. This event will be interactive, with a participant-driven agenda tentatively focused on disaster relief and climate change.
In the Safa village in Ramallah, West Bank, we will hold a bike race as part of the Model School Development Program. This initiative seeks to introduce a student-centered, contemporary approach to teaching and learning that integrates child development at the physical, cognitive, psychological, and social levels. The focus is on improving the quality of teaching and learning in the areas of English, science, and mathematics, within a network of 57 public and private schools in the West Bank and Gaza.
In Mozambique, we will hold a Go Girls! Initiative event. Go Girls! is focused on reducing young women’s vulnerability to HIV. It is aimed at reaching girls age 10–17 years old in Botswana, Malawi, and Mozambique. At the event, we will present recommendations for sustaining the momentum & committing to reduce girls’ vulnerability to HIV.
In Iraq, we will hold several courses of the Farmer Field School (FFS) to tutor farmers on greenhouse management. The group-based hands-on approach of the FFS includes adult education, facilitation, plant-animal life cycles, group study and farmer group development to improve out-of-season production in Iraq.
In Lebanon, in honor of the World Earth Day, the U.S. Forest Service and local NGO Association for Forest Development and Conservation (AFDC) organized a short play at Aley Cultural Secondary School to raise awareness on forest fire prevention and fire fighting techniques. This event included a short play on fire safety and demonstrations on fire fighting using a fire engine. Over 280 students and faculty members participated in the event.
In Ghana, to commemorate World Malaria Day, a Presidential Malaria Initiative (PMI) resident advisor held a radio interview on USAID PMI efforts to end malaria in Ghana. The USG through USAID and CDC is supporting Ghana’s goal to reduce the malaria disease burden by 75% by the year 2015. In 2010, PMI donated over 2.3 million bed nets to Ghana, and also supported indoor residual spraying in 8 districts in Northern Region, which protected 850,000 people.
In Mozambique, we held a soccer tournament with school children from local communities to disseminate the malaria message. We continue to seek new and innovative ways to combat malaria at the local level.
In Senegal, we will launch a new training curriculum on Value Chain and Agri-Food Business in collaboration with Michigan State University. The 4-semester Master’s Degree program is mainly aimed at regular fourth-year agricultural engineering students and includes tailor-made short-term training modules for working people. The overall objective is to promote excellence beyond national boundaries and to generate a critical mass of skillful professionals that will lead to structural changes required for the development of domestic agriculture and its adaption to a global market economy.
In Indonesia, we will host the Indonesia International Infrastructure Conference to highlight the launch of the Indonesia Clean Energy Development (ICED) Program. This program will continue our assistance in the energy sector and focus on increasing access to energy and reducing green house gas emissions from the energy sector through fostering the development of clean energy. A great opportunity to align the program with the Government of Indonesia objectives and strategies in clean energy development.
In Paraguay, along with local NGO’s we will launch a Democracy – Civil Society Program in Asuncion. This 3-year program will promote the participation of different social sectors, strengthen civil society organizations, promote civic education content in formal education curriculum and promote ethics in journalism.
In Kingston, Jamaica we will celebrate Reading Week. As part of the celebration, Jamaica’s Mission Director will take time to read to a class of children. I-PLEDGE is an initiative of Grace Kennedy Money Services (GKMS) through the brand Western Union, which seeks to support the development of primary education by improving literacy, particularly reading. April fourth to eighth will be observed as Reading Week.
In Vietnam, we will sign a memo of intent for an Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program. Recognizing that nearly 75 percent of all new, emerging, or re-emerging diseases affecting humans at the beginning of the 21st century have originated in animals, USAID has launched a global Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program. In Vietnam, this program will support the development of comprehensive disease detection and response capacities, particularly in geographic areas where disease threats are likely to emerge, and work to aggressively pre-empt or combat diseases that could spark future pandemics.
In Mozambique, we will handover archaeological artifacts and historical preservation work conducted on Ibo Island under USAID’s Arco Norte Tourism Project. USAID has been working on cultural, archaeological and historical assets on Ibo Island since 2006. With the end of the USAID funded Arco Norte Tourism project, we completed this support and now want to hand-over these improved and restored assets to the Ministry of Culture in Mozambique.
In Senegal, in collaboration with Michigan State University, we will have the official launch of a new training curriculum on Value Chain and Agri-Food Business. The 4-semester Master’s Degree program is mainly aimed at regular fourth-year agricultural engineering students and includes tailor-made short-term training modules for working people. The overall objective is to promote excellence beyond national boundaries and to generate a critical mass of skillful professionals that will lead to structural changes required for the development of domestic agriculture and its adaption to a global market economy.
In Nicaragua, we are promoting citizen participation through our Municipal Governance Program. The first ten municipalities recently signed agreements with USAID’s Municipal Governance Program, a five-year program that will help improve local governance through transparent and effective management of public resources and active citizen engagement. The program will also provide funding for the implementation of municipal service improvements and infrastructure projects. To date, 30 municipalities, the majority located in food insecure regions of Nicaragua, have been invited to participate in the program. Selection criteria included political will, gender inclusiveness, level of citizen participation, geographic and political representativeness, among others.
In Afghanistan, we are kicking off April with many notable activities. Including, the Kabul Girls’ School Opening, launch of the “Land Reform in Afghanistan” activity, Mazar Women’s Market opening and the grand reopening of Turquoise Mountain.
In Jamaica, the U.S. government is partnering with the Jamaica Constabulary Force to host the region’s First Law Enforcement Anti-Corruption Conference. The two-day conference will feature leading anti-corruption champions and will bring together high level law enforcement personnel, including Commissioners of Police and Customs, to conduct a situational analysis of corruption in the individual Caribbean territories, and to share their experiences on the fight against corruption in their jurisdictions. Participants will also work to: identify the types and levels of corruption, and the status of anti-corruption initiatives in the region; ascertain best practices in the fight against corruption; and explore, with a view to establishing, Regional Law Enforcement Anti-Corruption networks.
This conference is one of several activities supported by the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), which is a shared security partnership that fulfills the commitment to deepen regional security cooperation that President Barack Obama made at the Fifth Summit of the Americas, held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in April 2009. CBSI complements other citizen safety initiatives between the United States and other partners in the hemisphere.
In Turkmenistan, in note of World TB Day, we are holding a National TB Conference for health workers. Partners include The National Center for Infectious Diseases of Turkmenistan, TB Prevention Center, WHO, National Red Crescent Society and UNDP.
In Pakistan, we will host a radio talk show on USAID’s initiative to improve economic wellbeing of women micro entrepreneurs by partnering with local organizations through its ENTREPRENEURS Project. This will be the fourth show of the radio series. Representatives from USAID, ENTREPRENEURS’ Project and program beneficiary will be invited to discuss USAID’s support to Pakistani women micro entrepreneurs, sharing their experiences of how they benefitted and further possibilities for Pakistani women to contribute for economic wellbeing of their families and country at large.