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USAID in the News

Weekly Briefing (11/14/2011 – 11/18/2011)

November 14: CNN’s Security Clearance blog reports that five former U.S. Secretary of States wrote a joint letter to Congress addressing the importance of foreign aid. In the letter, former Secretaries Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, George Schultz and Henry Kissinger write that, “now is not the time for America to retreat from the world.” And that, “this is one area where leaders of both parties can find common ground and come together to ensure a better, safer world and a more prosperous future.”

November 16: The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Alumni magazine published a story on USAID Foreign Service Officer Michael Eddy. Eddy served in South Sudan and worked during the historic referendum and voting process. His service helped promote democracy and governance in the world’s newest country.

Selectivity and Focus

You’ve heard USAID talk about selectivity and focus in theory, but what do these principles mean in practice?

In response to the global trends that are reshaping the development landscape and in line with the QDDR and PPD, USAID will apply seven operational principles across the Agency to help us focus on achieving and measuring results. These principles are not new; many have a long and rich history within the Agency. But under the USAID Policy Framework, they will be applied systematically and with greater discipline and analytical rigor to demonstrate results at a higher level.   One of these principles is the application of selectivity and focus to our programmatic decisions.

According to this Policy Framework, selectivity is about where USAID invests its resources. It demands that the agency invest resources in countries or sectors where they are likely to have the greatest impact on development objectives at the country and/or global level. The key to applying selectivity is (1) gaining a good understanding of the conditions on the ground that are needed to “move the needle” in a certain development objective, and (2) applying clear, measurable, and relevant criteria for selecting countries, sub-national regions, or sectors on the basis of those conditions.

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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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USAID’s Frontlines – October/November 2011

Read the latest edition of USAID’s premier publication, FrontLines to learn more about the Agency’s 50th anniversary as well as its work in food security.

Some highlights:

 This photo tied for second place in the FrontLines USAID 50th anniversary photo contest. Local community members from outside of Dalanzadgad, Mongolia, often travel into town to join in USAID’s entrepreneurial activities, including craft and furniture production. Camels are the preferred mode of travel because they are able to carry many items. 2007. Photo credit: James Orlando

This photo tied for second place in the FrontLines USAID 50th anniversary photo contest. Local community members from outside of Dalanzadgad, Mongolia, often travel into town to join in USAID’s entrepreneurial activities, including craft and furniture production. Camels are the preferred mode of travel because they are able to carry many items. 2007. Photo credit: James Orlando

  • The Agency’s Horn of Africa aid delivers a one-two punch of emergency assistance and long-term support
  • And, check out photos that illustrate the best of USAID’s past and present from the latest FrontLines photo contest, where readers were asked to send in pictures to mark the Agency’s five decades (If you want in on the action, go to the Viewer’s Choice page before Nov. 18 and cast a vote for your favorite image among the official judges’ top-five picks)

If you want an e-mail reminder in your inbox when the latest issue of FrontLines has been posted online, subscribe here.

Veterans at USAID: Continuing to Serve America and the World

In 1978, I was “roaming” the North Atlantic on a guided missile destroyer (USS Luce DDG-38) as a young Naval Officer. During my four years with the Navy, I saw much of what the military’s finest branch had to offer–first as an electronic warfare officer, then as a damage control officer in the engineering department and finally, as the ship’s navigator.

My military service gave me countless gifts that I have used throughout my professional and personal life.  I made lifelong friendships; got accepted to a top business school on the strength of my military career; and gained leadership experience and skills I have used my entire professional life.

It instilled in me a deep sense of commitment and service to our country.  Most recently I was asked to serve President Obama’s Administration as the Assistant Administrator for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade (EGAT) at USAID. At USAID, I have made it a top priority for my bureau to hire, develop, and retain our nation’s finest. Military service–my first experience serving our country, helps me fully appreciate the sacrifices and lives of veterans both as warriors and women and men, heroes in our midst–heroes who always deserve, and often need, jobs.

We recently brought on board Dane Thomas who is retired Air Force. He is currently in our office of Professional Development Administrative Management (PDAM) working on personnel matters for EGAT.   We also brought on board Jan Louis Argilagos, a six-year Navy veteran of Operation Desert Storm. He is currently supporting USAID’s Water and Global Climate Change coordinators, and assisting with communications, research and strategic planning for EGAT’s water and climate change teams. Fellow veteran and former Army Chris Holmes serves as the Agency’s Water Coordinator.  Joel Van Essen, currently on active duty with the U.S. Navy and on loan to USAID, is helping to develop USAID’s water strategy. He is engaged with senior leadership to focus on practical resolutions to water issues in the Horn of Africa.

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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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USAID Celebrates 50 years of Saving Lives Across the Globe

As featured on GHTC

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) celebrates 50 years of leadership and expertise in addressing development challenges to improve lives across the globe.  Since it launched, USAID has had a rich history of supporting global health, including research and development (R&D). Some of the major breakthroughs in global health that USAID has supported include:

  • Oral rehydration therapy (ORT). ORT, a treatment for diarrhea, is credited with saving tens of millions of children’s lives. USAID began supporting this effort in the 1960s. In 1979, USAID made the largest donor investment in the establishment of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, where scientists continue to conduct important R&D to improve ORT.
  • Eradicating smallpox. In 1966, USAID joined the global effort to eradicate smallpox, a contagious disease that killed more than 300 million people in the 20th century. In the same decade that USAID began to fight the disease, 10 million to 15 million people contracted the disease a year, and more than 2 million people died from it. Through investing in research that adapted the mechanics of US military jet injectors for application of the smallpox vaccine, USAID played a critical role in achieving global eradication of the disease.

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USAID in the News: Weekly Briefing (10/31/2011 – 11/04/2011)

October 31: Over the weekend, the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) posted audio from a town hall held to recognize USAID’s 50th anniversary. Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah was joined on stage with former USAID Administrators, who shared their unique view and experience leading America’s development agency.

November 2: In an op-ed published in A href=”/cgi-bin/goodbye?”>Politico, former USAID Administrators highlighted the success and value foreign aid has had over the past 50 years. “Using less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget annually, the American people have demonstrated their deepest values through USAID programs. Because of the efforts of the American people, more than 1 billion people now have safe drinking water, smallpox has been eradicated and tens of millions have been saved though USAID’s famine relief efforts.”

November 3: Look to the Stars, which publishes stories on celebrities making a positive impact on the world, wrote an article on USAID’s FWD Campaign. The story highlighted USAID’s work with the Ad Council, which launched a national PSA campaign featuring Josh Hartnett, Uma Thurman, Geena Davis, Chanel Iman, and Dr. Jill Biden. The ads call on the American public to forward the facts on the famine in the Horn of Africa.

From the Field

In Kosovo, RTK Public TV filmed an episode of  “Classroom Makeover”, in which parents and teachers use materials donated by the community to update and improve classrooms. The show was inspired by a USAID project of same concept.

In Nicaragua, we are supporting fair elections.   In the face of this complex, non-transparent environment for the November 6th national elections, USAID’s election program is focusing on supporting civil society groups that will demand a fair and transparent process.  Etica y Transparencia (ET) and the Instituto para el Desarrollo y la Democracia (IPADE), while not accredited, will deploy citizen observers who conduct crowdsourcing via an interactive election website ( to document any complaints, irregularities, and violence that may be detected. 

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USAID in the News

Weekly Briefing (10/24/2011 – 10/28/2011)

October 26: USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah was interviewed on Fox 5 News to discuss the launch of the new Public Service Announcements highlighting the FWD Campaign. Advertising Age also wrote an article on the videos that feature Dr. Jill Biden, Uma Thurman, Josh Hartnett, Geena Davis and Chanel Iman.

October 26: The White House Blog reports that during a livestreamed video webchat at the White House, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah joined Senior Director of the NSC Gayle Smith and John Carson, Director of the Office of Public Engagement, to discuss the latest developments in the Horn of Africa and take questions from viewers online.

October 27: Devex reported on USAID’s public-private partnership week and the important role businesses can play in development. In the article, Devex highlighted Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah’s economic growth speech. “I’m talking about helping support the work of markets that can deliver profits and create opportunities for women, minorities and the poor,” Shah said. “In short, we must embrace a new wave of creative, enlightened capitalism.”

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