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This Week at USAID – October 11, 2010

Administrator Shah opens a weeklong training for over 80 USAID communications staff from USAID Missions all over the world.  These communicators are in Washington, D.C. to engage with senior officials about elevating development, particularly the first-ever national development strategy issued by a U.S. President and “USAID Forward”, the Agency’s change management agenda.  Sessions featured during the week include: a meeting with staff from the National Security Council, a joint session at the annual State Department Public Affairs Officer’s conference, and a panel discussion with leading foreign policy journalists at the Newseum.

Administrator Shah travels to Des Moines, Iowa to speak at the Borlaug Dialogue, which is held each year in conjunction with the awarding of the World Food Prize.  The theme of the conference is: smallholder agriculture, “Take it to the Farmer“.  Dr Shah will focus on how you take interest in fighting poverty to the smallholder farmer.  He will also promote progress under Feed the Future, the Administration’s global hunger and food security initiative.

Don’t Miss USAID’s Pakistan Open Houses in New York City, Los Angeles, and Houston!

Come participate in one of USAID Pakistan‘s Open Houses in New York City, Los Angeles, and Houston this October.  The events are part of USAID’s ongoing engagement with the Pakistani-American diaspora community around the United States.

You can meet us:

  • Saturday, October 16, 2010, from 10 – 12 PM:
    New York City/Brooklyn and Queens (Crowne Plaza NY LaGuardia Hotel)
  • Saturday, October 16, 2010, from 4 – 6 PM:
    New York City/Westchester County (Hyatt Summerfield Suites)
  • Saturday, October 23, 2010, from 2 – 4 PM:
    Los Angeles (Holiday Inn at Los Angeles International Airport)
  • Saturday, October 30, 2010, from 10 – 12 PM:
    Houston (Crowne Plaza Suites Houston Sugarland)

At each event, staff from the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs will cover USAID’s work in Pakistan, provide information for non-governmental organizations and business on how they can work with USAID in Pakistan, and discuss job and internship opportunities with USAID.  The Open Houses will also address USAID’s role in the Pakistan flood relief effort, and how Pakistani-Americans can continue contributing to it.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Alison Salisbury at
(Please put the city in the subject line, for example “RSVP – Houston”)

Nigeria @ 50: Partnership with USAID

USAID is helping farmers’ organizations, like this group in Kano, Nigeria, to plant and harvest higher-yielding crops. These women have boosted their incomes by producing more cowpeas than in previous years. Photo Credit:Ann Fleuret, USAID/Nigeria

In 1960, the face of Africa changed, as more than a dozen countries seized their futures and became independent nations. Nigeria was one of those countries, and the last half century has seen both successes and challenges. While the country’s economy is growing at a good clip, its healthcare and education still lag, and deeply entrenched poverty and unemployment remain two of the greatest obstacles to Nigeria reaching its full potential for development. USAID works in Nigeria to sustain development in the long term, especially in health, education, and economic growth.


Nigeria is making much slower progress on improving health among mothers and children than most other African countries. A million Nigerian children die each year before their fifth birthday, and the maternal mortality rate is among the highest in the world. Nigeria also has one of the highest tuberculosis burdens in the world, and although the HIV/AIDS infection rate is low compared to other parts of Africa, an estimated 3 million Nigerians are still infected. As a result, Nigeria’s life expectancy has declined significantly: in 1991 the average life expectancy was 54 years for women and 53 years for men; by 2009 these figures had fallen to 48 for women and 46 for men.

Strengthening the health sector and improving overall health for Nigerians are among the most important development issues facing Nigeria. USAID is supporting increased access to quality family planning and reproductive health services. Maternal and child health efforts focus on routine immunization, polio eradication, birth preparedness, maternity services, and obstetric fistula repairs. The United States is increasing access to proven preventive and curative interventions—insecticide-treated bednets and malaria treatment—for children and pregnant women. To reduce death and disability due to TB, especially in the vulnerable co-infected HIV/AIDS population, USAID is working to double the case detection rate and halve the incidence of tuberculosis by 2018.


The state of education in Nigeria is poor. Of the 30 million primary school-aged children in the country, an estimated seven million are not enrolled in school. Of those currently in primary school, less than one in three will attend secondary school. Nigeria has a massive number of out-of-school children and young adults with limited literacy and numeracy skills who have little hope of ever joining the formal workforce.

USAID programs support equitable access to quality basic education through teacher training, support for girls’ learning, infrastructure improvement, and community involvement, focusing on public schools, as well as Islamiyyah schools, which provide both secular and religious education. U.S. assistance also fosters higher education partnerships between American and Nigerian universities, especially those in the north and the volatile Delta regions.

Economic Growth

Nigeria has enjoyed relatively strong economic growth following a series of economic reforms in 2003. Annual agricultural growth rose from 3.5 percent between 1990 and 1999 to nearly 6 percent between 2005 and 2009. Poverty has fallen, but only from 65 percent in 1996 to 60 percent today. Nigeria, once a major food exporter to the West African region, now imports around 15 percent of its basic food requirements. Its agricultural sector is the primary source of livelihood for 70 percent of Nigeria’s people, but the sector is not productive. Only half of Nigeria’s 79 million hectares of fertile land are under cultivation, and over 90 percent of agricultural output comes from farms smaller than five hectares.

USAID programs are accelerating the uptake of proven agricultural production, processing, and marketing technologies and stimulating job creation through agribusiness enterprises. USAID is also helping to develop a policy environment for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, and expand access to market-driven vocational and technical training linked with private sector employment opportunities. Customs regulations and policy reform will encourage internal and external trade, and the incentives offered by the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act develops private sector capacity to meet international trade and export standards.

This Week at USAID – September 27, 2010

Administrator Shah will host a development forum with USAID staff at the Ronald Reagan Building.

At the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s Annual Conference, Dr Shah will join a roundtable discussion with senior Administration officials on the new global development policy.

Later in the week, Administrator Shah will speak at the annual conference of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, and then will lead a Presidential Delegation to the Federal Republic of Nigeria to attend the 50th Anniversary Independence Celebration.

Frontlines – September 2010

Read the latest edition of USAID’s premier publication, FrontLines for these stories:

Isabel Carpio Chami and the new generation of Embera-Wounaan

Isabel Carpio Chami and the new generation of Embera-Wounaan

Read these stories and more in the new issue of FrontLines.

If you would like to automatically receive FrontLines every month, you can subscribe here .

USAID @ UNGA: Science and Technology Forum Preview

Submitted by Ellis Rubinstein
President and CEO, The New York Academy of Sciences

USAID and its Administrator, Rajiv Shah, are onto something big: science, technology and innovation dedicated to the challenges of the Developing World.

During my decade as Editor of Science followed by another eight years at the New York Academy of Sciences, I have heard more than my fill of speeches about the value to the world of “curiosity-driven research”—the endeavors by basic scientists to answer puzzles that excite them without the slightest sense of whether they will have an application in the world as we know it.

There is no question that such research has not infrequently revolutionized our understanding of things that led, in turn, to advancements applicable to the challenges of society at large. But because this sort of fundamental inquiry deserves funding and because young people should be encouraged to follow their curiosity doesn’t mean that there is no place for—or no satisfaction in—research dedicated to the big problems of our planet.

One of the most personally moving experiences I have had in the last decade is to see how many young scientists, engineers, and clinicians are purposely applying their time and energy to make a direct difference to the world.

On Wednesday, September 22, from 2-5 p.m., USAID and the New York Academy of Sciences are partnering to present the “Science, Technology and Innovation Forum” —a celebration of the success of a set of brilliant and dedicated innovators who have developed ingenious, high-impact, affordable, and sustainable solutions to Developing World problems.

In addition, the New York Academy of Sciences will describe the new open-innovation platform it is creating on its Scientists Without Borders website so that individuals, governments, NGOs, and companies can launch challenges that would incentivize solutions that could make a pronounced difference in  the lives of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens.

An extraordinary group of experts and leaders have signed up to participate in this event, and it is my greatest hope that the blog postings that USAID and others develop after the event will trigger more challenges and more solutions to the Developing World.

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Pipeline to Prosperity: Creating Sustainable Partnerships for Minority Businesses

Submitted by Mauricio Vera

Today I spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus conference on a panel entitled “Pipeline to Prosperity: Creating Sustainable Partnerships for Minority Businesses”. The event was hosted by Congresswoman Barbara Lee and the audience consisted primarily of small and minority business owners. I enjoy participating in these events to hear from the firms about their experiences working with USAID or to share information with new firms about the nature of our development work.

At today’s session, I provided a brief overview of USAID and then talked about how we contract out for goods and services. I spoke about the services that my office, the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) provides. We are the advocates for small, minority, women-owned, HUBZone, and veteran owned businesses who are seeking to do business with the agency. USAID follows the Federal Acquisition Regulations and most of our work is performed overseas through task orders off of large Indefinite Quantity Contracts. OSDBU has an aggressive outreach program, we organize monthly vendor outreach sessions where small businesses spend a half day with us learning how to do business with USAID. We also constantly look for other opportunities to meet and dialogue with small businesses and this is an integral part of our internal outreach plan.

“USAID Forward” is a series of new operational reforms undertaken by our leadership and includes Procurement Reform as one of its key strategies. A key objective of the procurement reform strategy is to increase competition and broaden our partner base which includes increasing the use of U.S. small and minority businesses both as prime and subcontractors. We’ve set aggressive targets for both our domestic as well as our overseas contract awards. Transparency and accountability are key components of this reform strategy. Finally, our Mentor Protégé Program assists small businesses in formalizing collaborative partnerships with our large prime contractors

USAID’s Afghanistan Director to lead Egypt Mission

James A. Bever, formerly the Director of the Independent Office of Afghanistan-Pakistan Affairs for the U.S. Agency for International Development, was sworn in today as the Director of the Agency’s Mission to Egypt by Administrator Shah. Photo Credit: USAID/Patricia Adams

James A. Bever, formerly the Director of the Independent Office of Afghanistan-Pakistan Affairs for the U.S. Agency for International Development, was sworn in today as the Director of the Agency’s Mission to Egypt.

“This is a key time for our mission in Egypt,” said USAID’s Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah.  “Our relationship with Egypt is an important one so we are sending one of our most talented leaders to oversee this program.

Bever holds the rank of Minister Counselor in the Senior Foreign Service, and has extensive experience in international development in the Islamic belt of the Middle East, North Africa/Sahel, South Asia and East Asia.

Previously, Bever served as Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East, providing leadership for $2.5 billion in U.S. assistance to the Middle East and North Africa where he lead the reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

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USAID Eases Hardships of Haiti’s Earthquake Survivors

After the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, an estimated 1.5 million people were displaced from their homes. Approximately 100,000 earthquake survivors fled Port-au-Prince to Haiti’s Central Plateau.

While the area was one of the country’s poorest regions even before the earthquake, it’s seen an influx of survivors who’ve come to live with family and friends, straining already limited resources.

To ease the hardships in the Central Plateau, USAID partner Mercy Corps is providing immediate financial assistance through cash-for-work programs for both the displaced earthquake survivors and the families who took them in.

With USAID/OFDA support, Mercy Corps is providing livelihood opportunities to 2,000 people per week in the Central Plateau. An additional 20,000 people are on track to benefit from the cash-for-work program.

These projects give a member of each household 30 days of employment on a community-selected project geared at improving infrastructure or agricultural production, such as rehabilitating roads, farmland or irrigation systems. Some have used their salary and tools from the programs to start more sustainable small businesses.

Under USAID’s Food Security Program in Haiti, Mercy Corps will also provide food vouchers to 100,000 in the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite region. This new initiative provides grants, cash or vouchers to buy desperately needed food.

In the town of Mirebalais, Mercy Corps employs Haitians to clear debris from canals and other public spaces to mitigate flooding during hurricane season. Watch a video on this important program.

View photos of Mercy Corps’ work in Mirebalais on Facebook and Flickr.

This Week at USAID – September 13, 2010

Administrator Shah will participate in the State Department’s Conversations with America webcast series.  Dr. Shah and the president and CEO of the advocacy group ONE, David Lane, will talk about  global development opportunities and challenges on the eve of the Millennium Development Goals summit.

Agency officials will take part in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation Annual Legislative Conference.  On the 17th, Administrator Shah will speak to CBC Africa Braintrust.  Other speakers include: Paul Weisenfield at the Forum “Haiti:  Finding the Path to Redevelopment”, Sharon Cromer at the Panel “Africa Command and U.S. Relations” and Mauricio Vera at the Minority Business Development session.  This conference is open press.

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