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Celebrating the 11th Anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security

This week marks the 11th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. Passed unanimously on October 31, 1999, this seminal resolution was the first of five focused on the need for and the value of increased women’s participation and protection in efforts to prevent, resolve, and rebuild following conflict.

The other resolutions—1820, 1888, 1889, and 1960—all amplified the call and increased the  focus on addressing sexual violence during conflict and ensuring women a voice in peace-building. These resolutions serve as reminders of not only the destructive effects of war on women but also the powerful roles they play in rebuilding peace and societies.

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Investing in High-impact, Low-cost Innovations that Save Lives

Dr. Christopher J. Elias is president and CEO of PATH, an international nonprofit organization that creates sustainable, culturally relevant solutions, enabling communities worldwide to break longstanding cycles of poor health.

A new mother experiencing excessive bleeding after childbirth can die within minutes if the bleeding isn’t stopped. For women in developing countries, time too often runs out before they can get help. Postpartum hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal mortality—deaths that cause a ripple effect on the children, families, and communities left behind.

What if a simple device costing less than $10 could save a new mother’s life? USAID is building on its decades-long partnership with PATH by investing in our effort to develop a cost-effective solution: a balloon tamponade that can stop postpartum bleeding within 5 to 15 minutes and can be used in peripheral health facilities.

With a new grant of approximately $100,000 from Development Innovation Ventures—USAID’s new venture capital–style fund—we will adapt this existing technology to make it affordable in developing countries. Our goal is to lower the price from as much as $312 per device to less than $10 by streamlining the design and manufacturing process.

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Public Private Partnership Week: Partnering to Promote Social Innovation

Gabi Zedlmayer is Vice President of Hewlett Packard’s Office of Global Social Innovation.

As part of USAID’s 50th Anniversary, the Agency is celebrating Public-Private Partnerships Week October 17-21, 2011 to highlight the mutual benefit that development and business have in establishing public-private partnerships (PPP) and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Global Development Alliance (GDA) program.

USAID stands out among international development agencies for its commitment and innovative approach to private sector partnership in pursuit of social, economic and environmental outcomesin the developing world. While HP and USAID have collaborated since 2002, tomorrow we’ll be announcing a strengthened alliance that will bring new life, scope and impact to our working relationship that is already driven by strongly aligned objectives.

Following severe flooding in southern India, HP joined with Save the Children to provide support. HP employee volunteers traveled to several villages, handing out hygiene kits, books and schools supplies. Photo provided by HP.

Why does this partnership make sense? Regardless of the time and resources we devote to making a difference, we can’t do it alone. That’s why HP advocates a collaborative approach to solving tough, complex global problems, one in which corporations, government agencies and NGOs share resources and expertise. We are not looking to grab the spotlight for our own. We are looking for results. Collaboration also makes sense for USAID. USAID already brings extensive development expertise, funding, and partners and its reach throughout the developing world in considerable. But imagine: by tapping the skills of HP’s 325,000-strong employee base, our range of technological solutions, and our own customer and stakeholder partnerships, we will be that much more effective in tackling (together) root causes of global challenges such as education, infant and maternal ill-health, unemployment and poverty. And in ways that make good public policy and business sense too.

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Public Private Partnership Week: The Future of Partnerships

Jason Saul is author of the book,  Social Innovation, Inc: Five Strategies for Driving Business Growth Through Social Change and CEO of Mission Measurement, a social impact consulting firm. Cheryl Davenport, leads Mission Measurement’s corporate and government practice and is author of a forthcoming USAID report, “Models and Metrics for Private Sector Engagement.”  The views in this blog are their own.

As part of USAID’s 50th Anniversary, the Agency is celebrating Public-Private Partnerships Week October 17-21, 2011 to highlight the mutual benefit that development and business have in establishing public-private partnerships (PPP) and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Global Development Alliance (GDA) program.

Harnessing the Engine of Business to Drive Prosperity

At the end of 2009, the United States had invested a little more than $1.2 trillion in emerging and developing market economies.1 Official U.S. Government assistance was $28.8 billion, a dramatic difference that underscores the critical impact the private sector can have in addressing the development challenges that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) also aims to tackle.2 How can we as development practitioners and change agents harness the ability of the private sector to create and distribute solutions that address social issues?

The use of public-private partnerships presents one of the most powerful and readily available opportunities to attract and leverage the enormous resources and talents of the private sector to solve social problems.  But to do so, development agencies need to focus on strategies that can also help companies achieve their business objectives in the process of solving social problems.

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From the Field

In Nicaragua, we joined the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Nicaragua to celebrate World Food Day.  Three important USAID food security programs will be highlighted in the celebration.

In Kenya, we will launch the first of a series of county youth forums to engage Kenyan youth. After doing thousands of village forums, these county forums are the first to cover a larger area and will be pilots that hopefully become models for such activities countrywide.

In Vietnam, we will sponsor a wildlife pathology workshop.  Technical and financial support will be provided by the Smithsonian Institution.  Smithsonian’s Department of Animal Health (DAH) and Pathology (DOP) will deliver basic training highlighting field necropsy techniques and disease pathology for Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) to local staff and affiliates working ‘on the ground’.  Vietnam is the first country that the Smithsonian has ever visited under the EPT program.

The Horn of Africa’s Last Famine?

Guest blogger Sam Dryden is the Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  This post was originally published as an op-ed in the September 15, 2011 edition of The Globe and Mail. For more information on the crisis in the Horn of Africa and how to get involved in the relief effort, please go to

The $350-million pledge by African leaders and the international community to help the more than 13 million people facing starvation in the Horn of Africa underscores the need for continued attention and funding to prevent this famine from claiming and scarring even more lives. But while much more needs to be done to meet the victims’ immediate needs, we should also be thinking about long-term solutions to preclude food crises on this scale from happening in the first place.

Many people see famines as forces of nature, completely beyond our control. But famines are triggered by more than the weather. They are complicated events rooted in governance, security, markets, education and infrastructure – all of which can be influenced.

We have the tools to prevent food crises by making smart, long-term investments in agriculture. Three-quarters of the world’s poorest people get their food and income from farming small plots of land, and most of these smallholder farmers are women. They have no margin for error, so they need to increase their chances of producing a crop. When farmers can produce more and earn more income, they become more resilient to shocks such as severe weather and can put themselves and their families on a path to self-sufficiency.

We have the tools to prevent food crises by making smart, long-term investments in agriculture.

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A New School Year

The start of September is always a time that we once again turn our thoughts to education.  Our children get ready for school, are excited at the prospect of seeing their friends, meeting their new teacher, and learning new skills. For others it is a time to return to university and continue their education, be it at a college, university, or to learn a technical trade. It is a time to remember the promise that education can bring, and the optimism it gives us for the future of our children, our community, and our nation.

However, as millions of children in the United States return to school this week, it is a good time to remember that there are an estimated 70 million children in the world who do not have access to even a primary level education, who don’t have the same hope of learning new skills, and who are missing out on what may be their only chance at learning how to read and write.  Most of these children live in developing countries, and those that can’t attend school are disproportionally girls.

However, even children who do manage to attend school in lower income countries face almost insurmountable obstacles to learning.  They often have to walk very long distances to reach schools that are poorly furnished or equipped.  Electricity and water supply are frequently lacking.  Teachers are ill-prepared to teach and lack textbooks and other teaching materials. School systems are underfunded, poorly managed and there is no accountability for ensuring that children learn.

With all these challenges it is not surprising that there is mounting evidence that many children in low income countries are spending years in school without even learning to read.  In fact, approximately half of the children in lowest-income countries cannot read anything at the end of grade 2.  Yet, learning to read in early grades is essential to success in future grades.  Children who do not learn to read in primary grades face limited economic and life opportunities.  A recent UNESCO report points out that 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills—equivalent to a 12 percent cut in global poverty.

This year USAID embarked upon a new, more focused, Education Strategy.  Goal One of the strategy is: Improved reading skills for 100 million children in primary grades by 2015.  Given limited resources, USAID believes that the most strategic and lasting impact it can make in basic education is to improve early grade reading skills, opening doors to better opportunities later in life.  USAID will also intensify efforts to measure its program outcomes to make sure it is on the right track. Without evidence that identifies what works and what does not work we will not be able improve program performance and outcomes and target resources to the most effective program approaches.

Goal Three of the Education Strategy looks to provide equitable access to 15 million children and young adults that cannot attend school due to conflict and crisis. Armed conflict and natural disasters often disrupt education systems. Schools are destroyed, governments are unable to function, and it can be too dangerous to attend school. USAID is working to provide safe and equitable access in these environments so that critical years of education are not missed, and opportunities are not forever lost.

In working to improve early grade literacy skills and provide access in conflict and crises environments, USAID is strengthening its collaboration with an ever-growing number of development actors – U.S. agencies, international donors, host country governments, NGOs, and the private sector – to create a shared vision. Working together to identify the most innovative and effective ways to support education, we hope to achieve these ambitious goals.

From the Field

In Nepal, to commemorate  International Youth Day, USAID organized a two-day workshop for Nepali youth on “Youth Advocacy and Action for Accountability and Responsibility – Decoding the Political Issues Obstructing the Country’s Development Progress.” During the workshop, youth representatives from different walks of Nepali society gathered to discuss issues impeding the country’s development and to encourage more responsible civic behavior to bring about change. The program also focused on the major Constitution drafting and Peace Process bottlenecks. The event was concluded with a group brainstorming session on solutions to those issues and on designing innovative IT programs for youth-led organizations and movements.

In Lebanon, USAID and the Bebnine community celebrated Ramadan Eid with the opening of the village’s new farmer-to-consumer market and a festival promoting local food products and handicrafts.  The four-day festival included approximately 30 local exhibitors, and cultural and thematic activities to attract visitors of all ages.  On a land donated by the municipality, USAID constructed and equipped this 350 square-meter vegetable and fruit wholesale and retail market that includes 16 display stands, two cold storage units, one water treatment unit, and an administration office.  The market provides opportunities for over 150 farmers to sell their produce directly to consumers and increase their profits, and is expected to generate up to $19,000 per year for the municipality to further develop the market and village.

In Tajikistan, we held a five month long competition for local doctors and nurses to determine the best team of family practitioners in the area.  The competition included rigorous evaluations of competing family doctors and nurses by an expert panel. The results of the competition were released to the press in an effort to improve standards and increase accountability for health care providers to their

Picture of the Week

This photo was among the top vote-getters in the recent environment-themed photo contest sponsored by FrontLines and USAID’s Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade. To see this photo and more than 50 images from recent photo contests, visit the new FrontLines Photo Contest Archive.

Learn more about the next FrontLines photo contest, which marks the Agency’s 50th anniversary.
The deadline to submit your photos is August 15.

A USAID-funded project in St. Petersburg, Russia, demonstrates practical ways people can conserve resources and save energy. This roof garden, against the background of a grim city landscape, was created by the building’s residents. They united in an eco-group – a small sustainable community that implements the principles of resource saving and lives by the slogan “Start saving the planet in your kitchen.” In the basement of their building, they breed California worms that produce compost, which is used for growing vegetables on the roof. Roof Gardening Club Chairperson Anna Sokol, pictured reclining at the rooftop garden, does not complain about her tiny pension: “Many residents of our building cannot afford a dacha, so why can’t we go up on our own roof and start working for ourselves.”  Photo Credit: Dmitry Feklisov

Responding to Urgent and Long-Term Needs in Sudan

Earlier this month, I visited Sudan, a nation poised to separate in July into two independent states following a peaceful referendum in January that USAID helped carry out. Since my visit, violence has erupted in Abyei, a disputed area on the north-south border, and threatened the fragile peace in the region.

Resolving the status of Abyei has long presented a difficult challenge. During my visit—together with UK Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell and Norway Minister of Environment and International Development Erik Solheim—we stressed to the Government of Sudan and Government of Southern Sudan our concern about the destabilizing impact of uncertainty over the Abyei Area’s future.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah at a press conference in Juba on May 7th. Photo Credit: Government of Southern Sudan.

In response to the violence, we quickly activated our contingency plans. USAID partners are on the ground in areas where thousands of Sudanese have been displaced by fighting.  And we are working with UN agencies and non-governmental organizations to provide emergency food aid, medicine, water, shelter, hygiene kits, and other assistance.

As we continue to address the emergency needs of people in and around Abyei—as well as in areas across the south affected by violence—we remain focused on helping bring stability and effective development to Sudan over the long term. During my visit, I met with Government of Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and announced that the United States would host an international engagement conference for southern Sudan after its independence.  The conference will enable the new nation to collaborate with other governments and the private sector on development priorities, especially in agriculture.

Nearly 87 percent of southern Sudanese rely on agriculture, livestock, or forestry to make a living.  Ninety percent of southern Sudan’s land is arable, but less than 10 percent is currently cultivated.

I met men and women farmers, who described to me how they struggle to expand their farms, buy quality seeds and fertilizer, and move their products to market.  Because of the challenges they face, the agricultural yield in southern Sudan is only 0.3 metric tons per hectare, despite good conditions and available land.  But the average yield worldwide for sorghum, for example, was 1.46 metric tons per hectare in 2009-10, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  It’s easy to see how much potential is being lost.

I’m proud that this is an area in which the United States and our partners can help.

During my visit, I signed a communiqué with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and the International Fertilizer Development Center to work with the Government of Southern Sudan to develop the commercial agriculture sector. By increasing productivity, supporting agribusinesses, and improving research and technology, we can begin the process of an agricultural transformation in southern Sudan.

We are working in many other areas to help bring basic services and opportunities to the people of Sudan. In Juba, I especially enjoyed visiting a USAID-supported radio station that not only provides news and information, but also offers lessons in English and mathematics that schools use as part of their regular instruction.  It was a powerful and effective way to extend the reach of education.

As the independence of southern Sudan approaches, we will continue to help build a peaceful, stable region and a better future for all the people of Sudan.

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