USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for UNGA

Harnessing the Power of Sport and Play for Development and Peace

As a former Olympic athlete, I have experienced the incredible impact that sport can have firsthand. But, it wasn’t until 1993, during a trip to Eritrea, as an ambassador for Olympic aid, that I began to truly understand the influence that sport can have on a variety of developmental issues, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Since then, I have become utterly convinced that participation in sport and play programs has the potential to significantly contribute to child and youth development, prevent the spread of non-communicable and communicable diseases and strengthen communities.

Former Olympic speedskater Johann Koss. Photo Credit: Johann Koss

The 2011 United Nations Summit’s focus on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is timely as global deaths from NCDs are predicted to continue to rise over the next 10 years, particularly in developing countries. Because physical inactivity is a primary risk factor driving the global increase in NCDs, participation in sport plays a critical role in slowing the spread of chronic diseases. Regular physical activity effectively prevents non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, depression, and osteoporosis.

Sport and play is a true catalyst for combating NCDs, as it generates benefits through direct participation. Research shows that children and youth who build physical activity into their daily lives will be more likely to grow into active adults with a lower risk for chronic illnesses. We also know that physical activity, including sport and play, can produce beneficial effects on mental health, including enhancing self esteem, alleviating depression and helping to manage stress and anxiety. When individuals suffering from various mental health issues integrate regular physical activity into their lives, research has shown that their clinical symptoms, particularly for depression, significantly diminish.

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Scaling Up Nutrition: Supporting country-led efforts to promote healthier lives

Through Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative, the U.S. Government supports the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, which helps children in countries like Mozambique maximize their potential by staying healthy. Photo Credit: Kelly Ramundo/USAID.

Back in June, I posted here about the negative impacts of global undernutrition as my colleagues and I prepared for Feed the Future’s agriculture and food security Research Forum in Washington, D.C. This week, as I attend two meetings for the international Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement during U.N. General Assembly week in New York, I’m moved to reflect once again on the issue because, quite frankly, we can’t give it enough attention.

The numbers haven’t changed since my last post, nor should our sense of urgency. The fact remains that two billion people in the world do not consume enough nutrients to live healthy, productive lives; and nearly 200 million children under age 5 suffer from chronic undernutrition. To put that last number into perspective, that’s about 24 times the population of the densely inhabited city where these U.N. meetings are currently taking place. That’s 24 New York Cities full of little children who deserve a better future.

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Eyes on UNGA: Day 1

USAID’s first day at the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly was packed with a range of events covering topics from U.S. Pakistan relations, to the launch of a new campaign to engage the public around the largest humanitarian emergency on earth.

From the halls of respected think tanks, to the floor of a buzzing digital media lounge packed with the New Media vanguard, USAID Administrator Shah spoke, participated, and interacted with a remarkable variety of individuals and groups eager to engage with America’s premiere development enterprise. Our cameras captured some fun and informative tidbits from the day’s major events.

Administrator Shah returned to the Second Annual Social Good Summit, co-hosted by Mashable, the 92Y, and the UN Foundation. Held each year during UN week, the Summit is “where big ideas meet new media to create innovative solutions.” After an impressive lineup of speakers including business leader and philanthropist Ted Turner, and CEO Ami Dar, Administrator Shah took the stage to launch FWD, USAID’s new public awareness campaign calling attention to the famine, war, and drought in the Horn of Africa.

As thousands of people watched online, the Administrator walked the viewers and the audience through the heart-wrenching details of the crisis, informed by stories of his recent travels to the region; but he also presented new ways for the public to get involved. He encouraged the viewers to visit FWD where they can get the latest information, forward the facts about the crisis, donate, and find ways to do more.

After his presentation, he caught up with UN Foundation cameras:

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Administrator Shah at the Social Good Summit

You can learn more about the FWD public awareness campaign at FWD the Facts about Famine, War, and Drought in the Horn of Africa and by visiting FWD.

USAID Impact @ UN General Assembly in New York

Every year, USAID plays an important role in the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York. This year is the 66th session of the Assembly and our USAID Impact blog is dedicated to giving you updates.

The United Nations. Photo Credit: Jesse Thomas/USAID

This week from September 19-23, USAID Administrator Raj Shah and  other Agency leaders will participate in several events. This year’s Assembly has a special focus on non-communicable diseases, a major cause of death in both the developing and non-developing world. USAID recognizes that non-communicable diseases represent an urgent and growing global public health concern, and works with host countries and other donors to build sustainable health systems responsive to the full range of health issues.

On Monday September 19, Shah will appear at the second annual SocialGoodSummit, presented byMashable,92Y and the UNFoundation.

“Held at the heart of UN week, the Summit is where big ideas meet new media to create innovative solutions. The Social Good Summit unites a dynamic community of global leaders to discuss a big idea: the power of innovative thinking and technology to solve our greatest challenges. It ignites conversations between a live audience in New York City and thousands around the world participating via Livestream.” We will be live streaming his participation on Impact. To find out the agenda of the Social Good Summit, click here.

Administrator Shah’s appearance at the Social Good Summit will highlight USAID’s response to the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa and will present new ways to get informed, connected, and engaged with the crisis using new media tools. You can watch his appearance live at 3:45 PM right here on the Impact blog.

The Agency will also be hosting two marquee events.  On Tuesday September 20, we will highlight the innovative ways sport is being used to accomplish a wide range of development goals in an event to feature baseball legend Pedro Martinez and basketball legend Dikembe Mutombo. The following day, in conjunction with UK development agency DFID, USAID will highlight several game-changing programs, policies, and partnerships of countries that have made progress towards achieving the poverty-reduction MillenniumDevelopmentGoals, which were hashed out by world leaders before the UN General Assembly in 2000.

Dispatches, blogs, stories and video related to USAID’s UNGA participation and programs will be found all week on the ImpactBlog.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube as we will also be providing real-time updates of events! We look forward to creating a conversation with you all on social media! If you are tweeting about the UN General Assembly, please use the hashtag #UNGA and if you are tweeting about the Social Good Summit, please use #SocialGood.

Meeting Global Water Needs: Challenges and Solutions

I spoke today at the International Water Forum held at the United Nations. The Forum  was organized by the Energy and Waer Institute of New York and The Chronicles Group in cooperation with The World Water Organization (WWO),  and WaterAid America.

The International Water Forum at the United Nations convened policy makers, academics, non-governmental organizations, and private sector representatives toward organizing a worldwide education and awareness campaign on the global water crisis.

I outlined such key challenges as: by 2025, as much as two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water stress – conditions where water has become an impediment to socio-economic development. Over 800 million people around the world lack access to an improved water source, and 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation. The lack of access to water, sanitation, and hygiene causes an estimated 2.1 million deaths every year.  The worst drought in over half a century in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia has left over 12.7 million people in need of emergency assistance.

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