Information and stories on development news.

Interested in a job in international development but don’t quite know where to start? Devex Director of Global Recruitment Services Kate Warren has a few tips for those looking for their first job in the field.

Her first tip is to volunteer overseas in order to gain some experience on your own before launching into the job market. The ability to work hands-on and make connections while making the best of your experience is incredibly helpful in advancing your resume in the international development job market. Picking a country to just move to and start volunteering in is also an option, but it is important to “make yourself indispensable” as a volunteer so you have a greater chance of being hired onto paid staff. Starting at home is possible as well for those that want to help manage programs without being sent into the field – this experience would cut costs for the organization as well as provide valuable experience.

In terms of choosing a starting organization, Kate encourages those looking for entry-level positions to be flexible, and not to focus solely on the most well-known places in the international development field. It is important to keep an open mind and look at smaller organizations as well, because in the end they give the same experience as the larger organizations.

It is most important to realize that getting a first job in any field is difficult, and will not happen without significant effort. With hard work and dedication, however, you can be on your way to finding your dream job in development.

– Sarah Rybak

Source: Devex
Photo: Green Africa Directory

History of the UNFPA
The UNFPA was originally introduced as the UN Fund for Population Activities. The fund began as a trust fund in July of 1967. Its administration was entrusted to the United Nations Development Program.  In 1972 the program was placed under the General Assembly’s authority and the UNDP Governing Council was named as its governing body. In 1987, the name was changed to the United Nations Population Fund.

The UNFPA has a unique role within the UN system. It is responsible for addressing population and development issues. They emphasize reproductive health and gender equality. Much of the fund’s construction stems from the ICPD Programme of Action as well as the Millennium Development Goals. The fund receives policy guidance from the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, also known as ECOSOC. The fund works closely with other developmental organizations such as the WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, and UNAIDS.

The UNFPA touts five main goals: achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health, promoting reproductive rights, reducing maternal mortality, and accelerating progress on the ICPD agenda and MGD’s. Additionally, they advocate for human rights and gender equality. The UNFPA helps governments conduct countrywide censuses, population and development-related research, and analysis on topics such as migration, aging, climate change, and urbanization.

The UNFPA works with governments, other UN agencies, local communities, NGOs, foundations, and the private sector to raise awareness and mobilize support and resources to achieve its mission. In 2007, the UNFPA decentralized its operations and became a more field centered, efficient and strategic partner, executing real and important work on the ground.

In 2011, the UNFPA restructured again. The center of their plan was based on advancing the right to sexual and reproductive health by accelerating progress towards the MGD aimed at improving maternal health. They have recently placed their emphasis on reducing maternal deaths and achieving universal access to reproductive health, including family planning and access to family planning methods for women.  At this time, the UNFPA is striving to improve the lives of underserved populations, especially women and young people. They are working towards this through their expertise in population dynamics, human rights, and gender equality.

– Caitlin Zusy 

Source UNFPA

The Just Give Money Theory

For many, the eradication of global poverty seems an insurmountable goal, and foreign aid processes can be long-winded and complex. It is important to realize, however, that the solution to this important issue may be right under our noses, not to mention incredibly simple. The idea laid out in the book Just Give Money to the Poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South, is to give aid as cash directly to those in need of it, rather than through temporary security measures.

“A quiet revolution is taking place based on the realization that you cannot pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have no boots,” the book says. “And giving ‘boots’ to people with little money does not make them lazy or reluctant to work; rather, just the opposite happens. A small guaranteed income provides a foundation that enables people to transform their own lives.”

While many are skeptical about this approach, the results of this direct aid can be seen in countries around the world. Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, India, and Ethiopia are only a few examples shown in the book – the methods range from grants for those who have children in schools, those who are the poorest, or those who are elderly or children. In each case, there is significant change following these grants: child malnutrition decreases, school registration increases, and general health improvement and growth of local farms and markets ensue.

This method seems to be fairly effective, although it cannot solve the problem of global poverty alone. In addition to these grants, there must be some other methods of government intervention along the lines of investments in education, infrastructure, and health. The notion that the poor are to blame for their position in society is turned upside down by the positive results of these grants, and the money given will only continue to be put to good use in the fight against poverty.

– Sarah Rybak

Source: Pacific Standard
Photo: Fast CoExist

Following Seattle's Lead in International Development

The city of Seattle has teamed up with the Seattle International Foundation (SIF) to launch the Seattle Ambassador program, a campaign intended to educate residents about how their community is making some pretty amazing strides in the global fight against poverty, and inspire even more locals to pitch in.

Seattle is a leader in international development efforts; over 300 local organizations are working in 144 developing countries. The Borgen Project has been headquartered in Seattle since 2003, and we are honored to be part of a community that cares so much about the rest of the world.

We have more than a few neighbors who are doing incredible things; Literacy Bridge develops and distributes Talking Books so that illiteracy doesn’t prevent education. Ayni Education International began building schools for girls in rural Afghanistan after 9/11, in an effort to counteract growing prejudice on both sides. One By One fights to end Fistula, which is directly related to maternal mortality during childbirth.

Residents who sign up for the Seattle Ambassador program will receive updates on the efforts of these organizations and others, and also learn ways that they can help. As a bonus, registering for the program automatically enters you for a chance to win an all-expense-paid trip to Africa, Asia, or Latin America, too see up close how your home is improving the world.

The first winner will be announced in June, so visit Seattle Ambassador or text SEATTLE to 80088 to register. If you don’t live in Seattle, contact your government representatives about following Seattle’s lead. Just imagine what ten, twenty, fifty cities like Seattle could accomplish.

– Dana Johnson

Sources: Seattle Ambassador, Seattle Globalist
Photo: Global Journal

How to Build a TelecentrePLANWEL is an NGO in Pakistan that is short for Planning Professionals for Social Welfare Works. It was founded in 1990 by a group of local technology and business experts for the purpose of promoting basic computer literacy, information sharing, health care, e-government, e-commerce, and e-learning through telecentres, or what they call community access points. Telecentres are public places that provide access to Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) which help promote development for populations who otherwise would not have such access.

In the past 20 years or so, PlanWel has collaborated with several foreign entities such as Utah State University, Kansas State University, American Distance Learning Consortium, International Telecommunication Union, USAID, and World View Foundation – Malaysia. To date, PlanWel has contributed to the formation of over 400 telecentres all over Pakistan. PlanWel’s mission statement is, “Bringing Technology to the People, Building Technology Based Communities, and Technology for the People and Run by the People”. PlanWel is one of the many examples of telecentre programs that are working to improve lives by providing access to ICTs.

Generally, telecentres are located in rural areas of the developing world. According to the Foundation, there are over 87,513 telecentres in over 53 countries. In this interview, the PlanWel CEO, Shahab Afroz Khan, talks about how to build a telecentre.

What do the telecentres look like?

“In fact, they are not at all fancy. In a rural setting, it would be a one-room to two-room building with some space for housing 5-10 PCs’s at the maximum, one Printer, Scanner, Fax Machine. Internet connectivity through Fiber lines – DSL (In Pakistan we have a very well connected Fiber Optic network). For power, if it’s not on the National Grid, we have it by solar energy. One teacher would teach the students – Typically he is the Owner/ Manager, who would earn his living through this.

The only missing element – AND most important is content in the local language – which we are still looking for and working on.”

What advice would you give on how to build a telecentre community?

“First of all, motivate the community and tell them what they are missing: Information about business, citizen’s information, money transactions, sharing of information, and computer literacy. Once they are convinced that there is a need to open up a telecentre, they need to try and get some type of support from important local people, such as a landlord, local government representative, and the like. This is important because, in many countries like in Pakistan, you must have local support.

It is also absolutely necessary to have your own building – one room of 14ft X 10ft would be sufficient. You cannot run a telecentre on rented space. Next, locate some donors to give you the hardware – this is the easiest part as the donor would like his name to be advertised – which you can do with some caution.”

– Maria Caluag

Source: PLANWEL,
Photo: LawaOnline

US Military Leaders Support Development
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) is a diverse network of national security and foreign policy experts, business leaders, religious leaders, community leaders, and academics who recognize the importance of partnering diplomacy and development with defense to improve foreign relations, trade, and security. The USGLC argues that diplomacy and development are severely neglected in terms of funding and manpower, and they advocate for a strong foreign aid budget to benefit the U.S. and the world as a whole.
Defense and diplomacy can and should work together to strengthen the security of our nation. Foreign aid deters terrorism, encourages international markets, drives economic growth, relieves poverty, combats infectious diseases, provides educational opportunities, strengthens democratic institutions, and so much more. In fact, many high-ranking military officials are also proponents of a healthy International Affairs budget. The following statements exemplify how many USGLC military leaders support development and diplomacy in their defense objectives.
“The work performed by diplomatic and development professionals helps build the foundation for more stable, democratic and prosperous societies. These are places where the potential for conflict can be minimized, if not completely avoided, by State and USAID programs – thereby lowering the likely need for deployment of U.S. military assets.”
– Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Letter to the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, April 21, 2010
“Robust resourcing for the State Department’s mission is one of the best investments for reducing the need for military forces to be employed. Together, our military leaders and our diplomats not only represent a symbol of America’s enduring commitment to the region, but they also build trust through partnerships that have an important stabilizing effect when trouble looms.”
– General James N. Mattis, Commander, U.S. Central Command, testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, March 1, 2011
“The diplomatic and developmental capabilities of the United States have a direct bearing on our ability to shape threats and reduce the need for military action. It is my firm belief that diplomatic programs as part of a coordinated strategy will save money by reducing the likelihood of active military conflict involving U.S. forces.”
– Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Letter to Senate Majority Leader, May 21, 2010
“To truly end the threat from al-Qaeda, military force aimed at killing our enemy alone will never be enough. The United States must stay involved and invested through diplomacy, through development, through education, through trade in those regions of the world where violent extremism has flourished.”
– Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, in a speech to the Center for a New American Security, November 20, 2012
“This is not just a military campaign. This is not a campaign where we take the hill, plant the flag, and come home to a victory parade. This is a civil-military comprehensive endeavor that requires building on what our troopers in uniform have achieved.”
– General David Petraeus, USA (Ret.), testimony before House Armed Services Committee, March 15, 2011
“Development and diplomacy keep us safer by addressing threats in the most dangerous corners of the world and by preventing conflicts before they occur. …We urge you to support a strong and effetive International Affairs Budget. Our nation’s security depends upon it.”
– 70 top military leaders, USGLC National Security Advisory Council’s Letter to Congress, March 30, 2011
These insightful statements have come straight from the mouths and pens of some of our nation’s greatest military leaders. Men and women who have dedicated their lives to defending our nation are able to recognize the vital role of diplomacy. And with the support of such highly qualified military experts, the USCLG continues to advocate for elevated diplomacy in the interest of a safer, stronger world.
– Dana Johnson

Source: USGLC
Photo: NY Daily News

Who Is Mercy Corps?
Mercy Corps is a non-profit organization that was started in 1979 and based in Portland, Oregon. Their mission is to alleviate suffering, poverty, and oppression by helping people build secure, productive, and just communities. They aim to help people grappling with hardships survive by turning crisis into opportunity.

Mercy Corps is structured on a set of core values, which include belief in the intrinsic value and dignity of human life, and the belief of all people to thrive. Additionally, they believe that all people have the right to live in peaceful communities and participate in decisions that affect their lives. Mercy Corps members strive to be stewards of the Earth’s health, as well as stewards of the financial resources entrusted to them. Mercy Corps strives to use its resources to achieve peaceful change.

Mercy Corps is staffed by individuals who speak the local languages, know the culture, and understand the challenges of each community. Most of the time, their representatives are from the countries where they work. This enhances the sense of community and allows community members to help lift their neighbors from poverty.

The type of work Mercy Corps is involved in focuses on places in transition where conflict, disaster, political upheaval and economic collapse are present. The organization strives to provide emergency relief and to move quickly to help communities recover and build resilience to future shocks. They work to support community-based initiatives that are community-led and market-driven. And finally, Mercy Corps seeks to use innovation to fight against poverty in the places they work.

Mercy Corps has established programs in forty-six countries. Their programs have many different themes including agriculture and food, children and youth, conflict and governance, disaster preparedness, economic opportunity, education, emergency response, environment, health, innovations, water, and women and gender.

An example of an agriculture and food initiative Mercy Corps works with is in Timor Leste, one of the newest, poorest, and most poverty-stricken countries in the world. Mercy Corps is working with 4,500 subsistence farmers to improve their crop production, increase their income and diversify their diets. The goal of this project is to create a solid foundation for sustainable development in the country.

Access to freshwater is a serious problem for many communities in the developing world. In Yemen, Mercy Corps is working with local water vendors to accept vouchers to provide families with 20 liters of drinking water a day. Additionally, they have trained community members on the importance of hygiene practices such as hand washing, and they have installed a 5,000-liter plastic tank to store washing and general use water closer to people’s homes. This initiative has given over 1,000 people better access to water, greatly improving health in the communities.

Mercy Corps relies on donations and fundraising to sustain its programs. They encourage people to attend their events, donate, and volunteer with their organization. For more information, visit their website here.

– Caitlin Zusy
Source: Mercy Corps

USAID and Syngenta Sign Collaborative Agreement
To continue to advance U.S. efforts to fight hunger, USAID has signed an agreement with global company Syngenta International AG. The agreement will seek to increase food security and reduce hunger in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.  The agreement will go to support farmers.  According to USAID, each night, around 870 million people around the world go to bed hungry and Syngenta is joining the fight to reduce those numbers.  Their partnership in the fight will help to increase the adoption of innovative technologies and create mechanisms for crop insurance.

The USAID and Syngenta agreement will allow both groups to reach the impoverished and malnourished across three different continents in joint efforts to end global poverty.  USAID and Syngenta will work together in research and development and capacity building. They will work together and with scientists, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and other donors. This commitment advances the goals set by Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

As previously announced, Syngenta will invest over $500 million in Africa alone to help farmers adopt new technology to increase their yields. With 27,000 employees in 90 countries, Syngenta is truly a global company that is making a global impact. Part of their mission is to bring plant potential to life through science while protecting the environment and improving health and quality of life. Syngenta hopes to ignite change in farm productivity worldwide through the partnership.

Feed the Future is part of this global effort and supports countries as they develop their own agriculture sectors to increase economic growth and trade. In 2012, more than 7 million food producers were helped through Feed the Future. The USAID and Syngenta partnership will continue to grow agricultural development and promote the goals of Feed the Future.

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: allAfrica
Photo: USAID

Africa: Working to End Hunger Internally

When discussing the issue of hunger and global poverty, most immediately think of foreign aid and intervention from donors as being the main solution to the problem. What seems to be disregarded is the power of those living in poverty and the influence of those in power in impoverished countries. Now, leaders in Africa are working to end hunger internally. A recent conference brought together delegates from five African nations with the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization to develop an effective way to eradicate hunger in Africa.

FAO looks to form innovative partnerships in Africa to “build on experiences and stop the suffering of the estimated 23% of all Africans who remain undernourished”. While the organization’s program, Unified Approaches to End Hunger in Africa, will work to provide greater access to water, food, and education, the program builds off of the already increased production of goods and “consistent political will” in many developing African countries.

Countries like Angola and Ethiopia have run social protection and national development plans, promoting domestic agriculture and the provision of water as well as infrastructure improvement. Services including microfinancing and “cash-for-work public infrastructure programs” work to accelerate development in order to end poverty. These internal programs work to create stable societies and economies that are more conducive to greater production in order to advance the protection of their citizens.

While partnership and foreign aid are incredibly important forces behind eradicating extreme poverty around the world, they are by no means the only work being done. It is necessary to take into account the work being done by these people that are often portrayed as hopeless and helpless by the media; they are far from it and are working to end global poverty just as resolutely internally as developed countries are external.

– Sarah Rybak

Source: All Africa
Photo:Radio Netherlands Worldwide

The Rockefeller Foundation supports work that expands opportunity and strengthens resilience to social, health, economic and environmental challenges. The foundation aims to promote the well being of humanity and is based on a set of core values.  These values include leadership, equity, effectiveness, innovation, and integrity. The foundation actively takes steps towards their vision of a better world, while inspiring others to join them. They work to create fair and equal access to resources and networks, which include all people and perspectives. They attempt to use efficient and creative processes to accomplish their long and short-term goals, working to transform the lives of people and build social relationships.

The Rockefeller Foundation strives to move innovation from idea to impact. The organization has a 100-year history of innovation, intervention, and influence. The Rockefeller Foundation is aimed as tackling four main goals: revaluing ecosystems, securing livelihoods, advancing health, and transforming cities.

The Rockefeller Foundation is working to revalue ecosystems through climate change programs, sustainable employment in green economies, and environmentally sound economic development. They realize that environmental degradation, while affecting the entire global community, disproportionately impacts the world’s poor and vulnerable.

They are working to secure livelihoods through projects aimed at food security, sustainable transportation, and poverty reduction through digital employment among others. The Rockefeller Foundation understands the importance of this issue as entire groups of people can be threatened by economic stresses worldwide, such as migration from rural to urban centers, unemployment and underemployment, and others. Their programs aimed at advancing health include initiatives focusing on transforming health systems, working towards improving food security, monitoring global diseases, and others. They work to incentivize individuals, communities and governments to address their problems, and to contribute to healthy societies.

Finally, the Rockefeller Foundation is working to transform cities through embracing urbanization to catalyze equity. They realize that this shift towards urban areas necessitates improved urban planning, as well as modified health and economic well-being strategies. The Rockefeller Foundation has funded projects working towards improving public transit, climate change strategy, and city dialogues among others.

The Rockefeller foundation strives to take philanthropic efforts to improve the world. Their work focuses on U.S. and global initiatives to ensure their core values are met and that globalization lends all human beings an equal opportunity to succeed.

– Caitlin Zusy

Source: The Rockefeller Foundation