Topics covering about USAID

USAID Helps Prevent War
Case studies throughout history depict the ill effects rendered to countries entangled in perpetual war. Examples from the last two centuries include Germany’s hyperinflation post-World War I and the infrastructural and economic problems in Rwanda and Sierra Leone post-civil war. History shows that war is a direct cause of poverty in many countries. In turn, poverty is indirectly responsible for factors such as starvation and the inability to control diseases. Due to its current period of fierce conflicts, West Africa experiences the drastic effects of war and accompanying poverty. If West Africa desires to alleviate poverty while fostering economic, infrastructural and developmental growth, it must find ways to both prevent war and maintain peace. Thankfully, some organizations are working to do just that. Here is how USAID helps prevent war in West Africa.

USAID in West Africa

USAID intervenes in West African conflicts with its Regional Peace and Development Program, established in September 2016. Importantly, the program works to avert war by bolstering the political integrity and honesty of West African regimes, while simultaneously holding them accountable. It does this by collaborating with regional and state institutions as well as providing training, research and other educational outreaches.

One segment of this program is Partnerships for Peace (P4P), which educates citizens on the roots of violence. Another branch within the Regional Peace and Development Program is Voices for Peace (V4P), which counters violent extremism by promoting human rights through education and media outlets. Both initiatives are successful examples of how USAID helps prevent war in West Africa.

Partnerships for Peace (P4P)

P4P is oriented towards strengthening West Africa’s ability to counter violent extremism. It primarily focuses on the countries of Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Mauritania. In total, it allocates $21.9 million to these nations to counter violent extremism.

To limit radical extremism, P4P developed the Regional Counter to Violent Extremism Lexicon. This lexicon, which has undergone translation into six African languages, provides appropriate terminology for local contexts, being sensitive to cultural, religious and ethnic diversity. Moreover, P4P uses its funding to counter violence by supporting regional anti-extremist organizations. It also provides grants to implement initiatives and programs addressing violent extremism. By funding civil organizations and promulgating anti-extremist educational doctrines, P4P has deterred conflict in West Africa.

Voices for Peace (V4P)

V4P prevents war by promoting good governance and social cohesion. With its budget of $31.5 million, the organization discourages the escalation to conflict by targeting at-risk youth, women and marginalized groups. V4P connects these vulnerable populations with media platforms, respected leaders, institutions and networks to spread awareness. Specifically, they discuss the ill effects of war and the widespread death and poverty stemming from it.

USAID helps prevent war through V4P by promoting democratic values, human rights and good governance. The organization widely disseminates these values by targeting the media, educational institutions and radio talk shows. Significantly, the organization’s humanitarian message, which has undergone translation into 30 languages and 93 radio stations convey, has reached diverse groups. Consequently, USAID’s V4P ably empowers the marginalized while inspiring civic action in citizens across West Africa.

Hope for the Future

USAID’s efforts have played a critical role in successfully delivering West Africa from its tumultuous past. Now, the organization assists in guiding West Africa towards a lasting peace that will allow the region to escape poverty and establish sound governance. For the sake of both international security and poverty alleviation, the international community ought to take a similar course in supporting programs that aid West Africa’s anti-violence organizations.

– Jacob Crosley
Photo: Flickr

Philippine Internet Access
On October 28, 2021, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) officially announced its new project, Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON). USAID is partnering with the Philippine government to expand Philippine internet access to bridge the digital gap in the Philippines.

About the Philippines as a Developing Country

Although the Philippines enjoys a high literacy rate and strong human and natural resources, the country still ranks only slightly higher than 0.7 on the Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI, which weighs factors including life expectancy, education and GDP, considers any country under 0.8 a developing country. The Philippines is 111th of 189 countries ranked in the index. USAID has partnered with the Philippines for decades to improve the Philippines’ status on the HDI. BEACON is its latest initiative in that work even though expanding internet accessibility is difficult in most developing nations.

Internet Accessibility in Developing Nations

The World Bank has declared internet access a fundamental human right in all nations alike, regardless of their development status. With that said, the World Bank also estimates that, currently, only 35% of the population in developing countries has internet access.

Using this statistic, the World Data Lab has created a secondary comparison for individuals living in poverty without internet access. Those living with this criteria live in the framework of “internet poverty.” Living in internet poverty, one cannot afford the minimum reliable internet, which is 1.5 gigabytes of internet download speed per month. This notion of internet poverty equates to the extreme poverty line, where an individual lives off of $1.90 per day.

Internet Accessibility in the Philippines

Besides not being a widespread commodity, the internet in the Philippines is extremely slow. In 2020, the country ranked 119th of 139 countries for mobile speed and 106th of 174 countries for broadband speed.  One of the reasons the internet in the Philippines is limited is because only two companies — Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Globe — currently provide internet connectivity and services. This contrasts with the dial-up era when over 300 independent companies provided service in the Philippines. As a result of having just two providers, internet service costs in the Philippines are some of the highest in the world.

Congressional Holdup

There are many Philippine congressional bills to improve the internet in the Philippines, specifically the Better Internet Connection Act. This Act requires the Philippine internet-providing companies to provide a minimum speed of 10 megabytes of internet access per second to all subscribers’ devices. However, unfortunately, this bill has remained in Congressional review. The lack of passage gave USAID further impetus to launch the BEACON Project.

How The BEACON Project will Help the Philippines’ Internet

The BEACON Project will cost $1.65 billion Philippine pesos, equivalent to $33 million. This project will expand internet access, beginning with underserved communities. It will bolster economic growth by providing stronger information and communications technology (ICT). The BEACON Project will also support the government in digitization and automation efforts. By providing the funding for internet improvement, USAID takes the burden off of the Philippine government. Finally, introducing more reliable internet in the Philippines could open jobs and provide support for businesses.

The Philippines has already succeeded in expanding internet access through its entry into Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector. By 2016, the Philippines outpaced India as a call center hub. The Philippines’ BPO sector enjoyed a 10% compound annual growth rate during the decade ending in 2016. The BEACON Project will allow the Philippines to escalate modernization for companies. This should also open additional business sectors and expand job opportunities.

Outlook for the Future

The Philippines has struggled with internet connectivity, unreliable speeds and high prices for years. Internet in the Philippines is a necessity, and Philippine internet access is pertinent to eliminating poverty and ridding the Philippines of its label as a ‘developing country’ by the HDI.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

USAID’s support in the Congo
As one of the poorest countries in the world, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) consistently deals with the consequences of poverty, such as disease and starvation. The country’s low GDP of $49.87 billion leaves its government with little funds for the infrastructural and industrial development necessary to invigorate its economy and derive profits. At the same time, the Congo contains trillions of dollars in untapped natural resources, which, of course, it cannot extract for sale on the global market because of its economic underdevelopment and consequent lack of industrial power. However, foreign aid can enable the Congo to develop its industries and invest in the machinery needed to cultivate and export its vast natural resources.

Successfully entering the global market promises large profits, economic development and stability and infrastructural development. For the Congo, such economic success entails allocating its profits towards government programs that would eliminate poverty, starvation and disease.

For this reason, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has intervened in the Congo, providing $781 million, with $40 million given for this reason alone, in financial and economic support to jumpstart the country’s underdeveloped industries. Furthermore, it has intervened in the Congo’s labor sector to open the ability for women and previously marginalized groups to work in hopes of increasing economic productivity. Details about USAID’s work and overall vision for economic development in the Congo are below.

USAID’s Vision

USAID’s support in the Congo stems from its goal of bringing the country to a place of economic self-reliance. The organization believes it can achieve this goal by localizing agricultural practices, enlarging and empowering the Congo’s workforce, encouraging the expansion of farmable land, influencing local economic participation and introducing stable mining techniques to safely extract the Congo’s natural resources. While USAID’s support in the Congo has led to slow development, it hopes to see drastic economic changes by 2025.

Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS)

The organization’s Country Development Cooperation Strategy aims to transform local enterprise by encouraging economic participation. USAID’s program first intends to do this by enlarging the Congo’s labor force and diversifying its agricultural sphere. The size of the labor force is a driving factor in economic development. Young people and women are also overrepresented in the country’s unemployed population.

Through its Country Development Cooperation Strategy, USAID desires to increase employment in the Congo, which would not only result in economic productivity but also market participation. Importantly, increased market participation results in the spreading of wealth in which both the buyer and the seller benefit from the exchange. Thus far, USAID has focused on widening the Congo’s labor force by empowering women and previously marginalized groups to work. If citizens become employed, they can adequately farm and harvest foodstuffs, which would bring them the agricultural productivity necessary for economic independence apart from global food imports. Furthermore, by increasing employment, USAID hopes that these workers will expand their local agrarian enterprises to account for the “80 million hectares of arable land” in the Congo that farmers currently only use 10% of. Such an expansion is a necessary step for economic self-reliance.

Another concern is establishing economic productivity in a way that preserves the Congo’s plentiful natural resources without damaging them. It is no secret that resources such as water and forests experience pollution or destruction during aggressive industrial development. Because USAID desires to foster the expansion of farmable land and induce market participation, it is also interested in minimizing “biodiversity and habitat loss.” In effect, safe practices that are conscientious of the environment and reflect sustainable resource management will inevitably “increase economic opportunities for local communities.”

Responsible Minerals Trade (RMT)

USAID’s Responsible Minerals Trade (RMT) program is concerned with commencing a well-regulated minerals sector that focuses on decreasing the likelihood of trafficking and slavery concerning humane economic progression. In the past, the Congo has struggled with a plethora of problems, with blood-diamond mining as the most prevalent issue because of its humanitarian negligence and economic greed. Aside from the strict humanitarian violations, mining agencies that engaged in illegal practices rightfully could not sell their products on the global market and instead sold their minerals on the black market, thereby evading taxes that the government would have profited from and allocated towards industrial development.

However, USAID’s Responsible Minerals Trade program helps the Congo’s government surveil illegal practices and encourages mining companies to adopt legal practices, such as paying their employees and paying their taxes to the government. Consequently, USAID’s support in the Congo, on “both industrial and small-scale, artisanal mines will build on the tax and business reforms” and “will continue to support responsible minerals trade and promote compliance.” If these legal business models become widely adopted, the Congo will continue to derive profits that it can channel towards industrial development, which, in effect, will bolster its economy and render government programs directed towards poverty elimination.

Conclusion

USAID’s support in the Congo has resulted in $781 million in foreign aid and culminated in the formation of the Country Development Cooperation Strategy and the Responsible Minerals Trade, which envision increased employment and high profits through legal and humane market practices. If done properly, the Congo’s economy will grow stronger, empowering it to extract its valuable resources leading to overall economic self-reliance. Because of USAID’s support in the Congo, poverty in the Congo is closer to reaching elimination.

– Jacob Crosley
Photo: Flickr

USAID Programs in Lebanon
USAID Lebanon celebrated World Teacher’s Day 2021 by recognizing the 35,000 Syrian and Lebanese students who received basic literacy and numeric skills through USAID’s summer catch-up program. By partnering with Lebanon’s Ministry of Education, USAID equipped 3,500 teachers with mentorship, curriculum and school supplies. This is just a glimpse of the impact of USAID programs in Lebanon.

USAID Programs in Lebanon

The United States’ relationship with Lebanon began as early as 1951. Since USAID’s commitment to assist Lebanon’s development in 2006, USAID has supported Lebanon with more than $1.3 billion worth of foreign aid. USAID’s work in Lebanon focuses on three main sectors: education, “local development and governance” and economic development. In 2021 alone, USAID contributed $41 million to fund COVID-19 relief and economic development programs in Lebanon. This funding continues to impact the lives of millions amid rising poverty levels in Lebanon.

It is important to note that Lebanon has not always needed this level of support. Once a continental trade center, Lebanon has a rich development history, complete with rising income levels and GDP growth. A 15-year civil war ending in 1990 disrupted the value of the Lebanese pound, creating a snowball effect of economic casualties. With the compounded effects of COVID-19, a global recession and a refugee crisis, 82% of the Lebanese population lives in multidimensional poverty in 2021.

Improving Education in Lebanon

USAID programs in Lebanon focus on improving education systems, acknowledging that education is a proven tool for long-term poverty reduction. The current state of the Lebanese public education system is poor. Noting the dilapidated school infrastructure in Lebanon, USAID aims to provide rehabilitation support to Lebanon by “helping to renovate nearly a third of all Lebanese public schools. “Additionally, USAID is supplying all 256 public high schools with “science lab equipment.” To improve the quality of education, USAID is “training 75 English-speaking teacher trainers from the Ministry of Education on the methodologies of teaching the subjects of English, science and math.”

The Reaching all Children with Education (RACE) program ran from 2013 to 2016. The second phase of the program will reach conclusion at the close of 2021. RACE aims to enhance “access to formal education for 460,000 Syrian refugee children and underprivileged Lebanese children in the country.” RACE’s phase 2 aims to accomplish this “by expanding equitable access to schooling, improving conditions for learning and strengthening management of the education system.”

To promote higher education as a means to decrease poverty, USAID has supplied full university scholarships “to more than 1,300 Lebanese and refugee students.” USAID also helps 12 higher education institutions in Lebanon “to better prepare their graduates” for success in the job market after their studies.

Local Development and Governance

USAID programs in Lebanon work with local governments to build better civil services, increase access to drinking water and modernize technical infrastructure. The water and sanitation program has invested $180 million since 2006 in order to rehabilitate water infrastructure. This program has increased drinking water access for 620,000 Lebanese citizens and 120,000 Syrian refugees. Since 2012, more than 1.3 million Lebanese people have experienced the positive impacts of USAID’s “almost $200 million investment to improve basic services, including renewal back-up power generation and clean water provision.”

Beyond funding, USAID also works to provide local governments with technical training and resources. Through this work, 270,000 individuals experienced increased earnings through job creation and technical development. USAID predicts that the number of beneficiaries will reach 645,000 by 2022.

Economic Growth

Finally, USAID programs in Lebanon provide funding, training and resources to improve economic development. Over the last seven years, $113 million in funding has benefitted more than 20,000 companies, startups and small businesses. Additionally, this assistance has led to the creation of thousands of new jobs and tens of millions of dollars in leveraged funding. By investing in economic development, USAID works to kickstart long-term poverty reduction.

Looking Ahead

By funding education, local governance and economic development, USAID programs in Lebanon improve the lives of millions of impoverished Lebanese people. The programs provide both short and long-term relief, bolstering Lebanon’s ability to bounce back from decades of economic disruptions.

– Aiden Marina Smith
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Aid in Vietnam
The relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam was at one time a negative one. However, over several decades, both countries have formed a positive and beneficial relationship. In 1995, both countries established a bilateral relationship and have since developed a friendship. The U.S. hopes for Vietnam to one day be strong enough to be independent of aid from outside sources.

Until that day comes, U.S. aid in Vietnam will continue to help the Vietnamese people. In just the past 20 years alone, the U.S. has provided $706 million worth of aid to improve health in Vietnam. In that same amount of time, the U.S. provided an overall total of $1.8 billion in aid to Vietnam.

US Health Aid in Vietnam

Much of the U.S. aid in Vietnam aims to improve the health of the Vietnamese people. In particular, the U.S. hopes to control the spread of infectious diseases in Vietnam such as HIV. There are various programs USAID has operating within Vietnam to achieve this goal. One such program is Healthy Markets. The purpose of this project is to create a market in Vietnam with easy access to viable medical goods and services used to combat HIV. The program called Local Health System Sustainability (LHSS) provides services directly to the government of Vietnam. This project aims to increase the financing of Vietnam’s health sector. These are just two of the 16 health projects operating in Vietnam thanks to USAID.

US Aid to People With Disabilities

The U.S. aid in Vietnam also targets Vietnamese people with disabilities. Over the years, USAID has changed the way it helps Vietnamese people with disabilities. Originally, the U.S. helped this group of people directly by providing prosthetics. Over time, the U.S. has come to appreciate the fact that people with disabilities in Vietnam also need access to important services and the need for their inclusion in Vietnamese society.

Similar to the medical projects, there are also projects in Vietnam working to help Vietnamese people with disabilities. One of these projects is Advancing Medical Care and Rehabilitation and Education. This project is working toward improving care for people with brain impairments. Projections have determined that this project will last until 2023 on a budget of $10.3 million. The project called the Disability Rights Enforcement, Coordination and Therapies is working to make sure disability rights undergo enforcement within Vietnam. This project also works to improve therapy and other essential services for people with disabilities. It will last until 2023 and has a budget of $10.7 million.

Why it Matters

While Vietnam’s poverty rate has been 5.8% as of 2016, U.S. aid in Vietnam still goes a long way. People living in poverty often do not get to participate in the better aspects of society. This makes U.S. aid in Vietnam so important because it allows all people to have a better life including those in poverty. For example, the U.S. has been able to reach 30,000 people with disabilities in Vietnam. It is numbers like this that show the positive impact aid can have on other countries.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Investment Through the Prosper Africa CampaignForeign assistance helps people living in poverty while also benefiting the donor nations. Foreign aid helps domestic business interests because investment abroad in emerging markets opens the doors for more consumers. Furthermore, it stimulates demand for those domestic goods and services.

A new U.S. government initiative, called the Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign, is aiming to do just that by encouraging investment in Africa. The campaign promises development for recipients and new opportunities in key emerging markets for donors.

Africa’s Emerging Markets

Across the continent, income levels are rising. Some predict that by 2030 global household consumption will reach well over $2 trillion. Opportunities abound with urbanization in countries such as Nigeria, which holds seven cities with populations of more than a million people. By 2030, a fifth of the world’s consumers will live in Africa — with an increasing number of people breaking into the middle class. As GDP per capita continues to rise, so will the buying power for consumers across the continent. Additionally, Africa’s citizens will look to purchase more goods, including luxury goods. Already, Africa is the fastest-growing market for telecommunications and the second biggest market for mobile phones.

Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign

The Biden Administration promises to “elevate and energize” trade and investment across Africa. The Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign is the vehicle to accomplish that task. The goal is to get U.S. government agencies, African governments and the private sector to coordinate together in order to invest in development projects.

USAID states priorities for projects include “clean energy and climate smart solutions, health, and digital technology.” The private sector is key in this campaign as U.S. relationships with African countries start to shift while these nations continue to develop. More and more, relationships will evolve from being focused on aid to relationships focused on trade and investment.

The Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign is one mechanism of the Build Back Better World Initiative. The campaign encourages private sector investment which can help “on a scale that could never be matched on foreign aid alone.”

Prosper Africa Early Results

So far, the two-pronged approach of facilitating transactions and shaping future opportunities seems to be working. Prosper Africa fostered 800 deals, spurring more than $50 billion in exports and investments in over 40 countries across Africa.

For example, one success story comes from Ghana. An investment saved Global Mamas, a small firm that sells unique handcrafted products. Because of the economic hardship associated with COVID-19, Global Mamas saw its domestic revenue decline by 90% and lost almost 50% of its global revenue. USAID’s West Africa Trade and Investment Hub helped to secure $2 million of private funding to save the company. Furthermore, it set Global Mamas up for a sustainable future post-pandemic with projections of over $1 million in exports. The investment will save more than 250 jobs and establish 85 new jobs within one year. Additionally, the jobs go primarily to women who will be the primary earners of their household.

Looking Forward

Fighting global poverty is not only the right thing to do, it has benefits for domestic interests. Investing in key emerging markets helps to grow new consumer bases and in the end, everyone can prosper together. The Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign imagines such a world where we can fight global poverty by encouraging sustainable growth. But, it also supports the investor’s economy at home and improves the domestic industry.

– Alex Muckenfuss
Photo: Flickr

improving women's rightsTanzania has struggled to effectively develop in the realm of women’s rights. Women and girls struggle with sexual harassment in schools, discrimination, violence and an everyday battle to have the same opportunities as men do. In Tanzania, 60% of women live in extreme poverty. This disparity arises partially because of “shrinking productivity in the agriculture sector,” where many women work. When women are not allowed access to work opportunities, higher poverty rates arise. This takes Tanzania further from its goal of ending domestic poverty and improving women’s rights.

The State of Affairs for Tanzanian Women

Almost two-thirds of Tanzanian farmers are women, but women lack the same opportunities to thrive as men. Women have less access to credit, fewer chances for skills development and less time to devote to their work. Women’s farms are often smaller than men’s, which directly correlates to agriculture output. Moreover, “gender norms” and a lack of legislative development limit women.

Another unavoidable issue Tanzania faces in the battle for gender equality is violence. Per the Tanzanian National Bureau of Statistics, 40% of women have faced physical violence, and a fifth of women report experience with sexual violence. Furthermore, “35% of women have faced physical or sexual intimate partner violence” and 40% of 15 to 49-year-old women have experienced physical violence since 15.

What is USAID?

USAID is the United States Agency for International Development, and it focuses on foreign aid and development assistance.  USAID focuses on building communities through economic growth, agricultural advancements, women empowerment, gender equality and much more.

It further believes that a country’s ability to reach its full potential significantly comes from equitable access to education, free speech and opportunity. Women, men, girls and boys all need to have equal resources and control over the community and land to prosper as a whole. Almost 200 “gender advisors and points of contact” work toward the common goal of providing every human equal chances through gender equality. USAID continues the work of improving women’s rights and has a great impact on gender equality development in many countries, including Tanzania.

USAID’s Impact

USAID has had a great impact on improving women’s rights in Tanzania. In 2017, it launched the “Let Them Learn” campaign, which allows for girls out of school to pursue their passions. The campaign also empowers girls to speak up about gender equality and the restraints that stop girls from excelling in school. USAID has been working to empower the female community in Tanzania in order to help women and girls obtain rights and deserved opportunities.

For example, USAID has been working with Women in Law and Development in Africa to connect survivors with services. This effort has helped more than 18,000 victims of sexual and physical violence. In order to improve the work conditions for women in Tanzania, USAID has also helped launch numerous programs that allow women to explore what fields their futures are in.

Whether in agriculture, the building of entrepreneurship skills or learning more about business development services, USAID has made it a mission for women’s voices to be heard and for women to have the chance at a prosperous future.

Haleigh Kierman
Photo: Unsplash

USAID Assistance to SudanUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance to Sudan offers hope to alleviate poverty in the struggling country. Sudan has a population of more than 44 million people, but as of August 2021, approximately 13.4 million Sudanese people require humanitarian aid. Citizens are grappling with conflict, food insecurity, economic crisis and the impact of drought and flooding. The onset of COVID-19 has only exacerbated issues of poverty in the country. Even though there were developmental gains in the past decade, the African country of Sudan is still dealing with widespread poverty, conflict and violence. However, with USAID assistance to Sudan, the country has the potential to make significant strides in reducing poverty.

The Economy of Sudan

The secession of South Sudan in 2011 is a leading cause of many of Sudan’s modern economic struggles. When South Sudan seceded, the most significant economic loss to Sudan was oil revenue. Oil contributed to more than 50% of the Sudanese government’s income and “95% of its exports.” Without oil revenue, the country experienced a lack of economic growth and “consumer price inflation” as well as soaring fuel prices. However, Sudan came to an agreement with South Sudan “to lower oil transit fees” in 2016 in order to address some of these issues.

While oil is still Sudan’s main economic sector, about 78% of the population work in the agricultural sector. However, the agricultural industry in Sudan is highly rain-dependent and very sensitive to “changing weather patterns” that lead to drought and flooding. This volatility can hurt the incomes of the many people whose livelihoods depend on agriculture.

The State of Poverty in Sudan

Sudan faces significant challenges regarding poverty. Sudan has “one of the highest rates of stunting in the region,” with global acute malnutrition impacting about one million children in the country. In addition, roughly 83% of the citizens live in rural areas and 80% of the population survives on less than $1 a day. Furthermore, more than a third of the country experiences food insecurity. The culmination of these factors means, on the Human Development Index, Sudan ranks 170th out of 189 countries. This ranking puts Sudan in the “low human development category,” according to the 2019 Human Development Index.

USAID Assistance to Sudan

“The United States has been the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the people of Sudan for more than a quarter-century.” USAID assistance to Sudan aims to reduce poverty and provide immediate humanitarian relief. In June 2020, USAID gave Sudan roughly $356 million “to support the democratic transition in the Republic of Sudan following a peaceful revolution in 2019.” Of this funding, $20 million went toward the Sudan Family-Support Program, “a safety net administered by the World Food Programme” to assist Sudanese people “through a difficult period of economic reform needed to end unsustainable state subsidies on wheat and oil.” In addition, some of the funding went toward strengthening the COVID-19 response in Sudan.

More recently, on August 3, 2021, USAID Administrator Samantha Power proclaimed that the agency will provide more than $56 million worth of humanitarian aid to Sudan. The aid looks to increase healthcare resiliency by assisting with “emergency health care,” medical resources and the training of healthcare personnel. Furthermore, the funding will support victims “of gender-based violence by improving case management and training personnel on survivor-centered approaches.” The funding will also increase resources with regard to water and sanitation. Through this assistance, USAID strives to help approximately 13.4 million Sudanese who need humanitarian aid.

Looking Ahead

With the addition of this recent aid, the U.S. asserts its position as the most significant donor to Sudan, providing nearly $377 million worth of aid since the beginning of 2021. U.S aid to Sudan provides support for millions of Sudanese people who deal with food insecurity, lack of clean water and conflict, among other issues. With U.S. aid, Sudan can make strides in the fight against poverty.

– Kyle Har
Photo: Flickr

health care in the drc

While the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is abundant with natural resources and a thriving ecosystem, decades of armed violence have left the nation impoverished. Currently, health care in the DRC suffers from understaffing and underfunding concerns. Moreover, it is only readily available in certain regions of the country. To better understand this issue, here are four facts about health care in the Congo.

  1. Health care exists in a pyramid structure. The DRC government, aided by several NGOs, funds and controls the public health care system in a four-level model. The first level of health care in the DRC is community health centers. These are open for basic treatment and utilizes nurses for care. The next level contains centers where general physicians practice. The third level pertains to regional hospitals, where citizens can receive more specialized treatment. The fourth and highest level is university hospitals. At all levels, appointments are needed to see physicians, and as they also only see clients on certain days of the week, wait times can be long. This prompts patients who require specialist treatment to often see community nurses instead. In addition, USAID currently provides health care services to more than 12 million people in almost 2,000 facilities.
  2. The country lacks health care workers. Health care in the DRC is limited. Statistically, there are only 0.28 doctors and 1.19 nurses and midwives for every 10,000 people. Furthermore, access to health care in the Congo’s rural regions is extremely low due to the remote state of many villages. The northern rural areas of the DRC hold less than 3.0% of the nation’s physicians while Brazzaville, the capital and the most heavily populated city, holds 66% of all physicians. This is despite the fact that the capital only holds 37% of the Congolese population.
  3. Health care funding in the DRC, though low, steadily rises. The government of the DRC has made noticeable progress in increasing funds for health care. Between 2016 and 2018, the proportion of the national budget dedicated to health care increased from 7% to 8.5%. While this increase in funding is life-changing for many, it still pales in comparison to the budgets of many other countries. The U.S. currently allocates 17.7% of its GDP toward health care. The DRC, however, is on an upward trajectory. It seeks to reach a target of 10% allocation of the national budget for health care by 2022.
  4. The DRC’s vaccination rates are improving. In 2018, the government of the DRC implemented The Emergency Plan for the Revitalization of Immunization. The plan aimed to vaccinate more than 200,000 children for life-threatening diseases in a year and a half. While the outbreak of COVID-19 in the nation has been a major setback to the plan, the Mashako Plan, as it is referred to, was responsible for a 50% rise in vaccinations since 2018. This rise occurred in “vulnerable areas” and brings countless more children immunity for potentially deadly diseases.

Despite a lack of health care workers and resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is making steady improvements to its health care system. Efforts to make vaccinations a priority and allocate more of the country’s budget to health care each year already yield results. Organizations such as USAID aid these improvements. The combination of NGOs and the government’s new emphasis on health care provide an optimistic outlook for the future of health care in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Caroline Bersch

Photo: Unsplash