Topics covering about USAID

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

airlifts from USAIDNepal is a small country in Asia that encompasses most of the Himalayan mountains. In May 2021, Nepal experienced an uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 and Nepal’s government could not contain cases without foreign assistance. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) responded to this need by sending airlifts of personal protective equipment and oxygen to help fight COVID-19. Airlifts from USAID have served to limit the poverty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With such support, it is possible to keep COVID-19 cases manageable while reducing poverty at the same time.

COVID-19 in Nepal

Nepal became the world’s fastest-growing hotspot for COVID-19 infections in May 2021. At the time, the country reported more than 513,000 cases and 6,300 deaths in a population of 29 million. Due to the rapid rate of infection, Nepal’s healthcare system was unable to accommodate such high numbers.

Vaccine accessibility was another issue for Nepal as only 7.3% of the population had received one dose of the vaccine as of May 25, 2021. With India bordered by Nepal, the vaccine shortage in India posed a major problem for Nepali citizens. In part, this was due to India’s government blocking vaccine exports as India needed to preserve its supply for Indian citizens. To solve this problem, foreign assistance was needed.

The dire situation in Nepal has severely hurt the economic welfare of its citizens. Recovery from COVID-19 in Nepal not only requires control of the infection rate but also economic support for the most affected citizens. Migrant workers who travel to India for work have accounted for a significant portion of the rise in cases.

Therefore, the COVID-19 surge in both India and Nepal has eliminated the primary source of income for many Nepali families. Nepal’s economy also suffers from a halted tourism industry, which previously generated a significant amount of revenue from the Himalayan mountains. Without the success of these crucial industries, Nepali families are at greater risk of sliding deeper into poverty.

Airlifts From USAID

USAID has had a long-standing relationship with Nepal. Over the last two decades, the organization has allotted $600 million in funding Nepal’s healthcare sector. To aid the currently overwhelmed medical system in Nepal, USAID responded by scheduling three airlifts to bring in medical supplies for healthcare workers. These airlifts are part of a recent $15 million aid package to the government of Nepal.

By May 2021, Nepal had received $50 million worth of COVID-19 assistance from USAID. The government estimates that this support has positively impacted 60% of Nepal’s population. Due to USAID’s COVID-19 support, Nepal has been able to perform nationwide COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. Furthermore, the country has been able to treat COVID-19 patients more adequately.

In addition to medical supplies donated by USAID, the U.S. government has committed to sharing vaccine doses with Nepal. The U.S. government’s strategy for distributing vaccines includes a combination of direct donations and distribution through international organizations. U.S. ambassador to Nepal, Randy Berry, confirmed in early June 2021 that the U.S. will directly donate a portion of seven million vaccines to Nepal. The donation is part of an effort to assist Asia by distributing doses among 17 Asian nations.

The Effectiveness of Airlifts

COVID-19 has had a physical, mental and economic impact on Nepali citizens. Many Nepali citizens travel to India for work, but with travel restrictions in place, the people of Nepal face more instances of poverty. USAID has provided immense support for Nepal throughout the pandemic, especially during the resurgence of cases. Combined with a plan to distribute more vaccines to the country, foreign aid has played a significant role in helping Nepal fight COVID-19.

– Viola Chow
Photo: Flickr

Combatting Illegal Fishing in IndonesiaAs a seafaring country with thousands of islands, Indonesia relies heavily on fishing for food and for economic well-being. Fishing is the main source of income for millions of people in the country and the surrounding region; a decline in the industry could be disastrous for these areas. For this reason, illegal fishing in Indonesia has raised concern as it has strained fish populations in the region and risked the livelihoods of millions of fishers. To combat this issue, USAID partnered with several conservation organizations to implement the USAID Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced project. The USAID SEA project is a five-year effort that seeks to protect seafood supplies and promote ethical fishing practices in Indonesia.

What is Illegal Fishing?

When fishing vessels do not possess the proper documentation and equipment required by Indonesian law to fish in Indonesian waters, these vessels engage in illegal fishing. To deter illegal fishing, the Indonesian government mandates that each fishing vessel possesses the necessary licenses and declares its fishing gear. This helps the government collect data on the types of equipment used and the number of vessels in the country. The government limits the number of vessels present at a certain time to prevent overfishing and to ensure fishermen practice ethical fishing techniques.

Impacts of Illegal Fishing

Indonesia is situated in the Coral Triangle, an area encompassing most of maritime Southeast Asia. The Coral Triangle contains more than 2,000 species of coral reef fish, making it one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Moreover, this diversity in fish species directly correlates with why fishing remains an integral part of the region’s economy of the region. As it stands, “the Coral Triangle sustains at least 120 million people.” In Indonesia specifically, the fishing industry employs an estimated 12 million people, which allows the nation to be the second-largest fish producer in the world.

Indonesia’s reliance on ocean life is a fundamental aspect of the country’s way of life, and as such, threats to the fishing ecosystem can have severe consequences. Overfishing has had a detrimental impact on fish populations over the years, illustrated by a 95% decline in fish populations in the region over the last 60 years. Furthermore, destructive fishing practices that use explosives to stun fish — known as “dynamite fishing” — destroy marine habitats, leaving extensive damage. These practices continue to harm the fishing industry in Indonesia. Low incomes for fishers have already led to a decline in professionals in the industry within the last 20 years.

USAID’s SEA Program

The USAID SEA project clamps down on illegal fishing in Indonesia and protects local fisheries by collaborating with local communities. Initiated in 2016, this five-year program worked in the provinces of West Papua, Maluku and North Maluku, where illegal fishing practices have hit fishing communities the hardest. USAID SEA sought direct collaborations with locals to “raise awareness about marine conservation, educate others in their community about these issues and report harmful practices to local authorities.”

Designed to curb illegal fishing in Indonesia, the USAID SEA project helps assure ethical fishing practices. Illegal fishing practices like overfishing deplete fish populations, negatively affect the livelihoods of fishers and hurt the country’s economy. The project raises awareness about the importance of marine conservation and its long-term benefits for these communities. As such, it helps defend a way of life for millions of Indonesian people.

– Nikhil Khanal
Photo: Flickr

USAID programs in GuineaAccording to the World Bank, 35% of people in Guinea lived below the international poverty line in 2012, meaning they subsisted on less than $1.90 a day. Around 55% of Guineans lived below the country’s national poverty line in the same year. The U.S. began providing aid to Guinea through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) shortly after the agency’s creation in the early 1960s. The relationship between USAID and the Guinean government has remained strong and a number of aid programs continue today. USAID programs in Guinea provide a diverse set of services in various economic and social sectors.

Feed the Future Guinea Agricultural Services Project

Agriculture is the backbone of the Guinean economy. According to the World Bank, the agricultural sector employs 52% of workers in Guinea and farming is the main income of 57% of rural households. Hence, improving agricultural output and profits is key to reducing poverty and hunger in Guinea, particularly for the rural population.

USAID started the Feed the Future Guinea Agricultural Services project in 2016 and still runs it in 2021. Feed the Future is a U.S. government program dedicated to eliminating global hunger and food insecurity, with efforts in a number of countries around the globe. Guinea’s Feed the Future program partners with local farmers and organizations, such as the Federation of Fruit Planters of Lower Guinea, which has more than 1,000 members.

USAID also brings in students from the Apprenticeship in Extension, Entrepreneurship and Rural Innovation (AVENIR) program, an initiative created to provide 640 unemployed Guinean college graduates with skills to start up their own agricultural businesses. These AVENIR agents then pass on their knowledge on sustainable farming and good entrepreneurship to Guinean farmers.

The results of the Feed the Future program are impressive, increasing certain crop yields by five, 10 or even 500 tons a year. AVENIR agents bring in technology such as irrigation pumps and solar dryers to increase productivity and decrease harvest waste. Farmers trained by USAID’s AVENIR agents have negotiated for better prices, boosting their profits, and in turn, helping them to rise out of poverty.

Malaria Control and Other Health Programs

Many USAID programs in Guinea work in the health sector, especially in disease control. Malaria, in particular, poses a massive threat to public health, accounting for 14% of deaths among Guinean children younger than 5. Alongside the National Malaria Control Program, USAID works to strengthen the healthcare system and identify new methods of treating malaria. USAID also invests in malaria prevention methods such as insecticide-infused mosquito nets.

Data from the World Bank shows that the malaria-fighting efforts of USAID and others have made a difference in Guinea. The number of average cases of malaria per 1,000 people has decreased from nearly 430 in 2012 to around 280 in 2018. This essentially means that, on average, people in Guinea became 15% less likely to contract malaria.

USAID programs in Guinea also help the country fight the spread of other dangerous outbreaks such as Ebola and COVID-19. The Global Health Supply Chain — Procurement and Supply Management program (GHSC-PSM) helps manufacture and distribute valuable health supplies such as disease test kits, antimalarial drugs and more.

Health services are crucial for all people in Guinea, but especially those living in poverty, who would not have access to reliable, affordable healthcare without the intervention of USAID and other aid programs. By preventing the spread of diseases such as malaria, Ebola and COVID-19, USAID programs improve the quality of life of Guineans living below the poverty line.

The Cultural Cohesion for Peace and Prosperity Project

USAID programs in Guinea also focus on peace and community sustainability. For example, USAID’s Cultural Cohesion for Peace and Prosperity Project (C2P2) works to prevent conflict between competing communities in Guinea, whether the fighting results from religious, ethnic or other differences.

Social science research shows a strong link between poverty and conflict. High poverty rates increase the likelihood of conflict occurring, and when violence breaks out, the people with the least resources often suffer the most. Ending and preventing conflict between various community groups allows people to focus on generating income rather than simply surviving.

The Impact of USAID

Overall, USAID programs in Guinea have a significant impact on those living in poverty, whether the programs focus on agriculture, health services or peace. Continuing to prioritize, fund and expand aid programs is key to improving overall living conditions and reducing poverty levels in Guinea.

Julia Welp
Photo: Flickr

USAID hurricane preparation effortsBefore hurricanes arrive, aid organizations such as USAID work to prepare for the natural disasters. USAID hurricane preparation efforts for the Atlantic hurricane season include ensuring that the organization itself and communities in Latin America and the Caribbean have the supplies and knowledge needed to minimize the impact of hurricanes. With the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season underway, USAID’s preparation efforts will help communities, especially those most impacted by poverty, recover from the aftermath of hurricanes.

The 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast

June 1 marked the start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season with the arrival of the first Atlantic hurricane, Hurricane Elsa. According to AccuWeather meteorologists, Hurricane Elsa is one of seven to 10 hurricanes expected for the year 2021. Meteorologists believe three to five of these hurricanes will qualify as major hurricanes — hurricanes with wind speeds more than or equal to 111 miles per hour.

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season forecast predicts a season with above-average intensity, but meteorologists do not forecast a record-breaking season. As with the 2020 hurricane season, COVID-19 presents a challenge for evacuation and relief efforts.

The increased poverty levels in Latin America and the Caribbean also create a new challenge for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Extreme poverty levels increased in the region during 2020 due to COVID-19, with approximately 12.5% of Latin America and the Caribbean’s population currently living in extreme poverty.

People living in poverty face more barriers in recovering from the impact of hurricanes because they lack access to financial resources that could help them rebuild and seek assistance after hurricanes land. Furthermore, impoverished countries usually lack resilient infrastructure and housing, making these countries more vulnerable to damage and destruction.

Off-site USAID Preparation

Effective USAID hurricane preparation efforts require the agency to accumulate the supplies needed to help people affected by hurricanes. USAID maintains supply stockpiles in the U.S. state of Miami, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Pisa in Italy. By maintaining these stockpiles, USAID can distribute supplies as needed.

USAID hurricane preparation efforts also include testing temporary shelter in simulated hurricane conditions offsite before taking it to disaster-prone areas. Testing housing helps ensure that people impacted by hurricanes receive shelter that is safe and resilient to natural disasters.

On-site USAID Preparation

USAID hurricane preparation efforts also involve working with people on-site in communities at risk of hurricanes. USAID trains meteorologists, educates people about individual safeguarding measures to take to stay safe during hurricanes, stations experts in the Caribbean and Latin America and sends teams to disaster sites before hurricanes make landfall. All these actions help minimize the impact of hurricanes. To create teams that are familiar with the region before disasters happen, USAID stations long-term consultants, advisers and program officers in Latin America and the Caribbean.

USAID’s onsite work in Latin America and the Caribbean creates a network of people prepared to respond to disasters. As of May 2019, USAID trained 70,000 people in the region on disaster response. USAID provides disaster management teams with the necessary information to evacuate regions before flash floods begin, the most life-threatening aspect of hurricanes, by training meteorologists to evaluate the risk of flash floods.

Hurricane preparation saves lives by ensuring that physical and human capital is in place to respond to hurricanes and their after-effects. The Atlantic hurricane season continues until November 30, 2021. With the dedication of organizations such as USAID, disaster response in developing countries is strengthened and the impacts of natural disasters are mitigated.

– Caroline Kuntzman
Photo: Flickr

USAID Programs in PakistanFor more than 60 years, the U.S. and Pakistan have shared a mutually beneficial relationship. Pakistan is the world’s fifth-most populous nation and one of the fastest-growing economies. Recent U.S. funding through USAID has targeted economic growth as well as peace and health in Pakistan. Two current areas of emphasis, education and gender empowerment, have seen recent success through USAID programs in Pakistan, serving as a powerful example of the potential impact of aid and investment in developing nations.

The Sindh Basic Education Program

USAID has worked closely with the Government of Pakistan to improve the nation’s overall access to schools and quality of education. The Sindh Basic Education Program (SBEP) targets the Sindh region of Pakistan. The region was affected by devastating floods in 2010 and is home to 47.9 million people.

Through USAID, the U.S. has invested $159.2 million in building schools to increase primary, middle and secondary school enrollment. The program will ultimately see the construction of 106 new schools in flood-affected areas as well as the consolidation of up to 280 existing schools. These newly merged schools will help streamline and revolutionize Pakistan’s education system.

The program aims to reduce the number of small, underfunded and understaffed schools in favor of more reliable teaching and an easier flow of resources. SBEP has the potential to increase enrollment while improving the reading skills of more than 400,000 Pakistani children. The program also looks to enhance overall child nutrition.

Reducing the Gender Gap and Increasing Budget

One of SBEP’s objectives is to shrink the gender gap in Pakistan’s education system. The program will designate 18 schools constructed under SBEP specifically for adolescent girls. These spaces will include computer and science lab resources. USAID partnered with Intel to train learners and educators in information and communications technology, specifically in these girls’ education facilities.

Another goal of SBEP is to, “provide technical assistance to the Education and Literacy Department of the Government of Sindh,” a process that has already started to positively influence Pakistan’s government. Sindh Provincial Education Minister Saeed Ghani announced a 13.5% budget increase for the Schools Education and Literacy Department for the fiscal year 2021-22. This denotes the nation’s heightened emphasis on providing access to high-quality education.

Prioritizing Gender Empowerment in Pakistan

USAID programs in Pakistan prioritize addressing gender inequality in the country. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, Pakistan ranks third-last in the world in terms of gender equality due to high rates of gender-based violence and a general lack of both economic opportunity and sexual and reproductive health rights for women. The U.S. and Pakistan have identified gender empowerment as a necessary vehicle for national growth and development.

Aside from boosting girls’ access to education, USAID gender empowerment initiatives cover several areas of need, aiming to create a more inclusive and equitable society. Beginning in 2012, “USAID-supported interventions have helped nearly 11 million women and children receive quality maternal, child and reproductive healthcare services.” The organization also trained Pakistani women to administer quality “health services to women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province through a mobile health unit program.”

Female Economic Empowerment

Programs also promote entrepreneurship and job creation, specifically for Pakistani women. USAID has impacted at least 50,000 female entrepreneurs with business development services, training and grants. By funding training and new technologies in agriculture, USAID helped create job opportunities for women.

USAID also assisted with placing female graduates in the male-dominated yet burgeoning Pakistani energy sector. Furthermore, USAID contributed to training close to “16,000 female political party representatives” to improve female representation in politics. USAID’s efforts focus on the development of women — a key step in diminishing the nation’s gender gap and lifting women out of poverty.

The Power of Partnership

Between reforming education by building and consolidating schools and empowering women through improved healthcare and career opportunities, USAID programs in Pakistan are fundamentally changing the lives of those most in need. The successes of USAID programs highlight the benefits of partnerships as the U.S. and Pakistan collaborate to reduce poverty and inequality.

Sam Dils
Photo: Flickr