Topics covering about USAID

NEAT Nepal Blog_opt
After a decade of armed insurgency by Maoists, tension in Nepal has increased making some impoverished areas more susceptible to insurrection. The Nepal Economic Agricultural and Trade Activity (NEAT), a USAID funded program, has addressed this problem with a new campaign which involves circulating agricultural training materials throughout impoverished communities in Nepal.

By attempting to decrease poverty, reduce conflict and improve lives, NEAT has targeted the illiterate and semiliterate with training materials. The program is working with 67,510 food insecure and disadvantaged households in 20 districts. Combining photos and written descriptions, the 263,000 pieces outline different ways to increase the quality and quantity of 13 different crops and three types of livestock.

The effect of this type of aid is not only a stronger economy in rural and impoverished areas of Nepal, it is also an improved resistance to insurgency and other roots of violence.

This program falls in line with USAID’s newly implemented efficiency program, USAID Forward, which works toward cutting its global footprint. Programs such as NEAT are made from Nepali people who can more easily assess their country’s problems and work toward a sustainable solution.

Thus far, NEAT has helped Nepali farmers increase their household incomes by a total of $8.5 billion,, with 99 percent of them reporting that they had increased access to markets for their crops. The project is slated to close in August 2013.

– Pete Grapentien

Photo: Nepal Santoshs

In a new initiative, USAID announced that it will partner with Bangladesh for the USAID Climate-Resilient Ecosystems and Livelihoods (CREL) program. Under the initiative, USAID will aim to help combat climate change by preserving the already shrinking wetlands and forests of Bangladesh by reducing stress that the populations who live in and around them put on these natural resources.

USAID aims to provide co-management between local communities and government in at least 25 out of the 35 protected habitats. By providing alternate trades “such as weaving, handicrafts and backyards ponds,” the sensitive wetlands and forests will not endure additional stress or deforestation. USAID hopes that this will also create new jobs throughout the region while maintaining development goals for the country for the future.

Although the CREL program is new, USAID has been collaborating with the government of Bangladesh since 1998 in order to encourage preservation of the country’s resources. The co-management strategy put into place for CREL has already proven effective in the past. In this model, communities play a large role in protecting their local environment and also see increased livelihoods from increasing tourism proceeds.

Christina Kindlon

Source: USAID

US AID First Forward Progress Report
The U.S. Agency for International Development released a progress report on its signature reform initiative USAID Forward at an event co-hosted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Center for American Progress (CAP).
Three years ago, President Obama and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton called for the elevation of development as a key part of America’s national security and foreign policy.

Some highlights that need us to focus are listed as follows:

USAID Forward, the mission with renewed capacity, is focused on seven key
 areas: budget management, policy capacity, implementation and procurement reform, monitoring and evaluation, innovation, science and technology, and talent management.

Delivering results on a meaningful scale through a strengthened USAID:
by our missions in close collaboration with partner governments and citizens, our Country Development Cooperation Strategies now guide our development investments. When evaluations failed to meet the standard, the three most common concerns were: (1) evaluation teams received too many questions—especially questions that are too general and ill-defined—relative to the resources available for the evaluation, (2) the data collection and analysis methods were not appropriate to answer the evaluation questions, or (3) evaluation reports did not clearly demonstrate how evidence led to new findings and conclusions. Given these findings, we need to increasingly focus on taking early action to improve the quality of our evaluations.

Promoting sustainable development through high-impact partnerships:
USAID set out to employ the central pillars of aid effectiveness—county ownership, systems strengthening and sustainability—derived from global meetings in Paris, Accra and Busan. Putting these tenets into practice required us to take a hard look at our own systems and our capacity to work with a broader community of diverse partners while holding them accountable for delivering results. Going forward, we will build on the commitment
 to increase direct support to partner country governments, local private sector firms and non- governmental organizations. We will integrate this work more closely into our strategic planning process with the goal of institutionalizing it still further.

Identifying and scaling up innovative, breakthrough solutions to intractable development challenges:
In November 2012, the Higher Education Solutions Network, a groundbreaking partnership with seven top American and foreign universities designed to engage young people in the discovery of new solutions to development challenges, was launched. Each of the seven universities—The College of William and Mary, Texas A&M University, Michigan State University, University of California, Berkeley, Duke University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Makerere University in Uganda—will establish a development laboratory to incubate and scale up new innovations. The large-scale transformation of a federal agency is a long-term and complex endeavor. The transformation will be successful if it not only changes the way we do business but also results in improved results and continued development progress. USAID is committed to continuing our forward progress and calls on all of our partners to join us in our collective efforts to end extreme poverty.

– Caiqing Jin(Kelly)

Source: USAID
Photo Source: ETFTrends

US AID and Nepal Partner to Educate on Agriculture
Nepal Economic, Agriculture, and Trade Activity (NEAT), a 32-month program funded by USAID, aims to “promote economic growth, reduce poverty, increase food security, and improve lives” throughout Nepal. As part of the program, USAID and Nepal have partnered up through the Nepal Ministry of Agriculture Development to distribute educational materials on agricultural practices in the hopes of improving the production of agriculture in the country.

Through the funding provided by USAID, more than 263,000 pamphlets were handed out detailing specific agricultural instructions, both written in Nepali and as visuals in order to aid those citizens who are illiterate. The pamphlets detail “critical agriculture practice” on 13 types of crops and 3 species of livestock.

The NEAT program has improved the agricultural education of 67,510 households throughout 20 districts of Nepal with a regular lack of access to proper food sources. Thus far, the project has already allowed area farmers to see an increased income of $8.5 million collectively. These farmers and households have had increased access to markets and are better educated on agricultural practices such as pest and disease control, use of fertilizer, improved seed, and “post-harvest handling.”

The Director of USAID’s Social, Environmental, and Economic Development Office, John Stamm, maintained that USAID is dedicated to creating sustainable development solutions, including the NEAT program – which will allow Nepalese citizens greater resources for continuing to improve their lives long after the program ends in August of 2013.

Christina Kindlon

Source: USAID

Mosquito Nets Save Lives in Mozambique
Many foreign aid organizations assist developing countries not by sending money, but by providing health and educational equipment for impoverished people. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is among the organizations that employ this method. A case in point is that since 2007, USAID has delivered 20 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets to Mozambique.

The impact of these mosquito nets has been invaluable, says Polly Dunford, the interim USAID Director in Mozambique. The nets have decreased the number of malaria cases in the country, most notably in cases of children.

USAID partnered with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to fight malaria in Mozambique. PEPFAR uses aid money from USAID to distribute the mosquito nets and insecticide spray, counsel pregnant women about malaria prevention, and produce more effective malaria drugs.

In addition to providing assistance to reduce cases of malaria, USAID has been focusing on helping farmers become more successful. Given Mozambique’s ocean accessibility, it has the potential to become a regional food supplier, says Dunford. USAID has been supporting the agriculture sector through training programs that educate farmers on how to more productively sell their food products.

Mozambique receives about $500 million from USAID annually and a majority of that money goes towards the health sectors, like PEPFAR and other malaria prevention programs. The country has high levels of experienced economic growth, however, many people are still living in poverty. With the help of USAID, the number of impoverished and those dying from malaria in Mozambique will continue to decrease.

– Mary Penn

Source: AllAfrica
Photo: World Vision

USAID Increases Attempts To Put Itself Out Of BusinessUSAID holds a unique position in that its main objective is to put itself out of business. In order to achieve this goal, USAID established USAID Forward.

Shortly after Rajiv Shah became president of USAID in 2009, USAID Forward was created. USAID Forward is a group of measures implemented to strengthen the effectiveness of the Agency’s performance in areas such as budget management, project implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.

Recently, USAID has issued a progress report and infographic containing the progress USAID Forward has made in maximizing transparency and delivering better results. This report not only catalogs the current progress being made but also hints at future developments and the future direction of USAID.

As an agency, USAID is moving away from establishing individual missions around the world and moving toward establishing partnerships with foreign nations. During the presidency of Rajiv Shah, USAID has cut its global footprint by 11 missions. Rather than establishing missions, USAID works to aid nations monetarily and help them establish a sustainable infrastructure created with its own people. This is a result-oriented tactic that centers around providing data and technical support as well as goal-oriented monetary aid with a focus on accountability.

USAID is one of the United States’ largest nonprofits and was established by President Kennedy in 1961. It is currently one of the largest nonprofits in the United States and operates directly under the guidance of the President of the United States and Secretary of State.

Despite the changes in strategy and tactics, the main goal of USAID remains the same: creating conditions where aid is no longer needed.

– Pete Grapentien

Source American Enterprise Institute

WHO Raises Awareness on Indoor Air PollutionFor many families, the simple act of heating their apartment or preparing a cooked meal can result in long-term health consequences ranging from respiratory infections to lung cancer. In an effort to combat the effects of indoor air pollution, the World Health Organization (WHO) is promoting a policy of greater awareness and education on the dangers of certain biomass fuels.

The luxury of an oven fan or electric stove is out of reach for many poverty-stricken countries in the Global South, necessitating the use of charcoal as a primary source of fuel for cooking. Unfortunately, charcoal-fueled cooking releases pollutant-laden smoke that, without proper ventilation, can lead to chronic air pollution-related health problems later in life.

The number of hazardous pollutants released in the smoke in staggering; containing carcinogens such as benzene, pyrene, and toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and nitrous oxides. Sadly, the diseases that result from frequent exposure to indoor air pollution are just as severe, ranging from acute lower respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and asthma. Additionally, because the societies that use such materials for fuel have most of their meals prepared by females, air pollution disproportionately affects the women and children of the household.

The WHO, in cooperation with UNICEF and USAID, is actively working to educate target publics about the dangers of indoor air pollution. Additionally, by raising awareness of the health problems caused by indoor air pollution with various NGOs and development agencies, a realistic policy in finding practical fuel alternatives to charcoal and other hazardous materials can be identified and implemented.

– Brian Turner

Source: WHO
Photo: Howstuffworks

What is our Return on Investment for USAID?Many people ask, what is our “return on investment” for USAID? One clear answer is that we substantially improve public attitudes about the US. America offers humanitarian assistance all around the world, and there is growing research to suggest that US aid to developing nations results in substantial benefits to the US itself.

The non-profit group Terror Free Tomorrow, in Washington DC, has done extensive surveys:

  • Two-thirds of Indonesians favorably changed their opinion of the US because of the US tsunami response in 2004. Most significantly, 71% of self-identified Osama bin Laden supporters adopted a new favorable view of the US.
  • As a direct result of American efforts in 2004, support for Al Qaeda and terrorist attacks dropped by half in Indonesia  (the largest Muslim country in the world). Even two years after, 60% of Indonesians continued to have favorable opinions of America.
  • After the U.S. Navy ship Mercy, fully equipped floating hospital, docked for several months in local ports in 2006, provided medical care to the people of Indonesia and Bangladesh, nationwide polling in Bangladesh found that 87% said the activities of the Mercy made their overall opinion of the US more positive.
  • Indonesians and Bangladeshis ranked additional visits by the Mercy as a higher priority for future American policy than resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • After the US war in Afghanistan, and the drone strikes inside Pakistan, anti-American attitudes in Pakistan were among the strongest in the world. However, on a local level, where USAID had been active after an earthquake – there was still significant trust in the US, even four years after.
  • Even more dramatic change in public opinion can occur when American aid is targeted and focused on directly helping people in need and not foreign governments.

Humanitarian aid saves lives and helps to improve living standards during horrible disasters. It builds allies and strengthens our national security by doing so. It changes public opinion toward the US and can lead to significant changes in values. It can increase understanding across borders – lessening inter-tribal, religious, and regional conflict, and enhance support for free markets, trade, and democracy.

In this time of limited government funds, the effectiveness of American foreign humanitarian help must be protected. A full understanding of humanitarian aid shows that it helps donors and recipient nations alike.

– Mary Purcell

Source: Brookings Institution
Photo: Truth-Out

USAID Funds Partnerships for Women's LeadershipUSAID funds partnerships with Higher Education for Development (HED) to encourage women’s leadership throughout a number of developing countries, including South Sudan, Rwanda, Paraguay, and Armenia. As part of the new Women’s Leadership Program, five American universities will partner with universities and colleges throughout the select countries.

The partnership between universities aims at encouraging women’s status in a number of vital sectors for economic development, including agriculture, business, and education. The goals of the program also fall in line with previous goals laid out by USAID as part of the Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy, which was released in 2012.

HED will be in charge of administering the programs, which will total one in each country and two in Rwanda. Funding for the program from USAID will total $8.75 million.

Some of the more specific goals of the Women’s Leadership Program will include increased access to higher education and advanced degrees for women, increases in foreign universities research on women’s leadership, and encourage women’s leadership through advocacy in struggling communities. The American universities that are participating in the program are Arizona State University, Michigan State, Indiana University, UCLA, and the University of Florida.

USAID Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Carla Koppell, said “USAID is very excited to be collaborating with academic institutions in the United States and abroad in advancing women’s leadership. These partnerships offer a meaningful and important opportunity to ensure women are empowered and advance in economies and societies globally.”

Christina Kindlon

Source: USAID

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with U.S. technology and communications giant, Cisco, to provide Burma with two new technical education centers. The two Cisco Networking Academies will provide valuable skills in information and communications technology to the developing nation, and provide citizens with job-ready abilities to bolster the country’s growing information and communications tech (ICT) industry.

The USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, has said that technology infrastructure can create stable and continued economic growth and development, and that “ICT can expand economic opportunities, transform public service delivery, and provide more opportunities for citizen engagement.”

Cisco has been a continual partner of USAID, having established networking education centers in over 165 countries, which have provided relevant skills for entry-level careers in ICT while also developing other valuable general career abilities including “problem-solving, collaboration, and critical thinking.”

In Burma, Cisco has agreed to donate the equipment needed to start the two Networking Academies and the training for 15 faculty members. Sandy Walsh, Director of Cisco’s Social Innovation Group, said that Cisco is dedicated to providing education to help continue technological development in “emerging economies,” and that the academies will aid Burmese citizens in gaining career skills needed in the 21st century.

Three additional American tech leaders, including Intel, Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard, participated in a technology delegation to Burma, also led by USAID, in hopes of continued collaboration that will increase internet access and promote digital literacy and government openness. The partnership between USAID and Cisco hopes to create alliances with American tech companies, the local government, and the private sector to increase “social and economic development” using technological resources.

 – Christina Kindlon

Source: USAID
Photo: VOA