Topics covering about USAID

USAID Takes Part in New Child and Maternal Health Initiative in IndiaThe U.S. Agency for International Development has partnered with two other philanthropic organizations to improve health care for mothers, adolescent girls, and children throughout India. Along with USAID, the Kiawah Trust and Dasra have created a $14 million collaboration to tackle the health issues that women face. Currently, nearly 67,000 women in India die annually due to childbirth or pregnancy, and nearly 50 percent of children under five years old experience continuous malnutrition. The three organizations hope to commission various other parties in creating new solutions that fight current maternal and child mortality rates.

The administrator of USAID, Dr. Rajiv Shah, said that although India has made great strides towards eradicating hunger and poverty, innovation alone will not be enough to completely end the issues that plague the poor in the country – local collaboration and partnerships are crucial “to achieving unprecedented gains in human health, prosperity, and dignity.”

Dr. Shah went on to address India’s various businesses, financial organizations, and investors aid in the fight against barriers to increasing development by creating alliances between the private and public sectors and asserted that solutions created in India could also be put into practice in other developing nations in order to fight poverty.

Dasra, India’s largest philanthropic organization, published a report on female health in India showing that “the root cause of maternal and child mortality is closely linked to the age of marriage and first pregnancy.” Other crucial factors for health affected by age of marriage and pregnancy are hygiene and sanitation, level of education, and access to clean drinking water.

Dasra’s representative, Deval Sanghavi, said that many types of involvement and capital are needed “to collectively find impactful and scalable solutions for the millions of women and children living in poverty in our country.  This collaboration has the potential to build collective action and attract like-minded parties.”

Christina Kindlon

Source: USAID
Photo: UNICEF

Indian Version of USAID Bodes WellThe United States Agency of International Development (USAID) claims that they are very pleased to see the development of India’s own international aid program that is modeled after USAID. USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah has just returned from a visit to Myanmar and India.

India, which has one of history’s fastest-growing economies, will stop receiving foreign aid from the United Kingdom in just a few years and they are already working to distribute their own aid dollars to neighbors near and far. At this point, India has become the perfect example of what a developing country can become; India is less and less dependent upon international aid each year and they continue to grow their domestic economy. Unfortunately, the country’s massive population still suffers from some serious issues. About 20% of the world’s children that die of preventable disease before the age of five are from India. Nonetheless, USAID plans to work with their Indian counterparts on a number of important issues while focusing on health, energy-creation and industry, and agriculture.

Some may think that India isn’t ready for such a step, but the country boasts the world’s ninth-highest nominal GDP, a giant workforce that is becoming increasingly better educated, and one of the world’s biggest food surpluses. The impressive growth of the country over the last decade along with their expansive resources and close cooperation with USAID and the United Nations will help to create a well-organized series of programs that will be able to assist countries such as Afghanistan, where the Indian version of USAID is already working with a group that aims to create job opportunities for women.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: Economic Times, United Nations,

USAID Funding Power Station in Pakistan
The first phase of construction on the Tarbela Hydel Power Station, located in Lahore, Pakistan, has been completed. The project, which is being financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), allowed the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) to add 128 megawatts of electricity to the station.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, visited the power station and was briefed by WAPDA Chairman Syed Raghib Shah. Shah said that the WAPDA appreciates the United States’ aid in updating Pakistan’s energy sector, and also stated that these upgrades will allow more consistent electricity to be provided to the people of Pakistan for a very affordable price.

Along with upgrading current power stations throughout Pakistan, WAPDA is also using funds from USAID to construct brand new power stations.

Ambassador Olson stated, “The United States understands that Pakistan is facing an energy crisis and we are committed to doing our part,” and also said that the recent upgrade at the Tarbela station will contribute enough power to provide electricity to 2 million people, and to ensure a consistent source of electricity to avoid blackouts and outages.

As part of a larger project, USAID is providing WAPDA with $16.5 million to repair three additional power stations and to train employees that will finish the Tarbela Hydel Power Station in Pakistan. Besides these three power plants, USAID is also funding additional hydropower projects throughout Pakistan – these efforts include the construction of two dams that will provide an extra 35 MW of power and irrigate 200,000 acres of land.

Christina Kindlon

Source: The News
Photo: Pakistan Today

Death of Hugo Chavez Impacts US AidLike it or not, foreign aid usually follows the paths that are set by political relationships. U.S.-Venezuelan relations have been stressed ever since Hugo Chavez came to power, and even before then. How could the death of Hugo Chavez affect the aid relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela?

The first time that Chavez met President Obama, he gave him a copy Eduardo Galeano’s book “Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina”, a history of colonial rule over the Americas that focuses on how the United States became the colonizing power of modern age in Latin America, especially in Central America where American corporations and military interventions created the infamously titled “banana republics.” That first meeting is the perfect anecdote to represent the relationship between the two countries over the last five years. Chavez had always been extraordinarily outspoken against the United States and, because of that tense relationship, the U.S. has given very little to Venezuela with the exception of small amounts of disaster relief assistance. It is important to note that Venezuela, the founding member of OPEC, is one of the wealthiest countries in the Americas, yet nearly 32% of the country’s population lives below the poverty line.

In order to begin building a more amicable relationship, the U.S. may begin giving more to causes that aren’t related to politics and focus more on job creation and training. Providing this type of aid would not only benefit Venezuela, but it may also help build a much less tense relationship with a resource-rich country that has significant pull in international oil markets and price control. A well-executed increase in aid could end up being very beneficial for both parties as Venezuela changes leadership.

– Kevin Sullivan

Sources: The New York Times, CIA World Factbook
Photo: Biography

US AID Fighting Terrorism With WoolQuinoa seems to be on everyone’s mind lately, but for the district of Mastung – a district located on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan– sheep and shepherding account for more than 40% of the economy. Unfortunately, many farmers in Mastung use outdated techniques which limit their production even though demand for wool is high.

To help with this dilemma, USAID has funded an agricultural project in which Australian shepherds, who are among the world’s finest, instruct a best-practices workshop which teaches Mastung farmers current techniques and educate the farmers on how to use current technologies. These new techniques have been combined with direct marketing practices and, with the two disciplines combined, the result is an 80% growth of income for farmers in the communities where these practices have been implemented.

While this type of growth does help border communities in Pakistan, the strengthening of these communities has an unforeseen effect on U.S. national security and global security as a whole. It is no secret that extremist groups target poor communities by offering financial assistance and other forms of aid. In a region that has been plagued with extremist groups such as the Taliban, contributing to the economic growth of communities and helping them remain stable prevents the spread of terrorism and extremist ideology. For the Mastung, fighting terrorism with wool production is a win-win situation.

Not only do these contributions help create a better life for those in the border communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they also help these communities as a means to furthering global security as a whole.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: TheNews.com
Photo: Pakistan Today

USAID Partners with DFID to Fund DevelopmentThe United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a partnership today with the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom “to invest in cost-effective innovations to humanitarian challenges.”

The USAID/DFID Humanitarian Innovation Initiative seeks to further rewards for those involved in the USAID Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) program, a results-based project for new, groundbreaking development ideas. Seeking to solve problems like malnutrition, high mortality rates, and a lack of infrastructure, the DIV competition gains additional support from this new joint venture.

Projects submitted to DIV are eligible for up to $1 million in grants; if the concept has already been proven and is not an untested idea, grants can reach up to $15 million. Successful ideas have harnessed technology like SMS and GPS to empower individuals in developing countries with access to the kind of information developed nations to take for granted.

USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah supports the DIV program because it serves to “help strengthen the resilience of communities to disasters and care for the least vulnerable among us.” All parties with potential ideas are encouraged to submit their applications to the DIV website. With initiatives like DIV, there are strong incentives for budding social entrepreneurs to develop and implement unique programs for reducing poverty around the world.

Jake Simon

Source: USAID/DFID

US AID Working to Further Education in PakistanAs part of a larger effort to further education in Pakistan, USAID has awarded scholarships to 150 students of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). The students are enrolled for either the two-year Associate Degree in Education program or the four-year Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education program and are candidates the teachers who will go on to educate Pakistani youth. This is an important part of USAID’s collaboration with the Government of Pakistan in the larger Teacher Education Project. The project, which is slated to run for five years, includes an updated and standardized curriculum in 22 Pakistani universities and 75 teacher colleges.

The USAID Mission Director, Jock Conly, and the Prime Minister of AJK presented the awards, where Conly said that the scholarships are representative of the U.S. government’s committed effort to helping solidify the state of education and prosperity in Pakistan and to help create a “Roshan Pakistan.” He went on to confirm that the US hopes to help raise the bar of Pakistani education by supporting “better prepared teachers.”

USAID hopes that the program will create a much higher standard of education throughout the country. They aspire to hand out over 1,900 scholarships throughout the duration of the program. The U.S. gives more than $110 million to support education in Pakistan annually.

Christina Kindlon

Source: Pakistan Today

 

US AID to Detoxify Da Nang Airport
Earlier this week, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that they will be initiating a program to detoxify Da Nang Airport of any remaining dioxin.

Da Nang Airport, located in the largest city in central Vietnam, has a long military history and was used as a US military airbase for a period of years during the Vietnam War. Dioxin is a highly toxic substance that was used in Agent Orange – used by the US military as a defoliant during the war. Da Nang was a storage and handling facility for Agent Orange, and the airport was previously identified as one of three dioxins “hot spots” throughout Vietnam.

Locals who live near the airport were tested by the Hatfield Consultants Company in 2006, and the tests confirmed that 24 of the 62 residents tested positive for dioxin contamination. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dioxin contamination has been linked to numerous types of cancers, impairment of the nervous system and reproductive system, and diabetes.  A local villager, whose husband succumbed to cancer in 2008, said, “On days when it floods dark, contaminated water from lakes on the airport’s ground flows into my land that is used for vegetable cultivation.” The plants then die, she continued, although the stems are still used for food.

USAID has been collaborating with the Vietnamese government and several other agencies for the detoxification project, which will run through 2016. The company TerraTherm will use the In-Pile Thermal Desorption process to rid approximately 73,000 cubic meters of airport soil of dioxin. This process uses the long-term heating of soil in above-ground structures to rid the soil of contaminants. The technique has been used successfully on various other decontamination projects.

With well over 1 million passengers annually passing through Da Nang Airport, USAID’s efforts to eradicate dioxin will be beneficial for the expansion of the airport and especially for the health of the local inhabitants.

Christina Kindlon

Source: Tuoi Tre News

Before his appointment as Secretary of State, Senator John Kerry attacked Rand Paul for wanting to cut USAID to Libya, Egypt and Pakistan (September 14, 2012). In the past, Rand Paul has said he would eliminate all foreign aid across the board, to all countries, so this latest addition is not particularly new.

In obvious disbelief over Senator Paul’s position, Senator Kerry explains the importance of aid and the harm that would come if aid were stopped. Harm would come not just to the people of the region but to American interests as well. Senator Kerry emphasizes that aid money goes to civilians who are trying to fend off extremist groups from gaining strength within the region. The aid is helping to stabilize nations, one neighborhood at a time. Civilians are sacrificing much in order to secure their freedoms, and consequently secure American freedoms.

Part of Sen. Kerry’s discontent also seems to stem from the fact that in relation to how much good foreign aid does, “and the impact is extraordinary,” the US actually spends very little money. So to squabble over the cost verses the benefit should be a moot point. He explains that, of the entire budget of the United States that goes into all our foreign operations, embassies, security and aid – all things combine total in at less than 1% of the annual budget.

The stability of these countries are critical to building peace in the Middle East. If aid were just eliminated it would have a “profoundly negative impact that could contribute to even more violence.”

– Mary Purcell

Source: YouTube

 

 

The Armstrong Trial Building New Schools?The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged $25 million in an effort to repair and rebuild schools in Pakistan, mostly in provinces that have been affected by military involvement and severe flooding. USAID is working with the local Provincial Disaster Management Authority to rebuild school buildings that serve to educate children and often act as community gathering places.

USAID had previously given about $85 million to rebuild schools and irrigation systems in some provinces. The money also served to rebuild 122 schools. This means that for every $1 million, the equivalent of 1.4 schools is rebuilt. Even with the positive turnout of new schools being built quickly, a bigger donation could make an even greater difference. But given the economy these days, where could that money come from?

The international giving of the United States is a point of pride for many and it really does cause the rest of the world to see the country in a more positive light. What better way to fund a great tradition than to reclaim funds from the recent scandal?

The U.S. government is filing a suit against Lance Armstrong and the U.S. cycling team for $30 million. The federal government and the U.S. Postal Service were the primary sponsors of the now-disgraced superstar and now, they want their money back. The Armstrong trial has been picking up a lot of buzzes, from his confession on Oprah to an episode of South Park dedicated to his popular Livestrong bracelets. An additional $30 million would more than double USAID’s ability to rebuild schools; maybe this is an opportunity for the greatest team in U.S. cycling history to try to recoup from their fall from grace.

Kevin Sullivan

Sources: TheHill.com, The Express Tribune
Photo: Hollywood.com