Failed Humanitarian AidSeveral failed humanitarian efforts can be attributed to the fact that some programs developed with good intentions fail to take into account the local context in which they are implemented. Others are simply poorly executed. But, no matter the type of failure, failed humanitarian aid projects teach valuable lessons. If heeded, these lessons can ensure the success of future programs.

Unanswered Calls to a GBV Hotline in Kenya

Research shows that domestic violence affects 35% of women worldwide. Additionally, male partners are responsible for 38% of the murders of women.

Furthermore, gender-based violence across the globe perpetuates poverty. For example, violence and the fear of violence, affect the performance of girls and women in their educational pursuits as well as employment. It often results in girls dropping out of school and women leaving their jobs, thereby limiting their independence.

In 2015, NGOs like Mercy Corps and the International Rescue Committee implemented a toll-free hotline in Kenya. The hotline intended to make it easier to file reports of gender-based violence (GBV) and speed up criminal investigations and litigation.

Investigative reporting revealed that for parts of 2018, the gender violence hotline was out of order. When it was working, sometimes the experts manning the hotline were not escalating reports to the police. In addition, there were other staffing and technical issues. Also, several police officers were not aware that such a hotline existed.

Abandoned Cookstoves in India

Indoor air pollution is a leading risk factor for premature deaths globally. Global data reveals that death rates from indoor air pollution are highest in low-income countries.

In 2010, former U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, launched the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves initiative. The U.N. backed the $400 million initiative with the intention of reducing indoor air pollution in India.

Most of the clean cookstoves built were abandoned four years later, despite initial success. There are several reasons for the abandonment. Research found that the clean cookstoves required people to pay closer attention while cooking and necessitated longer cooking times. The stoves would also break down and then went unrepaired. Households also found it restrictive that the stoves could not be moved outside.

Repurposed Public Restrooms in Kenya

One in three people worldwide do not have access to improved sanitation and 15% of the world resort to open defecation. Lack of proper sanitation increases the risk of infectious diseases and diarrhoeal diseases. It is important to acknowledge that unsafe sanitation accounts for 5% of deaths in low-income countries.

On World Toilet Day in 2014, the Ministry of Devolution launched a program to construct 180 public toilets in the Kibera slum. The arm of government involved in construction built the toilets and sewer lines that would connect to the main sewage line. Local youth groups managed the restrooms. Water shortages and sewer lines in disrepair quickly decommissioned multiple toilets. The youth groups did not have the resources to address these issues so they then decided to rent out the restroom spaces for other purposes.

Focusing on the Lessons

These failed humanitarian aid projects were well-intentioned and there are key lessons to learn from each case.

The failed hotline in Kenya demonstrates the importance of program monitoring and investment follow-through. Efforts to foster awareness had little impact and staffing and technical issues went unaddressed.

The unused cookstoves in India show the importance of understanding the day-to-day needs of the people the program intends to help. The desire to cook outside while avoiding extended cooking times swayed people away from using the stoves.

The restrooms in Kenya lacked sufficient monitoring once handed over to youth groups. The youth groups also did not have the necessary support or resources to address the challenges that quickly became insurmountable financial obstacles for the groups.

By taking these lessons forward to new projects, people can leverage the understanding of failed humanitarian aid projects of the past as a way to promote future success.

Amy Perkins
Photo: pixabay

First Ladies for Global Issues

U.S. presidents are often put in the spotlight, but what many people overlook is the work of America’s First Ladies. This list offers insight into the most influential First Ladies for global issues and their efforts to address these issues.

Top 8 Most Influential First Ladies for Global Issues

  1. Eleanor Roosevelt- Weeks after Franklin Roosevelt assumed his role as president, Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany. Hitler’s reign spurred a European refugee crisis. Eleanor Roosevelt used her platform as First Lady to garner U.S. support for refugees. To that end, she came out as a supporter of the Wagner-Rogers bill. This bill would allow the entry of 20,000 German children into the U.S. The Wagner-Roger bill ended up dying in committee, but the First Lady didn’t stop there. Eleanor Roosevelt proceeded to establish the U.S. Committee for the Care of European Children. USCOM was able to bring refugee children from France safely into the U.S.
  2. Patricia Nixon- This First Lady was known for her avid support of volunteerism and charitable causes. During her time in the White House, she made numerous journeys abroad. The first solo trip Patricia Nixon took was to Peru to provide relief supplies to earthquake victims. She later traveled as her husband’s Personal Representative to Africa and South America.
  3. Rosalynn Carter- Rosalynn Carter embarked on perhaps one of the most ambitious international missions taken by a First Lady. In 1977, she visited Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Jamaica and assumed the position of the President’s representative. She took part in meetings to discuss policy issues such as drug trafficking, arms reduction and human rights. She continued her work in 1979 when she learned of the Cambodian refugee crisis. After seeing the conditions of the crisis for herself, she urged the U.N. to get involved in the issue. As a result of her urging, the National Cambodian Crisis Committee was established.
  4. Nancy Reagan- This First Lady is well known for her efforts to address the global drug epidemic. In 1985, Nancy Reagan held a First Ladies Conference on Drug Abuse to discuss solutions to drug abuse with other first ladies from across the globe. The following year, Reagan became the first First Lady to meet with the U.N. General Assembly where she highlighted the importance of attacking the world’s growing drug epidemic.
  5. Hillary Clinton- Hillary Clinton formed an impressive network with female global leaders across the world. She helped establish Vital Voices, an initiative that encouraged the incorporation of women in politics. She spoke out about gender equality at home and abroad. Clinton was one of the only political figures to draw attention to the violent treatment of Afghan women by the Taliban regime.
  6. Laura Bush- As First Lady, Laura Bush allocated much of her time towards improving global education and health. In 2005, she made the journey to Afghanistan to promote teacher-training institutions for women. Towards the end of her husband’s presidency, Bush continued traveling the world to promote the importance of global health. In 2007, she traveled to the Middle East to raise awareness for women’s health and breast cancer.
  7. Michelle Obama- In 2015, Michelle Obama launched the Let Girls Learn program. This program focuses on getting girls worldwide into school and making sure they remain in school. Let Girls Learn works with USAID, the State Department and the Peace Corps to carry out its mission. In 2016, Obama traveled to greet recipients of the benefits of the Let Girls Learn program in Liberia and Morocco.
  8. Melania Trump- Melania Trump has shown that she intends on following in the steps of her predecessors. She has targeted disease, trafficking and hunger as some of her main issues. The First Lady urged the U.N. to do more to aid these causes. She most recently embarked on a trip to Kenya, Egypt and Ghana. The First Lady was touched by the experience, and according to President Trump, there are intentions of helping these regions in the future.

– Gabriella Gonzalez
Photo: Flickr

Saving Mothers, Giving Life Reduces Maternal Mortalities in Africa
Almost every two minutes, a woman dies from preventable causes during pregnancy or childbirth. Delays in seeking care, reaching care and receiving care are the primary causes of neonatal and maternal mortalities in Africa. Saving Mothers, Giving Life is a public-private partnership launched by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 as a five-year initiative to reduce avoidable maternal mortalities in Africa.

For every 1.6 million annual births in Uganda, almost 6,000 women and 34,000 newborns do not survive. In fact, approximately one in 44 Ugandan women will die due to maternal-related complications. These dangers are comparably high in Zambia and Nigeria, as well as in other parts of Africa.

Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL), in coordination with the Ugandan and Zambian governments, addresses this problem by improving supply systems and better equipping health care facilities, providing training to enhance the quality of delivery and emergency response services, mobilizing communities to demand better delivery and family planning services and advancing communication and transportation systems which render health care facilities more accessible.

Since SMGL’s inception, Ugandan institutional maternal mortalities have decreased by 45 percent, and the number of cesarean sections has increased by 31 percent. Stillborn and perinatal mortality rates are down 5 percent, while neonatal mortalities have dropped 6 percent. Similar dramatic success has been recorded in Zambia.

SMGL’s remaining two-and-a-half years will be dedicated to reducing maternal and infant mortalities in Nigeria, a nation which alone accounts for 25 percent of newborn deaths and 14 percent of maternal deaths worldwide. USAID recently pledged $18 million to SMGL toward efforts in Nigeria’s Cross River State.

Hopefully, the rapid results that Uganda and Zambia experienced following SMGL involvement indicate the kind of progress the Cross River State can anticipate over the next two years. With the continued dedication of initiatives like SMGL, it seems likely that maternal mortalities in Africa will become increasingly rare.

Robin Lee

Photo: Flickr

Hillary Clinton Global PovertySince her time as First Lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton has been an advocate for American involvement in fighting global poverty. Particularly, her efforts have focused on the rights of marginalized groups and on building lasting development through targeted aid programs and community-led initiatives.

Clinton strongly believes in a “smart power” approach to development and diplomacy, supporting government and non-profit involvement. Lasting and sustainable development, she holds, has the power to transform lives and, by extension, improve stability and prosperity in the U.S.

In a 2010 op-ed for Foreign Affairs Magazine, she wrote, “[Positive development] can strengthen fragile or failing states, support the rise of capable partners that can help solve regional and global problems, and advance democracy and human rights.”

In 2014, Clinton announced her support for a USAID campaign that aims to harness science and technology to end extreme global poverty by 2030. The U.S. Global Development Lab involves 32 partners from private industry, universities, philanthropies and non-governmental organizations. They are working together to develop innovative solutions to a variety of global poverty issues including health, food security and nutrition, education and climate change. The Development Lab, which started in 2011 during Clinton’s term as Secretary of State, aims to reach at least 200 million people by 2019.

In July 2009, Secretary Clinton launched the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), a general review of the State Department and USAID to “recommend how to better equip, fund, train, and organize ourselves to meet current diplomatic and development priorities.”

During her term as Secretary of State, the United States invested in strengthening global structures such as the G-20 and regional institutions such as the Organization of American States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to increase cooperation at the government level.

Her goal in supporting the U.S. Global Health Initiative was “to put an end to isolated and sporadic care by tying individual health programs together to create an integrated, targeted system of care.” An added bonus of this coordination approach was that it shifted leadership to the affected countries themselves, encouraging self-sufficiency and grassroots idea development.

Clinton’s global development advocacy has also focused on promoting human rights, particularly focusing on women and members of the LGBTQ community, whose marginalized statuses have led to continued economic and social disenfranchisement.

In her 1995 speech at the U.N.’s Fourth World Conference on Women, Clinton focused on women’s economic and political mobility as the key to creating flourishing communities and nations abroad. In her speech, she argued, “Every woman, every man, every child, every family and every nation on this planet has a stake in what is being discussed here today.”

As Secretary of State, Hillary made women’s rights a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. She created the position of Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and helped create the first U.S. strategy on women, peace and security.

Additionally, Clinton has urged foreign governments to support policies that establish LGBTQ rights. In 2011, her advocacy helped successfully launch the first-ever U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution on LGBT Persons.

Hillary Clinton continues to support global policy initiatives through her involvement in The Clinton Foundation, which assembles businesses, governments, NGOs and individuals to improve global health, increase the opportunity for girls and women, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and help communities address the effects of climate change.

Many Clinton Foundation initiatives focus on supporting small businesses in target countries and educating citizens on improving their practices, such as providing agricultural programs for farmers in Tanzania.

As the 2016 presidential election closes in, Hillary Clinton hopes to highlight her extensive foreign policy experience and her commitment to global development to prove her ability as the most qualified presidential candidate. On her campaign website, Clinton maintains that a key pillar of her foreign policy will be to uphold America’s humanitarian ideals: “America is defined by our diversity and our openness, our devotion to human rights and democracy, and our belief that we can always do more…”

Taylor Resteghini

Sources: The Clinton Foundation, Foreign Affairs Magazine, Hillary Clinton Campaign, The Huffington Post, Human Rights Campaign
Photo: Mashable

Hillary Clinton on Global PovertyThe President of the United States, often called the leader of the free world, tops the shortlist of influential politicians. However, those vying for that title are also key players.

Hillary Clinton is more than well known and has been an incredibly successful and influential politician, but as she campaigns for the Democratic nomination it has become increasingly difficult to learn about her positions or platforms amongst the constant news bits of what she wore or the Chipotle burrito she ordered.

Below is a collection of Clinton’s positions on issues surrounding global poverty.

Clinton on U.S. involvement with humanitarian missions:

“I believe strongly that we have to get back to leading on issues like health care and education and women’s rights around the world. I have introduced bipartisan legislation called The Education for All Act, to have the US lead the world in putting the 77 million kids who aren’t in school into school. I believe we should demonstrate our commitment to people who are poor, disenfranchised, disempowered before we talk about putting troops anywhere. The US has to be seen again as a peacekeeper, and we have lost that standing in these last seven years. So I think we have to concentrate first and foremost on restoring our moral authority in the world and our standing in the world.” (2008)

Clinton on foreign aid:

“I think many people are mistaken about how much money we spend on foreign aid. We spend 1%, and many believe we spend 25%. That 1% investment has made a difference in solving problems but also in helping America to be stronger by solving problems around the world. We sometimes learn lessons we can bring home. I want us to continue to be a leader, and you don’t lead from behind walls. You don’t lead by walking away from the world. I think you lead by remaining engaged and trying to shape events.” (1997)

Clinton on micro-finance:

“From the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh to the Self-employed Women’s Association in India, or to the work in Ghana, to banks and programs modeled on these from Indonesia to the Dominican Republic, to my own country, we have seen that microlending works. Women who have received loans from the Grameen Bank, for example, have a repayment rate of 97%, and often within one year. And they invest their money well.” (1995)

Brittney Dimond

Sources: On the Issues 1, On the Issues 2
Photo: Flickr


In April of this year, Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president. As a strong democratic nominee with a lot of political capital, she has the power to raise big money and advocate for issues on her platform.

According to her website and her voting record, she is an advocate for small business and defining America’s core values. Many see her as a strong candidate for the election next year.

However, unlike her last campaign, Clinton seems to be focusing more on women’s issues.

In 1995, Clinton gave a speech in Beijing entitled, “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” to the U.N.’s Fourth World Conference on Women. At the time, Clinton was First Lady of the United States. In the speech, Clinton spoke of the continual rape of women during armed conflicts and the act of silencing women and girls around the world. She declared that women’s rights must now be seen as human rights and solved.

Since the 90’s, Clinton has seemed to not focus on women’s issues or place them at the focal point of her 2008 election.

However, this round, she seems to be doing the opposite. Before announcing her candidacy in a speech at Georgetown, Clinton told the audience that women’s rights are not only a responsibility for women, but also men.

At her first major campaign event in June of this year, Clinton seemed to emphasize her support for women’s issues. She supports a women’s right to choose and have easier access to contraceptives.

Clinton has proved herself to be an advocate for women domestically, but what about abroad?

Clinton does not seem to shy away from economic aid to developing countries. In 2012, Clinton visited Africa, promising U.S. assistance to revitalize African economies. Although many attacked her for attaching so many contingencies onto the package, she does want to help.

Combining her commitment to providing assistance to impoverished nations and her advocacy for women’s rights, she would be a tremendous help to women’s health abroad.

Under her watch, we could see a real attempt to repeal the Helms amendment and provide access to family planning tools. Because of her commitment to women domestically, she would support women’s access to education abroad.

Although the campaign trail is long, her commitment to women and impoverished nations would mean great things for women being affected by the lack of access to a proper education, birth control and water.

– Erin Logan

Sources: Hillary Clinton, American Rhetoric, The Guardian, Slate, LA Times, New York Magazine
Photo: Illinois Review

Wondering how the two Democratic presidential candidates match up in terms of foreign aid support? As always, foreign policy is one of the key issues in the upcoming election. But perhaps in this election, a key focus will be put on foreign aid, rather than the military.

During the two candidates’ times as Senators and Representatives, they voted on many of the same bills. Here is how they match up:


Overall, Clinton and Sanders both voted to support foreign aid bills. The only exceptions — Clinton not always voting and Sanders rejecting emergency aid bills.

Both Clinton and Sanders are solid in their support of foreign aid. According to an article by, Clinton strongly stressed that U.S. foreign aid is an investment. As for Sanders, a concern is that he will avoid voting for aid to any organizations that register or tax American guns.

– Clare Holtzman

Sources: ONE, Slate, Vote Smart 1, Vote Smart 2
Photo: People

1,000 days
The fact remains that undernutrition is completely and indisputably preventable.

Yet this condition continues to claim the lives of 2.6 million children each year. This is more than any other disease, making malnutrition the leading cause of death among young children.

In September of 2010, U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and then-Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin, took a stand to fight this deadly disease.

The two diplomats, along with a community of global leaders, launched the 1,000 Days Partnership. This movement promotes action and investment in nutrition during the 1,000 days from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until a child’s 2nd birthday.

Why 1,000 days? Leading scientists, economists and health experts all agree that the proper nutrition in the first 1,000 days of pregnancy and the life of an infant “have a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and rise out of poverty.”

When a woman is undernourished during pregnancy, her baby has a higher risk of dying in infancy and is more likely to face lifelong cognitive and physical deficits and chronic health problems.

Once the child is born, the first two years are critical to their chance at a healthy and productive life. Undernutrition weakens the immune system, and children not receiving nutritious foods are more susceptible to dying from common illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria.

According to The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a nutrient deficiency is not only dangerous to early childhood health, but also to the long-term success of a child. Lower levels of educational attainment, reduced productivity later in life and lower lifetime earnings are all consequences of a lack of early-nutrition.

In a recent release, USAID reports that “undernutition robs the developing world of critical human capital and capacity, and undermines other development investments in health, education and economic growth.”

According to the 1,000 Days movement, the answer to improving nutrition lies in three strategic, affordable, cost-effect solutions: “ensuring that mothers and young children get the necessary vitamins and minerals they need; promoting good nutrition practices, including breastfeeding and appropriate healthy foods for infants; and treating malnourished children with special, therapeutic foods.”

Evidence shows that providing the proper nutrition to a mother and her newborn has extensive benefits. These advantages include significantly reducing the burden of diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS, increasing a country’s GDP by at least 2-3 percent annually, and, most importantly, saving more than 1 million lives each year.

Since it was created in 2010, over 80 international relief and development organizations have partnered with the 1,000 Movement. Along with its efforts to encourage new actors to invest in maternal and child nutrition, 1,000 Days also encourages support for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement. The two organizations work in tandem at a U.S.-based hub formed in June 2011 by InterAction, a coalition of U.S.-based international relief and development organizations and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) in collaboration with the U.S Department of State.

1,000 Days founder, Hillary Clinton, appropriately asserted, “Improving nutrition for mothers and children is one of the most cost-effective and impactful tools we have for poverty alleviation and sustainable development.”

— Grace Flaherty

Sources: Daily Times NG, 1,000 Days
Photo: Care

LGBT Rights
Hillary Clinton has reportedly gotten into “shouting matches” with top Russian officials regarding LGBT rights. Russia is home to a set of very controversial laws, for which being homosexual, attending pride events or spreading propaganda regarding homosexuality to minors, is punishable by law. Putin’s views regarding gender equality have proved controversial, too: just recently, Putin went on a sexist rant about Hillary Clinton, calling her “weak,” further explaining that it was easier to just “not argue” with women.

Clinton has put up a fight regarding her side of the story. While on tour for her new memoir, “Hard Choices,” Clinton recalled the increasing amount of LGBT backlash she came to see, leading her to push and become an ardent activist for the cause. “I began to vigorously protest with governments in many parts of the world,” Clinton said. “Like what Putin’s doing … it’s just a cynical political ploy.” Regardless, without a strong-standing platform, the LGBT movement could go mute.

While LGBT rights are improving in many areas of the world, they are worsening in others. Today, there are around 76 countries in which being gay is a crime; of these 76, there are at least 10 in which being gay is punishable by death. Laws aside, more LGBT hate crimes are continuing to occur throughout the world, where they are often overlooked by the police. In the past year, a study regarding LGBT hate crimes in Europe — a fairly tolerant country on the issue — proved horrific: 17 percent of LGBT citizens have been victimized by a hate crime, and of these victims, 75 percent did not report the incident to law enforcement. 

Clinton has been able to remain relatively tongue-in-cheek, yet vigilant, regarding Putin and the controversial laws he has strictly enforced. When asked if it was hard to maintain relationships for her position as United States Secretary of State, Clinton stated that, at times, it was. “I’m talking about you, Vladimir,” she coyly said. “But it doesn’t mean that you don’t keep trying. You do have to keep trying.”

— Nick Magnanti

Sources: Advocate, Huff Post, Global Eguality, 76 Crimes, Washington Post, Care2
Photo: Mashable

The city of Xi’an is nestled comfortably in mainland China, between the rural West and the modern East. Though the city has a population of approximately nine million, Xi’an is still smaller than Beijing or Shanghai and is decades behind in technology. It is here in the ballroom of the Aurum International Hotel that a representative from the World Wildlife Fund speaks.

She is scheduled to speak about panda conservation, but the conversation drifts towards using clean cookstoves. It’s the same endeavor that Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and many Congressional leaders and celebrities alike have supported. For around $280, the installation of the clean cook stove is a more sustainable alternative to the traditional coal burning cook stoves. Because the price of installation is too high for many of these families, the stoves have been partially subsidized by the Gold Standard.

During Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the clean cookstove initiative gained domestic and international attention as a hallmark of her Foreign Policy. Traditionally found in rural and underprivileged regions of the world, like those just an hour’s drive out of the Xi’an suburbs, the old cook stoves pose a threat to environmental sustainability as well as public health. The annual death toll as a result of wood-burning and high polluting stoves outnumbers the global mortality rate of malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV combined.

The clean cookstove initiative works twofold. Firstly, the stoves require simple installation which creates jobs of skilled workers to use. Secondly, the efficiency of the clean cookstove helps to expedite the time of household chores. Instead of collecting firewood and attending the old version of the cookstoves, villagers are now allotted more time. This time then can be used to continue to work and garner more income.

In 2013, Hillary Clinton announced the United States would pledge an additional $125 million in addition to the initial $50 million pledge. In conjunction with the efforts of the World Wildlife Fund China, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves has become a presence in Western China. By 2020, the goal is to have at least 100 million clean cookstoves worldwide.

Because of the multitude of the clean cookstove initiative have garnered support among ecologists, doctors, and politicians alike. The unified front of non-governmental organizations as well as efforts by the United States government has made the clean cook stove project one of the most successful poverty-reducing and life-preserving measures taken in the past decade.

-Kristin Ronzi

Sources: Carbon Finance for Cookstoves, Reuters
Photo: MyClimate