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Foreign Aid in Vietnam
Vietnam’s economy has grown remarkably over the last two decades. However, this growth would not have been possible without foreign aid to Vietnam. USAID’s work in supporting Vietnam’s economic growth and development is an excellent example of foreign aid at work. Here are five exceptional foreign aid projects in Vietnam that foster hope for positive results around the world.

5 Foreign Aid Projects in Vietnam

  1. Economy Foreign Aid Projects: USAID collaborates with Vietnam’s legal and regulatory affairs to expand foreign investment and economic growth. It works with the nation’s government and private sectors to move Vietnam into an internationally regulated and globalized market economy. For instance, USAID works to promote transparency in the governance of trade. The USAID Trade Facilitation Program intends to facilitate trade and communication between national and local customs officials. Lastly, USAID Linkages for Small and Medium Enterprises (LinkSME) facilitates relationships and streamline trading processes between buyers (SMEs) and suppliers. LinkSME ensures the presence of key policies and regulations in place to carry out business transactions and trade.
  2. Education Foreign Aid Projects: Through USAID, the Building University-Industry Learning and Development through Innovation and Technology (BUILD-IT) Alliance and the Improving Access, Curriculum and Teaching In Medical Education and Emerging Diseases (IMPACT-MED) Alliance gather up efforts and resources from Vietnam and partner governments as well as leaders and educators in the field to enhance education on medicine, technology and engineering. The ongoing reform efforts aim for better instructional and educational experiences with modern technology and maintaining accreditation standards. Additionally, they strive for more intense faculty training, contemporary curriculum designs and positive relationships with academic partners. The outcomes from such reform efforts produce graduates with the preparation to join the workforce and maintain the high standards of the fields.
  3. Environment Foreign Aid Projects: There are many foreign aid programs and activities that USAID coordinated that help address climate change in Vietnam such as the Vietnam Low Emission Energy Program (V-LEEP), the Vietnam Forests and Deltas Program (VFD), the USAID Green Annamites Project and the Climate Resilient and Sustainable Urban Development Program. V-LEEP works to promote and sustain efficiency in renewable energy generation and usage as well as monetary investment into the work. The VFD helps to minimize deforestation in a joint effort with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The USAID Green Annamites Project supports land use in an eco-friendly fashion, conserves biodiversity and helps struggling communities bounce back from hardships in the Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue provinces. The Climate Resilient and Sustainable Urban Development Program work with the Asian Development Bank to support Vietnam’s urban development by participating in policy making and setting operation guidelines.
  4. Global Health Foreign Aid Projects: Public health concerns such as HIV, tuberculosis and influenza can have negative impacts on Vietnam’s economy. Through USAID, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) organizes events and treatment for patients. USAID also funds the Vietnamese government and provides technical support to health organizations across the country to address avian and other influenzas, as well as overlooked tropical diseases and pandemics. Vietnam has made accomplishments with a nationwide methadone distribution program that reached 50,000 patients, resulting in a reduction of avian-influenza cases from 2000 to less than 50 cases in just six years (2005-2011) while containing the potential pandemic.
  5. Disabled People Foreign Aid Projects: USAID has supported more than 30,000 persons with disabilities for more than 30 years with more than $125 million in U.S. government aid. USAID works to establish disability laws and regulations at the national level as well as the local level. The International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is one example of USAID’s contributing efforts. USAID also supports eight disability projects that focus on rehabilitation and disability awareness as well as policies and regulations. Lastly, USAID also supports local disability awareness organizations.

USAID development projects foster hope around the globe. Like in Vietnam, these projects convey the message that foreign aids are constantly working toward positive change for many.

– Hung M Le
Photo: USAID

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was created in 2003 as a cornerstone of the global HIV/AIDS response. In the 14 years since its inception, PEPFAR has helped 13 million people receive counseling and antiretroviral therapy.

PEPFAR has gone through multiple iterations and been managed by three U.S. presidents. The program is currently managed by the Trump administration, which, on December 1, launched the PEPFAR Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control.

PEPFAR’s accelerated strategy includes putting a focus on 13 countries with an exceptional HIV/AIDS burden. The countries, Kenya, Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Haiti and Rwanda, will be receiving widespread and much-needed antiretroviral therapy coverage. The strategy also includes a strong focus on young girls and women with HIV and AIDS.

The ultimate goal of PEPFAR’s accelerated strategy is to gain control of the epidemic in these 13 countries by the year 2020. Though the prospective outcome is bright, this change could bring about more issues than anticipated.

In May, President Trump announced his plan to restructure the federal budget. Approximately 19 percent of the HIV/AIDS global care and prevention budget is proposed to be cut in 2018. Prior to PEPFAR’s accelerated strategy, the program was providing assistance to 50 countries around the world. The plan is to continue providing assistance to those countries while also providing extra provisions to the 13 focus countries.

While it is important, of course, to increase assistance where the burden is heavier, it is also important that other vulnerable communities aren’t left behind. With a lowered budget and the focus of PEPFAR being shifted, worldwide HIV/AIDS prevention and recovery programs are at risk.

Important programs like safe needle exchange, counseling for sex workers and homosexual men and care for children living with HIV and AIDS could potentially lose funding. Without these and other programs, there’s a high chance that infection rates will increase rather than decrease.

The general notion of the focus shift is a positive one. By gaining epidemic control in the focus countries, PEPFAR would be creating a roadmap for further epidemic control and prevention in other countries.

However, in order to gain epidemic control, infection rates need to be lower. Before making an attempt at an AIDS-free generation, PEPFAR needs to focus on providing prevention as well as treatment to all affected communities.

– Anna Sheps

Photo: Flickr

PepfarLiving in the depths of AIDS-plagued Rwanda, Jacqueline, a single mother of five, was faced with the task of providing for and feeding her family alone. Shortly after losing her husband on the battlefield, she also lost her teaching job. Just when she thought all was lost for her and her children, Jacqueline was provided with a loan and business training by a PEPFAR-supported program called World Vision.

World Vision is just one of 30 organizations supported by PEPFAR, or the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. This program, implemented in 2003, is the world’s largest donor responding to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children overseas that are affected by HIV/AIDS.

“Because of the loan, my children have food to eat. They have clothes. They go to school. Our community is really happy,” Jacqueline told Word Vision. More than $52 billion PEPFAR funding goes to bilateral HIV/AIDS programs. In the past year, PEPFAR has provided care and support for more than 5.5 million orphans and vulnerable children worldwide.

The program has successfully reduced vulnerability in AIDS-plagued communities. PEPFAR has supported 15,000 savings groups in over 15 different countries. It has been able to strengthen household economic stability of at least one million children affected by the HIV virus.

Geoffrey Matiya is one of these children. A 14-year-old boy diagnosed as HIV-positive, Geoffrey lives with his great aunt and uncle in Zambia. He was orphaned at a young age by the AIDS epidemic.

Yet through all these hardships, Geoffrey is a lively and happy teenage boy. He thrives amidst an AIDS-populated community and shows no signs of illness. His spirits remain high thanks to a successful program supported by the funding of PEPFAR and implemented by World Vision.

Twice a week, a caregiver visits Geoffrey to ensure his physical and mental health. This caregiver is a part of a network of 40,000 healthcare workers that are supported by the Ministry of Health.

Each caregiver makes bi-weekly visits to households such as Geoffrey’s. They also provide counseling, psychosocial support to AIDS orphans and testing for HIV and malaria. Thanks to their commitment and care, children like Geoffrey are able to thrive.

Programs like these are made possible by the significant amount of funding set aside by the PEPFAR budget. Partners receiving funding include organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Academy for Education Development, the National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, Cross International, the Foundation for Reproductive and Family Health, World Relief and Food for the Hungry.

It is the goal of PEPFAR to continue to help organizations build upon their successes. There are over 13.3 million children living without one or both parents due to the AIDS virus, with 95 percent of these children living without their extended family as well. It is the hope of PEPFAR that with continued support and funding, an AIDS-free generation can and will one day be achieved.

Katie Grovatt

Photo: World Vision

HIV_PreventionWhen Ben Franklin said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, he probably wasn’t referring to HIV/AIDs prevention and international development, yet the idea is applicable nevertheless.

Oftentimes, medical interventions in the developing world consist of sending and administering medical supplies, personnel and medical training. However, when it comes to HIV prevention, secondary school education might be a “two birds, one stone” scenario, cost-effectively cutting down the rate of new infections in the first place rather than focusing on expensive treatment.

Traditional HIV/AIDS reduction programs such as the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) have focused on primary school education and generally expanding access to information regarding HIV/AIDS as a prevention strategy. However, programs like PEPFAR generally don’t go so far as to include secondary school education as a strategy, which can be a rather ambitious objective.

A recent study published by The Lancet suggests that secondary school education ought to be the main feature of programs such as PEPFAR.

The study correlates a drop in new cases of AIDS with extra schooling in Botswana. Jacob Bor of Boston University School of Public Health, one of the co-authors of the study, made this point succinctly saying, “investments in secondary schooling are a slam dunk and should go alongside biomedical interventions in any effective HIV prevention strategy.”

According to the study, young people who attended an extra year of secondary school were 8.1% less likely to contract HIV. Girls, in particular, were 11.6% less likely if they attended at least two years of secondary school. The study found that there was no such correlation with primary school attendance. Apparently, the greater impact on preventing new cases of HIV in girls might be due to the fact that there are simply more women with the virus to begin with; in 2013, almost 80% of new adolescent infections in Sub-Saharan Africa occurred among girls.

Because AIDS has a disproportionate impact on women, secondary school education might even represent a grand slam of development objectives, improving health, education and gender equality; expanding opportunities for women and girls is widely regarded as one of the most effective poverty-reduction strategies.

The Millennium Development Goals included the objective of achieving a universal primary education for all children, which even now is a lofty goal. However, to realize a substantial improvement in AIDS reduction as well as other related goals, universal secondary school education might need to be included in the next set of global development objectives.

Derek Marion

Sources: SciDevNet, The Lancet, PEPFAR
Photo: Flickr

PEPFAR
The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, started by President George W. Bush in 2003, has tried to tackle the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. The program has been tremendously successful, providing treatment for two million people and care for 10 million, including four million orphans and vulnerable children. Below are three major lessons the world of development and poverty alleviation can learn from the successes of PEPFAR.

1. Country Ownership

One of the unique components of PEPFAR is the role host countries play in the design and implementation of interventions. Ninety percent of the partner organizations that work with PEPFAR in the field are local. There is not a blanket approach, meaning that governments have to take ownership for the programs that are executed in their countries. Each country has a different approach that fits the needs of the HIV/AIDS epidemic within its borders, making the interventions more successful.

2. Focus on Results and Accountability

Even with criticism that development goals cannot be boiled down to pure numbers, PEPFAR’s intense focus on results has proved to be successful, especially when trying to build monitoring and evaluation capabilities country-to-country. A focus on results helped keep countries accountable to the goals of PEPFAR. With better monitoring and evaluation capabilities, governments can be kept more accountable and transparent when working on development projects.

3. Engagement of All Sectors

PEPFAR was one of the first projects to try to engage all sectors of the economy, not just national governments. The project included civil society, non-governmental organizations, faith-based and community-based organizations and the private sector in the implementation of specific interventions. This inclusion helps to address underlying and periphery issues that prevent or hinder interventions, like government stability, personal freedoms and development standards.

Caitlin Huber

Sources: PEPFAR, Avert, Smith
Photo: Huffington Post