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Tuberculosis in UkraineThe tuberculosis epidemic in Ukraine is characterized by drug-resistant tuberculosis strands. Among new tuberculosis cases in 2019, 27% involved drug-resistant tuberculosis and thousands of other cases were classified as multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Ukraine suffers from close to the highest rate of MDR-TB in the world. Tuberculosis in Ukraine is only successfully treated at a rate of 76% for various reasons, including patients stopping treatment prematurely, further complications, the high prevalence of MDR-TB and receiving treatment too late.

Current Efforts

In an effort to reduce the burden of tuberculosis in Ukraine, USAID is working with U.S. government agencies and other partners on various projects. Many programs have been introduced in recent years to strengthen the fight against tuberculosis in Ukraine. For example, the Management Sciences for Health (MSH) implemented the Safe, Affordable and Effective Medicines for Ukrainians (SAFEMed) project to ensure transparency and cost-efficiency within the Ukrainian health system. The programs work to increase public access to medicines and commodities essential to treating tuberculosis. Moreover, PATH, a global nonprofit working to improve public health, began the USAID-supported Serving Life Project to reduce the spread of tuberculosis and other diseases by improved detection. Serving Life specifically aims to increase the care and treatment of people living with tuberculosis in pre-trial detention centers, prisons and post-prison settings.

The Transportation Problem

Affordable medication and proper detection are the first steps in the fight against tuberculosis as “timely access to diagnosis and treatment make a difference in tuberculosis care.” However, many parts of Ukraine suffer from lacking specimen transportation systems. With inefficient or even nonexistent systems, the fight against tuberculosis in Ukraine becomes more difficult as these systems delay access to tuberculosis testing and treatment.

The failures in specimen transportation have potentially increased the already high rates of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, a tuberculosis strand much more challenging to treat. This is because multidrug-resistant tuberculosis arises from the incomplete treatment of tuberculosis, occurring when public health systems are unable to deliver reliable and consistent tuberculosis treatment to patients. Strains on the healthcare system only exacerbate these inefficiencies as the system becomes overloaded. For example, when COVID-19 reached Ukraine, COVID-19 treatment received priority. As a result, many tuberculosis patients were forced to resort to their own methods of specimen transport.

USAID Introduces New Transportation Plan

When USAID’s Support TB Control Efforts in Ukraine activity began in October 2019, Ukraine’s lacking specimen transportation system was identified as one of the weakest links in the fight against tuberculosis in Ukraine. USAID then began a functional transportation system in the Cherkasy Oblast of Ukraine in June 2020. The program uses USAID-provided coolers to preserve specimens in transport and works to plan more flexible and adaptable transportation routes. As a result, transport vehicles are now able to do rounds four times a week while also ensuring weekly delivery to and from each primary healthcare facility. While the program began in Cherkasy, it has expanded to seven other oblasts in Ukraine within less than a year of the program’s inception.

With efforts from organizations to address the tuberculosis epidemic in Ukraine, it is hopeful that Ukraine will see its case numbers dropping.

Kendall Carll
Photo: Flickr

Natural Disaster Aid in Paraguay
The landlocked Republic of Paraguay is prone to a wide range of natural disasters. Floods and droughts affect the most benighted areas of the country. Fortunately, both national and international agencies are taking action in aiding the local population, working through COVID-19 preventive measures that have delayed the arrival of natural disaster relief packages.

Natural Disasters in Paraguay

Paraguay experienced its worst floods in 2015 and 2019. Since then, the country has confronted subsequent natural disasters in the regions of Boquerón, Presidente Hayes and Alto Paraguay, with more than 2,400 families and 80,000 individuals affected. Even though Paraguay is one of the most humid countries in the region with a fairly high precipitation rate, climate oscillations have been destabilizing already vulnerable communities. As a country relying primarily on crops and cattle raising, fluctuations in climate and natural disasters can prove fatal for the rural population, not only putting the local economy at risk but also increasing the chances of infections through water-borne diseases such as dengue and chikungunya.

As the South American country that has experienced the steepest exponential economic growth in the last thirty years, Paraguay has taken long strides to increase income per capita and reduce inequality. However, most of its economy is commodity-based, which makes it extremely sensitive to fluctuations in climate. Floods tend to be an especially dire calamity since they directly affect the agriculture, animal husbandry and hydroelectric energy industries.

Increasing Climate Resiliency

According to the World Bank, Paraguay ranks 95 out of 181 countries in the 2019 Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative. This renders the country fairly vulnerable to climate catastrophe, primarily because of a lack of response and strategic planning. Climate indexes such as this one serve to acquire relevant diagnoses and eventually form sector-specific policies that can aid development outcomes.

It is necessary for the national government to take action to increase climate resiliency by adopting adaptation implementation efforts. Policymaking is crucial in this area, prioritizing investments for more efficient climate mitigation techniques in vulnerable rural areas.

A Four-Part Plan

The Paraguayan government has been taking action against these threats. The Ministry for National Emergencies (SEN) alongside the country’s National System of the Environment (SISAM) have devised a comprehensive plan to diminish natural disaster impact in Paraguay. The plan has been included in Paraguay’s Sustainable Development Goals for disaster risk reduction and consists of four parts:

  1. Understanding the extent of damage that natural disasters may cause. This includes encouraging research for preventive purposes and using ancestral indigenous techniques in farming to reduce the environmental impact that slash-and-burn techniques have on climate catastrophe.
  2. Increase governance in areas prone to natural disasters. The government is committed to creating laws related to aid in cases of floods and droughts, and beginning to build sound infrastructure to easily aid affected areas.
  3. Invest resources in building said infrastructures, such as roads and municipal buildings that can withstand harsh environmental conditions. This goal also expects to increase cooperation between national and regional authorities for quick aid relief.
  4. Ameliorate time of response by authorities and communities. This means not only investing in disaster-proof establishments but also empowering individuals and promoting universal access to reconstruction and rehabilitation.

International Assistance

In addition to the government, international aid organizations are also providing natural disaster relief to Paraguay. For example, USAID has been active in Paraguay since 2004, providing aid in the aftermath of 10 disasters. The World Bank has also been focused on helping Paraguay improve disaster preparedness. The organization has identified research gaps within Paraguay’s climate disaster response, including climate variability and water resources. Additionally, the World Bank has led economic-environmental feasibility studies, which are currently lacking. These efforts are all designed to ensure Paraguay has the resources necessary to overcome natural disasters.

Alongside conscientious data-gathering for the prevention of natural disasters and natural disaster relief, international assistance is crucial: it has not only proven helpful during calamitous environmental instances but also during a yellow fever outbreak, the subsequent seasonal dengue epidemic and COVID-19. Moving forward, USAID, the World Bank and other international organizations must continue to prioritize addressing natural disasters in Paraguay.

Araí Yegros
Photo: Flickr

USAID's Self-Reliance Framework
In 2017, under then-administrator Mark Green of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), USAID reorganized its mission of development and aid. In a break from the past, administrator Green initiated a fundamental reorganization. He proposed a mission of providing aid for the very purpose of eventually ending any reliance or need for developmental and humanitarian assistance offered by USAID. Understanding USAID’s self-reliance framework begins with understanding USAID’s mission and new measurement system to end the need for international aid.

Purpose of USAID’S Mission

While USAID’s capabilities and knowledge have not changed, its beliefs about its mission and approach have. In the words of its policy framework, “This approach marks a new direction for USAID, but draws on our deep experience and the lessons we have learned.” Illustrating its shift in thinking, USAID explains its assistance is most effective and compassionate when strengthening its partners’ abilities to provide for themselves and their citizens.

Looking forward to the future, the journey to self-reliance (J2SR) expresses recognition of two opportunities. It works to see the possibility for ending the need for foreign assistance by pointing to the fall in global poverty, improvements in health infrastructure, greater gender parity and safety across the globe. In addition, it also points to continuing barriers and moving challenges impeding progress and self-reliance.

USAID’s Measurement System

Subsequently, helping USAID in ending the need for foreign assistance is a set of concretely defined concepts and measurable figures. They address USAID’s full reorientation towards its mission statement of “ending the need for foreign assistance.”

As a keystone metric, self-reliance gains its weight through the measurement of two factors. The first is capacity. This acts as a measurement of a given country’s capacity to deal with its own developmental challenges. The second is commitment. This measures a country’s demonstration of commitment to using efficacy, inclusivity and accountability when dealing with challenges.

Moreover, USAID selected capacity and commitment for their efficacy in solving three fundamental developmental problems. These include improving productivity and sustainable expansion, equitable distribution of goods to raise well-being and deciding how to share resources fairly and legally. Positive improvements in these three challenges ultimately contribute to the greatest possible gains to set countries moving toward self-reliance.

Congressional Oversight

However, USAID’s J2SR pathway is not without concern. In the same report by the Congressional Research Service, the authors described the 17 indicators as ‘reflective’ of a sweeping theory of development long debated. They explained that the chosen indicators connect to theories that economic growth comes from democratization and open markets.

For instance, the “Trade Freedom” indicator comes from a theory that developing countries must lower trade barriers in order to achieve prosperity. This theory has undergone hot debate. The CRS also notes that the previously mentioned metrics have been worrying to commentators due to the fact that some might use them as excuses to cut aid.

The 17 Metrics

The self-reliance pathway includes 17 unique third-party metrics. These help in determining the degree of a partner country’s commitment or capacity metric. The 17 metrics serve as target goalposts for USAID initiatives and projects. In turn, they guide and measure a country in the metrics of self-reliance.

In the words of a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on Transformation at USAID, these 17 metrics help to quantify a country’s progress toward ending its need for foreign assistance and have been selected for its “perceived alignment with the self-reliance concept, the reputation of reporting institutions, public availability of the underlying data and methodology, comparability across countries, and comprehensiveness of reporting across countries.”

Understanding USAID’s Self-Reliance Framework

Above all, USAID’s Self-Reliance Framework intends to guide USAID’s programmatic approach to aid. This includes defining and outlining projects and determining a nation’s end state with respect to USAID’s assistance to it. In conclusion, the journey to self-reliance seeks to better serve the U.S. public while advancing individual countries towards greater self-autonomy and independence.

– Marshall Wu
Photo: Flickr

USAID Support to Yemen
USAID support to Yemen has been incredibly necessary for the past six years. As Yemen enters the sixth year of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, over 20 million people are on the brink of starvation. There are many factors causing this crisis to persist.

Religious Conflict

The rise of the Houthi movement, fueled by the Shiite rebellion to overthrow the Sunni government, began in 2014. Since then, the former Yemeni president not only joined the insurgence but also died at the hands of the rebels. From airstrikes that the Saudi government issued to the expansion of religious polarization, Yemen’s population remains in the middle of the turmoil.

Humanitarian Issues

Currently, 1.8 million children die each year on average primarily due to malnutrition. Before the start of the internal conflict, the economy was already on the decline. Now, most families lack access to basic necessities like food and vaccinations. The issue is not that these commodities are not physically available. Inflation has caused items such as drinking water or fruits and vegetables to no longer be affordable or accessible.

Still, in the early stages of development, the structural and financial state of Yemen has only worsened in the past six years. Though coalitions exist to help fight the rebellion and offer further support for Yemen, the Houthi continues to retaliate only continuing the warfare. This results in more than 17,500 innocent civilians either severely injured or deceased since the beginning of the war.

USAID Support to Yemen

The United States remains one of the largest donors of support for Yemen and provides help to over 8 million people each month. On March 1, 2021, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced almost $200 million in humanitarian aid for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. So far, the U.S. has donated approximately $3.4 billion in support of Yemen. While this includes funding towards the United Nations Food Program, the money also helps provide rehabilitation for the economy as well as communities across the country.

The crisis has left the general Yemeni public with dwindling medical support, food and water, and stay caught in the crossfire. With no end in sight, USAID support to Yemen is essential. Without help from the U.S., the statistics aforementioned could perhaps double over the next while. Moreover, although people may best know USAID for contributing financial support, it also works to move other donors into action. With continuous support each year, USAID is the main source of hope and support for not only Yemen but also other countries facing extreme poverty.

– Caroline Kratz
Photo: Flickr

Ethiopian maternal and child mortalitySince the year 2000, Ethiopia has halved its maternal and child mortality rate. While this statistic seems impressive on the surface, the rate of maternal and child mortality in Ethiopia remains one of the highest in the world. The child mortality rate stands at 67 deaths per 1,000 children. The Ethiopian maternal mortality rate (MMR) per 100,000 live births is 412. This number is 25 times the United States MMR.

The Global Context of Maternal and Child Mortality

The rate of maternal and child mortality in Ethiopia is best understood by examining the larger global context of maternal and child mortality. Globally, neonatal mortality remains significantly high, with 7,000 newborn deaths a day. Neonatal mortality comprises 47% of the deaths of children under 5. This number is up 7% from 1990 when it stood at 40%. Furthermore, the greatest number of neonatal deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

Globally, the MMR has dropped 38% from 2000 to 2017, which is the most recent WHO estimate, but it is important to note that even though the overall global MMR has reduced, some regions still disproportionately experience very high MMR rates. The greatest number of maternal deaths occur in Africa, just as with neonatal mortality. In fact, in 2017, 66% of all maternal deaths occurred in Africa.

A key cause of maternal and newborn mortality is malnutrition. Due to COVID-19, the World Food Programme predicted that the number of food-insecure people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) would double to 265 million by the close of 2020. Food insecurity often links to malnutrition or undernutrition. Therefore, this fact has the potential to increase maternal deaths due to a lack of iron and other essential nutrients. The WHO estimates that, as it stands globally, 40% of pregnant women are anemic. Anemia makes these women vulnerable to fatal bleeding and infections during childbirth. Furthermore, while high-income countries have very low anemia figures for pregnant women, in certain LMICs, up to 60% of pregnant women struggle with anemia.

Global Aid Organizations Leading the Battle

Fortunately, during and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, global aid organizations have been collaborating with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and other regional bureaus to continue to decrease the rate of maternal and child mortality in Ethiopia.

As a major player in combatting maternal and child mortality in Ethiopia, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) focuses on providing Ethiopian women, children and families, especially those in underserved communities, access to quality healthcare. USAID works with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and regional bureaus to institute better training so that healthcare workers can improve the care provided at various levels (facility, community and household). USAID ensures access to integrated services such as prenatal checkups, skilled care for labor and delivery, newborn care, preventative care for childhood illnesses and nutritional guidance.

Quality of Care Network

Ethiopia is a member of a 10-country Quality of Care Network created by the WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The Network launched in 2017 with the aim of halving maternal and child mortality by 2022 and improving patient care. In Ethiopia, this commitment involves clinical mentoring and coaching since learning is an essential aspect. Ethiopia chose 17 districts that represent “pastoralist, urban and rural populations” to operate as “learning districts.”

Maternal Mortality Reduction

These coordinated efforts seem to be making headway according to the 2020 Gates Foundation Goalkeepers Report, which tracks progress on SDG goals. In 2019, the Ethiopian MMR was down to 205 deaths per 100,000 live births which would meet the Quality of Care Network goal of halving maternal and child mortality by 2022.

Ethiopian child mortality was down from 66 deaths per 1,000 children under 5 in 2015 to 52 deaths in 2019, which represents more modest progress. However, the Goalkeepers Report warns that COVID-19 could reverse progress made on global goals and asserts that a global collaborative response is essential in all areas.

It is critical to maintain heightened vigilance in coordinating efforts to continue to improve maternal and child mortality rates in Ethiopia despite COVID-19 challenges, so that progress is not lost.

Shelly Saltzman
Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid in JordanThe U.S. provides foreign and humanitarian aid to countries around the world. In the country of Jordan where more than one million of its people live in poverty, humanitarian aid goes a long way. Providing aid from the United States means stronger U.S.-Jordan relations. Of the top 10 countries that received the most aid from the United States in 2019, Jordan was ranked at number three. Without a doubt, the U.S. provides for the overall well-being of this crucial ally through humanitarian aid in Jordan.

The Importance of Humanitarian Aid

The U.S. provided $1.5 billion worth of humanitarian aid to Jordan in 2020. The U.S. has additionally provided $1.7 billion to specifically help Syrian refugees in Jordan from the time the Syrian crisis began. This aid has been extremely crucial considering that many Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan in search of safety. Some of the aid contributes to updating medical facilities and enhancing critical infrastructure, which helps support the refugee crisis.

The U.S. and Jordan are also part of a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding that both countries signed in 2018. Under this Memorandum, the U.S. will provide $6.375 billion worth of assistance to Jordan over a span of five years. Much of this assistance helps improve infrastructure and contributes to the construction of schools across Jordan. The United States has also trained Jordanian citizens in various skills in the U.S. itself. By doing this, the U.S. is giving Jordanians a chance to take the skills back to their own country to start businesses or to apply for higher-skilled jobs in Jordan, which will all stimulate the economy of Jordan.

An Increasing Population

The humanitarian aid and other forms of assistance that the U.S. provides to Jordan are important for a variety of reasons. Jordan has also become home to refugees that have fled from conflict in Iraq. In just the last 20 years, there has been a population increase of 10 million within the country. Such a large increase in population in just a short time has raised the cost of living within Jordan. The healthcare system of the country has been stressed along with the education system and the available water supply due to this intense population growth. Humanitarian aid in Jordan is all the more important because it helps alleviate the strain.

How Providing Aid Benefits the US

Humanitarian aid in Jordan helps the U.S. in several ways. Both countries have similar values and goals with regard to peacekeeping, such as a positive Israel-Palestine relationship. Additionally, both countries want “an end to violent extremism that threatens the security of Jordan, the region and the entire globe.” Jordan’s commitment to bring lasting peace between Israel and Palestine and eradicate terrorism in the region assists broader U.S. interests. The reason Jordan is so invested in the Israel-Palestine relationship is that Jordan is home to many Palestinians, most of which are the descendants of Palestinian refugees. Therefore, Jordan feels a deep sense of responsibility to the Palestinian people.

U.S. humanitarian aid in Jordan has far-reaching benefits. Aid is vital to the well-being of the Jordanian people, its Syrian refugees and the broader relationship between the U.S. and Jordan.

Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in IndonesiaThe streets are showered in debris, rescue dogs rummage through rubble and more than 400 homes are collapsed in piles where they previously stood. Such a sight followed the earthquake that hit Mamuju, the provincial capital of West Sulawesi in Indonesia, on January 15, 2021. With at least 82 dead and around 30,000 displaced, the aftershocks are devastating. However, for many Indonesians, stories like this one are painfully familiar as natural disasters are common and homelessness in Indonesia is rampant.

Natural Disasters, Poverty and Homelessness

Sitting on the fault line of three tectonic plates, Indonesia experiences earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 or lower almost daily. Major natural disasters have hit Indonesia on average once a month since 2004. These events, including tsunamis, landslides and even volcanic eruptions, destroy homes and communities. Each crisis pushes the rate of homelessness in Indonesia higher. Of course, poverty and inequality also play important parts in explaining why almost three million (1.14%) Indonesians are homeless. Natural disasters pose a unique and pressing challenge to governments and organizations trying to fight homelessness, especially in natural disaster-prone areas.

Homelessness in Indonesia

From the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s till the COVID-19 pandemic, Indonesia enjoyed commendable economic growth. It also joined the G20 and cemented its status as a low middle-income country. The poverty rate more than halved from 1999 standing at 9.78% in 2020. On many fronts, Indonesia shows potential for significant economic and social development in the first half of the 21st century.

That being said, the COVID-19 pandemic has undone some of Indonesia’s progress from the last two decades. From March to September of 2020, official statistics reported that an additional one million Indonesians had dropped below the national poverty line. At least 2.8 million Indonesians have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and another 70 million informal workers are at risk of unemployment in the near future.

Against this backdrop, homelessness in Indonesia remains a serious problem. In the first half of 2020, natural disasters displaced an estimated 508,000 Indonesians. Adding to the gravity of these high numbers, natural disasters are no temporary predicament. One year after earthquakes and a tsunami hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island on September 28, 2018, an estimated 57,000 people still remain homeless. Moreover, around 25 million Indonesians live in slums or other temporary housing. A recent survey found that even in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, thousands are at risk of becoming homeless because they are unable to pay rent.

Global Endeavors

Habitat for Humanity, the World Bank, USAID and the Asian Development Bank, among many others, fight homelessness in Indonesia through investment and development expertise. Habitat for Humanity has been working in Indonesia since 1997. In 2019, it helped more than 77,000 Indonesians through a combination of housing, market development and water and sanitation programs. In an effort to promote resilience and recovery in the face of natural disasters, Habitat for Humanity constructs concrete-reinforced houses, provides rubble removal and emergency hygiene kits and rebuilds houses that have collapsed from earthquakes or landslides.

In 2019, the World Bank committed almost $2 billion to projects in Indonesia. These address a broad range of development goals, including infrastructure, the maritime economy and sustainable and universal energy access. In 2017, the World Bank committed $450 million to Indonesia’s National Affordable Housing Program. This program aims to increase access to quality housing through a three-pronged approach of easier financing, household improvements and technical assistance for policy reform. By 2020, the program had already led to housing improvements for more than half a million households.

Vision Indonesia 2045

In 2018, the Indonesian government unveiled an ambitious plan for how the country should develop by 2045, the centennial of Indonesia’s independence. Although the plan spans everything from defense to innovation policy, the central pillars are peace and prosperity. One of the more specific goals is to reach an annual GDP per capita of more than $19,794. This would propel Indonesia into the realm of upper-middle-income countries and usher in lower rates of poverty and homelessness. Especially with the World Bank’s recent commitment of $250 million to support Indonesia’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Project, the current crisis is unlikely to derail Indonesia’s goals. If Indonesia realizes its growth potential and foreign aid continues bolstering its natural disaster and housing resilience, homelessness in Indonesia will decline, protecting millions of vulnerable people.

Alexander Vanezis
Photo:Flickr

Bug Infestation in Georgia
The year 2021 marks the culmination of a five-year-long partnership between USAID and Ferrero to end a harmful bug infestation in Georgia that damaged over $60 million worth of hazelnuts and other crops. The culprit is the brown stink bug, which gets its name from the repugnant odors it emits. Additionally, Ferrero invested in helping improve the health of hazelnut farms. Local Georgian farmers, the government of Georgia, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USAID and Ferrero started the Georgia Hazelnut Improvement Project (G-HIP) to address crop devastation and create future sustainable prevention measures.

The Infestation’s Effects on Farmers

Many of the affected hazelnut farms are in Abkhazia, a contested border region between Georgia and Russia. The remote western region has a long history of hardship, and the bug infestation further decimated an already vulnerable economy. Stink bugs destroyed more than 80% of the region’s crops in 2018. One farmer National Geographic interviewed said “this is the third year I’ve had no crops. I have no money left to pay my workers.” Thus, many farmers tried homemade methods of pest control, such as concocting their own pesticides, building traps and even collecting the individual bugs by hand and burning them. People are worried that they will have to leave their homes if they cannot get the infestation under control.

The Georgia Hazelnut Improvement Project (G-HIP)

The hazelnut industry is the sole livelihood of close to 50,000 people throughout Georgia. G-HIP’s mission was to give growers and processors the resources necessary to end the bug infestation in Georgia. The project addressed weaknesses in quality control, outdated infrastructure, technology and marketing. Also, it led to better soil testing, incentives to increase the quality of hazelnuts and technology to improve the post-harvest drying and storage capacity. Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), the Georgian Hazelnut Growers Association (GHGA) and the Hazelnut Exporters and Processors Association (HEPA) all worked together to see the project through.

Success Stories From G-HIP

A new drying, husking and storage facility opened in 2019 and was a big success for the project. The facility is located in Koki, a village in the Samegrelo region of western Georgia. It is 800 square meters large, dries around 1,000 tons of hazelnuts a year and employs 17 people. The high yield this facility will produce has the potential to bring in as much as $1.8 million in revenue. Furthermore, it will support all of the 300 farmers and their families in the village.

G-HIP also acquired a lure and kill trap that is less toxic than other pesticides. The U.S.-based company Trécé produced the trap as an environmentally friendly option. Around 500 villages were able to use the trap to cover 60,000 hectares. Fortunately, USAID and everyone involved in the project celebrated their success with the first annual Hazelnut Festival in the fall of 2020. These successes in combating the bug infestation in Georgia have resulted in high hopes for the coming years. The organization expects to have a yield of 50,000 tons. This is 30% more than the previous season for the 2020-2021 growing season.

Next Steps

Additionally, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has worked with the Georgian National Food Agency and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture to implement international standards for pest management. This helps track important data on pests and also makes adhering to international trade standards possible. The Georgian government set up a task force called the National Phytosanitary Steering Committee to see to the success of implementing international pest management standards and develop better policies regarding plant health.

This is the final year of G-HIP, but it is not the end of USAID’s work in Georgia’s agricultural sector. In early February 2021, Georgia’s National Food Agency started a brand new initiative called the Plant Safety System Initiative. This initiative will further improve prior pest management work through country-wide measures and give Georgian farmers the opportunity to earn internationally recognized certificates. These certificates can make farmers more marketable internationally, which leads to more exports. Another bug infestation in Georgia will have to contend with the many new initiatives and policies that have come about from the collaboration between all these organizations.

– Caitlin Harjes
Photo: Flickr

Agricultural Improvements in Tanzania
Tanzania is a country located along the coast of the Indian ocean in Eastern Africa. It has a population of more than 60 million people and continues to grow. Tanzania’s economy has been on the rise over the last decade. However, its agricultural sector employs a large number of people and is still struggling to make ends meet. The country partners with many agencies and organizations. Moreover, the U.S. government-funded USAID is Tanzania’s most important donor. It has been working to contribute to agricultural improvements in Tanzania by increasing the efficiency of weather information. Here are some facts about Tanzania’s economic condition, the importance of access to climate information and the U.S. aid that the country’s farming sector has received recently.

The Total Number of Low-Income Tanzanians Has Increased Despite Economic Growth

Tanzania has a wide variety of resources and economic reforms. As a result, the nation has witnessed astonishing growth in its economy within the last 10 years. Thus, the poverty rate fell from 34.4% in 2007 to 26.4% in 2018. Additionally, approximately 14 million people were living in poverty. However, due to the country’s rapid population growth, the absolute number of people living in poverty increased while the relative number decreased. The areas of economic growth were related to industry and service. This only gives work to 6% of the total population. The agriculture industry requires the most support and foreign aid because it grows slower. In addition, many Tanzanians work in this industry.

Easy Access to Weather Information is a Necessity

Access to weather information is the main tool in the process of agricultural improvements in Tanzania. This has become increasingly important as the climate is constantly changing. Since food production heavily relies on precipitation, farmers need to be able to predict and prepare for any amount of rainfall. The Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA) has been sending out SMS to more than 3,000 farmers all around the country several times a month to provide them with the much-needed information. However, due to high cost and inefficiency, the methods of spreading information have been the main focus of improvement.

Database for Farmers has Supported Agricultural Improvement in Tanzania

USAID funds the Building Capacity for Resilient Food Security Project and serves as an important partner in improving the spread of information. This project’s goal is to support the Tanzanian government in stabilizing its agricultural sector through different climate challenges. Additionally, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is one of the project’s three national partners. It has also supported TMA in creating a database for farmers to access and analyze weather information. The new technology has made it easier for farmers to receive the necessary information and has also resulted in higher usage of social media platforms by people in rural areas. It has become much easier for those in the agricultural sector to schedule the planting and harvesting of crops with this improvement.

USAID Sponsored Training to Increase Food Production Efficiency

The Building Capacity for Resilient Food Security project has contributed to many agricultural improvements in Tanzania. For example, the project sponsored training sessions for decision-makers and stakeholders throughout Tanzania in 2019. These training sessions teach farmers how to survive different climate crises and how to plant and harvest efficiently. Experts from American universities and various international partners are leading the training program. Furthermore, the goal is to teach the participants how to practice climate-smart agriculture. The hope was that the training session would increase Tanzania’s food production and decrease the number of farmers living in poverty.

Making Tanzanian Agriculture Self-Reliant

The partners of the Building Capacity for Resilient Food Security Project, FAO, USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) improved Tanzanian farmers’ capability to plan their food production efficiently in January 2021. Furthermore, the partners provided important supplies such as ph meters, measuring cylinders, bottles and new technologies for a weather database to the TMA.

It will be easier for the agency to collect weather data and quickly spread the information to Tanzanian farmers with the new equipment. This will support the farmers’ goal in expanding their food production and security to the point of self-reliance. The organizations hope that making Tanzania’s agriculture more sustainable will contribute to the country’s economic growth and help many people who have employment in the sector out of poverty.

– Bianca Adelman
Photo: Flickr

10 Years of Helping Babies Breathe
The first few minutes of a baby’s life have a significant impact on their chances of survival and their life quality. Statistically speaking, risks for newborn deaths are at their highest at that time. A main reason for the increased risk is asphyxia, a dangerous lack of oxygen right after birth. Every year, approximately 10 million newborns are unable to breathe on their own and require immediate help. In 2010, as a response to the medical issue, Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) was born. Recently, Helping Babies Breathe celebrated its anniversary for 10 years of work. Here is some information about the successes during the 10 years of Helping Babies Breathe.

USAID: An Important Partner

A partnership of many different agencies and organizations like Save the Children, Laerdal Global Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the program Helping Babies Breathe. Another very important partner in the creation of HBB was the United States government’s agency USAID. After receiving Congress-approved funds from the federal government, USAID was able to be a key figure in establishing the program. The agency contributed significantly to HBB’s success by mobilizing more than $120 million to save newborns over the last decade.

Educating People

When HBB launched, its approach to fighting newborn mortality was based on creating a global movement. The goal was to raise awareness for the complications of asphyxia and to educate and train medics around the world. Thus, HBB focused on making educational materials and necessary equipment accessible for everyone. Furthermore, it supported training people in the resuscitation of newborns. When the program began, all the partners involved agreed on one ultimate goal. The plan was to assure that every infant started life with access to at least one person with the training to resuscitate babies after birth.

When HBB taught medics all around the globe how to reduce the risks of newborn mortality, it addressed several different approaches. One of HBB’s top priorities was to increase general hygiene and, thus, prevent potential infections. Helping Babies Breathe further gave clear instructions for the evaluation of a newborn. These included understanding crying as an indicator for whether or not a baby was receiving enough oxygen and examining the baby’s breathing more thoroughly. The program also taught providers how to react in the case of a newborn not being able to breathe. In order to do so, HBB focused specifically on the method of drying the baby to facilitate breathing. It also encouraged using ventilation and chest compression if drying was not enough.

Decreasing the Number of Newborn Deaths

In the last 10 years of Helping Babies Breathe, the program has successfully increased the chances for newborn survival. HBB has trained approximately 1 million people in more than 80 countries in resuscitating babies right after birth. A study in several different countries like Tanzania and Nepal has shown the huge impact of the program on the lives of infants. The number of stillborn babies has gone down by 34% and the number of newborns that die on their first day has reduced by 30% in places that have been working with HBB.

Governmental Independence

After initially investing in equipment and training birth attendants to help babies breathe, many places no longer need HBB. Seeing how successfully the program increased newborn survival, many of the countries that HBB was working with started to include the resuscitation techniques and new standards for medical providers into their governmental budgets. Since many countries now have the knowledge and determination to fight newborn deaths on their own, HBB partner and important sponsor USAID is able to slowly stop the financial support that the agency has been giving to the program for the last 10 years.

Bianca Adelman
Photo: Wikimedia Commons