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Foreign_Aid_Job_Creation_USAID
There are many disputing ideas on whether or not America should continue to invest in foreign aid, especially while in the throes of an economic recession. While spending US funds to support countries and people that most citizens will probably never visit or meet may seem counter-intuitive, foreign aid will be a factor in pulling America out of its recession. Lifting developing countries out of poverty creates more customers to buy American products, which in turn creates jobs in America.

Foreign aid job creation is not merely speculation. Currently almost half of US exports go to developing countries and this number can be expected to increase as these new, developing markets continue to open. This will greatly improve the US economy since one in five American jobs, like cell phone chips and food production, are export-based. American businesses recognize the opportunity to grow by alleviating world poverty. In 2012, over 50 US corporations delivered a letter to Congress in support of continuing funding for foreign investment. These corporations included Google, Cisco, Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Caterpillar.

These corporations are aware of the huge potential payoffs of foreign investment. For example, the US has given Mexico $1.7 billion in aid over the past 45 years and now exports $16.3 billion in goods to their neighbor every year. The US has also seen its investment in Brazil offer an enormous return. America exports $35.4 billion annually to Brazil after giving $2.8 billion in aid from 1960-2005. Given that a majority of the United States’ top trading partners had previously accepted aid from the US, it is obvious that foreign aid is a good investment.

Foreign aid does not have to be strictly a question of moral obligation; it is also financially and developmentally smart. Many Congressmen are now referring to foreign aid as investment for this very reason. It may take many years until US citizens see the financial benefits of foreign investments but the eventually, revenues from these new markets will be well worth the wait. Foreign aid is less than 1% of United States’ budget and has the potential to create jobs to bring the US out of rough economic times. Contact your Congressional representatives and ask them to support funding for foreign aid.

– Mary Penn

Source: Orange County Register
Photo: Soda Head

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Caiqing Jin(Kelly)

Source: USAID
Photo Source: ETFTrends

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

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

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

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

Christina Kindlon

Source: USAID

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

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

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

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

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

– Mary Penn

Source: AllAfrica
Photo: World Vision

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

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

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

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

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

– Mary Purcell

Source: Brookings Institution
Photo: Truth-Out

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

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

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

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

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

Christina Kindlon

Source: USAID

myanmar-USAID-aid-effectiveness

A Brookings Institution article by Lex Rieffel and James Fox (Former Chief, Economic Growth Evaluation at USAID/Policy & Program) analyses aid effectiveness in Myanmar. “The transition in Myanmar that began two years ago — from a military to a quasi-civilian government — is the largest and most encouraging turnaround in the developing world in years.”

They give significant credit to President Thein Sein and social activist Aung San Suu Kyi for collaborating to lift the country out of turmoil. Their three main obstacles or agendas were: ending the civil war, providing an institutional framework to increase the general standard of living, and sharing the wealth of the country’s natural resources with the whole population.

When other countries saw the progress being made, then the World Bank, USAID, and more than 100 other aid agencies and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) started to offer rapid assistance to Myanmar. This time, the aid agencies and government officials are intent on making sure aid is delivered effectively. All donors have committed to adhere to the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, and all subsequent additions to it. And the Myanmar government held an all-donor meeting in January 2013, to get an agreement on ground rules for spending aid effectively.

However, here are five common ways aid can be ineffective:

• Senior government officials of Myanmar end up spending hours every day meeting with delegations from international NGO’s and donor countries – not just their aid agencies but also their government representatives, corporations, media, and more. The endless meetings divert the attention of the local officials, not allowing them to formulate and implement actual progress.

• Each aid organization has its own pressure to “make a difference,” to show results.  For instance, USAID has allocated millions of dollars for their own agriculture sector projects, but only committed $600,000 to the multi-donor LIFT Fund – which is a more effective way of delivering aid.

• Local staff from financial institutions are overwhelmed by the donor organizations’ need to “move the money.” Pressure to distribute project funds is ever-present.

• Donors are often non-transparent as each competes to gain the most favorable position within a region.

• Host countries engage in “donor shopping” to get the most money for the least change.

So, for Myanmar, here are the three ways to make aid more effective:

• Slow down and do more collaborative operations. This act does not overwhelm local officials. Donors should help control the pace, and commit at least 30 percent of their funding to joint operations.

• Provide “scholarships for foreign study.” It will take years for Myanmar to raise its standard of education to the level required for meeting its development objectives. The solution is education abroad, so the students can return home with knowledge to invest in the country. This form of aid also has the least potential for mis-use.

• “Be more innovative” – for instance “cash on delivery aid.” This reinforces good management within the local government, minimizes the administrative burden of the rapid aid influx, and ensures that every dollar of aid goes to support successful projects.

– Mary Purcell

Source: Brookings
Photo: USA Myanmar

 

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

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

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

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

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

 – Christina Kindlon

Source: USAID
Photo: VOA

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,

Senator Bill Frist Calls For Global InvestmentBill Frist, a former Republican senator and majority leader from Tennessee, recently called on America and Congress to “continue our legacy of saving lives.” Less than 1 percent of the US federal budget goes to improving global health, an investment that results in changing the lives of hundreds of thousands every year. “It’s hard to imagine a better return on investment,” said Frist.

In a lengthy article, he recaps the history and precedent that has made America a global leader in developing, supporting and administering life-saving medicines and healthcare practices. Under President George W. Bush, congress made a founding pledge of $300 million to the international initiative – Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Bush, with bipartisan support from Congress, also established the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest program ever to combat a single disease. President Barack Obama has likewise embraced this program and America’s role in eradicating AIDS/HIV.

2013 is the 10th anniversary of PEPFAR, and since its founding the number of people on life-saving treatment has increased more than twenty-fold. HIV infection rates are down, the number of malaria cases is down by more than 50%, and tuberculosis mortality rates are consistently falling. Working in more than 150 countries, the Global Fund is saving an estimated hundred thousand lives each month.

Frist goes on to say what a critical time we are in right now. He emphasizes the importance of continuing on the path of involvement and aid in order to make sure our gains are not lost. The momentum must not be jeopardized or diseases may spread in new ways, mutate and reclaim the lives of people whom medicines have previously made healthy. Frist stated that investment in global health is “good for national security, economically prudent and – most importantly, is the right thing to do.”

– Mary Purcell
Source: Roll Call
Photo: Fastdarfur.org