Tag Archives: USAId

You’ve Seen the News. Want to Help Nepal? Send Cash!

W10001533_W260-0025-051A 7.9 earthquake hit Central Nepal today. Over 1394 people are reported thus far to have lost their lives in this natural disaster that unfortunately has been predicted by many. Much of Kathmandu’s infrastructure is in ruins, temples have been lost, electricity is out, and thousands are without shelter.

The best way to help in this disaster situation is to donate money to international NGOs that are well-versed in disaster relief. They have entire teams who are trained how to start, ask the right questions, and can deploy emergency shelter, food, water, and everyday necessities. They also know how to provide medical relief and aid and in the long run can help families with work in order to earn money in an environment that has been reduced to rubble.

I saw the wide-sweeping and effective relief efforts of international NGOs  after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines when I visited with a World Vision USA team for the one year anniversary in 2014. I know that because of large NGOs’ experience and coordinated efforts they can help disaster relief rapidly and in tandem with the Nepalese government. In fact, the UN has a coordinated system already in place called Cluster Coordination so that NGOs work together and not in vacuous sylos.

Continue reading You’ve Seen the News. Want to Help Nepal? Send Cash!

USAID Tackles Respectful Maternity Care, Better Working Conditions for Midwives

This week USAID released its follow-up to Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality: USAID Maternal Health
Vision for Action (June 2014) with its new report of the same name with the addition of evidence for strategic approaches. These approaches seek to lower the world’s maternal mortality rate. Right now 289,000 women die per year from complications during child birth.

While it is widely known that MDG 5 will fall short of its overall global goal, USAID has partnered with other leading organizations including the World Health Organization, Maternal Health Task Force, United Nations Population Fund, and the Maternal Child Health Integrated Fund along with representatives from 30 countries  to work on a new set of maternal health goals. Set in April 2014, these organizations are now working towards a global maternal mortality rate (MMR) of 70/100,000 with no country having above a 140 MMR by 2030.

Continue reading USAID Tackles Respectful Maternity Care, Better Working Conditions for Midwives

Why Don’t We Spend More Money at Home? Breaking Down False Notions About U.S. Foreign Aid

ForeignAid101-thumbnail_1_orig_cWhenever I go to the Hill to advocate for continued and, more importantly, increased funding for foreign aid I always hear from staffers that their constituents perpetually call their congressperson’s or senator’s office telling them to stop spending money in other countries and use that money at home. What these concerned citizens and so many in the United States, do not understand is that the United States’ federal budget is so unimaginably huge, we spend less that 1 percent on foreign aid (from budget.house.gov).

In a survey conducted last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation with everyday, average Americans only 4 percent knew that less than 1 percent of the federal budget is spent on federal aid. On average, survey respondents believed 28 percent of the budget is spent on foreign aid.

Consistently over the years most Americans believe the United States spends entirely too much on aid overseas. Since this is wrong, the information is simply not being communicated enough in my opinion. Those in the global health and development community know the right answer, but busy Americans don’t have time to dig into the issues. And that is why false assumptions about foreign aid persist.

In an effort to educate more Americans about foreign assistance, Oxfam America recently launched its Foreign Aid 101 campaign. Utilizing an infographic-rich approach Oxfam America attempts to show the history of foreign aid, where aid money goes, and why foreign aid does not go directly to corrupt governments.

While many of you who are reading this understand how much money goes to foreign aid, there are many who simply don’t know. That’s not their fault, to be sure. Blantant, false assumptions about foreign aid have grown rampant and that is why Americans always tend to cite wrong answers about foreign aid.

United States aid to foreign countries is not without its vocal critics some of who believe foreign aid is a hindrance to a low-or-middle income country’s economic growth. Citing countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan that received barely any aid, but looked to economic growth strategies to make them examples of how a country’s prosperity cannot be yoked by foreign aid.

There have also been recent working papers that show the heightened need for thorough, high-level evaluations on programs that do well, but also programs that fail in order to better determine the effectiveness of foreign aid.

Despite the banter back and forth, the number that always comes up in this conversation is less than 1 percent. What is more telling about the foreign aid conversation is that while the US spends $81 per person on foreign aid, Americans spend more money annually on candy ($101), lawn care ($126) and soft drinks ($204) according to Oxfam America.

Share this with someone you think would like to know the truth about foreign aid. 

While I am now a member of Oxfam America’s Sisters on the Planet I have been advocating and writing about United States foreign aid since 2011.

USAID Launches New Global Development Lab

Exactly how does the global community end poverty by 2030? According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), it’s by working together.

Today marks the official launch of USAID’s Global Development Lab, a new initiative that uses science and technology to improve global health and development outcomes around the world. Utilizing data and analytics USAID is quickly moving towards more efficient ways to track, report, scale, and improve the ways in which hundreds of millions of people worldwide can plausibly leave poverty behind in 16 years.  Poverty is currently calculated as those who live on less than $1.25 a day.

The depth and scale of global poverty obviously requires increased innovative methods to tackle what many attest is an attainable goal by 2030. That is why USAID has brought together leading organizations and foundations from the private sector, universities, as well as corporations to tackle the issue collectively under the wide-reaching umbrella of the development lab.

“We do know things are improving and the interventions that are most cost-effective,” said Karen Cavanaugh, Director, Office of Health Systems at USAID during a recent discussion about global health best buys. “We need to invest in implementation science.”

NGOs like CARE and Save the Children have already become “Cornerstone Partners” that have committed to using their expertise and data driven global programs to join this poverty eradication effort. For example, CARE is already using cell phones to monitor pregnant women in Bihar, India and is helping savings group members in Kenya and Tanzania access their funds.

Corporations such as Coca-Cola and Unilever are lending their consumer-driven insights about scale and distribution of goods to the lab and innovative companies like Microsoft and Intel will likely bring their technology expertise to the table. Thus far, $30 billion in investments have been pledged by the Cornerstone Partners as well as by USAID to bolster the efforts and outcomes of the lab.

USAID is also rallying the most brilliant minds through global challenges, open data, and fellowships to accelerate the rate in which technology and science is used to save and improve more lives.

Today USAID Administrator Raj Shah will give the keynote at the official Global Development Lab launch in New York City. Only months into his administration Shah had already laid the framework for the lab in speeches about the ways in which USAID can advance to save more lives through “embracing innovation, science, technology and research.”

Read more about USAID’s Global Development Lab at www.usaid.gov/GlobalDevLab.


[Photos] Walking Through a Medical Supplies Warehouse in Zambia

In Zambia there is one central location where over 600 medicines are stored for distribution throughout the country. I was recently in Zambia as a guest of Malaria No More and its new campaign, Power of One that ensures that with a small $1 donation a Zambian child will receive a full course of malaria treatment and a diagnostic test. While in Zambia I visited the Central Medical Store located in Lusaka where I saw Coartem, the life-saving medicine that prevents children from dying from malaria.

While there, I couldn’t help looking around at many of the medicines stacked to the rafters in the warehouse and also noticed the donors that provided various medicines and even equipment like the Global Fund, for example, that provides Lamivudine that treats Hepatitis B. The UNFPA provides male latex condoms to Zambia and also donated forklifts to the warehouse as well as USAID that provides family planning commodities for Zambian women. These are just a few examples of some of the medicines I saw. Additionally, USAID provided trucks that transports the medicines throughout the country. These are just a few of the observations I made.

In Zambia the Ministry of Health along with many of its NGO partners are looking at new and innovative ways to distribute medicines more efficiently throughout the country. In many remote areas like Zambia’s northwestern and northern provinces it becomes increasingly difficult to transport medicines, especially when the rainy season begins. Getting life-saving medicines and medical supplies becomes critical for the health and wellness of entire communities.

Now, the Central Medical Store is rolling out temporary hubs where medicines and medical supplies can be housed in each province instead of solely stored in Lusaka. The first of these hubs has been opened in Choma, a nearby major city center south of Lusaka. In Zambia, each of its 650 health posts must have one to two months of medical supplies on hand whereas hospitals must have a three month supply of medicines. In addition to introducing hub warehouses throughout the country the medical distribution supply chain is becoming more cloud-based which will ensure health posts and hospitals are able to order medicines and supplies from their mobile phones.

It was fascinating to see the Central Medical Store in Lusaka. It’s a huge operation that receives five containers of medicines a day and is effectively the most important component of the entire country’s medical supply chain.

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