Here’s how our actions, ideas, and passions helped empower people and expand opportunity around the globe this year
From responding to Hurricane Maria to announcing a unique way to fund our efforts to reduce maternal and newborn deaths, USAID has been busy in 2017 ensuring our assistance to developing countries will have the greatest impact possible.
Check out this list of 10 stories from this year. While we can’t describe all our efforts around the world here, these examples show that aid works.
1. After the Hurricanes
On Sept. 7, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response to Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria in the Caribbean — three of the six major storms to form during a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season. Our disaster experts never imagined they would end up riding out and responding to the devastation caused by three back-to-back hurricanes, including two Category 5 storms. But they did and quickly jumped into action to aid storm survivors. At its height, the DART comprised 54 people deployed to 11 countries. USAID also airlifted more than 185 metric tons to help nearly 84,000 people, representing the best of American generosity. Check out this infographic about the response.
2. Saving Newborns and New Moms
USAID and our partners support innovators with groundbreaking ideas to ensure newborns and their mothers survive childbirth. One of these inventions — the BEMPU Hypothermia Alert Device — was featured in TIME as one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2017. The newborn temperature-monitoring wristband intuitively alerts caregivers if their newborn is losing too much heat, enabling intervention well before complications or death can occur. With our support, the device has helped an estimated 10,000 newborns. We are looking forward to 2030 when this and other innovations could potentially save 150,000 lives.
3. Feeding the Future
Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s initiative to combat global hunger, announced this year that it is launching its next phase, partnering with 12 countries to focus on promoting long-term, sustainable development. This comes after helping a combined 9 million more people live above the poverty line and 1.8 million more children avoid the devastating results of stunting. Our goal continues to be addressing the root causes of hunger and poverty and helping communities be less dependent on emergency food assistance.
4. Wildlife Trafficking
Protecting endangered species benefit more than the often majestic animals themselves. USAID’s work combating wildlife trafficking, environmental crime and mismanagement of natural resources strengthens the U.S. and international security, rule of law and global economic prosperity. This year we put together the video below to help strengthen law enforcement from parks to ports, reduce consumer demand for illegal wildlife products, facilitate international cooperation and build partnerships.
5. Fighting Hunger
In four countries — South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen — more than 20 million people are at risk of severe hunger or starvation. In February, officials declared famine in parts of South Sudan, making 2017 the most food-insecure in the country’s history. But a massive humanitarian response by the U.S. Government and the rest of the international community helped roll back that designation just four months later. USAID is continuing to leverage its resources to help the people of South Sudan, and those living in Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen respond to natural and man-made disasters.
6. Women in Charge
USAID supports women entrepreneurs worldwide as catalysts for economic growth and inclusive development. Nanda Pok is not only the owner of her own successful business in Cambodia, but she also keeps herself busy by grooming other women to start their own businesses. Nanda participated in a USAID-funded coffee production training program for female business leaders from Southeast Asia. Pok believes that when women are economically-empowered, money flows back into businesses and towards the health, education, and well-being of families. And we couldn’t agree more. In Cambodia and across the globe, USAID helps women entrepreneurs realize their dreams.
7. When a Latrine Brings a New Lease on Life
We live in a water-stressed world. USAID is tackling this issue on a number of fronts, including in Ghana where we piloted installation and use of the Digni-Loo, a latrine that is simple to install, affordable, comfortable and easy to clean. More than 800 million people worldwide still defecate in the open. This results in billions of lost dollars from the global economy due to diarrheal illness and widespread threats to public health, including a heightened risk of global epidemics. This November the Agency and the U.S. State Department launched the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy, which outlines ways we can reach 15 million people with clean drinking water and 8 million people with sanitation services.
8. Smart Ways to End World Hunger
Today, nearly one in 10 people around the world suffer from hunger, and that figure is rising. As we’ve learned over decades, there are no simple solutions. Supporting food security requires much more than filling people’s bellies. We can combat global hunger and malnutrition, but it takes a holistic approach to ensure long-lasting impact. Here are five ways USAID is investing in agriculture and food security to end hunger.
9. Investing in Change
At the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, USAID Administrator Mark Green announced the launch of the Agency’s first health development impact bond, dubbed the Utkrisht Impact Bond after the Hindi word for “excellence.” Impact bonds are focused on outcomes and can leverage private investor capital to address some of the world’s greatest challenges. This impact bond — the largest and most ambitious of its kind — aims to reduce maternal and newborn deaths by improving the quality of maternal care in Rajasthan, India’s health facilities. It is expected to improve access to care for up to 600,000 pregnant women and save up to 10,000 maternal and newborn lives.
10. Meeting Nature’s Wrath with Resilience
When Mt. Yasur Volcano on Vanuatu emits ash, it sometimes damages the community’s crops. And widespread hunger follows. USAID is working with island residents to strengthen resilience so they can bounce back faster from natural disasters. Our work is also helping to elevate women to decision-making roles that are normally reserved for men in these communities. During a recent tropical cyclone, residents broadcasted early warnings on loudspeakers and mobilized disaster committees. This was the first time that the island prepared with concerted and inclusive measures. “This is our land, our ancestors’ land,” said Elsie Nambri, a teacher and community activist here. “Just as we have learned to live with Mount Yasur, I feel we are now ready for anything.”
Article Disclaimer: This article was published by USAID and retrieved on 12/30/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.
We are excited to welcome Mairi McConnochie to INDESEEM INCORPORATED. She holds a Master’s degree in Health, Population, and Society from the London School of Economics (LSE), with a focus in Epidemiology, Health Policy and Planning and Demography in low and middle-income countries. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Anthropology from the University of St. Andrews as well as a qualification in Leadership from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).
Mairi is joining our team as the Global & Public Health Technical Specialist and she will work on all matters and projects related to advancing health and sanitation as well as reducing poverty and inequality within the global and public health sectors. She will work with the Director of Global & Public Health.
Mairi’s professional profile speaks volumes and her role as the Director at inHealth Consulting Ltd. – a consulting business specializing in health programme management and development based in the United Kingdom speaks more about her leadership, technical pedigree, and passion for health in developing countries that INDESEEM Inc. could benefit from. I worked with Mairi in the past in Ghana where she worked on several projects and initiatives with local, national, and international organizations and I am excited to have joined us!
Algae blooms in Lake St. Clair and in western Lake Erie in 2015. Photo: NASA
byJul 27, 2017, 2:00pm EDT
Last year, slimy green and foul-smelling algae took over Florida’s beaches, releasing toxins that killed fish and shellfish and sickened people. The algal bloom prompted the Florida governor to declare a state of emergency and likely caused widespread economic damage. If climate change goes unchecked, we could see more of these algal blooms along our coasts and in lakes, according to new research. That means that climate change won’t just affect the quantity of our water supply — causing drought, for instance — but it will also affect its quality.
A study published today in Science shows that, in the future, more rain and more extreme storms will wash out increasing amounts of nutrients like nitrogen into rivers and coastal waters. Nitrogen is food for tiny algae, called phytoplankton — and when it’s washed ashore, it can feed algal blooms like the ones in Florida. (Warming ocean waters are also to blame.) Using several climate models and projections, researchers showed that nitrogen runoff could increase by nearly 20 percent in the continental US by the end of the century — with the upper Mississippi Atchafalaya River Basin and the Great Lakes seeing the largest increases.
Nitrogen leaches into waterways from a variety of sources: farmers use it to fertilize crops; animals and humans produce it naturally in their poop; and nitrogen compounds are produced when we burn fossil fuels. Whenever it rains, this excess nitrogen (and other nutrients like phosphorus) are washed up from the soil and air into rivers, lakes, and ground water, and eventually into the sea. Here, nitrogen can do great damage: not only can it cause algal blooms, but when those algae die, they sink to the bottom and decay, using up oxygen in the process. This creates areas of low oxygen where fish and shellfish can’t survive. Algae blooms can disrupt fisheries, causing millions of dollars in lost revenue, and cut drinking water supplies.
“There are huge impacts that go much beyond what you would think of, oh well, it’s just nitrogen in the water,” study co-author Anna Michalak, a professor of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University, tells The Verge.
Algal blooms and so-called dead zones — like the one in the Gulf of Mexico or Chesapeake Bay — are on the rise, and not just in the US. The world’s population, with all its nitrogen-rich waste, is increasing; and agriculture is spreading and becoming more intensified. As a result, we’re pumping more and more nitrogen into the environment. But what’s going to happen in the future? For this study, researchers at Stanford and Princeton wanted to understand how climate change will affect nitrogen runoff — and as a consequence, water quality.
Michalak and her colleagues analyzed 21 different climate models to see how rainfall is likely to change by mid-century and by 2100. If we do nothing to address climate change, there’s likely going to be more rain almost anywhere in the US, except in the Texas area. There are likely also going to be more extreme storms, especially in the Midwest and Northeastern US. Even if the amount of nitrogen we put in the environment doesn’t increase, and we don’t do anything to address the problem, the increased rain will carry more nitrogen into waterways, the study found. The Northeast could see an almost 30 percent increase in nitrogen runoff, the upper Mississippi Atchafalaya River Basin a 24 percent increase, and the Great Lakes a 21 percent increase, the study says.
“The one-sentence takeaway would be that we already have a nitrogen problem in the US, as many places in the world. [And] it’s only going to get worse because precipitation is going to increase,” says Ellen Douglas, an associate professor of hydrology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, who did not take part in the study. There are other factors that can make the effects of this nitrogen overload even worse — like rising temperatures. Algae, for instance, grow faster when it’s warmer. But this study is only taking rain into consideration. The projections also assume that the amount of nitrogen we’re dumping into the environment will stay the same, but we know that it’s likely going to increase given our booming populationand rising food demands, Douglas says.
Yet, the study is “the most comprehensive examination” of how climate change and rain will affect nitrogen runoff, says Denise Breitburg, a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, who did not take part in the study. The results also show that water quality isn’t just a local issue, it’s affected by how humans are changing the climate globally, Michalak says.
Michalak hopes that policymakers will use the results to inform strategies to reduce how much nitrogen we produce. Local governments in the US are already trying to address the problem — by implementing better septic systems, for instance, or working with famers to determine how much fertilizer is applied, when, and where. In the Mississippi Atchafalaya River Basin, farmers are already trying to reduce nitrogen input by 20 percent compared to 1980–1996 levels, according to a mandate by the Environmental Protection Agency. But to meet that target in the future, considering climate change, they should reduce nitrogen input by over 60 percent, the study says.
There’s always the option of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, of course. But keeping nitrogen at bay is also key. “We can’t keep dumping our waste into the environment, whether agricultural or human-based waste,” Douglas says. “We need to find ways to reduce that flux of nitrogen.”
Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the The Verge and retrieved on 07/28/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.
By Joyce Maru – Capacity Development & Communication Specialist (BNFB project – CIP)
In Tanzania, Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is considered a major public health problem requiring appropriate nutrition interventions. The overall magnitude of VAD in Tanzania is 33 percent (Global Nutrition Report; 2014), affecting mostly children in preschool and women of reproductive age. VAD causes morbidity, nutritional blindness, and even death. Even mild levels of VAD may damage health leading to low school performance in children and poor productivity for adults.
Provitamin A Maize (PVA) maize is a special type of maize that is biofortified and contains high levels of beta-carotene. Beta-Carotene is an organic, strongly-colored red-orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits. Beta-carotene is what gives PVA maize an orange color and is converted to Vitamin A in the body after consumption to provide additional nutritional benefits. As a staple food, maize is produced and consumed by most people in Tanzania, and can, therefore, be a cheap and sustainable source of Vitamin A especially for the vulnerable rural poor populations. To address micronutrient malnutrition (hidden hunger); biofortification works to increase the nutritional value of staple food crops by increasing the density of vitamins and minerals in a crop through either conventional plant breeding; agronomic practices or biotechnology. Examples of these vitamins and minerals that can be increased through biofortification include Provitamin A Carotenoids, zinc, and iron.
The PVA maize was recently introduced to Tanzania through collaborative efforts of multiple institutions including the Government of Tanzania, Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI); Seed companies (Meru Agro-Tours & Consultants Co. Ltd (MATC) and Tanseed International Ltd) and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), working as a partnership under the Building Nutritious Food Baskets Project (BNFB). Two Provitamin A maize varieties – Meru VAH517 and Meru VAH519 –were released for commercial production by Meru Agro Tours and Consultants in September 2016.
To catalyze efforts to scale up PVA maize, different actors along the maize value chain launched a PVA maize platform for Tanzania. The event took place at the Kibo Palace Hotel, Arusha Tanzania on 19 April 2017 international hosted by the BNFB project.
Participants included Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC); TOSCI; Seed companies; processors; farmer groups representatives; researchers, policy makers and CIMMYT.
Speaking on behalf of TFNC Dr. Towo Elifatio remarked that in order to effectively and sustainably fight hidden hunger, a platform that brings together key stakeholders is critical and strategic to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and exchange of ideas, innovations, and solutions on production, supply, and utilization of PVA maize. Elifatio noted that all actors along the PVA maize value chain need to be involved in advocating and promoting production and utilization of new technologies such as the PVA maize.
The PVA maize platform will advance the agenda of fighting hidden hunger in Tanzania by linking different stakeholders to relevant authorities on matters relating to PVA maize; as well as provide an opportunity for capacity development for members on critical gaps relating to PVA maize knowledge and biofortification in general. In other words, the platform will become a ‘One stop shop’ for information and knowledge on PVA maize in Tanzania.
Membership of the platform is expected to grow to become multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary to include actors from the ministry of health, nutrition and education, school feeding programs, academic institutions, national agricultural research systems (NARS) among others. The platform will be led and sustained by the national partners who understand the bottlenecks in the sector and can better drive their own agenInternational
The Potato Center (CIP) is collaborating with a consortium of CGIAR research centers; Governments of Nigeria and Tanzania and national partners on an initiative called BNFB, which is testing a scaling-up model through a multi-crop (food basket) approach to address hidden hunger by catalyzing sustainable investments for the production and utilization of biofortified crops that are ready for scaling up including; Orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP); vitamin A (yellow) cassava, vitamin A (orange) maize and high iron/zinc beans. The project mainly targets rural populations, especially young children under the age of five and women of reproductive age, in Nigeria and Tanzania.
Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the International Potato Center and retrieved on 06/20/2017 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.
Social and economic costs of Zika could reach up to US$ 18 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean
The epidemic will have a long-term impact, according to a new UNDP-IFRC report, disproportionately affecting the poorest and most vulnerable communities, contributing to widening inequalities in the region
New York, 6 April 2017 – The social and economic cost of the recent spread of the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean will total an estimated US$7-18 billion between 2015 and 2017, according to an impact assessment launched today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The new report, A Socio-economic impact assessment of Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean: with a focus on Brazil, Colombia and Suriname” concludes that the Zika epidemic will have significant short and long-term impacts in the economic and socials spheres in the Americas.
“Aside from tangible losses to GDP and to economies heavily dependent on tourism, and the stresses on health care systems, the long-term consequences of the Zika virus can undermine decades of social development, hard-earned health gains and slow down progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals”, said Jessica Faieta, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Presenting the report, Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support stated, “Zika reminds us that all countries and peoples remain vulnerable to emerging infectious diseases, and that a disease that primarily affects poorer populations has wide-ranging social and economic implications for entire communities, regions, and nations.”
Zika disproportionately affects the poorest countries in the region, as well as the most vulnerable groups within each country. While there have been concerted efforts by all three focus countries to control the spread of Zika, the report shows that national responses to the virus in the region have faced several challenges, including modest capacity in surveillance and diagnostic systems, prevention efforts, resource allocation and coordination. Persistent social disparities and unequal health service coverage have made it difficult for national responses to reach the most vulnerable groups.
“The Zika virus has highlighted, once again, the critical role that communities and local health workers play during health emergencies,” said Walter Cotte, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas. “Putting resources towards community engagement to the Zika response can lead to stronger local partnerships, boost resilience, build leadership and help reduce stigma. For this, we must continue to promote coordination at all levels and strengthen the Red Cross’ role as an auxiliary to public authorities.”
The Caribbean is the most affected, with an impact five times that of South America. More than 80 percent of the potential losses over three years are due to reduced revenues from international tourism, with the potential to reach a total of $9 billion over three years or 0.06 percent of GDP annually.
Larger economies such as Brazil are expected to bear the greatest share of the absolute cost, but the severest impacts will be felt among the poorest countries. Haiti and Belize stand to lose as much as 1.13 and 1.19 percent respectively of GDP annually in the high infection scenario. Indirect costs could be substantial. Estimates suggest lost income due to new child-care obligations will potentially reach between half a billion and $5 billion for the region.
The impact assessment concludes that regional and national preparedness and response strategies need to be strengthened, and must involve communities. As recently seen with Zika and yellow fever, epidemics spread by mosquitos can quickly expand and governments and communities must be ready to respond.
The sizable economic cost of Zika highlights the need to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito in an integrated and multi-sectoral manner, considering that dengue, chikunguya, yellow fever and Zika are all spread by the same mosquito type. Addressing the conditions that encourage vector proliferation can prevent not only Zika, but also other epidemics.
In addition, the report strongly recommends that protection programmes and care systems must be adapted and strengthened to reach those most in need, including women, girls and persons with disabilities. The promotion of gender equality and sexual and reproductive health are imperative for any Zika response to be effective.
Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the contributors of the United Nations and was retrieved on 04/10/2017 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. Please cite the original source accordingly.