Is there a future for international NGOs in the 21st century?

Economic Development

Easing the transition to mobile money in Bangladesh

By Josh Woodard, Technical Manager, mSTAR, and Ataur Rahman, Team Lead, mSTAR Bangladesh

Like many countries, cash is the most common form of monetary transaction in Bangladesh, including among U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) implementing partners. Paying for something as basic as participant expenses at workshops, for example, often entails a finance person from Dhaka, the capital, traveling to rural communities with a bag of cash to make disbursements directly. This method is costly (in terms of travel and per diem costs for the cash runner) and risky (in terms of potential for theft and graft) and can result in lost productivity.

The introduction of mobile money to Bangladesh in 2011 changed this equation by making it possible for implementing partners to send money directly to individual program participants and staff without leaving their desks in Dhaka. Mobile money is an emerging technology that provides convenient and affordable financial services through use of a mobile phone.

Having the option of using mobile money is great, but making the change to any new technology or process is rarely easy. And, unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Finding the right mobile financial service for a project’s needs is crucial but not the end-all. Staff and program participants need to understand the benefits of mobile money and feel comfortable using it. (more…)


Strengthening the global response to noncommunicable diseases and HIV

A core part of FHI 360’s mission is to improve the overall health of communities around the world. Our scientists work across disciplines to improve outcomes and develop interventions that have the greatest impact. FHI 360 has been at the forefront of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and also provides leadership to address the emerging global health issue of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Given that the needs of NCD and HIV programming often intersect, FHI 360 integrates accessible and affordable clinical care and prevention for NCDs with HIV programs.

On April 15, 2014, FHI 360 and its partners will host a one-day symposium to discuss challenges and opportunities faced by the NCD and HIV global communities. Our co-host in this live-streamed event is the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases. Other collaborators are the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the University College London (UCL) Grand Challenge of Global Health. The purpose of the symposium is to bring together policymakers, nongovernmental organizations and researchers to explore how the NCD and HIV communities can collaborate for more common, efficient and cost-effective strategies in the prevention and control of NCDs and HIV.

One of the speakers at the symposium will be Peter R. Lamptey, MD, DrPH, MPH, FHI 360 Distinguished Scientist and President Emeritus. Dr. Lamptey, who leads FHI 360’s NCD initiatives, is a member of the Lancet Commission on the Future Health of Africa. He recently joined a group of leading experts to write The Road to 25×25: How Can the Five-Target Strategy Reach its Goal?, which recently appeared in the journal The Lancet Global Health. The article discusses the emerging global epidemic of NCDs and offers strategies that the World Health Organization (WHO) can use to meet its target of a 25 percent relative reduction in NCD mortality by 2025. It also provides insights as to how WHO and the global community can work together to address WHO’s Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013–2020.

Go here to register for an online ticket to the symposium. Tomorrow at 9:00am BST, you can watch a live stream of the event here. A full recording of the event will be made available later in the week. Visit our website to learn more about FHI 360’s work in NCDs, HIV/AIDS and other areas of health.


Creating pathways to health careers through mentorship

By Leo Dohan, employee of Noramco, part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies

Mentors can make a huge difference in the lives of young people. I have learned that firsthand in the last five years as a volunteer mentor for students in the Bridge to Employment (BTE) program in Wilmington, Delaware.

The BTE program, funded by Johnson & Johnson and managed by FHI 360, helps students from disadvantaged communities learn about health careers and what they need to do to enter these fields. Higher education, whether through a four-year college or a two-year technical degree, is often the outcome. A key element of the program is providing one-on-one mentoring to students to ensure college-bound students enroll and succeed.

I usually meet my mentee, Kevin, once a week. We talk about school, homework, BTE activities and how he will achieve his goals. Kevin started out as an average student, doing only what he needed to do to get by in school. After more than two years in BTE, Kevin has learned public speaking skills, confidence and more about careers and the college education he will need to achieve his goals. Now, he is an honor roll student and president of his senior class. Lately, our conversations revolve around which college Kevin will attend and what financial supports he will need. (more…)


Strengthening nutrition in Ghana: A new report highlights FANTA’s achievements

The Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III (FANTA) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and managed by FHI 360, recently released Strengthening Nutrition in Ghana: A Report on FANTA Activities from 2007 to 2013.

The report summarizes FANTA’s work in Ghana over the past six years. This work, which focused on strengthening nutrition programs and services and on integrating nutrition services into the Ghanaian health system, was carried out in collaboration with the Ghana Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service and other stakeholders.

The project had three main objectives:

  1. Introduce community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) and scale up integrated CMAM services within the existing Ghanaian health system
  2. Introduce nutrition assessment, counseling and support (NACS) and scale up integrated NACS services within existing HIV and tuberculosis service delivery
  3. Strengthen maternal and child health and nutrition services through advocacy, coordination and the development of a national nutrition policy

By November 2013, 1,023 facilities were providing community-based management of acute malnutrition services, 15,025 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition and 18,688 people living with HIV received nutrition assessment and counseling — achievements that all resulted from FANTA training and programming.

In addition to describing FANTA’s activities and achievements, the report offers a description of the challenges that the project worked to address, as well as recommendations and lessons learned on improving service nutrition delivery and eliminating malnutrition in Ghana.

Learn more about FANTA in Ghana here.

Economic DevelopmentGenderHealthNutrition

Gender, economics, and ART adherence: What’s the connection?

By Dominick Shattuck, PhD, LIFT II Technical Director and Scientist, Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, FHI 360

A version of this blog originally appeared on the LIFT II blog, Notes from the Field. You can view the original here.

A woman in Maputo, Mozambique receives an HIV test at a local hospital. Photo by: Jessica Scranton

In a rural village in central Africa, my colleagues and I stood over a registration book for antenatal care clients with the goal of identifying clinic-level data that could be extracted for a project evaluation. As we made our way through the book, the left sides of the pages were filled with names of women, dates and HIV test results — it was clear that almost all of the women who tested HIV positive received some form of antiretroviral therapy (ART). As my eyes ran to the right across spaces for follow-up records, however, the fields became increasingly emptier, and our team began to discuss the various barriers to services, even a highly effective service like prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).

Access and adherence to the greater continuum of HIV care is influenced by several factors, including community-level gender norms and related behaviors. For example, HIV-positive men may avoid HIV testing and may spend a significant amount of their income attempting to address symptoms of their illness rather than confirming their HIV status. Often, these behaviors are driven by fear that knowledge of a positive HIV test result could compromise their leadership at home and cause family instability. Research has also identified instances when men undermine their wives’ access and adherence to ART, even taking their wives’ medication for themselves. Interestingly, despite such challenges, women are more likely to access and adhere to HIV-related treatment and care than men. (more…)


Perspectives on global education: FHI 360 experts at the 2014 CIES conference

This week, FHI 360’s experts on global education are joining other education researchers, practitioners, leaders and partners in Toronto, Canada, for the 2014 Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society. The conference, which will take place March 11–15, will explore the theme, “Revisioning Education for All.” FHI 360’s education team will present on six panels on topics such as the value of integrated approaches to education systems strengthening, technology, literacy and providing access to quality education with sensitivity to gender and fragility. Follow our live coverage throughout the conference! Check here for our blogs, videos and photographs.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Exploring the effect of global education movements on monitoring and evaluation, by Audrey Moore

Large global initiatives have the power to move the conversation on data and measurement forward. But, are they? FHI 360 research explores this topic.




Data challenges in global education: The limits of what we know, by Charles Gale

Providing accurate data on global education issues is a challenge. This blog explains some of the reasons why.




Thursday, March 13, 2014

Linguistic diversity: An untapped resource for improving learning, by Carol da Silva

Learn why learning in one’s mother tongue language is important for students and the global education community.




Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mind the gap: Turning the focus toward secondary education, by Kristin Brady and Kate Carpenter

The gap in funding for secondary education is a looming crisis that comes at a time when many developing countries are facing dramatic increases in their youth populations.




Tuesday, March 11, 2014
VIDEO: FHI 360’s John Gillies on post-2015 global education goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have focused the international development community on sustainable solutions for meeting human needs. As we approach the culmination of these efforts, how can the global education community establish new goals? What should these goals be? Watch here as John Gillies, FHI 360’s Director of Global Learning, offers his insights.


VIDEO: Patrick Fine on global education trends

Preceding the opening of the CIES conference in Toronto, Patrick Fine, Chief Operating Officer of FHI 360, calls education “one of the great victories of development.” He offers his thoughts on future education trends and challenges.

Civil Society

Peacebuilding through practice and partnership

A Q&A with Elizabeth Hume, Technical Director for Peacebuilding and Conflict Mitigation, and Anne O’Toole Salinas, Program Director for Peacebuilding and Conflict Mitigation, FHI 360

FHI 360 was recently awarded a five-year contract to support the efforts of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to advance conflict-sensitive development. The Programming Effectively Against Conflict and Extremism (PEACE) Indefinite Quality Contract (IQC) will enable FHI 360 to expand its work to support conflict mitigation and peacebuilding globally.

Q: Why is the PEACE IQC significant?

A: Through the PEACE IQC, USAID can draw upon experienced and trusted partners to respond to crisis and fragility and to develop a comprehensive program across sectors. Task orders issued under the PEACE IQC will ensure that USAID and its partners understand the causes of conflict, identify the best approaches for mitigating conflict, and gather learning and evidence to inform future programming against conflict and extremism.

Q: What is unique about the approach of FHI 360 and the PEACE Consortium?

A: FHI 360’s PEACE Consortium, comprised of 18 member organizations, is uniquely able to assist in conflict-affected contexts because we bring an integrated approach to addressing the varied root causes of social and political tensions. With almost two decades experience, we have learned there is never a single driver of conflict, and we have developed the tools to identify the sources and then design cross-sectorial interventions that address the real needs on the ground. We offer an integrated model that encompasses experts working across 122 countries, with the ability to mobilize high-quality teams in quick response to crises. (more…)

Economic DevelopmentTechnologyYouth

Innovative technologies address youth unemployment in Iraq

A Q&A with Rob Kunzig, USAID-Foras Project Technical Officer, FHI 360

Q: What is the Foras project?

A: The word foras means “opportunity” in Arabic, an apt name for this project, which seeks to dramatically accelerate individuals’ access to employment opportunities in Iraq. USAID-Foras has launched web-based and mobile technology platforms to overcome barriers to employment, linking jobseekers with employers. Our immediate goal is to increase the number of youth and adults placed in jobs, but ultimately we want to introduce a more efficient model for how employers hire their workforce.

Q: Why is this project needed in Iraq?

A: What USAID-Foras is doing in Iraq is essential to growth of the country’s economy and its stability. About 50 percent of the population in Iraq is 25 years or younger, and roughly half of that demographic is unemployed. Even more alarming, about 400,000 new jobseekers or eligible workers are added the economy yearly, but a vast majority of these individuals remain unemployed. This problem will only worsen without intervention.

Q: What technologies has Foras launched thus far and who has access to them?

A: In 2013, we launched an online jobs portal, which is used by jobseekers and employers looking to hire. We adapted our portal from a similar tool developed by Microsoft in partnership with Silatech, a Qatar-based nonprofit organization. The original portal allowed jobseekers to upload a personal profile and resume or curriculum vitae (CV) and to look for available positions. We improved on this portal by adding a feature that matches jobseekers based on their skills and experiences to jobs that have been listed on the site by employers. We also made it available in English and Arabic. (more…)