Civil Society

  • Pandemic preparedness: Four strategies to keep HIV programs on track during COVID-19

    A little more than a month after World AIDS Day 2019, COVID-19 started to impact our HIV programs in Asia as countries like Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam began quarantine. Community testing ground to a halt. People living with HIV worried about access to their medications. HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) enrollment slowed. COVID-19 testing diverted laboratories from HIV services. By March 2020, the rest of the world was equally impacted. FHI 360’s HIV programs were determined to continue serving people, but there were deep concerns. We were not alone, of course; the global HIV community was facing COVID-19 together. But with so much uncertainty, we wondered: Would COVID-19 substantially set back hard-won gains toward epidemic control? Did we have the tools in hand, or could we develop the tools, to weather this crisis?

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  • The future of global development: Civil society and collaboration

    I recorded this episode of A Deeper Look podcast with Sam Worthington, Chief Executive Officer of InterAction, before the World Health Organization had declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. But, the crisis amplifies the relevance and urgency of the themes we discussed in this episode.

    Sam highlights trends that will shape this decade, including the emergence of fragile states as the epicenter of extreme poverty in the world, the impact of climate change and its effects on the most vulnerable and the concerning rise of nationalism and isolationism. We discuss the role of women in bringing about positive change, the evolution and impact of civil society and the concept of localization.

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  • Good Governance Barometer guides community improvements in Nepal

    Development practitioners know that governance matters, but what is good governance and how can it be measured? FHI 360’s Good Governance Barometer (GGB) is a social accountability and development planning tool designed to bring together stakeholders, ranging from local government officials to community members, to jointly identify problems – such as improving the management of a health clinic – and determine the actions needed to resolve them. In addition, the GGB process produces action plans that strengthen and help measure the effectiveness and performance of local governance.

    FHI 360’s Civil Society: Mutual Accountability Project (CS:MAP), funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, partners with civil society and media organizations to foster an accountable, resilient Nepali civil society. The project team is using the GGB to achieve this goal.

    Recently, we traveled to six villages in three rural districts in Nepal – Sindhupalchowk, Rukum and Gulmi – to learn how these communities are using the GGB to improve their public services and achieve this goal. Though the communities we visited were different, we saw some commonalities. Local officials often encountered service delivery challenges for reasons such as limited capacity or resources. When citizens and public officials were empowered to work together using the GGB, however, solutions were more likely to be identified.

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  • Discovering new ways to engage youth to prevent violent extremism

    Young people, often the most vulnerable to recruitment by violent extremist groups, play a crucial role in countering and preventing violent extremism. But how can we more effectively focus on youth to reduce violent extremism? To answer this question, we convened a forum on the latest thinking in this rapidly evolving field. The forum, held earlier this year in Washington, DC, was webcast for a global audience.

    Kyle Dietrich of Equal Access International, Lauren Van Metre of George Washington University, Dean Piedmont of the Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism Initiative and Joseph Sany of FHI 360 shared new research on and approaches to youth engagement. They covered topics including reorienting radicalization, youth-led approaches to preventing violent extremism, the role of social media and extremist messaging, and the reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters. The participants identified prevention as the most promising opportunity to mitigate violent extremism.

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  • Reducing conflict through equitable education

    A version of this post originally appeared on the blog of USAID Education in Crisis and Conflict Network (ECCN). Reprinted with permission.

    The relationship between education inequality and violent conflict is clear: Inequitable access to quality education makes the world less safe. Recent research for UNICEF by FHI 360 found that the likelihood of experiencing violent conflict doubles in countries with high education inequality between ethnic and religious groups, and the reverse is also true; violent conflict increases educational inequalities between groups. Ethnic, religious, and socio-economic divides are clearly problematic, but gender inequality also plays a role: greater equality between males and females decreases the likelihood of conflict by as much as 37%. If the findings are clear, so must be the solutions: It is imperative that the global community find effective ways to address education inequities and tackle the systemic barriers that prevent millions of children around the globe from accessing equitable educational opportunities.

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  • Youth engagement — and empowerment — holds promise for strengthening community resilience to violent extremism

    Stop for a minute to think back to when you were a “youth” — say, when you were 19 years old — transitioning from adolescence into adulthood.

    • Did you have ideals and ideas that motivated you and peers and adult mentors who positively influenced you?
    • Did you have family who supported you and a community that you felt part of and in which you had a voice?
    • Did you have a sense of who you were and access to physical and psychological safe spaces where you could express your identity?

    If you answered yes, then you probably have a positive recollection of this period in your life. You were likely content with your trajectory into adulthood.

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  • Four major famines have taken place so far in 2017, which has renewed attention on the urgent need to address food security globally. However, food security involves much more than responding to famines, and it is closely linked to factors such as governance, which plays a significant role in fragile states and developing countries. FHI 360 held a Facebook Live discussion on how integrating governance, agriculture and food security can benefit food security programs. The conversation was moderated by Gregory Adams, Director of the Locus Coalition at FHI 360, with FHI 360 experts Joseph Sany, Technical Advisor, Peacebuilding and Conflict Mitigation, and Annette Brown, Director, Research and Evaluation Strategic Initiative.

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  • Understanding the relationships among food security, climate change and conflict

    Despite decades of investments to improve food security for the world’s poorest people, hunger and malnutrition are still problems for many. Indeed, a daunting food security crisis currently puts more than 20 million people at risk of starvation in just four countries: Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 42 million children under the age of 5 will be malnourished by 2050, and 10 million additional children will be malnourished if climate change impacts continue unabated.

    This crisis calls for improvements in identifying, understanding and addressing the interlinked factors that result in broadscale food security crises. The cycle of resource degradation caused by climate change that leads to food insecurity, starvation and ongoing conflicts raises the question of whether climate change itself is a “threat multiplier” that increases the potential for conflict. Evidence suggests that the interplay between these sectors is critical to the emergence or development of many humanitarian crises. However, the complexity of these relationships and the role of climate change as a threat multiplier are less understood.

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  • Peaceful and inclusive societies

    A little more than a year ago, the world rallied around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a historic plan to improve the lives of people everywhere. This past year was a reminder of just how ambitious these goals are and how achieving them will test the commitment of the international community.

    The year 2016 turned out to be a time of political, economic and social upheaval — from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the U.S. election of a president vowing radical change to America’s domestic and foreign policies, to ongoing war and conflict in the Middle East and a global refugee crisis. We also witnessed extraordinary achievements, including a peace agreement that ended Colombia’s 50-year civil war and the discovery of a vaccine for Ebola — progress made possible by people working together for the common good.

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  • Strengthening civil society’s role in responding to violent extremism

    Preventing and countering violent extremism requires nothing short of an integrated, multifaceted, locally driven approach. FHI 360 has been working since 2008 with civil society groups in affected regions to prevent and respond to violent extremism. Recently, we discussed the lessons learned from our work at this year’s Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership conference. The following is what we shared.

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