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.
We live in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world. The risks to much of the world’s population that stem from climatic, political and economic fluctuations have played out again and again in recent years. While emergency response and humanitarian aid still have an important role to play, the development community is increasingly interested in how to build the resilience of individuals, communities and systems not only to survive these shocks and stresses, but also to adapt to them and better prepare for future occurrences.
There is no single solution for building resilience, as it is highly dependent on the population in question, the risks they face, local infrastructure and resources, and a number of other factors. However, one tool that has the potential to facilitate increased resilience across a range of contexts is digital technology.
Financial exclusion is a central component of the poverty trap, foreclosing economic opportunities for the “unbanked” and making it almost impossible to start or grow a business. Billions of working people, mostly in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, lack access to basic financial services, with women, the uneducated and migrants especially disadvantaged.
The microfinance movement in the 1970s realized that giving people — especially women — access to even tiny amounts of credit unleashes individual initiative and that creating the conditions for people to be more self-reliant is inherently empowering. As microfinance programs grew into established institutions and as emerging economies have become more formalized, the disparity between women’s and men’s access to financial services has grown. Today, approximately 58 percent of women have a bank account compared to 65 percent of men. This is not only an indicator of inequality, but it also exposes the fact that more than 35 percent of working people are excluded from opportunities for upward mobility.
The push to advance women’s economic empowerment around the world is not a fashionable procurement exercise. It is not a way for governments, private sector investors or implementing partners such as FHI 360 to look good. It is necessary and urgent. It is a lifeline to women, families, communities and countries struggling with health and food security, environmental degradation, economic growth barriers and political turmoil.
Economic empowerment is a universal human right that protects women and people of all genders and social identities from sexual harassment, exploitation and gender-based violence.
A version of this post originally appeared on Girls’ Globe. Reposted with permission.
Opening up the panel, Greg Beck, FHI 360‘s Director of Integrated Development, told the story of one particular attempt to aid in relief efforts. After great effort, and amassing donations and supplies, they opened boxes to find stacks of things like inflatable toilets and acne cream.
Asked Beck, “How is this going to help anybody rebuild their life?”
Beck’s point was an extreme example of a nonetheless integral point: development and aid are not straightforward, not simple. They don’t consist of simply hurling donations and good intentions at a problem and hoping something sticks.
The term “integrated development” means just that — that development is complex and requires coordinated, planned effort across sectors.
It operates around the idea that development does not exist problem by problem, sector by sector. You can’t improve global health without improving education without improving women’s rights. Naturally, there are some specific efforts that require a concentrated approach, but overall, a holistic view is more effective, and organizations and governments need to address what people really lack in the complex, multilayered environments in which they live — not just what we think they need.
Our thinking about development has been dominated by the metaphor of the machine. But, as deterministic systems, machines must be predictable to run smoothly, and their behavior is dictated by their structure and parts, along with the instructions of an external operator. The smallest change or variation can bring a machine crashing to a stop.
Using the same mechanistic model, project managers apply multiple controls to reduce variety in the system, with the goal of trying to make input-output relations more predictable and efficient.
When this approach is applied to complex development problems, it falls woefully short. It can even be dangerous. The realities we try to change — the big questions of development — are not machinelike at all. They involve exceedingly complex systems of interaction, coevolution and emergence, which are more like ecologies than machines. In ecosystems, as well as economies, variation or innovation provide the very possibility for change.
Read the remainder of the blog here.
It was 100 degrees outside when we pulled up in front a school in Mumbai last month. We were greeted by the sounds of booming drums, singing voices and ringing tambourines. The children were assembled outside of the school to welcome us. Before arriving, I was curious about how these children would receive us, but all doubts slipped away as they met us with open arms. The memory of that welcome continues to humble and inspire me in my travels to similar schools around the globe. Fifty students from two Mumbai schools were selected to participate in the three-year Johnson & Johnson Bridge to Employment (BTE) program designed to provide academic support, encourage lifelong learning and build awareness of careers in health care. BTE also works with parents, teachers and employees to support and guide students to new opportunities.
According to 2012 data, only 58 percent of students from municipal areas graduate, leaving 42 out of every 100 young people without a high school diploma. For more than 20 years, BTE has been focusing on impacting communities all around the world with similar statistics.
We’ve trained over 20 Johnson & Johnson employees, who serve as volunteers to mentor these 50 children, ages 13–16. BTE volunteers here in India and in all programs around the globe talk to their mentees about life and what it took to reach their own career goals and why civic engagement matters. Mentors teach students time management as well as resume writing, interviewing, teamwork and communication skills.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently launched the 2014 State of World Population report, which focuses on the vital role of adolescents and youth in the economic and social progress of developing countries. The Power of 1.8 Billion: Adolescents, Youth and the Transformation of the Future makes the point that young people matter.
According to the report, nine in 10 of the world’s 1.8 billion young people live in less developed countries, where the young encounter obstacles to education, health and a life free from violence. Without intervention, many of these young people may never realize their full potential.
Follow #SWOP2014 to join in the conversation.
Learn more about The State of World Population 2014.
The World Bank estimates that about 2.5 billion people worldwide lack a formal bank account at a financial institution. In most of the countries where development organizations operate, the need for safe and affordable financial services is quite high. At the same time, mobile phone ownership continues to expand rapidly: Recent estimates by GSMA Intelligence put unique mobile phone subscriptions at more than 3.6 billion people globally. It is no wonder that articles in The Wall Street Journal and The Economist have recently proclaimed that mobiles offer a promising path for the world’s unbanked to gain financial inclusion.
More than 100 experts gathered at the Mondato Asia Summit last week in Singapore to discuss mobile financial services in emerging Asia. Participants heard from big names like Google, MasterCard, Visa, Discover, Amazon, MetLife, Uber, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, as well as from several companies that you may not have heard of yet but will likely soon, such as mHITS, a global mobile money remittance service, and Gatecoin, the first global digital currency exchange.
Speaker after speaker at the summit emphasized the importance of putting the customer first — commonly referred to as human-centered or user-centered design — in the development of any mobile financial service. It seems fairly self-evident that products should be designed based on what users want. Apple was touted as the gold standard for designing products based on an acute understanding of their customers’ wants, needs and aspirations. Yet, as anyone who has ever found themselves desperately trying to speak to a live person on a bank’s automated phone system knows, this is not always the case.
At FHI 360, we take a 360-degree perspective to addressing the most complex human development needs. We envision many pathways to girls’ and women’s economic empowerment — through education; training; access to resources; and the elimination of social, political and gender-related barriers.
To increase equality between girls, boys, women and men, we believe that a gender perspective has to be integrated into every aspect of all development programs.
FHI 360 supports women and girls living in poverty, through cutting-edge interventions in health, nutrition, education and economic development interventions. Not only are we implementing some of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) flagship projects on HIV care, prevention and support — we are also working with multiple donors implementing girls’ education projects as a pathway out of poverty.
We are addressing women’s poverty in value chains, small and medium businesses, and micro-lending and savings and loan activities. Equally important, we work to engage men and boys as partners and agents of positive social change.
Why prioritize attention on women and girls? For FHI 360, it comes down to three simple reasons:
- It is the right thing to do.
- It improves project outcomes.
- FHI 360 has strong political will to do so at all levels of the organization.
We aim to impact in the short, medium and long term the lives of women and girls in many countries. We want to improve women’s and girls’ current access to resources, their economic empowerment, their levels of education and their resiliency in the face of hardship.