Economic Development

  • Protecting children from the unintended consequences of economic strengthening programs

    econstrength_degrees_smIt is a common belief that programs designed to increase household income will automatically have positive effects on children. In fact, the evidence shows that this assumption cannot be taken for granted. In some cases, the interventions that increase household economic activities actually lead to greater problems for children and youth, such as more child labor and less school attendance, particularly in the short term.

    For the past five years, the Child Protection in Crisis (CPC) Network and the Supporting Transformation by Reducing Insecurity and Vulnerability with Economic Strengthening (STRIVE) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and managed by FHI 360, have sought to understand how economic strengthening programs affect children living in poverty and in humanitarian crises. To better inform practitioners, they collaborated to create Children and Economic Strengthening Projects: Maximizing Benefits and Minimizing Harm, a new guide that explains how economic interventions can achieve better outcomes and impacts for children ages 0–18.

    Rooted in field experience, the guide shows how to mitigate the unintended threats to children from economic strengthening activities and ways to maximize benefits to children, whether they are the direct or indirect beneficiaries. The guide draws on the extensive child protection expertise of the CPC Task Force, the STRIVE project’s experience in facilitating cross-sectoral collaborations, and recognized best practices for market-based economic strengthening programming.1

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  • ROADS II: Transforming corridors of risk into pathways of prevention and hope

  • FHI 360 livelihoods project hosts Twitter chat and launches new website

    On May 23rd, from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. EDT, FHI 360’s Livelihoods and Food Security Technical Assistance (LIFT) project, Agrilinks and USAID Global Health will be co-hosting an #AskAg Twitter chat on the “Intersection of HIV/AIDS and Food Security” as a part of Global Health month at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

    Twitter chats are virtual social media conversations on specific topics. The Agrilinks’ #AskAg series is a monthly event that convenes different partners to discuss current topics in agriculture and food security. These events leverage social media to facilitate new types of knowledge exchange between technical experts and chat participants from around the world. This month, we’ll have a panel of expert tweeters, including LIFT’s Meaghan Murphy, to discuss approaches to improve food security, particularly for those affected by HIV or AIDS.

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  • Development professionals who want to create effective interventions that improve the well-being of children and youth must have an in-depth understanding of how young people spend their time. Time-use research yields valuable, contextual data that can inform the design and implementation of interventions and the measurement of outcomes. This data sheds light on key measures of well-being, including school attendance, access to opportunities for play and socialization, safety, child labor and gender inequalities. Tracking changes in time use can also help projects identify successes and risks to children so that practitioners can suggest appropriate adjustments to interventions.

    Traditionally, this information has been gathered from adults. That input, however, can be skewed by the value adults place on certain activities, which is why it is important to work directly with children and youth to gather information on their time use.

    FHI 360’s Supporting Transformation by Reducing Insecurity and Vulnerability with Economic Strengthening (STRIVE) project developed a tool and guide for child-friendly, participatory rapid appraisal (PRA) to help with these efforts: The Time Use PRA Guide and Toolkit for Child and Youth Development Practitioners.

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  • New Video Highlights Benefits of Family Planning to Microfinance Clients in India

    FPquoteImagine millions of women who want to limit their family size or space their next birth, but can’t because they lack access to family planning. Imagine that many of these women have no knowledge of family planning at all. Hard to imagine after decades of national and global investments in health? This is the reality for many families around the world, particularly in developing countries, where approximately 222 million women have an unmet need for family planning.

    Innovative approaches to reach people with family planning information and services are critical. Under FHI 360’s PROGRESS (Program Research for Strengthening Services) project —a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development to improve family planning services among underserved populations in developing countries — a key strategy is to move beyond the health sector to reach women and men of reproductive age who need family planning but might not otherwise have access to it. As non-health development programs reach a large proportion of the world’s poor, PROGRESS builds on these networks to bring family planning information and services to communities. Family planning has been shown to contribute to the broader development goals of poverty reduction, enhanced education, environmental sustainability and gender equality, and therefore fits well with the goals of non-health development programs. Currently, PROGRESS supports several intervention-based studies on integrating family planning into non-health programs such as agriculture, environment and microfinance.

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  • Many of us who spend our time in the youth sexual and reproductive health (YSRH) world don’t often cross paths with those in the business of economic empowerment and livelihoods programs for young people. Although both worlds are aware of the converging paths, funding streams generally keep us operating on parallel roads. Therefore, I was pleased to facilitate a panel session this morning at the conference: “Exploring the Intersection of Adolescent Girls’ Reproductive Health and Economic Empowerment.” During a lively session, panelists shared their experiences with both issues for girls. Some of the themes were:

    • Even though we are aware of the problem, the data on SRH and economic empowerment for girls, taken together for developing countries, is shocking. The rates of HIV, maternal mortality and morbidity, poverty and isolation paint a dismal picture for girls.
    • Programs that target girls and adults in the community, with messages on both SRH and economic empowerment, are showing some successes. There’s more to learn, but results are encouraging.
    • Models that incorporate peer education and work with girls on SRH and economic empowerment show positive results: the Tesfa program led by the International Center for Research on Women, the Siyakha Nentsha program in South Africa led by Population Council, and a program by Restless Development in Northern Uganda all included a peer education component.
    • Reducing social isolation seems key for increasing both SRH and economic outcomes for girls. Girls need access to other girls for many reasons, but importantly, to give them an outlet to talk about themselves: their ideas, dreams and goals.
    • It’s important to work with the adults, not just the girls. Teachers, parents and faith leaders all play roles in girls’ lives, and we need to get them on board with difficult topics. Sex and money are not easy to discuss with young people, and the adults need to build their skills to do it.

    Today’s session initiated some vital discussion about next steps. It’s my hope that the two worlds of SRH and economic empowerment for young people will start to cross more often and begin to operate more closely together. This year’s conference is an encouraging step toward that. Look for more information on this topic, including a research brief and e-forum, by visiting the Interagency Youth Working Group website.

  • How do you target young people effectively? Start by knowing how they spend their time.

    Understanding how children and youth spend their time is crucial for designing effective development interventions that improve their well-being. Child time-use studies provide a tested way of shedding light on this essential topic. Perception of time varies by culture, gender, and age; youth perceive time differently than adults. The value attributed to how youth spend their time often differs among cultures. For example, in many societies girls tend to engage in home-based, non-economic chores, while boys engage in economic labor away from home. Economic labor is often more highly valued than the home-based labor, profoundly affecting how girls and boys perceive themselves and their value and place within the household. The interdependence of people within the household and the value placed on their work (at home, away from home, economic or not) influences well-being. Young people often value work in the same way they perceive that their parents do.

    Knowing where youth are and when

    When designing youth-focused programming, one key step is to understand where the target beneficiaries are throughout the day, so as to know when and where to engage them. Some labor youth engage in is designed to limit their autonomy (“keep them busy and out of trouble”).Other activities, despite being labeled as labor, provide outlets for young people to interact with people their own age with limited or no supervision. Fetching water or going to the market are two common examples. How the target beneficiaries value their time and perceive their freedom to make choices (personal agency) will affect their interest, willingness and ability to partake of project activities designed to benefit them.

    The best source of information about time-use is the youth themselves. Children as young as eight can work together in groups to describe how they spend their time. With youth groups, a facilitator can provide a framework and instructions before stepping away to provide the youth space for private discussion.

    Tools for measuring time-use

    While there are several time-use tools, a quick, efficient tool for measuring how youth spend their time is through participatory rapid appraisals, which use mapping and day/time grids and photos or drawings of places and activities. The STRIVE program has employed this tool successfully in the Philippines with children from households engaged in seaweed farming and weaving. In about one hour, you can understand:

    • Where youth are and when
    • The routes and means of transportation between locations/activities
    • Where and when you might locate your intervention
    • Where safety might be an issue
    • How your target beneficiaries perceive time and value their current activities

    For more information on the importance of child time-use studies, see Ben-Arieh, A. & A. Ofir (2002) Time for (More) Time-Use Studies: Studying the Daily Activities of Children. Childhood, 9(2), 225-248.

  • Beyond Euro 2012: Public–Private Partnerships Improve Public Services in Ukraine

    This past June, Ukraine and Poland welcomed five million fans to the 24-day soccer tournament called Euro 2012. The event introduced spectators to the hosts’ rich cultures and histories, as well as their new roads, fresh stadiums and rejuvenated restaurants and hotels.

    But beyond these event-inspired improvements, Ukraine is a country in need of serious repair. Old and inadequate water treatment facilities leave many citizens without clean water in their homes. Solid waste disposal still relies largely on open dumps. Seaports and airports need restructuring and maintenance. And roads and bridges show signs of years of neglect.

    Lack of investment in public infrastructure is particularly noticeable at the local level. The World Bank estimates local investment needs of $25 billion over the next 10 years to fund basic housing and public services, including health care, education and transportation.

    To address Ukraine’s infrastructure needs, FHI 360 is facilitating partnerships between the government and businesses to draw on the strengths of both parties. The public sector establishes the social priorities of the people, and the private sector helps finance and manage public services.

    The core of FHI 360’s Public–Private Partnership Development Program, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is a series of six pilot projects. Staff are currently working with local stakeholders in the areas of solid waste management, urban parking, improvement of health care facilities and services, and city park management.

    In order for any of these projects to take root, however, municipal government leaders, local business owners, potential donors and the citizenry must all be on board. One study FHI 360 commissioned showed that respondents are willing to pay for services if they see a tangible benefit to their quality of life. Still, Ukrainians are hesitant to trust public–private partnerships because they are concerned about corruption and a lack of transparency.

    In response, FHI 360 has launched media tours, town hall meetings, training sessions and conferences. The campaign is not only raising awareness on the benefits of public–private partnerships, it is also providing a way for stakeholders to address their concerns.

    At a forum on public–private partnerships, which FHI 360 helped organize, participants discussed how the model might work in their country. Local government and business representatives also explored opportunities for future cooperation.

    Yuriy Kaptyukh, Deputy Mayor of Zaporizhya, expressed his appreciation for the forum. “It has been very useful to share concrete examples of public–private partnerships being developed in Ukraine. It gives confidence to those municipalities and leaders who, prior to the forum, doubted the concept and thought such an endeavor was too fraught with complications to attempt.”

  • Only the Start

    This timely event was only the start of a very important conversation. We invite you to join us and our partners – PSI, PATH, ONE, and World Vision – and lend your voice to the conversation taking place at #WhyForeignAid.

    Tell Us – Why is Foreign Aid Important?

    To add to this important discussion, watch the video below and give us your thoughts by including #WhyForeignAid in your tweets. Follow the conversation, stay engaged and help us keep this discussion strong.

    • How does foreign aid improve lives?
    • Why is foreign aid is so important for building stronger economies, saving lives?
    • What are examples of funds well spent?
    • Why do Americans need to care?

     

  • On October 3rd, experts will come together to discuss how 1% of the US federal budget builds stronger economies, saves lives, and protects our borders. Tune in to watch the event live  while you add to the discussion on twitter using the hashtag #WhyForeignAid.

    This lively discussion will look at the incredible return on investment of U.S. development efforts in global health and how they contribute to building new markets for more products, preventing the proliferation of disease across borders and ensuring better health for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

    View the list of speakers here

    USAID Fact Sheet:

    The Power of 1% and Global Health: Saving Lives, Improving Economic Opportunity, Promoting Security

    Press Release:

    The Power of 1%: What Americans Get for Investments in Global Health