Interviews

  • Creating and sustaining economic opportunity in Ukraine

    What is the Public–Private Partnerships Development Program in Ukraine?

    The Public–Private Partnerships Development Program (P3DP) is a five-year initiative to help Ukraine’s national and municipal governments engage the private sector in improving the country’s infrastructure and public services through effective public–private partnerships (PPP). When implemented, successful PPPs can directly benefit both individuals and communities, supporting greater confidence in government’s ability to deliver needed services to its citizens, and enhance a country’s economic competiveness. P3DP is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and led by FHI 360, with additional field expertise provided by the William Davidson Institute of the University of Michigan.

    What are the objectives of P3DP?

    P3DP has five key objectives: Improve the PPP legal and policy frameworks to create a viable environment for long-term contracts; establish a PPP unit within the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine to ensure continuity of legal and policy improvements; develop the capacity of individuals and institutions to implement and sustain PPPs; implement a series of pilot PPPs across the country in key sectors; and integrate environmentally conscious practices throughout each pilot.

    What progress have you made so far?

    P3DP helped to establish a standing PPP unit within the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. This was an important step toward increasing national and municipal capacity to partner with the private sector. FHI 360 has worked closely with this unit to determine the most viable and attractive sectors in which to develop pilot partnerships.

    P3DP has also held trainings, practical workshops, study tours, large conferences and other informational opportunities on PPPs to build interest and trust in the process of developing and sustaining public–private partnerships. By laying this groundwork, Ukraine is now ripe, from a legal and policy standpoint, for PPP opportunities. Even in these times of political uncertainty, opportunities for PPPs exist. When stability returns, the use of PPPs is expected to grow dramatically.

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  • Center on Technology and Disability: Leveling the field for all learners

    What is the Center on Technology and Disability and how is it unique?

    FHI 360’s Center on Technology and Disability is a collaborative effort with American Institutes for Research, PACER Center and an experienced team of researchers and practitioners. Together, these partners strengthen the ability of individuals and institutions to understand and embrace evidence-based technology, tools and strategies that level the playing field for children and youth with disabilities in the United States.

    The scope of FHI 360’s collaboration is unique in terms of audience reach and the breadth and depth of professional and personal development activities. Individually, each organization has made major contributions to technology and education. Combined, the CTD team will make available to the field the most influential and knowledgeable thought leaders in assistive and instructional technology. CTD will provide accessible information resources and universal and targeted technical assistance to children and youth with disabilities, families and service providers, state and local education and health agencies, teachers, teacher preparation programs, researchers, parent training and information centers, and family advocacy organizations.

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  • LitScan 360: An innovative digital tool to improve global reading outcomes

    What is LitScan 360? How does it work?

    LitScan 360 is a tool based on Literacy 360°, FHI 360’s comprehensive, child-centered approach to literacy improvement in primary schools. The LitScan 360 app can be used on a tablet or smartphone. It collects customized data on the factors that affect literacy, such as teachers, instruction, materials, school leadership, school curriculum, policy, community and family, as well as societal practices and beliefs related to inclusive education, gender, language and culture.

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  • Improving global nutrition through stronger food systems

    This year’s World Food Day focuses on sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition. What is the relationship between food systems and nutritional outcomes?

    Through various initiatives — such as the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Initiative, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement and the 1,000 Days Partnership — the international community has made a significant commitment to improving nutrition around the world. To meet the goals of these efforts, we need to focus not only on clinical interventions to address malnutrition, but also on safe, healthy food systems that can lead to more sustainable, scalable results.

    A focus on food systems means making investments that put the right information and resources in the hands of communities and households to prevent malnutrition in a number of areas: improved dietary quality and food consumption (especially during the 1,000 days from conception to a child’s second birthday), better child-feeding practices, increased access to and availability of higher quality water and sanitation services, and healthier and more diverse agricultural production choices. Food systems should also include equity considerations, such as offering women and other economically disadvantaged groups greater opportunities to grow and earn from the production of nutritious food.

    Most of the world’s population at risk of malnutrition either grows its own food or buys it in local markets. In the past, agricultural programs focused on increasing the amount of food available. We now understand that healthy food systems should also focus on the production and availability of diverse foods that provide the nutrients needed for adequate nutrition and health. This is particularly important in order to prevent malnutrition in populations most at risk — children under two and pregnant and lactating women. Issues about food safety, which emerge all along the value chain — from the choice of inputs to the processing of foods — are also crucial to consider if we are to protect consumers’ health and nutrition.

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  • Mobile money offers a unique opportunity for human development

    What is mobile money? How does it work?

    Many people in developing countries, particularly in rural areas, do not have bank accounts or live near a bank branch. It can be difficult and expensive for them to make simple financial transactions, such as cashing a government check. Mobile money allows people to use mobile phones or other mobile devices, which are increasingly more available, to transfer money and make payments or deposits.

    The mobile money process is straightforward. Local stores and businesses serve as “cash-in, cash-out” agents. In general, when users get funds sent to their phones, they receive a code that they show to an agent. The agent finds the code in a system and then allows the user to withdraw the funds. When users do not withdraw all of their funds, mobile money functions like a savings account. Mobile money systems differ by country, depending on the regulations governing electronic payments. It is a fast-changing field, because a wide variety of mobile financial products, such as savings accounts, are just now becoming popular around the world.

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    Promoting a culture of compliance

    What is meant by global compliance? Why is it so important?

    Global compliance covers global operations. Like a lot of large, international organizations, FHI 360 works in a complex regulatory world. Complying with rules and regulations is challenging but vital to our credibility and effectiveness. This is an issue that is important to our funders, our Board of Directors and our senior management.

    Why is this topic so timely?

    We are responding to the needs of funders, who have increased their scrutiny of organizations. A lot of organizations are now developing compliance programs. Just about every day, you read about issues involving fraud and embezzlement. Ten years ago, you would have heard less about it. Today, there is a push to put resources into compliance. It is definitely a trend in the industry and is a priority at FHI 360.

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    Questions and Answers: An interview with Patrick Fine, Chief Operating Officer, FHI 360

    What excites you about joining FHI 360 and what are you most looking forward to?

    The most exciting thing for me is the opportunity to work with such an accomplished and committed group of people who know how to deliver results. There are not many organizations that bring together the breadth and depth of expertise and experience that make FHI 360 what it is. But it is not just technical expertise and good practice. FHI 360 is an organization with heart, filled with people who genuinely care. I love that.

    Tell us about your background before joining FHI 360.

    I’ve always had a love of people, language and culture. So when I graduated from university, Peace Corps was a natural step for me. That started me on the path that has brought me to FHI 360.

    Why did you choose a career in human development?

    I think that human development chose me. My early travels had a powerful influence on me. I was drawn to places rich in history and culture, but not necessarily rich in material wealth. Probably the most life-changing experience I had was in Pakistan’s Hindu Kush mountains, where a group of Kuchi nomads found me seriously ill in a remote mountain hut and spent several days nursing me back to health.

    The kindness and hospitality I have encountered from strangers in many places taught me the value of caring about each other and that the things that separate us pale in comparison to our basic humanity. This belief in humanity is at the core of what motivates me. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that it is not just important from a moral or human perspective, but that it is also essential to build a world that is worth living in: one where our nation — and other nations — are safe and prosperous. Perhaps drawing from my rural Missouri roots, I tend to look at the world as a community and believe that it is important to be a good neighbor. That means helping your neighbor in need.

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  • The theme of International Women’s Day 2013 is The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum. How have we made progress on gender equality?

    We have made a lot of progress since Hillary Clinton has been in the leadership position of Secretary of State. Clinton pushed to have the development, diplomatic and even the defense communities pay attention to gender in the U.S. foreign policy arena. In addition, last year the U.S. gender policy was updated for the first time in thirty years. That was a big step forward. Gender is not only about women and girls. Gender is about the relationships between men and women, as well as the social dynamics and the norms that frequently lead to women and girls being at a disadvantage in many societies.

    How does FHI 360 integrate a gender perspective into its work?

    We developed a Gender Integration Framework, which is a set of guidelines that encourages FHI 360 staff working on programs and research to take gender issues into consideration from the start of a project through implementation. We formed a gender advisory council, which includes representatives from all of our major business units. We are also looking strategically at how we can include gender issues in proposals, provide technical assistance to our projects and more effectively talk about gender to our external audiences. I would say there is a lot of momentum and commitment to implementing our Gender Integration Framework.

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  • Addressing grievances and giving everyone a voice are key to peacebuilding

    How does conflict affect a country’s long-term development?

    Violent conflict sets a country’s development back decades, especially when it is protracted as it was in Sri Lanka and as it is currently in the Casamance region of Senegal. Even countries that create peace agreements but do not address the grievances or the sources of conflict are more likely to experience conflict again within 10 years. It is critical to work on mitigating and managing conflict in countries. Otherwise, we are simply pouring hundreds of millions of development dollars into a country and seeing those gains wiped out by violent conflict. That is why working on conflict is so critical.

    How do we deal with conflict?

    The first step is understanding the grievances that led to the conflict. Grievances can arise in a number of areas and can be found across many sectors. Because we are a global organization that works across sectors — such as health, education, economic development and the environment — we are able to address specific grievances in these different sectors.

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  • To Get a Jump on Bullying, Start with Young Children and the School Culture

    October is National Bullying Prevention Month. How should we address bullying in schools?

    Our research, which included in-class observations and focus groups with teachers and parents, found that bullying and teasing were prevalent in early childhood and early elementary grades. It’s important to look at behavior in the early grades because bullying progresses as children get older.

    We also address the issue school-wide, not just in the classroom. Our philosophy is to create a proactive climate where bullying is not an acceptable part of the culture. It’s very important to create a school-wide approach where differences are appreciated so that they don’t become triggers for bullying and teasing.

    How does this approach empower adults and children?

    We reach out to all adults who are involved with children at school, including parents and non-teaching staff such as paraprofessionals and bus drivers. We found that when bullying or teasing occurred when an adult was present, the adult did not intervene 75 percent of the time. To the children, it appeared that the incident was ignored. But often, adults don’t deal with bullying and teasing because they don’t know how. We offer adults strategies that help them intervene appropriately.

    We also help children understand that they shouldn’t just stand by when someone is being bullied. Our approach teaches them that while they shouldn’t put themselves in harm’s way, they should “do the right thing” — say something or get an adult to help.

    How has this approach worked?

    We found that after working with everyone — teachers, parents and children — adults did a complete turnaround and now intervened appropriately 75 percent of the time. Bullying and teasing incidents were down by a third. The results were the same in various school settings. So it works.

    If there’s a lot of bullying and teasing, teachers cannot teach and students cannot learn. Many teachers tell us that addressing bullying and teasing proactively creates more time for learning because of the change in the classroom environment.

    What’s the next step?

    Cyberbullying has taken the problem to a completely different level. If you’re a target, you can’t even be safe at home because the bullying is on the Web. Children have access to technology at younger ages, such as the third-grader with a cell phone or the young child playing games on an iPad. We’re beginning to talk with teachers, parents and children to develop age-appropriate strategies to address cyberbullying. Technology is part of their world, and they need to be able to navigate it safely.