Tagged: USAID

  • Increasing transparency and participation in the 2012 Senegalese Presidential Election

    International media coverage paints a bleak picture of how fair, open and representative many recent presidential elections have been. Thanks to Programme Gouvernance et Paix (PGP), an FHI 360-led program funded by USAID, the 2012 presidential election in Senegal saw increased transparency and also increased participation from women and youth.

    Senegal is an island of stability in a tumultuous region. Peace and democracy in Senegal have helped it become a hub for regional and international organizations that work in West Africa. And though the country has a long democratic history, there had been a regression in democratic indicators over the last ten years. FHI 360 teamed with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) to support the electoral process in Senegal.

    Before the election occurred, PGP launched a civic awareness campaign that increased voter registration by 120% in Grand Yoff, a working-class suburb of 200,000 in Dakar. This initiative worked with women’s groups and youth organizations to boost voter registration in two underrepresented demographics. The project’s daily dialogue radio campaign was so successful that AFIA FM, one of the 17 implementing stations, incorporated it as a permanent fixture.

    Beyond simply helping the public monitor the election, PGP took proactive steps to increase transparency in the pre-election period. PGP experts worked with leaders of both opposition and ruling parties to amend the election code. Negotiations reached consensus on more than 85% of issues. As a result of these negotiations, a single ballot was approved and a gender parity article was inserted. The next legislative election will, for the first time, provide gender and religious parity in the country’s General Assembly.

    Working closely with print media, PGP trained journalists to monitor elections and provide objective coverage. As a result, those reporters published more than 30 election-related articles in prominent newspapers. Youth and female journalists trained through PGP interviewed presidential candidates about issues important to their respective demographics. Subsequent monitoring by journalists and interested constituencies has confirmed that Macky Sall, the current president, is adhering to the promises he made during these interviews.

    PGP also coordinated a “situation room,” which connected election observers to a centralized technical center. This initiative, funded by USAID and implemented by local CSOs, deployed more than 1,500 election observers for each round of elections. Utilizing the mapping technology of partner OneWorldUK, the program facilitated the first real-time monitoring of a Senegalese election.

    This program exemplifies the FHI 360 tagline, The Science of Improving Lives. We know the context in which we operate — the key actors, stakeholders and issues. We used an evidence-based approach to deliver an integrated solution with measurable impacts.

  • Kosovo Teacher Innovation Recognized at International Forum

    Kosovo teachers Shkëndije Nagavci and Laura Pruthi display the award they received at the 2012 Microsoft Partners in Learning European Forum.

    Kosovo teachers Shkëndije Nagavci and Laura Pruthi were among 24 educators recognized for their innovative use of education technology at this year’s Microsoft Partners in Learning (PiL) European Forum held March 19-22 in Lisbon, Portugal. The teachers joined more than 250 educators from 40 European countries to showcase their work and exchange ideas about the effective use of technology to enhance 21st century teaching and learning. With this honor, Nagavci and Pruthi have earned the opportunity to join colleagues from around the world in the Global PiL Forum to be held this November in Athens, Greece.

    The pair qualified for the European Forum by placing first in a national competition organized by USAID’s Basic Education Program (BEP), a project managed by FHI 360, Microsoft Partners in Learning and Kosovo’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. The competition is part of BEP’s efforts to encourage educators to integrate technology in to teaching and learning practices. According to Arsim Ilazi, BEP Education Technology Coordinator, a number of information sessions were held across Kosovo encouraging teachers to participate.

    “One of BEP’s primary goals is to deliver quality professional development across a number of strategic content areas,” Ilazi said. “Effective use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for teaching and learning is embedded across each of our accredited professional development courses, even the English language course. Kosovo teachers were eager to participate in this competition and appreciated the opportunity presented by Microsoft to demonstrate their knowledge and ideas in a broader forum.”

    Nagavci and Pruthi’s project, “Fractions Everywhere,” enlisted a range of engaging activities designed to provide a better understanding of a mathematical concept many students find challenging to master. Ilazi added that in developing their approach the teachers noticed measurable improvement in their students’ mathematical knowledge and skills. “Besides that, they also found that mathematics can be fun!”

    Kosovo Ministry of Education Science and Technology official Argjend Osmani addresses participants at the BEP-Microsoft Innovative Educator Forum in Kosovo.

    “Dr. Keith Prenton, BEP Chief of Party added, “Developing teacher capacity in the effective use of technology is one of the key areas identified by USAID and the Government of Kosovo to strengthen education reform efforts in Kosovo. BEP’s Professional Development activities, together with its components focused on School Management and Assessment will provide Kosovo with many of the critical elements needed to build a 21st century education system.” Prenton is no stranger to modernizing education systems in the Balkan region. Prior to assuming the lead at BEP, he managed a similar large-scale transformation effort for FHI 360 in Macedonia, Kosovo’s southern neighbor. In fact, after a similar success at last year’s PiL European Forum, a team of Macedonian teachers qualified for the PiL Global Forum held in Washington, DC last November and placed second in the “Educator’s Choice” category. “We invited the Macedonian team to the national competition here in Kosovo this year. Their success on the European and global stage served as a great source of inspiration for the teachers here in Kosovo.”

  • FANTA – A Technical Assistance Program that Improves Nutrition for People Living with HIV

    Arénia Massingue is a master trainer from the National Nurses Association in Mozambique (Associação Nacional de Enfermeiros em Moçambique [ANEMO]). Massingue, who was trained by the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA) project on home-based nutrition care for people living with HIV (PLHIV), explains how what she learned helped her work: “We can now see a change in behavior among our beneficiaries. Before health activists started educating them about nutrition, there was a common belief that eating well was eating purchased goods. For example, many believed that the best fruit juice was the one they bought from the store, even though they had oranges in their garden. Now they know that the oranges in their garden can produce a juice that is not only cheaper, but also more nutritious.”

    Since being trained by FANTA, ANEMO master trainers trained 55 community-based organization (CBO) trainers. To date, the CBO trainers have trained 440 heath activists, home-based health care workers who provide counseling to PLHIV. PLHIV are counseled on the importance of using locally available foods in a balanced diet, management of HIV-related symptoms through diet, and potential drug-food interactions. Health activists also provide cooking demonstrations using recipes they learned during the training to help PLHIV meet their increased energy needs and eat a balanced, healthy diet. ANEMO, the Ministry of Women and Social Welfare and Ministry for Health are also working in collaboration with FANTA to integrate nutrition into the government’s official training curriculum for home-based care workers.

    FANTA is a project that works globally to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable groups through technical support to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its governmental and nongovernmental partners. The project improves nutritional outcomes by strengthening policies, programs and systems for maternal and child health and nutrition, nutrition and HIV and other infectious diseases, food security and livelihood strengthening, agriculture and nutrition linkages, and emergency assistance during nutrition crises.

    For more information about FANTA, email the project at fantamail[at]fhi360.org.

  • Video Workshops and Toolkit Offer Crash Course to Agriculture Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa

    A version of this post originally appeared on USAID’s Blog, “IMPACT”. Reposted with permission.

    Inexpensive video production has become a viable way for agricultural organizations to communicate with beneficiaries, donors, and the public. And it’s not just posting on YouTube. Devices such as handheld projectors and tablet computers have come down in price, enabling practitioners to disseminate to farmers in rural areas with minimal technology. Social networks – just a few years ago only the purview of wealthy countries – are now truly global. In regions with electricity, a well-executed video can now go viral – and become more impactful than the slickest behavior change campaigns of decades past.

    It is exciting, but that doesn’t make it simple. Organizations continue to make low quality videos that fail to engage their audience or reflect the core objectives of their project.

    To help users learn the ropes, the Fostering Agriculture Competitiveness Employing Information Communication Technologies (FACET) project has developed an online toolkit that can help one through every stage of planning, producing, and disseminating agricultural videos. It is called “Integrating Low-Cost Video into Agricultural Development Projects: A Toolkit for Practitioners,” and is available for free download.

    The toolkit is also the basis for a series of four workshops offered this month to USAID implementing partners by toolkit author Josh Woodard and myself, in Kenya, Mozambique, and Ghana. The first of the trainings was completed last week in Nairobi.

    The workshop focuses on implementing your low-cost video vision, which requires skills beyond playing Spielberg: strategically thinking about message, storyboarding narrative concepts, planning dissemination, troubleshooting inevitably buggy software, and personal perseverance, all play a role in a video’s success or failure.

    One participant, Victor Nzai, program assistant for USAID-funded Agricultural Market Development Trust of Kenya (AGMARK) project focused on agro-pastoral development, felt the training would improve his project’s ability to encourage farmers to efficiently integrate grazing range land and food production in Kenya.

    “We have been doing dissemination via field days quite successfully, but with video, we can reach many more farmers than before,” said Nzai. “We shall shoot the videos ourselves, and edit them into comprehensive tools that can be presented by a facilitator.”

    Agricultural development practitioners are looking for new ways to leverage video to circulate information and engage local farmers. Video can help them do it – but it is the holistic consideration of concept, design, and execution that will maximize chances for success.

    “Not everyone will adopt our ideas,” said Nzai. “But when we multiply the number of farmers we reach, we are able to tune our message with video to encourage farmers and pastoralists to consider better ways.”

    Learn more about using information and communication technology in agriculture.

  • Yesterday morning the White House hosted an open forum on innovation in global development. The discussion panel included Raj Shah (Administrator of USAID), Gayle Smith (Special Assistant to the President & Senior Director of the National Security Council), and Tom Kalil (Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy & Senior Advisor for Science, Technology, and Innovation, National Economic Council). Questions were taken from the public via Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat and through Facebook.

    FHI 360 submitted four questions through Twitter, and three of them were answered by the panel (though we were not directly mentioned):

    In which areas of development is innovation most urgently needed?

    The panel answered that innovation is urgently need in all sectors, but stressed food security, global health, and climate change as key focus areas.

    How can we best involve youth in the innovation conversation?

    The panel answered that it is important to engage college students in the US through university partnerships. They discussed USAID’s University Engagement program specifically, and talked about harnessing the power of the Internet to engage students in the developing world.

    How can development partners support home-grown innovation in developing countries?

    Similar to the above question, the panel talked about supporting students in developing countries and giving them platforms to voice their opinions. They also said that giving direct support to innovative projects and building networks of partnerships were important to foster home-grown innovation.

    What do you think? Let us know in the comments, or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

    For more information about the White House’s innovation initiatives, check out their fact sheet, “Harnessing Innovation for Global Development.”

  • 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

  • In Kenya, where more than half of young people are unemployed, 22-year-old Boniface Kirang’a has watched many friends in Flax, his hometown near the Rift Valley town of Eldoret, get involved in petty crime, partying and drinking alcohol.

    But Kirang’a escaped the traps of crime and substance abuse. He went through a two-year automotive mechanic training through APHIAplus (AIDS, Population, and Health Integrated Assistance), a USAID-funded FHI 360 program to improve health in 16 Rift counties. Today, Kirang’a is a self-employed car repairman.

    As part of its comprehensive commitment to health, APHIAplus prevents and treats communicable illnesses such as HIV, AIDS or tuberculosis; assists families affected by HIV; runs programs to reduce hunger; and develops economic opportunities for the region’s residents.

    Like many Kenyan youth, Kirang’a had struggled to stay in school. His father was diagnosed with HIV, and when his condition worsened, the family lost vital income.

    “My father started being sickly in 1999,” when Kirang’a was 10 years old. “He had two butcheries, but he shut them down because of his illness. He died in 2003. After my father died, we returned to our original home in Nyahururu [in central Kenya]. We lived in my grandmother’s home. Life was hard because we were many in the family,” he said in Kiswahili.

    When the family returned to Eldoret, Kirang’a stayed with a relative until he finished primary school in 2004. The uncle “could not educate me after that. He had seven children of his own. I started keeping chickens, which I sold to buy food and clothes. I also worked as shamba boy,” tending crops in cleared forestland.

    But Kirang’a’s uncle got him a scholarship from the Mission Sisters of Mary Immaculate, a community-based organization that partners with APHIAplus. With the bursary, he was able to go to the polytechnical institute, said Kirang’a.

    Since graduating from the institute, Kirang’a joined a group of mechanics in the fast-growing town of Eldoret. He’s doing his share to make sure that young people have chances to learn and develop skills. With his knowhow and earnings, he is saving to build his mother a house and pay for his younger brother’s school fees. In the future, he plans to hire three apprentices from the mechanics institute.

  • Small beginnings, big impact

    I have always believed in the power of microcredit to change lives. A visit to rabbit farmer George Kihanya’s home in the Kenya Rift Valley District convinced me beyond all doubt. Kihanya’s success shows that if well implemented, community-based credit and savings schemes can turn around the lives of many rural families.

    In 2002, Kihanya was caring for his ailing mother. Newly married, he eked out a living growing maize, beans and potatoes.

    Kihanya’s fortunes changed after he started keeping rabbits. Now, he earns on average Sh60,000 (US$650) a month.

    Kihanya was introduced to rabbit farming during a course organized by the Catholic Relief Services, one of the partners in the APHIAPlus program led by FHI.
    Kihanya was chosen by his local church to be trained as a community health worker. He, along with other volunteers, was trained on how to prevent diseases, including HIV, and to link vulnerable children and families to HIV treatment, care and support. Volunteers also learned about farming and other activities, including rabbit farming, to improve food security for their families and communities.

    Inspired by Kihanya’s success, scores of families in the community are now earning money by raising rabbits.

  • Fatuma: A beacon of hope for families affected by HIV

    I first met Fatuma Juma about a year ago in her home town of Nakuru, Kenya, a two-hour drive northwest of Nairobi. A 42-year-old single mother of three, Fatuma is naturally talkative and laughs a lot. Within minutes of meeting, we were chatting like old friends reunited. Fatuma told me how she overcame the shock of finding out she was HIV-positive to become a pillar of hope for many in her community.

    Six years ago, Fatuma had a persistent cough. She visited the local public hospital where doctors discovered she had tuberculosis. Health workers advised her to take a test for HIV. She was HIV-positive.

    She lived in denial until she met social workers in APHIAPlus, a USAID-funded program implemented by FHI in collaboration with the Kenya Council of Imams and Ulamas.

    The social workers counseled and helped her to join a support group. Fatuma was trained as a peer educator and community health worker.
    Due to her positive attitude and willingness to help others, Fatuma has established a reputation as a good counselor. Working with others in the program, she helps families, especially the children, get health care and other services such as education and business skills. Her inspiring story is one of triumph and resilience against major odds.