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Women in Ghana: Are We Helping Them Feed the Future?

July 12th, 2012
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See below for a guest post from MFAN Partner Women Thrive Worldwide. This piece is the first in our series that features reporting on how the President’s global development policy is being implemented in the field. Click here to learn more about the series.

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More than one in four people worldwide – at least 1.6 billion – are women who live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Women in developing countries grow most of their food on small plots of land and are often responsible for feeding their families. But they also face serious constraints: they are pressed for time, often do not own the land they farm, and have less access to credit, equipment, extension services, and training, just to name a few. Until recently, agriculture and food security programs did not recognize or try to address these gender-specific constraints.

Feed the Future, USAIDs largest program in decades focused on long-term investment in agriculture and food security, has sought to change that. Feed the Future’s program is threefold.  It includes:(1) gender, (2) gender analysis, and (3) a new Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index that seeks to inform all investments by measuring women’s empowerment relative to men in their household. The Index looks at decision-making, access to resources, control over income, community leadership, and time management.

Ghana is one of the countries targeted by Feed the Future.  Agriculture accounts for about 30 percent of Ghana’s GDP and has been a major focus of its government since 2009, when it signed the CAADP (Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program) compact. Feed the Future seeks to work with the private sector, civil society, and the government in Ghana to reduce poverty and transform the agricultural sector (especially the production of maize, rice, and soy).  Gender is recognized and integrated as a priority in the implementation with a particular focus on Northern Ghana and coastal fishing communities.

Progress has been slow even with all these ingredients in place, according to Ghanaian farmer Lydia Sasu, a Women Thrive partner. In addition to her role as Executive Director of the Accra-based NGO Development Action Association, she sits on several steering committees, has participated in key consultations with USAID, and is active in the local community.

Sasu observed that while some plans do seem to be in motion, the process isn’t as transparent as she and other farmers would like. While she has been consulted on several projects through the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge and Africa Lead, Lydia hears very little feedback after she submits her comments. Lydia recently told Women Thrive that at this point, she’s not even sure where some of the major projects will be located. And after speaking with a colleague who works in another region, Lydia reported to us that in terms of connecting with local women farmers, the U.S. government has been very slow. Essentially, it’s one big waiting game, where information flows to the government, but not back to the farmers who are impacted by new programs.

Local NGOs like the Development Action Association, rooted within the communities they serve, best represent the voices and interests of the women Feed the Future is trying to reach. Getting local input on the front end is a positive step, but whether this is accounted for and translated into planning and implementation is still an open question. Clearly, much more needs to be done to engage communities and ensure that investments planned for agriculture are effective.

For more information on how gender is integrated in Feed the Future please click here. And for more information about Lydia Sasu and her work in Ghana, click here.

 

Mark Your Calendars — Week of July 16, 2012

July 12th, 2012
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Every Thursday, MFAN will post a list of upcoming events for the following week. For more information about each event and to RSVP, click on the links below. If your organization is hosting an event next week and you don’t see yourself on the list, please email info@modernizeaid.net.

See below for a list of MFAN Partner events:

 

MFAN Statement: Administration Chooses Not to Remedy Leadership, Coordination Issues That Ail Global Health Programs

July 10th, 2012
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July 10, 2012 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe:

The Obama Administration unfortunately yielded to inertia and interagency turf battles in deciding not to move leadership of the Global Health Initiative (GHI), America’s largest development program, to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), our premier development agency.

Transferring GHI leadership to USAID would have begun much-needed integration of our health programs into a more unified development structure, thereby strengthening our ability to take a holistic and strategic approach to alleviating poverty, fighting disease and driving economic growth in developing countries in the future.

We are concerned that our partners on the ground will continue to be confused about global health leadership and coordination, which will hamper efforts to effectively transition ownership of development programs to recipient countries. In addition, the practice of providing separate earmarks for development programs, which the Administration had specifically highlighted for reform, will continue to force agencies to compete against each other for dollars, rather than focus on cooperation and results. Viewed through these lenses, the Administration may have undermined its own landmark efforts to increase development effectiveness and accountability.

We cannot afford to let up on major reforms like this if we hope to show leadership and push further development progress in an era of economic and foreign policy challenges.

 

Field Feedback Series

July 10th, 2012
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Over the past few months, MFAN members have been reviewing the information on our Policy to Action microsite to better understand how U.S. government agencies working on development issues are implementing the President’s global development policy (click here for MFAN Co-Chair Jim Kolbe’s review of USTR and click here for Jim Kunder’s review of USAID). But if we are to read between the lines of the agency responses, we can see that implementation can break down between Washington and field programs throughout the developing world.

To better understand how the global development policy, and key presidential initiatives, are being put into practice in the field, we reached out to our network of implementing partners. These partners, whose field operations exist in countries from Afghanistan to Zambia, have spoken with local civil society to paint a picture of how reforms dictated from Washington are or are not bringing about real change for individuals, families, and communities suffering from poverty and disease.

This blog series will feature reporting from:

  • Oxfam America
  • Women Thrive Worldwide
  • Save the Children
  • PATH
  • Mercy Corps
  • Management Sciences for Health

Where applicable, we have asked our partners to provide further insight into how programs, such as the Feed the Future initiative, are working in countries that were specifically referenced in the response letters we received from various U.S. agencies. To read the agency responses and learn more about the microsite click here.

 

Roundup of #AidTransparency Tweets

July 5th, 2012
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In the interest of being transparent, below we’ve listed the tweets received through our aid transparency contest. Thanks to all who participated! Click here for a list of the winners and stay tuned for more on why aid transparency is important.

PorterMcConnell: #Aidtransparency, because citizens have a right to know what’s happening in their country. @ModernizeAid

MomsGetReal: @ModernizeAid @ONECampaign #Aidtransparency is crucial for ensuring incoming $$ goes further, helps people in need, with no hidden agenda!

*Semi-finalist karli_nicole: @modernizeaid we need #aidtransparency so we are humbly helping through partnership rather than inadvertently ruling by creating dependence.

NicoleCavino: #Aidtransparency ensures our $ benefits all-alleviates poverty abroad and creates business opportunities here at home. @ModernizeAid

USGLC: The more we learn about the good we do around the world, the more ownership we feel over our investment. #Aidtransparency @ModernizeAid

curry_nelson: @ModernizeAid: Loosen the blindfold: let us see your world. Efficient management means effective aid, and opportunity. #Aidtransparency

6t6qt: Need to globalize the defn of aid effectiveness. Enable crowd sourcing / collaboration by opening kimono.   @ModernizeAid  #Aidtransparency

maryrmendes: @ModernizeAid Citizens in #developingcountries know what aid their government is receiving & can monitor where it is going  #Aidtransparency

AidData: @Modernizeaid #Aidtransparency enables better collaboration and decision making

NoraInPalestine: #Aidtransparency is important so we can hold and be held accountable. @ModernizeAid

thehungerstrike: #aidtransparency is important so that we can all work together for greater good, instead of against each other for less. @modernizeaid

ONECampaign: #aidtransparency rocks b/c it ensures that we’re delivering the biggest impact possible in terms of poverty reduction. @modernizeaid

Redroserocker: @ONECampaign @ModernizeAid Trans anything concerns me for so far the TRANS-parency campaign has been un-transparent & Sneaky cloudy instead

MarkShaw30: @ModernizeAid Make sure money isn’t being thrown away! Bring on #AidTransparency

fruitmmonster: @ModernizeAid #Aidtransparency Form my field experience cause n 1 of non-dev is lack of transparency from both govs and orgs.

UnaManoUnCuore: As billions of beneficiaries deserve better livelihoods, agencies owe it to all involved to @ModernizeAid & #transparency. #knowledgeispower

total_solo: Aid is crucial b/c it saves lives an prevents suffering and w/o #aidtransparency the potential of it is vastly undermined @ModernizeAid

AidData: @ComeAgainGod It’s a process, not an end goal. There’s always work to be done. It takes ALL of us to make #transparency work! @ModernizeAid

USADF: @ModernizeAid  Recepients can participate and direct in their own development #Aidtransparency

SGS_RFKennedy: #AidTransparency is req’d to assess effectiveness & IMPACT on #humanrights & 2 allow PARTICIPATION, key standards in int’l law @modernizeaid

*Semi-finalist StephPostar: We need #AidTransparency to increase accountability for all involved in foreign assistance programs. Knowledge=power @ModernizeAid

WomenThrive: “Women’s orgs report that without timely, complete info & #AidTransparency they can’t accessing critical funding. @ModernizeAid”

Bfry420: #AidTransparency is important work for influence, all meanings of the word, for a result, verification,& progress @ONECampaign @ModernizeAid

*Semi-finalist SeanKHiggins: #Aidtransparency enhances collaboration between donors and recipients and holds both accountable and responsible for change @ModernizeAid

DuncanMaru: observation drives innovation, #Aidtransparency drives effectiveness, a moral imperative to @ModernizeAid

*Grand Prize Winner nmcchoi: #Aidtransparency is a force multiplier. Helps us listen, learn, innovate, insist on results.  @ModernizeAid

freebalance: #Aidtransparency thru #IATI will @ModernizeAid will end #DeadAid debate, cut reporting costs, identify #aideffectiveness good practices

*Semi-finalist joemason733: @ModernizeAid @ONECampaign Why is aid transparency important? To silence the critics, ensure justice, meet desperate need. #Aidtransparency

sarahtlucas: #aidtransparency matters for learning what works and being accountable for what doesn’t @ModernizeAid

lixxyis: @ONECampaign @ModernizeAid .so right . modernise now.

synisys: @ModernizeAid Empowers recipient governments to drive the aid process, and reduces duplication of efforts among donors #Aidtransparency

mearnyee: @modernizeaid,  the need is for global unity.  #aidtransparency will insure that global agencies are held accountable for funding & spending

KDCaulfeild: @ModernizeAid Hi, if we don’t have transparency we have suspicion & lies :D

trway1: @modernizeaid I think #aidtransparancy is important becoz EveryOne deserves 2see wats happening w/aid.

wholepoint: @ONECampaign @ModernizeAid because one promotes oneness!!!

ChiquitaBlndita: @ModernizeAid The importance of #aidtransparency is vital to securing public trust and financial support for critical social justice work!

HighwayStarrrr: @ONECampaign @ModernizeAid #aidtransparency is important for the simple reason that truth is paramount, especially with lives at stake.

ukmav: @ONECampaign @ModernizeAid Aid transparency matters because it shows what we give goes where it is needed NOT to corrupt officials

PrettyOddrey: @modernizeaid We need #aidtransparency so resources find their way to assist those in poverty instead of sitting in greedy hands.

NikkyMiles: @modernizeaid #aidtransparency is important… the money isn’t meant for government but for people, we shall know w/ and how much of it goes

RFeddypoo: @ModernizeAid To help ensure that results are being delivered effectively and efficiently and thus, making a difference. #aidtransparency

cinwall01: @ONECampaign @ModernizeAid Sets in motion planning to never allow aides to be forgotton  while taking action now. All have a role.

yeEthiopialoga: @ModernizeAid  cos it’s a sign of commitment, accountability and democracy.

pacbrandeis: It’s time to @ModernizeAid because money well spent saves lives. We need #Aidtransparency to reduce waste, corruption, and gaps in funding.

jenna_strolls: @NGOAidMap @modernizeaid W/ aid contributions decreasing, #Aidtransparency is crucial so every $ makes as big a difference as possible!

AidEx2012: #aidtransparency so we can distinguish the honest & efficient aid from murky self-promotion at the expense of those in need! @ModernizeAid

WomenThrive: Why #aidtransparency asks @modernizeaid. If you can’t stand proud next to your aid in front of the whole world, then why are you giving it?

freebalance: Thru #aidtransparency, we will know where the money went & how effective it was spent, so @modernizeaid = discussing facts, not myths

*Semi-finalist Jon_Scanlon: #Aidtransparency is important because it’s 1 thing that 50+ bipartisan members of the House can agree on http://t.co/UaHg4qZr @ModernizeAid