Greenwire <http://www.greenwire.com>

An E&E Publishing Service

 

WATER: Stakeholders press Obama on foreign aid (Thursday, March 19, 2009)

 

Katherine Boyle, E&E reporter

 

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Coca-Cola Co. Chairman Neville Isdell yesterday joined a chorus of stakeholders pressing Congress and the Obama administration to tackle water and sanitation issues in developing countries.

The United States pledged to help the United Nations halve by 2015 the proportion of the world's population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, a U.N. Millenium Development Goal, Frist noted.

Though the United Nations is on track to meet the safe drinking water target, it is unlikely to meet the sanitation goal. About 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to improved sanitation, while about 1.4 billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water.

"Our government's commitment remains far below what is necessary if we are to meet these goals," Frist said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies forum. "The United States has got to establish a national strategy for water."

The international community has demonstrated an inability to effectively combat the problem without U.S. aid, Frist said. The Tennessee Republican described the circumstances in the developing world as dire, saying one child dies every 15 seconds of waterborne disease.

He also discussed the billions of work hours lost each year because women must fetch water from faraway sources and said that sometimes even that water is unsafe for use.

"These [issues] really have huge implications for economic development," Frist added.

Frist's call for action followed the introduction of water legislation by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) earlier this week. The bill would boost the U.S. government's ability to respond to water crises around the world by creating new staff positions focused on water within the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department.

Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Donald Payne (D-N.J.) have introduced similar legislation in the House.

The Senate bill, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), also aims to provide 100 million people around the world with sustainable access to clean water and sanitation by 2015 by helping to implement the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005.

That initiative received $300 million in funding for safe water programs in developing countries in the fiscal 2009 omnibus spending bill signed by Obama earlier this month (E&ENews PM <http://www.eenews.net/eenewspm/2009/03/17/archive/9> , March 17).

Advocates were unsuccessful in pushing for more funding in the appropriation. "That money is such a drop in the bucket," said Wenonah Hauter, director of Food & Water Watch. "We're hoping there will be new leadership on these issues, and foreign aid will help provide basic services like water for people and be distributed to the people who need it most."

Frist said he had not yet read Durbin's legislation but that based on what he had heard about it, he generally supported its goals. He predicted the United States would see major changes in foreign aid under President Obama.

The legislation dovetails with a declaration by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, co-chaired by Frist and Isdell, emphasizing the need to make drinking water and sanitation issues an administration centerpiece. It called for the creation of new government positions focusing on the water problems plaguing developing nations and additional public-private partnerships.

 

Business benefits

 

Isdell addressed business concerns about safe water issues. His company, Coca-Cola, ramped up support for water initiatives in 2004 amid allegations that the company had depleted and polluted groundwater supplies near one of its plants in India (Greenwire <http://www.eenews.net/Greenwire/2008/10/14/archive/2> , Oct. 14, 2008).

Isdell said businesses need to reduce their own water footprint, make a positive impact on the developing world and help shape public policy.

"You understand why the Coca-Cola Co. cares about water," he said. "It's the key ingredient in our beverages, and it's essential to the health of the communities we serve."

About 85 percent of Coca-Cola facilities presently return water to the ecosystem at a level that supports the community and aquatic life, Isdell said. By the end of 2010, he added, that number would reach 100 percent.

"Each piece of society has a role to play," Isdell said. "Business, government and civil society."

He and Frist both emphasized the interconnections among water, health, energy, security and agriculture.

 

Doubling foreign aid?

 

Increased funding is one significant change in the United States' foreign aid policy that could be on the horizon. President Obama's fiscal 2010 budget proposal would put the United States on the path to doubling foreign aid over several years, according to the White House, and set off a flurry of lobbying efforts by international advocacy groups.

Next year, the White House plan would provide $51.7 billion for the State Department and other international programs in fiscal 2010, a more than $10 billion increase from the $40.9 billion allocated in fiscal 2008. It is not clear how much of the money would go toward international development projects, but aid organizations are angling for cash for pet projects.

Water nonprofit groups are suggesting that clean water projects would provide the most bang for the government's buck in a time of economic crisis, noting that each dollar invested in water projects provides an $8 investment return in terms of economic benefits.

"We're very much worried about the economic recession," said Paul Faeth, president of the nonprofit Global Water Challenge. "It's not clear where government aid is going to go. Last summer, food prices went up, and it increased hunger. [The crisis] affects the same thing with water."

John Oldfield, executive vice president of Water Advocates, a Washington-based nonprofit dedicated to boosting U.S. efforts to improve sanitation abroad, suggested more aid could mean more water funding.

"We don't want to encourage the United States to invest in water and sanitation at the cost of other projects," Oldfield said. But he noted that waterborne diseases kill six times as many people as the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, and said water issues deserve attention. Waterborne diseases are also more likely to prove fatal for people with HIV or other immune system-compromising diseases.

Africa at the Icon

Mar 12 2009

Africa at the ICON

ICON in the Gulch -- 600  12th Avenue South, Nashville TN

thursday, March 21 (21+)

From 7pm-9pm

Live Music, Drinks and Hors d'Oeuvres, and an African Wine Tasting tour -- $15 donation per pesron at the door, all of the above and FREE parking

100% of your donation benefits Ellie's Run for Africa thanks to our sponsors: Lipman, Tall Horse, and Icon in the Gulch

Presented by Ellie's Run for Africa

For more information, go to www.elliesrun.org/icon

March 7, 2009
FROM: CHARLIE MCCORMACK and CAROLYN MILES
Dear Board Members,
 
Just wanted to provide another update on the situation in Sudan:
 
- As per our earlier communication, all operations have been suspended under the revoking of our registration to work in the country in response to the ICC ruling on the President Al-Bashir as a war criminal
 
- The impact on humanitarian programs in Darfur will be very great - we were up to this week feeding close to 500,000 people, delivering medical care and supplies to tens of thousands, and managing large numbers of schools and health facilities in the displaced persons camps of West Darfur.  In all we have been reaching over 1 million people.  As one of our largest programs around the world, the number of children and family members impacted, staff employed, and assets under management for this program is very large.  At this point there are negotiations underway to try to move these programs under WFP and UN offices but it is doubtful the capacity will be there to continue the programs uninterrupted.  We are also speaking to Catholic Relief Services and World Vision as there have not been any faith-based agencies yet affected.
 
- We are working all channels both here in the US and in Sudan and the region on the impact of this action on the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and the reversal of the action.  The likelihood for significant unrest in the country will grow as the number of days passes without delivery of critical programs and services.  However, it appears this is purely a political decision made by the Government of Sudan and as such will be hard to reverse.
 
- We have made formal notice that we will appeal the decision of the government and asked for the reasons behind our expulsion.  We have 30 days to make a formal appeal but this does not seem to give us any protection to not go forward with the order to have all international staff leave the country and stop operations and close down our work. Our country director in Khartoum is working all available avenues to slowdown or stop these actions.
 
- While we continue to pursue a two-pronged strategy of cooperating with the government authorities in closing down our programs and pursuing re-entry, it appears we will have to remove our international staff and we expect they will begin leaving in the next two days.  We currently have 37 international staff in the country and they will intially be relocated to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.  Under the order, we would also be required to fire all 800+ local staff and pay significant severance under Sudanese labor law.
 
- There is a significant financial risk in the closing of this program and the possible seizure of agency and donor assets.  While the government has at this point not seized assets and only "taken stock" that remains a high risk.  In addition the cost of relocation, severance and redeployment of almost 1,000 staff will be significant.  While we are reviewing insurance policies it appears that some of these costs may not be recoverable.
 
Our staff in Khartoum, Addis and here in the US are working very hard to make the best decisions through this difficult situation. Any thoughts or advice you have, please do get in touch and we will keep you updated.  Our utmost concern is that of the impact of the closure of this program on the children and familes of Darfur and the significant worsening of an already horrible humanitarian situation.
 
 
Below is some additional background-
 
Basic facts from our Khartoum Country Director Halane Hussein:

How long have we been working in Sudan?

Save the Children USA has been working in Sudan for 25 years.  (Save the Children UK has been in Sudan for over 50 years.

Are we working in Darfur?

Up until March 5th - Yes, Save the Children USA received permission from the Sudanese government to enter the conflict ravaged region of Darfur, where a humanitarian crisis was unfolding in March 2004.  By the end of 2004 we were the only international aid agency simultaneously addressing the monthly food, water, shelter, health and protection needs of hundreds of thousands of displaced children and members of their families, especially women.

At the five-year anniversary of our initial deployment to West Darfur, Save the Children remained by the side of children and women still unable to return to their villages and communities because of the region’s instability and fluctuations in violence.  Many roads in Darfur are unsafe because of armed groups; the violence has also periodically affected Save the Children and our local staff directly. While Save the Save the Children remained vigilant to security conditions, we continued to provide a lifeline of food, clean water, nutrition interventions, basic and reproductive health care, protection and education programs to children and women in camps and communities throughout West Darfur up until late this week.

 

What were you doing in Sudan?

 

Save the Children USA was providing essential support to more than 1 million children and their families including food, clean water, nutritional interventions, basic and reproductive health care, protection and education programs for children and women in camps and communities throughout Sudan.  We don’t know what the outcome of these developments will be, but we do know that if we are forced to stop our work for any period the lives of hundreds of thousands of children could be at risk.

Will this have an impact on your work in Southern Sudan?

We don’t know what sort of impact this might have, but any break down in the peace agreement between northern and southern Sudan would have grave implications for children. It’s essential that aid agencies like Save the Children continue to be able to deliver life-saving assistance to children across the country.

What should the US government do?

The US government must explore every possible avenue to get the suspension requests revoked and ensure aid agencies like Save the Children are able to continue delivering essential aid in Sudan. It’s imperative that international attention urgently focus on Sudan and that world leaders come together now to unite behind finding a solution to this conflict.

Facts:

-          UN estimates 300,000 people have been killed during the six-year conflict in Darfur.

-          UN estimates 2.7 million people have been forced to flee their homes.

 INITIAL LETTER

MARCH 5, 2009

Dear Colleagues --

        As you all are probably aware from the news, the Government of Sudan has taken some action following the ICC ruling on President al-Bashir and in that connection, Save the Children received a letter last evening which revoked our registration to operate in the country.   CARE, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Doctors Without Boarders and the International Rescue Committee, among other NGOs, have also all been asked to leave.  All staff are safe and accounted for and we are currently relocating international staff back to Khartoum where we believe they will be processed to depart.  In addition, we're cooperating with the Government of Sudan in its requests related to reviewing all of SC/US' assets in the country.

        Our strategy will be to reenter Sudan and reestablish our work there as soon as possible, but at this point, all operations have been suspended.  It is unclear how long it will be until we are able to return.  In the meantime, we are not making any statements against the Sudanese Government -- all of our messages are focused on the humanitarian crisis that is being faced by children and their families.

        At present, the registration of Save the Children/Sweden has not been revoked in Sudan, and we are working with them to see how we might continue some of our operations through their efforts. 

        The Save the Children/US Crisis Management Team met today and will be meeting again tomorrow to assess the situation. Additional updates will be provided to the Board of Trustees as things develop.  Please don't hesitate to contact either of us if you have any questions.

 
Nashville, TN, March 5, 2009 - Officials from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), (Princeton, New Jersey) and Meharry Medical College today announced the establishment of a national health policy center at Meharry Medical College. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College aims to bring diversity of perspectives and collaborative approaches to national health policy discussions. The creation of the Center comes as the nation's ethnic and racial diversity is rapidly increasing, and will be guided by the principle that sound health policy must be grounded in the experience of the people it represents.


BY: CAROLE BARTOO

2/20/2009 - 

A unique meeting held here late last week was the first step in bringing Vanderbilt into a consortium of the highest-level international aid organizations working to control the spread of HIV.

Sten Vermund, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH) hosted the consultative meeting with UNICEF (the United Nations Children's Fund) and its partners to examine programs meant to halt transmission of HIV from mothers to their infants in the world's poorest regions.

For more: go to -- http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/reporter/index.html?ID=7033

 

ONE Partners with CARE for "A Powerful Noise"

March 5, 6:30CT: Green Hills 16

Feb 26 2009

Please join ONE and our partners on Thursday, March 5 for a nationwide event featuring the acclaimed documentary “A Powerful Noise,” followed by a live broadcast of a town hall discussion with Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; actress and activist Natalie Portman; CARE president and CEO Dr. Helene Gayle; CARE advocate and Marie Claire contributing editor Christy Turlington Burns; and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

Check out the ONE blog for more information and a link to buy tickets:

http://www.one.org/r?r=174&id=844-3960407-Xddd0ex&t=2

What: Film screening of the documentary "A Powerful Noise," followed by a live-broadcast town hall discussion

Who: ONE members in the area, plus Madeleine Albright, Natalie Portman, Dr. Helene Gayle, Christy Turlington Burns, Nicholas Kristof and more

Where: Green Hills 16
3815 Green Hills Village Dr
Nashville, TN 37215

When: Thursday, March 5, at 7:30PM ET/6:30PM CT/5:30PM PT

More info:

http://www.one.org/r?r=174&id=844-3960407-Xddd0ex&t=3

In honor of International Women's Day, ONE is working in partnership with CARE, the UN Commission on the Status of Women and others to present “A Powerful Noise.” This remarkable film takes you inside the lives of three women to witness their daily efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, champion girls’ education and provide economic opportunities for women. Weaving through locations in Vietnam, Mali and Bosnia, this inspiring documentary tells a tale of hope much larger than the sum of its parts.

The presentation will conclude with a live-broadcast panel of renowned advocates discussing how women, equipped with the proper resources, have the power to help families and entire communities escape poverty and change the world.

For info and tickets, please visit the ONE blog:

http://www.one.org/r?r=174&id=844-3960407-Xddd0ex&t=4

Hope to see you there!

Margaret McDonnell, ONE.org

The Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH) had the unique honor of hosting an international discussion of health care systems to halt the transmission of HIV from African mothers to their babies last week. Director Sten Vermund hosted members of UNICEF (the United Nations Children's Fund), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS in a two-day workshop last week to determine the effectiveness of prevention programs in developing countries, the effects of early weaning on HIV-free child survival, and the effects of HIV programs on improving maternal care. This was a wonderful example of how Nashville's global health expertise, efforts, and relationships hold deep influence in the international community.

 Forum   Speakers   Schedule   Registration   Location  

Would you like to learn more about the global health projects taking place through the work of organizations right here in Tennessee? Join the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH) on February 27th, 2009 at the Scarritt Bennett Center for the first annual Global Health Forum for Middle Tennessee. 

Sustainable projects involve many factors that overlap and affect one another. Teamwork and a strategic approach can make the difference in success. The 2009 Tennessee Global Health Forum is an opportunity for organizations from throughout the region to come together in an effort to combine forces and share our current projects.

Join us in learning effective approaches toward sustainability and exploring the potential for new partnerships.  Click on Forum, Speakers, Schedule, Registration and Location above for additional information.

Who should come?

Regional individuals/organizations involved in global health or related development.

Why should you come?

The Global Health Forum will provide the perfect setting for networking and collaboration between and among community groups. This setting will enable the identification of existing and evolving approaches to public health, facilitate a dialogue that encourages efficient use of resources and expertise, and allow groups to better promote themselves, their issues and Nashville itself. The Forum will also give VIGH the chance to formally introduce itself and to explain the Institute’s holistic approach to global health, its interest in creating partnerships for sustainability and its availability as a community resource and partner.

What will you take away?

The Global Health Forum will provide participants with new ideas/tools that can be put to work right away, the first steps toward a regional global health coalition, and the opportunity to use the Tennessee Global Health Database as a networking tool.

Subscribe to our newsletter to recieve the latest updates.