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NGOs Welcome Announcement Of U.S., North Korean Nuclear Arms Agreement That Could Bring Food Aid To Nation

“The State Department’s announcement that North Korea would halt nuclear activities in exchange for 240,000 metric tons of U.S. food aid was welcomed by aid groups that have long struggled to raise money to feed hungry people under an unpopular regime,” the Los Angeles Times’ “World Now” blog reports. Marcus Prior, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP) in Asia said the group is “encouraged” by the development but it “remain[s] concerned about the level of nutrition, especially for children in poorer areas,” according to the blog. More than 90 percent of U.S. food aid has been delivered through the WFP since 1996, with the remainder channeled through non-governmental organizations (NGOs), a 2011 Congressional Research Service report (.pdf) says, the blog notes.

USAID Unveils New Policy To Promote Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment

USAID on Thursday unveiled a new policy that aims to ensure gender equality and empower the world’s women and girls, Deseret News reports. “While USAID has addressed gender issues in the past, results have been mixed, according to a report [.pdf] released Thursday in conjunction with the policy launch,” the news service writes. “‘We know that long-term, sustainable development will only be possible when women and men enjoy equal opportunity to rise to their potential,’ said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah during a White House event,” Deseret notes (Stuart, 3/1).

U.S. To Send Food Aid To North Korea After It Agrees To Suspend Nuclear Weapons Tests

“North Korea announced on Wednesday that it would suspend its nuclear weapons tests and uranium enrichment and allow international inspectors to monitor activities at its main nuclear complex,” a move “signal[ing] that North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, is at least willing to consider a return to negotiations and to engage with the United States, which pledged in exchange to ship tons of food aid to the isolated, impoverished nation,” the New York Times reports. Some “analysts said the agreement allowed Mr. Kim to demonstrate his command and to use his early months in power to improve people’s lives after years of food shortages and a devastating famine,” the newspaper writes (Myers/Choe, 2/29).

Millions At Risk Of Malnutrition As Horn Of Africa, Sahel Face Dry Seasons

Only weeks after the U.N. declared an end to the famine in Somalia, regional climate scientists meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 30th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum have said preventive measures should be taken to stem the effects of drought that likely will return to Somalia and other parts of the Horn of Africa over the next three months, IRIN reports. USAID’s “FEWS NET said people should expect erratic rain in southern Somalia and southeastern Kenya” and will “be releasing a detailed outlook in the coming weeks,” the news service notes. But “[o]ne of the problems highlighted was the lack of linkage between early warning and early action. ‘There is no framework that allows the trigger of funds when the early warning bell is sounded,’ said one aid worker,” IRIN writes (2/29).

Republican Presidential Candidate Santorum Could Be Beneficial To Global Health Programs If Elected President

In the Republican campaign for the presidential nomination, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), “the most religiously conservative candidate, surprisingly, is the most fervent advocate for U.S. global health diplomacy,” Jack Chow, former U.S. ambassador on global HIV/AIDS and former assistant director-general of WHO on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece. “Santorum has staked out global health as one of his preferred instruments of asserting American power abroad” and “seems determined to lay the groundwork for a global health agenda that is not only far more extensive than his competitors’, but would surpass both [George W.] Bush and Barack Obama in advancing U.S. interests abroad through fighting disease,” Chow writes.

‘Global Leadership’ Through Foreign Assistance Is ‘Strategic Imperative’ For U.S.

“[T]oday, with the national debt approaching $14.7 trillion, Americans rightly demand fiscal responsibility. Yet efforts in Congress to cut billions from the president’s proposed budget for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are short-sighted,” Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. He adds that “all of our foreign aid programs and foreign policy initiatives — from sending diplomats to Afghanistan to helping reverse the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa — cost less than one-tenth of our annual military expenditures” and “comprises a mere 1.5 percent” of President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request.

Clinton Discusses GHI In Testimony On FY13 USAID, State Department Budget Request

“People look to [the U.S.] to protect our allies; stand by our principles; serve as an honest broker in making peace; to fight hunger, poverty, and disease; to stand up to bullies and tyrants everywhere,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Tuesday in testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and she added that to do so “takes more than just resolve. It takes resources,” ABS-CBNnews.com reports (Jaleco, 2/29).

Budget Cuts Threaten Global Health Progress, Advocacy Group Warns In Report

The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) — consisting of 40 global health research and advocacy organizations — on Tuesday held a congressional briefing to launch its third annual policy report, titled “Sustaining Progress: Creating U.S. policies to spur global health innovation,” GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog reports (Donnelly, 2/28). The group is “warning deep cuts in the U.S. federal budget could reverse progress made on many diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” VOA News writes (DeCapua, 2/28).

Clinton To Testify About FY13 Budget Request

In this post on the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Blog,” Jenny Ottenhoff, policy outreach associate at CGD, previews issues that may be raised when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies before four congressional committees this week about President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request for the State Department and USAID. She asks, “[W]ill core development issues — like those around global health, the [Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)], Pakistan, migration, foreign aid reform and climate change — find a time to shine during the proceedings?” (2/27).

CSIS Report Recounts Adversities Faced By Global Fund In 2011, Suggests Strategies For Moving Forward

This report (.pdf), published by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on Monday and titled “Righting the Global Fund,” recounts the adversity faced by the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria over the course of 2011 and suggests potential strategies for addressing these challenges going forward (2/27). “Aside from the major challenges of ensuring adequate funding from donors, there are five critical areas where the Global Fund will need to concentrate its repair efforts this year” — grant oversight, management, governance, program inefficiencies, financial forecasting and donor reliability — and “five priorities that should guide the U.S. government’s approach to the fund” — fund management, operational integration, diplomacy, consistent messaging to Congress, and the integration of science data and innovation, the authors write in the report (Morrison/Summers, 2/27).