News Article | April 19, 2017
For Michel Nischan, the CEO of nonprofit Wholesome Wave, which runs the country’s largest prescription program for fruits and vegetables, and provides matching subsidies for fresh produce to those already receiving governmental assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the fix is simple: “That whole notion of investing in [better] food at the front end, instead of paying for treatment at the back end is a real economic opportunity,” he says. “If you start tapping into the half a trillion dollars a year that is being spent on expensive medicines and treatments . . . you could actually say there’s the potential that our country could eat its way out of the national debt.” That’s because unhealthy eating has so many hidden costs. Sick people miss work, which affects both their own income and the productivity of our workforce. They may also die early, leaving their family with more financial issues. Wholesome Wave, which started in 2007, wants to address all of this proactively by enabling doctors to write prescriptions for free produce for the people most at risk for diet-related diseases like hypertension, obesity and type-2 diabetes. And by setting up programs to ensure many others in impoverished circumstances never reach that point. The group’s devotion to such dramatic change has earned them the top spot among food projects in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards. (You can read more about the other finalists below). The group offers services in 700 locations across 46 states. A recent prescription program, which launched in Los Angeles this summer, reaches 500 at-risk kids (average age: eight years old) and their families, who are encouraged to make similar dietary changes to ensure proper meal planning and role model behavior. All told, that will affect how 2,400 people eat. As Fast Company has reported, Wholesome Wave also recently awarded over $200,000 in grants to other groups within their National Nutritional Incentive Network, who are sharing lessons and collecting data about how well similar approaches in other communities are working. Nischan, a chef who has won James Beard awards for his own cookbook, TV show, and documentary work around healthier eating, began thinking more critically about how food can prevent and control health issues about two decades ago, after two of his children were diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes. To help control his children’s symptoms, his family altered its own eating habits, which inspired a shift in the kind of food that Nischan wanted to be serving to other people too. Nischan had started out as a breakfast cook at a truck stop (it gave his rock band time to play at night), and worked his way up to become an industry force within the fine dining world. In 1997, he opened Heartbeat, a local, organic, and sustainable restaurant with no processed foods in New York’s first W Hotel. (He also managed the food and beverage programs and was executive chef at a half-dozen other locations.) The impetus for Wholesome Wave came after joining a healthy eating think tank at Harvard Medical School, where he realized that another strain of diabetes (type-2) was completely preventable with the right dietary changes. Not only that but if left unchecked, he realized, America’s unhealthy eating habits might eventually hurt those with little or no choice in the matter. “[That] eventually led to the awareness that the majority of people with type-2 diabetes are at income levels that disallow them from being able to afford the types of food they need to consume to prevent the disease in the first place. That’s where I hit the wall,” he says. Nischan realized there was no real meal plan to help those with extremely low incomes to eat smartly. (The average SNAP allotment is just $29 per person each week.) That inspired a career shift. “I could do Heartbeat because people could afford $40 for an entrée, but I was kind of patting myself on the back for nothing because I was reaching kind of the 1 to 5%,” he says. “It just wasn’t feeling right to me to be an upscale chef in a world where millions of people can’t afford a fucking tomato.” To counter that, Nischan launched Wholesome Wave, which included Paul Newman, a partner in another restaurant venture called The Dressing Room, and Betsy and Jesse Fink, the co-founder and first COO of Priceline, as original donors. The group’s work has since been backed by the Kresge Foundation, Target, and the Sampson Foundation. Losing weight isn’t the only signal of success, but early results show that nearly 50% of those who receive prescriptions end up reducing their BMI. More importantly, the level of interest in these programs proves that those most in need “value very similar things to a Wegmans or a Whole Foods consumer—quality of produce, selection, freshness, things like that,” Nischan says. That dispels equally unhealthy stereotypes that people eat poorly because they may lack nutritional education or consumer preference. The biggest problem is the price. Here’s more about the finalists in the food category: by PepsiCo Since 2010, PepsiCo has used smarter farm tech—a web-based platform hitched to precise field measuring equipment—to manage crop irrigation on a plant-by-plant basis, reducing potato growers’ water usage by 50% in some areas of the United Kingdom. It’s also doing something similar with greenhouse gasses, calculating how different plant varieties, crop-storage techniques and running operations with renewable energy and fuel-efficient vehicles can lead to lower emissions. Eating chips may be a guilty pleasure, but not because of their environmental impact. by Kashi Currently, farmers equate going organic with short-term losses, part of why the sector makes up just 1% of the agricultural landscape. That’s because it takes three years to convert, during which time farmers are paying more to grow their crops in eco-friendly ways without the seal that would allow them to charge more, too. Kashi’s “certified transitional” process, which debuted in May 2016, changes that by telegraphing which farms—those who upon inspection are hitting all the right benchmarks toward that changeover—might be worth a little more investment. Farms who are certified transitional can charge a little more for their harvests, while companies who use those ingredients get to affix a seal showing where their food was sourced. That allows Kashi (and soon other companies) to share why their Dark Cocoa Karma Shredded Wheat Biscuits are so worth it. by World Food Programme The WFP Innovation Accelerator considers itself an “activist” Y-Combinator for curing global hunger. To do that, the Munich, Germany-based group seeds startups with cash (between $50,000 and $100,000), coaching (for three to six months), and most importantly access to the deployment network of its chief affiliate, the United Nations. Since launching in 2016, more than 20 concepts across 14 counties have been deployed largely through the UN’s existing field offices without any of the workforce shortages or cultural disconnects that groups parachuting into new places might face. It’s a ready-baked way to test and scale. by DeepLook Weed control accounts for a huge share of the chemicals used in farming. And weeding farms by hand is costly, difficult and increasingly unpredictable work because of federal crackdowns on undocumented workers. The good news: Engineers from MIT and Stanford have combined forces to create droids that’ll do it for us. DeepLook’s autonomous fleet of robots use specialized visual interface to both identify what’s in each field and show the farmer exactly what the robo-field-hand is pulling. The bots use learning algorithms to get smarter over time and are already being tested at some fields in California. Method’s soap making plant has wind turbines and solar panels to produce its own clean electricity and keep everything from manufacturing (including making soap bottles from post-consumer resin) to warehousing and distribution services in-house to reduce its carbon footprint. Fittingly, it’s crowned by a 75,000 square foot greenhouse by Gotham Greens, which runs on renewable energy and recycled irrigation water to produce fresh food year-round for the Chicago area. Another positive attribute: The facility has created 130 jobs for those around Chicago’s revitalizing Pullman neighborhood. by Colorado State University and Philips Lighting For most brewers, the availability of hops is a real buzz kill. The flower, a key ingredient in most recipes, is freshly available only during the April harvest season, after which the only alternatives are wilting or dried alternatives that are far less flavorful. But Colorado State and Philips Lighting are testing ways to make hops available locally and year round through vertical farming methods with artificial light. Early tests show that some LED-based illumination formulas (there are variables like what light spectrum, intensity, position and exposure rate you use) can actually yield danker hops. by Sasaki As Chinese major cities grow, they’re gobbling up arable land, while ever more gets destroyed by various forms of pollution. That means the country has more mouths to feed and less growing space to do it. Shanghai is breaking ground on a novel solution. Sunqiao will be a vertical farming district located between the city’s airport and downtown. The development, which will break ground in 2017, should grow vegetables like spinach, lettuce, kale, arugula, mustard greens, bok choy and watercress—all regional staples—in soaring glass skyscrapers that double as tourist-worthy attractions. That should take the fresh food supply for the 24-million-person metropolis to literally a whole new level. by New Wave Foods Shrimp is the most consumed seafood in the U.S. We eat about four pounds of it per person each year. But that appetite has led to some unsavory procurement practices, including fishermen netting massive piles of “by-catch” (other fish they’re not trying to catch) that die and go to waste. In the absence of cheap labor, some fishermen have even become trapped themselves, working as slaves aboard vessels in Southeast Asia. San Francisco-based New Wave Foods frees the supply chain of both issues with its PopShrimp, a popcorn shrimp recipe that mimics the flavor, texture, and protein of the real thing, but with no cholesterol–because it’s made entirely from algae. The company, which his done taste tests at pop-up restaurants and Google’s cafeteria, is angling to hit grocery stores and restaurants in 2017. by Bionicraft This countertop decoration turns food waste into fresh soil with a sleek ergonomic design and it’s own, er, workforce—the polite way to say worms and microbes—to naturally compost your leftovers. Because it’s sealed, self-contained, and designed to work quickly there’s no stink or fruit flies. The design also has different ports, which can be used at different times, so today’s leftovers can be dropped in to digest on one side while last week’s are ready-to-use soil on the other. by USAID and the Kaizen Company Scientists and entrepreneurs trying to grow food with less water, create novel water-storage concepts, or do more with saline and soil tech, can now tap into a consortium of companies willing to offer funding, expertise, or even lab space. That’s the role of Securing Water for Food’s Technical Assistance Facility, which, instead of being a single institution, works more like a decentralized support network matching groups in more than 30 countries with funding and nearby resources. The initiative is led by the Kaizen Company, a human and institutional capacity development firm, and funded by USAID and the governments of Sweden, South Africa, and the Netherlands. Within the last two years, the group has worked with over 80 concepts, helping save billions of gallons of water while producing hundreds of tons of food each year. by Dig Inn The food at Dig Inn’s fast casual restaurants is driven by what’s locally available at nearby farms. While that means the menu has plenty of seasonal veggies, it also means that Dig Inn’s chefs actually have to cook raw ingredients, which isn’t always the case at other chains that source from centralized distributors or prep kitchens. Now the company, which has over a dozen locations in Boston and New York, is trying to grow in a way that supports both their knowledge of what can be harvested and how it can be best used. In 2017, they’re launching a training and teaching facility at their own farm in New York’s Hudson Valley. by Flow Hive This invention takes the sting out of honey harvesting, transforming a once complicated process into an operation that’s easier on farmers and their bees. Rather than separating the bees from the hive, cracking it open, and running honeycomb through a centrifuge, Flow Hive users start their colonies on a frame that’s transparent on one side (so you know when to tap it) and has an internal mechanism that with the turn creates channels within the hive’s hexagonal, interlocking comb, so the spoils can drip freely without separating the bees from the hive. After a 2015 Indiegogo campaign raised $12 million, the company has sold more than 40,000 systems. The sweet part: As more hobbyists become hive masters, there should be a little more local food and a lot more pollinators for others growing other things, especially in urban areas. by Ripple Most alternative milks promise to be lactose-free and have a low eco-footprint. What’s missing is comparable calcium or protein. But Ripple’s pea-based formula covers everything. It also uses far less water in production than traditional dairy or almond operations and provides the same amount of protein as 2% options, with more calcium, and half the sugar. That does a body (and the world) good. by Terreform ONE Pound for pound, crickets offer twice the protein of beef, and require 300 times less water than typical livestock production. They can also be milled into a somewhat easier-to-stomach flour. To eat well, though, you’d still have to raise a whole lot of them in sanitary conditions. Cricket Shelter, a modular insect farm, by Terreform ONE, a nonprofit for philanthropic architecture and urban, ecological designs solves that issue by creating a cool, modular and hygienic space from readily available off-the-shelf parts. A prototype at the Brooklyn navy yards, which would be easy to throw up in disaster zones, is arch-shaped to double as an emergency shelter and can yield 22,000 bugs, which would sleep separately in modular locked cubbies. by Beyond Meat Fittingly, Beyond Meat’s latest release, the plant-based Beyond Burger isn’t available beyond the usual faux-food aisle of the supermarket. When it debuted in the spring of 2016, Whole Foods agreed to put the pink ready-to-cook patty alongside its true beef competitors in the meat aisle. That’s a big win that might change how consumers classify such products. With patties that have 20 grams of protein and half that saturated fat per patty compared their cow-based counterparts, the company isn’t trying to change how Americans eat. It’s arguing that there’s a healthier more sustainable way to do so. by Everytable If you can get the people who can afford it to pay a little more for their meals, then a lot more people will be able to eat elsewhere, too. That’s the model for Everytable, a Los Angeles-based chain that charges people eating at stores in more affluent areas higher prices than those who are dining in spots located in less well-off neighborhoods, many of which are food deserts, in order to make more nutritious meals available cheaply. To do so, it uses central kitchens and grab-and-go style packaging. The company has three spots around LA, with a fourth coming soon, proving the model works and is ready to expand to other metros. by Impossible Foods To win over eaters with the Impossible Burger—another eco-friendly, fake-meat marvel— Impossible Foods has focused on just one thing: taste. First, they developed a new way to manufacture meat’s not-so-secret key ingredient, heme, an iron-rich molecule that’s found in blood and makes meat pink. (They do that with a specialized yeast instead.) Second, they recruited all-star chefs like David Chang, Traci Des Jardins, Chris Cosentino, and Tal Ronen to actually cook their plant-based burgers in top New York, San Francisco, and LA eateries. The goal is to create a burger so good even meat eaters can’t help but order it—and potentially want to cook it at home, if the company decides to go that route. by Hop Compost Restaurant food waste ends up in the trash because current reclaiming processes are also pretty wasteful and disgusting. Industrial scale compost operations smell so bad they’re often located far from cities, costing food providers time, money, and lots of fuel-burn to ship there. The waste itself then rots slowly—it can take up to two years to biodegrade while offering up more harmful greenhouse gasses. Canada-based Hop Compost uses modular, computerized containment vessels to do the same thing in less than two weeks through a carefully monitored and sealed process that yields no odor and especially nutrient rich soil. Without the big footprint and stink factor, the company can locate closer to its clients. Since February 2015, it has repurposed 3 million pounds of food waste at urban centers in Vancouver and Calgary while selling the resulting soil to Whole Foods garden centers.
News Article | April 19, 2017
Ticked Off! Here's What You Need To Know About Lyme Disease Zika Virus - What You Should Know The fight against tropical diseases has had major successes in the last few years, and goals to control or eradicate them by 2020 are right on track, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in Geneva. Alongside WHO, the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation also hailed several record-breaking achievements that ramp up efforts to fight these neglected tropical diseases. However, the health organization believes drug companies need to step up donations of medicines, as millions of people still require cures and treatments. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that neglected tropical diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, leprosy, rabies, and trachoma affect 1 billion people and kill about 534,000 every year. In 1999, the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation began a campaign to fight these illnesses, and these investments have improved millions of lives, said Gates. "None of these diseases are getting worse," the philanthropist said. "We're behind on some of the very ambitious goals which were set in London for 2020, but the burden from all these diseases is getting better." Indeed, Gates told BBC News several major achievements in recent years in ensuring that these tropical diseases are eliminated. For illnesses such as lymphatic filariasis, which is a mosquito-borne worm that causes swelling in the limbs, there has been a reduction in the patient population. From 1.5 billion people, the number of cases has gone down to 1 billion, he said. One illness that was close to being fully eradicated is the Guinea worm, which had 25 cases in 2016, although Gates said the unrest in Sudan is making the work more difficult. Meanwhile, the WHO has cited progress in the treatment of river blindness, which is a parasitic disease transmitted by black flies. Data showed that more than 60 percent of patients or 114 million people with river blindness have received treatment. These major successes are the result of partnership between governments, non-government organizations, and companies, said Gates, but several issues remain. Before the Geneva conference, Gates met up with CEOs of big pharmaceutical companies to discuss efforts to fight against these tropical diseases. "Good progress, some of these diseases are on track to be done (eliminated) by 2020, some by 2025," said Gates. "Some will take longer than that." In 2012, the Gates Foundation, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed an agreement known as the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases to eradicate these illnesses by 2020. Drug companies have been donating drugs for these diseases for years, but the lack of effective distribution systems has prevented people from securing treatments. The USAID has attempted to fix this issue by funding NGOs that make sure workers in remote towns use the proper tools they need. More than 1.6 billion treatments have now reached 31 countries. Dr. Dirk Engels, director of WHO's Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, said he hopes neglected tropical diseases could be part of history by 2030. "There are still gaps," said Engels. "I hope in the next few years, we will be able to fill in those gaps." © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | May 1, 2017
White House says 'Let Girls Learn' initiative has not been changed despite internal documents The White House says there have been no changes to the “Let Girls Learn” initiative. "There have been no changes to the program," Kelly Love, a White House spokeswoman, told CNN, hours after the network reported on internal documents which stated that the stand-alone program would be shut down immediately. Statements from the Peace Corps and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to CNN and The Independent, respectively, indicated that the program would stop operating at full capacity, effective Monday. But a second spokesperson at USAID emailed The Independent hours after the first statement was received, saying that the program had not been changed. Michelle Obama reveals why she held back tears at Trump's inauguration Neither the White House or the USAID spokesperson indicated how long the program would continue, nor did they address why the memo had been sent. The White House originally referred questions from CNN about the program to representatives of first lady Melania Trump, who declined to comment. The news network had obtained internal emails directing Peace Corps employees not to use the “Let Girls Learn” name or branding. The emails, from Peace Corps acting director Sheila Crowley, said that while they may continue some “Let Girls Learn” projects, the Peace Corps would no longer maintain a stand-alone “Let Girls Learn” program. In an initial statement, a spokesperson from USAID told The Independent the agency is "committed to empowering women and girls around the world" and are "continuing to examine the best ways to do so." Video not available for syndication Related video: Michelle Obama 'shaken to the core' by Donald Trump comments Ms Obama launched the $250 million initiative in 2015 with the aim of using public and private partnerships to fund “new efforts to expand educational opportunities for girls – including in areas of conflict and crisis.” In the two years since its formation, the program has invested at least $1 billion in programming in 50 different countries. Much of that funding came in the form of donations from more than 100 companies and 11 other nations – some of which gave up to $600 million. The Obama administration had attempted to fortify the program last year, announcing $5 million in private sector donations to “Let Girls Learn” projects. Tina Tchen, Ms Obama's former chief of staff, told CNN the programme had secured several more year’s worth of funding. "We were hopeful that given that, it could continue,” Ms Tchen said. “But obviously elections have consequences, and nobody knows that better than we." Announcing the discontinuation of the programme, Ms Crowley said her agency was “proud” of what the program accomplished. 'Let Girls Learn' provided a platform to showcase Peace Corps' strength in community development, shining a bright light on the work of our Volunteers all over the world," Crowley wrote in her email to employees. The Peace Corps did not respond to requests for additional comment. Mr Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, has largely taken on the role of advising the president on women's empowerment. The first daughter, however, seems more focused on empowering women in business. She hosted a dinner party for CEOs to discuss women in the workforce in February, and orchestrated the creation of a joint US-Canada Council for the Advancement of Women Business Leaders-Female Entrepreneurs.
News Article | April 19, 2017
As a physician in Tanzania, Upendo Mwingira has little to offer people suffering from elephantiasis, an incurable condition characterized by swollen, wrinkled limbs. “When they enter the clinic, they smell, their wounds are oozing and, as a doctor, the best thing I can do is help them accept their situation,” says Mwingira, who directs the neglected-tropical-diseases division of Tanzania’s Ministry of Health in Dar es Salaam. But patients with the condition have become an increasingly rare sight in her clinics. A global effort to curb the disease that results in elephantiasis, called lymphatic filariasis, has sent the number of new cases plummeting in Tanzania and at least 18 other countries. Seven more nations, including Cambodia and Sri Lanka, have in the past year eliminated it. The prevalences of other neglected tropical diseases that affect the world’s poorest people have been dropping too. But health officials are not resting on their laurels. Even as they celebrate these victories, they are meeting this week in Geneva, Switzerland, to ramp up their efforts to combat the diseases. They will make plans to treat the hundreds of millions of people who still need it, and to come up with ways to reach communities located far from health services. Several groups will also announce extra funding to fight neglected diseases. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, plans to commit another US$335 million to the cause, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) will contribute £360 million (US$450 million). Neglected tropical diseases affect roughly 1 billion people worldwide and kill about 534,000 each year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But drug companies and science agencies in rich countries tend to ignore these maladies because they almost exclusively afflict the world’s poorest people. The Gates Foundation threw its energy into fighting these illnesses starting in 1999, when it realized that a relatively small investment could dramatically improve millions of lives, says cofounder Bill Gates. It estimates that a package to treat or prevent several neglected diseases costs around $0.50 per person. Gates told Nature that recent successes are the result of global partnerships between governments, companies and nongovernmental organizations that have formed over the past decade. Multiple groups, including the Gates Foundation, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the DFID, signed a global agreement in 2012 called the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases to eliminate or reduce the prevalence of ten neglected diseases by 2020. Five of the targeted diseases, such as lymphatic filariasis and leprosy, can be prevented with drugs. Treatments are the only option for the other five, including visceral leishmaniasis (or kala-azar) — a potentially fatal disease spread by sandflies — and river blindness. Pharmaceutical companies have been donating drugs for these illnesses for more than a decade, but the lack of reliable distribution systems has often kept people from receiving treatment. Since 2006, USAID has been trying to fix that issue. One way is by funding nongovernmental organizations that ensure community workers in remote towns have the tools that they need to treat the ill. As a result, more than 1.6 billion treatments, worth an estimated US$11.1 billion, have gone to 31 countries. More than 300 million people who required preventive treatments for at least one neglected disease five years ago no longer need them because transmission has dramatically slowed, thanks to mass drug administration, according to the World Health Organization. Cases of treatable diseases are dropping, too: since 2005, kala-azar has decreased by 82% in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Sleeping sickness has plummeted in Africa by 89% since 2000. But to stamp out the ten conditions listed on the London Declaration, millions of people around the world still require treatments and cures. Scientists could help to speed up progress by considering the challenges in places where neglected diseases occur, says David Molyneux, a parasitologist at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK. For example, strategies to train and pay health workers to spot early signs of infection might save more lives than sequencing parasitic genomes. And simple tests for detecting several neglected diseases would also be advantageous for people around the world, says Tom Frieden, a former CDC director. All of this work requires money, which might be a problem if the US Congress approves President Donald Trump's request to cut the budget of the state department and USAID by 37%. “Any drop of funding in this area will lead to more death and more suffering,” Gates says. However, the partnerships formed over the past five years provide a kind of safety net. And the fact that the United Nations chose alleviation of poverty as its first Sustainable Development Goal — a list of targets for 2016–30 made by global leaders to improve the world — gives researchers such as Molyneux hope. “Unless you are going to do something about these diseases, people in poverty will continue to be constrained by poverty.”
News Article | April 24, 2017
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where nearly one in 10 children dies before the age of five and half the population lacks access to clean drinking water, the traditional approach to aid–donations–hasn’t worked very well. Despite tens of billions in international aid delivered to the country since the turn of the millennium, it’s still hard to find clean water. Health clinics regularly run out of medicine. After more than two decades of conflict, it keeps getting harder to get new donations to keep everything running. A startup is piloting a new model of aid: a community-run business that sustains itself. Called Asili (the name means both “tradition” and “what holds us together” in a local language), it includes three interconnected parts. A farming cooperative gives loans of seeds and fertilizer and gives access to a guaranteed market for crops. With income from the farms, families can afford the Asili’s other two services–kiosks that sell clean water, and modern healthcare at clean, well-stocked clinics. “We’re doing this in the hardest place in the world, and it’s working.” Photo: Christopher MichelIn January 2017, three years after launching, Asili saw its first profitable month. Now 25,000 people have access to water for the first time; to date, the business has sold more than 1.3 million gallons, piped in from a clean local water source. The clinics, which have served thousands of patients, open each day at 7:30 a.m., in a region where 40% of clinics are closed, unpredictably, on any given day. The pharmacies inside the clinics have never run out of the medicine they provide. “We’re doing this in the hardest place in the world, and it’s working,” says Daniel Wordsworth, CEO of the American Refugee Committee, the aid organization that co-created the startup with USAID, Congolese community members, and the design firm Ideo.org. “Our moonshot is actually around intimacy. How do you have an organization or an approach or a service that is absolutely oriented to the customer?” Photo: Christopher MichelThe business is an early experiment as the American Refugee Committee thinks about how to evolve for the future. “We’re trying to grapple with this idea of what a 21st–century humanitarian organization looks like, and what a 21st-century humanitarian response looks like,” he says. “Our view is that everything you’re seeing around are kind of like perfected 20th-century institutions. They’re like big, dumb, scaled machines that deliver ‘results,’ but it’s all a little bit Comcast-y. There are some great things about Comcast–like they go everywhere and they do everything at scale, and it kind of works–but it also kind of sucks at the same time.” Rather than focus on scale, Asili is focused on customer service, and providing a quality product that people are willing to pay for. “I think in our world, everyone thinks that our moonshot when it comes to humanitarian work is around scale,” Wordsworth says. “Whereas I think our moonshot is actually around intimacy. How do you have an organization or an approach or a service that is absolutely oriented to the customer?” The community was involved in every aspect of the business creation, including the logo. Photo: Christopher MichelTo create the new business, the team worked with Ideo.org and the community itself. “It included co-design sessions where we were putting together role plays and asking community members to play out different scenarios,” says Jocelyn Wyatt, executive director of Ideo.org. “Like, ‘You’re the woman who pregnant, but you don’t have enough money to cover your visit, and you’re the nurse, and you’re the doctor. Show us what happens.’ Through these role plays, they showed us what would happen in these moments of service delivery.” The community was involved in every aspect of the business creation, including the logo. Red–the color the ARC initially proposed–was rejected because it is used by local rebels. Green was associated with the military, and other colors were associated with political parties. Instead of choosing a single color, the logo uses red, yellow, blue, and green, to emphasize that the services are for everyone. “Human-centered design is allowing us to be able to build with the community in mind, with the community at the center.” Photo: Christopher MichelBefore the first clinic was built, the community gave feedback on the layout. The community also helped shape the choice to have clear, transparent prices for services at the clinic. At other clinics, fluctuating prices meant that many patients stopped using services. A woman might go for a free prenatal screening somewhere else, and then return and find that the price was now an unaffordable $5. “Human-centered design is allowing us to be able to build with the community in mind, with the community at the center,” says Abraham Leno, the DRC country representative for the ARC, who manages Asili. “They are not just the way we used to position them as the beneficiary . . . Here your opinion matters. When that opinion feeds into their goals for themselves, their goals for future, their goals for community, then they know that we are serious about building something that would stay longer.” Leno, who lived in a refugee camp himself as a teenager, believes that traditional humanitarian aid–while helpful for short-term crises–is both hard to sustain and disempowering. In a recent poll of Congolese citizens, a third of respondents said that the country would be better off without international NGOs. Photo: courtesy ARC“I speak with knowledge of growing up being an African, and coming from this community,” he says. “The global society has not always been able to see things through our eyes. Most times when someone is categorized as vulnerable, as helpless, it takes away a lot of power from you. You start to feel vulnerable and you feel I have nothing to offer. That needs to change. Asili is not a handout.” Service at the clinics, designed with the goal that the American-based ARC staff would feel comfortable taking their own children there, is so respected locally that people from the nearby city of Bukavu have started coming to the villages to use them. “That’s really unprecedented–you would never leave the city to go to the country for that sort of thing,” Wyatt says. Asili plans to continue expanding locally. There are currently three clinics, each surrounded by water kiosks, and a fourth clinic will come soon. By putting three businesses together in each village–the clinics, the water kiosks, and the agriculture business–it helps reduce overall costs. “If you’re in Congo and you have to import stuff in, you have to hire your own customs person to sit on the border for two days a week, that’s going to kill you,” says Wordsworth. “But instead we could share the costs of one person to manage customs and the supply chain. Each business pays for it, but they only have to pay for a portion.” The business model still has challenges to overcome. The water infrastructure, with 60 kilometers of pipeline, was expensive to build. Before recreating the system in other locations, the team hopes to find ways to lower the capital expense. But the business has proven that it can be operationally sustainable. And if it can work in the DRC, one of the poorest countries in the world, it’s likely it could work elsewhere.
News Article | May 1, 2017
Durante a carreira de três décadas do Dr. Lansingh, ele trabalhou para reduzir a cegueira e restaurar a visão pelo mundo. Entre 2004 e 2015, ele serviu a Agência Internacional para a Prevenção da Cegueira (IAPB -- International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness), como coordenador regional para a América Latina. Em 2016, ele aceitou o cargo de diretor de Advocacy do Conselho Internacional de Oftalmologia (ICO -- International Council of Ophthalmology). A partir de 2015, o Dr. Lansingh se associou à campanha da HelpMeSee para eliminar a cegueira causada por catarata, assumindo o cargo de CMO para a América Latina, onde ele foi distinguido recentemente com o "Prêmio Internacional de Prevenção da Cegueira" (International Blindness Prevention Award), concedido pela Academia Americana de Oftalmologia (AAO -- American Academy of Ophthalmology). Ao agradecer a PAAO pela distinção, o Dr. Lansingh disse: "Para mim, isso reflete um espírito verdadeiro de cooperação e educação. Eu trabalho em diversas frentes, principalmente como CMO da HelpMeSee e também com a IAPB e com o ICO, como diretor de Proteção, assim como sou membro do conselho de diversas organizações de oftalmologia. Meu esforço é o de fazer muitas organizações trabalharem juntas para um objetivo comum: tornar a cegueira uma coisa do passado". Ao anunciar o prêmio, o presidente e chairman do Bascom Palmer Eye Institute da Universidade de Miami, Eduardo C. Alfonso, disse: "O Prêmio Humanitário Benjamin F. Boyd não poderia ter sido destinado a uma pessoa mais merecedora. O Dr. Lansingh dedicou sua vida ao serviço comunitário, prevenção de programas para a cegueira e outras atividades humanitárias. A família Bascom Palmer se sente extremamente orgulhosa do Dr. Lansingh, onde ele serve como professor adjunto voluntário de oftalmologia". O presidente e CEO da HelpMeSee, Jacob Mohan Thazhathu, declarou: "O trabalho e realizações do Dr. Lansingh em prevenção e eliminação da cegueira promoveu significativamente a educação, o treinamento, a oftalmologia comunitária e o suporte de políticas públicas. Aplaudimos a PAAO pelo reconhecimento bem merecido do Dr. Van Lansingh e de nossa missão comum de terminar com a cegueira causada pela catarata". Mais recentemente, o Dr. Lansingh concluiu uma campanha da HelpMeSee para eliminar a catarata infantil no Peru, em parceria com o Instituto Damos Vision (IDV) e suporte da USAID, como parte do Programa da Cegueira Infantil (www.usaid.gov/childblindness), que se destina a fazer a triagem da catarata infantil e restaurar a visão das crianças. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dr-lansingh-recebe-o-premio-humanitario-benjamin-f-boyd-de-2017-da-paao-300448914.html
News Article | April 17, 2017
Marcel Ngué’s new book Farewell to Marriage, Long Live Marriage ($17.99, paperback 9781498491242; $8.99, eBook, 9781498491259) aims to raise awareness among parents, teachers and young people, in an era where marriage is going through the most critical period in its history. It appeals specifically to couples who are about to call it quits and are looking for ways to rebuild and save their marriage. It is an extremely topical book, dealing as it does with the death and resurrection of marriage, a hot topic which is at the center of the marriage for all policy. It is a practical book that offers case studies and a questionnaire through which married people could assess their performance and take corrective measures. Ngué says, “This book comes at the right time as a contribution to redeem marriage, an endangered institution. It enhances the blue-print of biblical marriage. Above all, men and women are dealing, among other things, with the beam which is in their own eyes, and not the speck in their spouses' eyes. The book teaches young people how to reserve their purity for marriage. It appeals to parents, teachers, churches and matrimonial counselors, inviting them to join their forces to challenge marriage predators.” As a Development Economist, Marcel Ngué worked for almost three decades as Project and Liaison Officer for many Christian institutions in Africa, Europe and North America, as well as with international development agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Cameroon-Canada Cooperation Center (CCCC). As a Linguist, he held bilingual positions as a Translator and Language Teacher. He is a writer. Many of his publications deal with development issues. Farewell to Marriage, Long live Marriage, The Shadow of reality and the Reality of Shadow, reveals another layer of his vision. He is a lifetime Student of the Scriptures. Marcel and his wife Madeleine live in Maryland. They have four children, two girls (Anne-Estelle and Françoise-Olive) and two boys (Ivain-Zacharie and Philippe-Edgar). Xulon Press, a division of Salem Media Group, is the world’s largest Christian self-publisher, with more than 12,000 titles published to date. Retailers may order Farewell To Marriage, Long Live Marriage! through Ingram Book Company and/or Spring Arbor Book Distributors. The book is available online through xulonpress.com/bookstore, amazon.com, and barnesandnoble.com.
News Article | April 27, 2017
DHS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in partnership with Excella Consulting and the National Technical Information Service, won this year's Igniting Innovation Award for their Verification Program that is used by the private sector, and federal and state governments to determine eligibility for government benefits and to enable work authorizations for individuals across the country. The system is being rapidly modernized using agile, DevOps, cloud services, and data science best practices to regularly deliver new features that make it easier for thousands of individuals to start jobs and obtain public benefits and credentials. USCIS also won last year's Igniting Innovation award for their myUSCIS program. USAID won the award for the innovation with the greatest impact for their Global Innovation Exchange, an online platform to connect innovators, funders, and experts working on development innovations around the world. INADEV Corporation won the award for the most disruptive innovation for the Immersive Multi-Dimensional Experience. This application provides a virtual tour of the World War II Memorial and guides visitors through experiences of people impacted by the war. It engages and informs all age groups through narrative, games, video, audio, stories and images in seven languages and accommodates a broad range of disabilities. AEGIS.net, Inc. won the award for transforming or extending existing capabilities for the Developer's Integration Lab (DIL), an automated conformance and interoperability test lab. This revolutionary cloud-based system facilitates secure, reliable electronic data exchange in accordance with national standards while protecting information integrity and confidentiality. USDA Food and Nutrition Service won the award for the innovation with the greatest potential to enhance services to citizens with its Web-Based Prototype Application for School Meals. This application makes it easier to apply for reduced or free lunches for millions of children while streamlining the process and increasing the integrity of the program. Over the last four years, ACT-IAC received several hundred nominations showing that governments at all levels across the country, in partnership with private sector companies, are working hard to innovate. If we can sustain and grow those efforts, then all Americans stand to benefit from the promise of innovation. The American Council for Technology (ACT) is a non-profit educational organization established to improve government's service delivery and operational performance through the effective and innovative application of technology. ACT-IAC provides a unique, objective and trusted collaborative forum where government and industry executives are working as partners to address critical issues, apply best practices and pioneer innovative solutions. ACT-IAC also provides high-quality learning and educational opportunities to improve the knowledge and expertise of the government workforce – both public and private. Further information about ACT-IAC can be found at www.actiac.org. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/innovation-in-government-is-thriving-300447404.html
News Article | April 28, 2017
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a trilateral meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida and Korean Foreign Minister Yun, Friday, April 28, 2017, at the United Nations. (Bryan R. Smith/Pool Photo via AP) WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is proposing to eliminate 2,300 jobs as part of a plan to cut more than a quarter of the State Department's budget for the next fiscal year, officials said Friday. The plan will almost certainly meet resistance from lawmakers opposing President Donald Trump's proposal to shrink the size of the federal government. Tillerson's proposal reduces the number of new diplomats being hired and includes the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development's possible consolidation, according to officials briefed on the proposal. The staff cuts would amount to about 3 percent of the department's roughly 75,000-strong workforce. The proposal is a response to the Office of Management and Budget's call to slash the State Department and USAID budgets by 31 percent through deep cuts to foreign aid and other programs, said the officials, who weren't authorized to speak publicly about the as-yet unreleased plan and requested anonymity. Tillerson's plan would entail a 26 percent budget reduction, they said. In an interview with NPR that aired Friday, Tillerson said he intended to reorganize the department to make it more efficient and focused. "What we really want to do is examine the process by which the men and women — the career foreign service people, the civil servants, our embassies — how they deliver on that mission," he said. "We want to hear from them, we're just about to embark on a department-wide listening mission," he said, adding later: "I look forward to hearing their ideas. Because I know there's going to be opportunities to allow them to be more effective. Now, out of that we'll determine what the State Department looks like." Cutting more than a quarter of State Department's current $50.1 billion budget would require dramatic reductions in programs and staffing, cuts that many in Congress and elsewhere oppose. Tillerson's proposal includes 700 job cuts through buyouts and 1,600 from attrition. The job cuts were first reported by Bloomberg. Buyouts would be offered first to staffers over the age of 50 with at least two decades of government service, the officials said. The State Department declined to comment on the job reductions, and officials cautioned that plans are tentative until the budget is submitted to Congress next month. But Tillerson has spoken publicly of the need to streamline the agency. He will outline plans to State Department staffers next week, officials said. Tillerson hasn't addressed State Department workers since his first day on the job in February. As part of the plan, a high-level panel will explore the consolidation of USAID into the State Department this summer, officials said. An outside consultant will be brought in to survey staffers about additional areas where savings might be found. The officials briefed on Tillerson's proposal this week said the plan also calls for cutting back on hiring new diplomats, from as many as five classes of incoming foreign service officers per year to one or two. It also envisions less hiring of civil service employees, who comprise about 15 percent of the department's workforce. Numerous members of Congress as well as current and former senior military officers have said they are opposed to massive cuts to the diplomatic budget, which accounts for just over 1 percent of the total federal budget. On Thursday, a bipartisan group of 43 senators urged "robust funding" for the State Department and USAID. "At a time when we face multiple national security challenges around the world, deep cuts in this area would be shortsighted, counterproductive and even dangerous," they said in a letter to Senate appropriators. For more news videos visit Yahoo View, available now on iOS and Android.