My experience with USAID, as well as my past experiences working with various development organizations, has shaped much of what I know and how I currently view the field of development. In recent years, it seems that the development field has begun to realign its underlying philosophies, approaches, models, and financial structures. The current focus on global health, and the trend toward greater technical and organizational integration and coordination, presents an unprecedented opportunity for the international community to increase its development assistance capacity.
Over the past few years, I have begun to forge my path into the world of development. In my current position, I have the opportunity to work on such topics as tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, and environmental health. I also help manage multimillion dollar health grants for USAID with WHO and the CDC.
“The world is starting to grasp that there is no policy more effective in promoting development, health and education than the empowerment of women and girls.”
Kofi Annan, International Women’s Day, 8 March 2006
Focusing on individual pieces of the overall development goal is an excellent approach, but to be more effective, organizations are beginning to cooperate in similar focus areas using their individual comparative advantage in a collaborative manner. Organizations are also integrating their collective resources to prevent overlap and ensure a more well-rounded overall development program. Similarly, the disintegration of separate compartmentalized approaches for all technical areas, such as disease, poverty, nutrition, education, and the economy, is slowly beginning to emerge.
As major players in the development field continue to move more resources and focus operations at the local level, larger and more established international organizations are stepping back and providing mentorship, leadership, and facilitation to the local organizations in-country. A greater push toward collaboration at all levels is taking hold, and there is greater success being seen in projects run by empowered locals according to their cultural and political norms. In the future, I believe we will see greater coordination and integration, thus ensuring that the right type and amount of assistance really reaches the grass roots level.
Through my work at USAID, I can see that public health issues are continually emerging as one of the most influential areas of humanitarian aid and development policy. The current drain on human resources at the local level can be largely attributed to the continuing severity of the global HIV epidemic. The HIV impact is rapidly decimating the base of vital human resources available to sustain functioning societies, and now HIV co-infection and the surge of other infectious diseases further taxes the infrastructure dedicated to managing the public health crisis. National policy makers and other large donors are channeling a major portion of aid resources into global health initiatives through programs such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), and increased funding from Congress for tuberculosis and other diseases. This support is positioning the field of public health as a major cornerstone of development for the future.
As integration, collaboration, and public health move to the forefront of development, I believe we will see more opportunities for change and improvement in people’s lives in the developing world.
Roses is currently a program assistant in the Bureau for Global Health with USAID in Washington, D.C. Previous to joining USAID, she interned with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, LDS Humanitarian Services, and the Center for Religious Information and Freedom with the BYU International Volunteers program in Kyiv, Ukraine. She graduated from BYU in 2005 with a BA in international studies.