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In Madagascar’s Tsarazaza village, people have long relied on candles, solar power or generators for light. The farming community’s remote location, 10 hours from the capital of Antananarivo, has kept Tsarazaza beyond the reach of the country’s power grid.
In November 2020, Power Africa, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided $1.2 million to develop mini-grids to deliver sustainable energy to Tsarazaza and other rural communities in central Madagascar.
The improvements have allowed Alfred Rajaonarivelo to reopen the printing business he closed after struggling with the high cost of maintaining solar panels.
“We’ve been waiting for so long, and finally, it’s not a dream anymore. It’s reality,” said Rajaonarivelo, a retired teacher. “Electricity improves our daily life. I am so happy.”
Only about one fourth of Madagascar’s population has access to electricity. Geographic barriers and the high cost of extending electricity grids have complicated efforts to deliver electrical infrastructure to rural communities. While mini-grids have proven vital for providing electricity to remote areas, developers often lack financing to install the systems.
Power Africa convenes governments, the private sector and international development organizations to increase energy access in sub-Saharan Africa. The program’s grants are funding development of mini-grids that will connect roughly 1,500 homes in Madagascar to electricity for the first time.
One Power Africa grantee, Hydro Ingenierie Études Et Réalisations (HIER) has already connected almost 800 households to sustainable power through mini-grids. HIER applied for a Power Africa mini-grid development grant to connect Tsarazaza and nearby Fandriana to electricity. The company previously built a hydro-powered mini-grid plant that successfully connected the village of Morarano to electricity.
Power Africa awarded funds to HIER for equipment to construct roughly 17 kilometers of transmission and 30 kilometers of distribution lines to bring electricity to Tsarazaza and Fandriana. HIER received the equipment to build the distribution network in January 2023 and completed the line extension in May 2023.
A second Power Africa grantee, Autarsys, is working to electrify three villages in the southwestern Atsimo Andrefana region through new hybrid solar-powered mini-grids.
Sahondra Razafindrakaza, a farmer whose solar panel is broken, looks forward to watching TV and listening to the radio when she has access to electricity.
Jaobelina Randriamanatsoa, an 82-year-old who raised 11 children in Tsarazaza while using candles for light agrees. “I’m so happy to have electricity because I can finally watch TV,” he said.
Power Africa previously published a version of this story in Medium.
Yurii Melnyk, a physical therapist from Lviv, Ukraine, said that before Russia’s war against Ukraine, he would see seven patients a day. Today the number can be as many as 30.
Melnyk was among medical professionals from Ukraine who visited U.S. medical facilities over the past year. During those visits, U.S. and Ukraine officials shared their expertise about treating wounded veterans and civilians.
Here is a sampling of the exchanges, organized by the Congressional Office for International Leadership with support from the U.S. State Department. Most included visits to medical facilities operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Fourteen people from Ukraine visited the Tampa VA facility in Florida in January. The facility offers intensive trauma care to veterans dealing with multiple injuries. That includes brain injuries, amputations and spinal cord injuries.
“We wanted them [Ukrainian delegates] to take away some basic knowledge of these catastrophic injuries … and the fact that many of them do improve, many of them do get better,” Steven Scott, the hospital’s chief of physical medicine and rehabilitation, told WUSF public radio.
Taras Voloshyn was among five Ukrainian physicians who visited hospitals in Baltimore. Voloshyn noted that many of the patients he treats suffer from blast injuries. “We are trying to save their limbs,” he said.
Kritis Dasgupta, a physician at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, explained how medical professionals learned from each other.
“It’s an honor for us to show what we do, share with them our expertise in this area, and learn what is their approach to care, and give them things which will help all the patients back in Ukraine,” Dasgupta said.
In the country’s heartland, Century College in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and the Protez Foundation in Minneapolis offered training in prosthetics to 20 Ukrainian health professionals.
“We have a lot of experience, but we want to be better for our patients,” said Olha Shchehliuk, who works with rehabilitating patients in Kyiv.
Yakov Gradinar, a native of Ukraine who founded Protez, said, “It’s very important for us to help as much as we can.”
Meanwhile in Texas, eight Ukrainian medical professionals visited the VA facility in San Antonio in May.
Serhii Kolisnyk, a physician from Vinnytsia, and his colleagues toured the prosthetic lab and discussed recreation therapies.
“We have a big population and every family, every child, every woman, every combatant has some signs of PTSD,” Kolisnyk said, referring to post-traumatic stress disorder.
“This experience was very beneficial and fruitful for us because we have a lot of complex traumas like spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injures, burns and blinded persons,” Kolisnyk said.
The war creates 300 amputees each day, according to Tetiana Lomakina, a presidential policy adviser from Mariupol who participated in the delegation.
When the exchange concluded, the Ukrainians sang their national anthem to the American hosts.
“I admire you and your country so much, and we hope we helped, not only with the knowledge we imparted, but the partnership and love that went into creating this program,” said Julianne Flynn, the South Texas VA executive director.
Pakistan is a clear example of the far-reaching effects of the climate crisis. In the wake of the 2022 floods that claimed the lives of at least 1,700 people, destroyed millions of homes and decimated large areas of farmland, the United States has provided more than $215 million in flood relief assistance.
But the climate crisis can’t be solved by one country. It requires contributions from partners, which is why the United States and Pakistan are working together through the U.S.-Pakistan Green Alliance framework to advance cooperation in climate-smart agriculture, renewable energy and water management.
The U.S.-Pakistan Green Alliance framework also aims to promote inclusive, sustainable economic growth by expanding bilateral trade and investment and creating new jobs, industries and opportunities.
At a July 6, 2023, event commemorating the partnership, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome said, “The Green Alliance framework isn’t only about mitigating climate change and environmental degradation. It also offers Pakistan tremendous economic opportunity by recognizing that green choices are also increasingly profitable and demanded by private markets.”
The Green Alliance partnership builds on a rich history of U.S.-Pakistan partnership. The United States invested in Pakistan’s electrification more than 50 years ago, constructing dams and hydropower plants that continue to provide reliable, efficient and clean energy today.
These projects dramatically increased Pakistan’s electricity capacity — today powering the homes of more than 50 million people. The dams also help to prevent catastrophic water shortages, mitigate the effects of flooding and expand agricultural productivity.
One of several priority projects under the Green Alliance framework was the completion of a $150 million project to refurbish and improve the Mangla Dam Hydro Power Station’s power generation capacity in collaboration with the private sector and Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority.
The Mangla Dam is one of three Pakistani dam renovation projects the United States has funded.
Other Green Alliance initiatives include:
The Green Alliance partnership builds on a rich history. In the 1960s, the United States backed Pakistan’s Green Revolution, which boosted crop yields, improved economic opportunities for Pakistanis, increased food security and life expectancy.
The U.S.-Pakistan Green Alliance framework doesn’t just face the climate crisis — it addresses it with innovation, solidarity and partnership and represents the power of collective action.
“As we look back on more than 75 years of friendship between the United States and Pakistan, we should be proud of our accomplishments,” Blome said. “From the Green Revolution of the 1960s to today’s U.S.-Pakistan Green Alliance, we have forged a partnership that has weathered many challenges and become stronger for them.”
Working with international partners to solve global challenges is central to the United States’ vision for a more prosperous and secure world for all, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
“At the core of our strategy is re-engaging, revitalizing, and reimagining our greatest strategic asset: America’s alliances and partnerships,” the secretary said in a major foreign policy speech September 13 in Washington.
Blinken said the crises that upended the post-Cold War era — climate change, food insecurity and rising authoritarianism, among others — cannot be solved by any one country working alone. Instead, the United States has worked with partners to:
Here are excerpts from the secretary’s speech:
President Biden will address the 78th session of the U.N. General Assembly September 19.
At a meeting with her Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) counterparts at the end of this month, State Department Special Advisor on International Disability Rights Sara Minkara will work with them to increase the rights of people with disabilities while strengthening the U.S.-ASEAN partnership.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1990, provides accommodations for people with disabilities, if necessary, so that they can study or work. Similar laws have been passed in other countries, from the United Kingdom to Mongolia.
These laws and policies protect people with disabilities while boosting economies and societies.
When Son Nguyen lived in the United States, he saw rapidly advancing electric vehicle technology and heard stories from back in Vietnam about air pollution.
So after returning home he launched Dat Bike in 2019. The company sells electric motorbikes in Danang, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and is exploring reuse of electric batteries and how to power its factory with green energy.
Electric vehicles are “the most direct and efficient solution to improving the air quality in Vietnam, and in other countries in Southeast Asia,” Nguyen told Vietnam Investment Review in 2022.
Over the last two decades, energy demand in southeast Asia increased by an average of 3% annually, according to the International Energy Agency’s Southeast Asia Energy Outlook 2022.
Dat Bike is one of numerous partners the U.S. government works with to meet this rapidly growing demand for clean energy. The U.S. also works with electric vehicle manufacturers VinBus and VinFast, as well as Vietnam’s largest electric utility, to support the country’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Vietnam Urban Energy Security project, helping Vietnam deploy electric vehicles, is one of the numerous U.S. government partnerships that are mobilizing billions of dollars to meet growing demand for clean energy in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states.
Launched in December 2021, the USAID Southeast Asia Smart Power Program (SPP) aims to mobilize $2 billion for clean energy projects across the region. In June, SPP issued a $3 million grant to the ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE) to increase renewable energy in the region’s power systems.
“Together, we will strive to increase clean and reliable power, reduce inefficiencies, enhance air quality, and advance climate mitigation efforts,” ACE Executive Director Nuki Agya Utama said in June, calling the partnership “pivotal in achieving our regional targets by 2025.”
Here are several of the many partnerships advancing clean energy in Southeast Asia:
Since 2016, the U.S. government has worked with Lower Mekong countries and other ASEAN member states to encourage renewable energy investments. The cooperation has resulted in the installation of 10,000 megawatts of new energy capacity, enough to power nearly 8 million homes.
USAID’s Mekong Sustainable Manufacturing Alliance helped textile manufacturers in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam continue to meet production goals while using less energy. In Cambodia and Vietnam, the alliance supported installation of solar rooftop systems projected to avoid or reduce 68,000 tons of emissions from the apparel manufacturing sector over the next 15 years.
A U.S. grant announced in May will support a PT Medco Power Indonesia study needed to develop a wind power plant on Indonesia’s island of Sumbawa. The project advances the Indonesian-led Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) with the U.S., Japan and other partners. JETP is mobilizing $20 billion to accelerate Indonesia’s sustainable economic development.
Since 2015, USAID support for new renewable energy generation capacity in Indonesia has brought clean energy to more than 3.3 million people. USAID also mobilized $1.62 billion in private and public sector clean energy investments expected to improve energy access for over 5.3 million Indonesians.
The United States also supports completion of the Rantau Dedap geothermal power project and the Bayang Nyalo hydropower project, both on Indonesia’s island of Sumatra. At Rantau Dedap alone, the renewable energy plant improves electricity access for more than 1.2 million people.
In June, USAID announced over $1.16 million to support installation of solar roofing, nanogenerators and other renewable energy technologies in the Philippines. Improved energy access will help remote communities in Cagayan and Isabela prepare for and recover from natural disasters, USAID says.
The grants are part of USAID’s Energy Secure Philippines project, launched in 2021. In 2022, the program supported the Philippines’ first renewable energy auctions to secure projects to meet growing clean energy demand. The Philippine Department of Energy awarded 18 contracts for solar, wind, biomass and hydropower energy, equal to nearly 7% of the country’s energy capacity.
“Energy is the foundation for systems such as banking, telecommunications, digital platforms, health, education, and transport, among other services,” USAID Assistant Administrator Michael Schiffer said June 20. “We look forward to partnering with the Philippines to provide greater access to sustainable energy in remote communities, increasing prosperity for families across the country.”
Seventy-five years ago, on September 14, 1948, officials broke ground at the New York site for the United Nations headquarters.
Earlier, after World War II ended, 50 countries had founded the U.N. to maintain global peace and security and improve international cooperation. In the face of war’s destruction, President Biden says, the founders could have focused on humanity at its worst. “Instead, they reached for what was best in all of us, and they strove to build something better.”
U.N. Acting Secretary-General Benjamin A. Cohen saw New York, with its large immigrant population, as an exemplary place for the U.N.’s headquarters because New York attracts “people coming from all over to live in peace and harmony,” the New York Times reported at that time.
Decades later, world leaders from the U.N.’s 193 member states converge on Manhattan’s East Side each September for the U.N. General Assembly, bringing modern levels of traffic to the neighborhood. The inconvenience is well worth it, according to Thomas Pickering, who served as U.S. representative to the U.N. in the early 1990s. “Actions by the U.N. still count,” Pickering says. Its general assembly sessions can mold the opinions of world leaders, create legitimacy for the use of force and advance cooperation on protecting human rights, he says.
This year Tuesday, September 19, marks the start of high-level debate for the 78th session of the U.N. General Assembly. Biden will address the assembly on that day.
A new U.S. quarter will honor Celia Cruz, the late “Queen of Salsa,” known for her bold costumes and booming voice and for shouting ¡Azúcar! during performances.
The coin, scheduled for a 2024 release, is part of the U.S. Mint’s American Women Quarters Program, which recognizes the accomplishments and contributions women have made to the United States. Cruz will be the first Afro-Latina on U.S. currency.
Born in Havana in 1925, Cruz immigrated to the United States in 1961, becoming a naturalized citizen after the authoritarian Castro regime’s takeover of Cuba.
Cruz settled in New Jersey, joining a community of Caribbean immigrants in the New York City area that originated the salsa boom in the United States.
She recorded songs that celebrated her Cuban identity and pan–Latin American culture. Cruz was one of the few women to achieve success in male-dominated salsa.
Her famous call of ¡Azúcar!, Spanish for “sugar,” during her performances celebrated Cuban culture and acknowledged the enslaved Afro-Cubans who worked Cuba’s sugar plantations.
Cruz recorded more than 70 albums, earning three Grammys and four Latin Grammys. She died in 2003 in New Jersey at the age of 77.
A temperate climate and fertile soil make the shores of Lake Hawassa in Ethiopia ideal for raising cattle and growing animal feed.
Yet for small-scale farmers near the lake, 300 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, producing a large enough supply of safe milk to consistently earn a profit isn’t easy.
“The biggest challenge ahead is keeping up with farming technology,” said Eskender Yoseph, one of more than three dozen farmers in Ethiopia who gained access to farming technology through a partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “We need a lot of innovation to keep pace and maintain the quality of our farm products.”
In 2018, USAID outreach, conducted through its Feed the Future Value Chain Activity (PDF, 1.3MB), found farmers in Hawassa who were willing to train and lead others on how to use new technologies.
In 2021, USAID provided Yoseph’s Anan Dairy farm two portable milking machines. The machines reduce milking time from 10 minutes to three minutes, while ensuring safe and hygienic milk.
The technology helped Yoseph increase productivity, and he trained other farmers in the region on how to use the equipment. USAID later donated milking machines to 31 other farmers in the region.
USAID also provided chopping machines to Yoseph and 38 other farmers in Ethiopia. Yoseph uses the machines to chop alfalfa, the high-protein feed he grows to help optimize his farm’s milk production.
USAID support has helped Yoseph thrive. He employs 55 workers who farm and process dairy and perform administrative tasks, including finance, sales and distribution. Anan Dairy now has 40 milking cows, 20 dry cows, 20 heifers and 25 calves and produces 1,000 liters of milk each day.
Always entrepreneurial, Yoseph began building his own chopping machines, which USAID has purchased to sell to other farmers. Yoseph’s ingenuity has made him a valuable partner in USAID’s efforts to provide technological support to other small-scale farmers in Hawassa.
He trains other young farmers through social media, teaching cattle and feed management, as well as other farming practices. In 2023, Yoseph trained over 70 young farmers from Bahir Dar, Addis Ababa and other nearby cities. Millions of people have viewed his dairy farming videos on YouTube and Telegram.
Yoseph also repurposes cow waste for organic fertilizer and, with the help of a generator, uses captured biogas to power his farm equipment. And he hopes to expand his agricultural business to include selling organic fertilizer to help other farmers increase profits while improving food security in Ethiopia.
“Within 10 kilometers, there are more than 1,000 farmers” in need of fertilizer, Yoseph said. “We want to supply fertilizer for them, in conjunction with USAID.”
A version of this article was published by USAID. Read the full USAID version here.