Vietnam Opens Country’s First Elephant Reserve
9/7/2017

Vietnam has a new nature reserve, created to protect the few remaining Asian elephants in Vietnam. These “gentle giants” face the threat of extinction, and have become so rare that few Vietnamese have ever seen them. Fortunately, seven elephants were recently found in Quang Nam Province, and in September the province’s Forest Protection Department opened Vietnam’s first elephant reserve to protect them, with support from the USAID Green Annamites Project, which is implemented by ECODIT.

The USAID Green Annamites Project helped organize a celebration on opening day. More than 100 local people from Phuoc Ninh and Que Lam communes in Nong Son district, where the reserve is located, attended the event. Dignitaries in attendance included the Vice Chairman of the Provincial People’s Committee (PPC), Mr. Le Tri Thanh, and the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, His Excellency Mr. Ted Osius.

“Improving the lives of local communities, conserving biodiversity, and supporting provinces to implement sustainable economic growth programs is an important part of the U.S. commitment to Vietnam. We are proud to partner with the Quang Nam provincial leadership to provide a critical habitat for the endangered Asian elephant, while finding ways to improve the incomes of local farmers,” said Ambassador Osius at the launch.

During the day-long launch event, the PPC and leaders from USAID/Vietnam and the USAID Green Annamites project led activities to introduce local people to their new elephant neighbors. A mobile tent included a Terrestrial Giant exhibit to educate people about the elephant’s life history. School children joined a painting contest, a “magical hat” event, and other games to learn about elephant conservation.

The elephant reserve advances the larger goals of the USAID Green Annamites project. The project works with local governments, the private sector, and communities in Vietnam’s Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam Provinces to reduce deforestation, increase conservation, and to increase the incomes of vulnerable people, including ethnic minorities, through improved farming practices. The project will work with communities surrounding the nature reserve to engage them in conservation efforts and help them find sustainable ways to boost their incomes. In addition, the project will work with reserve staff to protect the elephants and to educate visitors from throughout the country about the importance of elephant conservation.

Read more about the USAID Green Annamites Project here.

USAID Water Launches new website
7/26/2017

ECODIT is proud to announce the launch of GlobalWaters.org, USAID’s new knowledge-sharing and collaboration website. The site was created through the USAID Water Communications and Knowledge Management (CKM) activity, which is implemented by ECODIT.

Globalwaters.org is a global knowledge resource for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working in the water sector. Supported by the USAID Water Office, this site is about sharing knowledge and ideas to solve global water and sanitation challenges.

The site offers water and development practitioners a wide array of learning materials, technical resources, project evaluations, and multimedia content covering the depth and breadth of USAID water supply, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs and related topics—water resources management, water for food, cooperation over shared waters, drought, and resilience. The objective is for Globalwaters.org to become a place for development practitioners to help identify and refine better practices, and to inform USAID’s technical direction in areas of information gaps.

USAID Awards First Grant for Clean Energy in the Caribbean and Central America
2/4/2017

USAID awarded the first grant as part of the Clean Energy Finance Facility for the Caribbean and Central America (CEFF-CCA) project to Rekamniar Capital Limited! The grant will support start-up costs to build Eight Rivers Energy Company, a 37-megawatt (MW) solar farm in Jamaica. When it is up and running, the solar farm will connect to the national grid to provide clean energy at a lower cost to Jamaicans all over the island. Learn more about the Clean Energy Finance Facility implemented by ECODIT and how to apply for grants at www.ceff-cca.org.

USAID Releases Water Report
1/28/2017

ECODIT is proud to announce the release of Safeguarding the World's Water for Fiscal Year 2015, USAID’s annual report about its water-related activities and accomplishments. ECODIT produced the report for the Agency through the USAID Water Communications and Knowledge Management Project.

Safeguarding the World's Water for FY 2015 describes a wide range of programs consistent with USAID's Water and Development Strategy’s focus on maintaining human health and growing food through water. It is organized by region and shares Fiscal Year 2015 achievements and investments as well as illustrative examples of country-specific programs related to these key issues and other Agency priorities.

The Agency invested more than $499,995,179 towards water-related programming in 54 countries in FY 2015. These programming investments were driven by two strategic objectives defined by USAID’s Water and Development Strategy (2013-2018). Those objectives are first, to improve health outcomes through the provision of sustainable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); and second, to manage water for agriculture sustainably and more productively to enhance food security.

USAID's E3/Urban Team Speaker Series
1/28/2017

On February 1, 2017, USAID’s E3/Land and Urban Office kicked off a new UrbanLinks event series examining urban development assistance with a panel event on Financing Urban Infrastructure. The panel brought together experts who addressed how cities can bridge the gap between insufficient funding resources and developing and maintaining resilient urban infrastructure.

Moderator USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Carrie Thompson outlined challenges facing rapidly growing cities in developing countries. The panelists included David Painter, a senior advisor to the World Bank and the Cities Alliance. Mr. Painter is an expert on improving city creditworthiness and facilitating long-term urban infrastructure financing. Panelist Kirti Devi is a Municipal Finance Specialist for the World Bank at the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) with experience in sub-national planning and finance. The third panelist was Christopher Kaczmarski, an expert on assisting governments and institutions through planning and implementation of programs on climate change adaptation (CCA) and sustainable development financing. The experts weighed in on topics ranging from Public-Private Partnerships, development banks, credit enhancement or guarantees, on-lending, and the role of private capital and donors such as USAID.

Mr. Painter brought to the audience’s attention to the new approach that the World Bank is currently rolling out. The approach seeks to improve the World Bank’s traditional role as a primarily lending bank. Instead, World Bank will bring commercial financing in on critical resources to help leverage money at the local level. The panelists agreed that the new approach, along with changing philosophies at donors such as USAID, presents a positive change for traditional financing organizations beginning to act as catalysts to urban financing instead of direct providers. In particular, Ms. Devi thought that USAID can still play a critical role as “one of few entities with sufficient expertise to support sub national financing, and bring experts in to address long-term technical assistance.” Ms. Devi further pointed out that USAID has the in-country presence that can greatly improve technical assistance on a country by country basis. She noted that “everything we do is very context specific. Urbanization in Asia looks very different from urbanization in Africa.”

All three panelists agreed that integrating climate change resilience into municipal projects cannot be ignored, despite the increased cost. Mr. Kaczmarski argued that even “unbankable” projects should not be ignored, particularly if co-financing can allow cities to decide what they need instead of relying solely on investors’ perspective. Overall, the panelists agreed the local funding sources should be brought in sooner. In particular, Mr. Kaczmarski noted that “recent trends toward leveraging local resources is positive.”

Learn more about the recent panel and future events rest of the speaker series by visiting the UrbanLinks website. Urban Links is implemented by ECODIT along with ICMA through the Supporting Office of Urban Planning (SOUP) Project under the Making Cities Work IDIQ.

USAID Energy Links builds standards for the energy sector in the Kyrgyz Republic
11/1/2016

On November 1, 2016 Energy Links team participated in the meeting of the Science and Technical Commission of Intergovernmental Council on Metrology, Standardization and Certification and presented the Energy Links achievements in introduction of the IEC standards in the Kyrgyz Republic. To increase energy security for the region, ECODIT currently implements the USAID/Central Asia Energy Links Project, which addresses key challenges facing the energy sector. The Kyrgyz participants recommended adoption of international data exchange standards in energy sector by other countries in Central Asia region to simplify the data exchange between the energy systems and to support regional cooperation.

In total, 40 representatives from respective agencies from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan, Belorussia, Moldova, and Russia, participated at this regional meeting. Energy Links (EL) team facilitated the session’s discussion on adoption of international data exchange standards by countries-members of the CIS Intergovernmental Council on Metrology, Standardization and Certification. EL representative described the process of acceptance of international data exchange standards in Kyrgyz Republic energy sector and outlined achieved results. Kyrgyzstandart and JSC Severelectro made presentations on their roles in this process. JSC NEHC and JSC Severelectro representatives described the importance and practical benefits of adoption of data exchange standards. The introduction was followed by more than an hour-long discussion with active participation of all delegations which demonstrated the strong interest from the parties for the subject. As the result of discussion, the meeting attendees committed to conduct consultations in their countries and reflected their intentions in the meeting minutes. National standardization agencies agreed to do the following:

• Inform Ministries and companies of all stakeholders in their respective countries about success in implementation of international data exchange standards adopted in Kyrgyz Republic

• Conduct a survey in their countries on the interest to implementation of international data exchange standards adopted in Kyrgyz Republic

• Notify Kyrgyzstandard by February 2017 on the activities related to the standardization of data exchange processes in their countries and the interest to the adoption of the standards implemented in KR as intergovernmental standards.

Preliminary feedback from the national standardization agencies inspires on positive acceptance of the IEC standards in their respective countries and lays hope for adoption of these standards as CIS interstate standards.