Thursday, July 23, 2009

USAID Inspector General Concerned Over Religious Projects

An audit by USAID’s Inspector General found that programs to rebuild mosques in Iraq and faith based AIDS clinics in Africa violate the agencies prohibition from using taxpayer money to fund “inherently religious activities.”  USAID refutes the claim, stating that the purpose of rebuilding mosques was to employ Iraqi youth and that the faith-based AIDS programs supported a secular cause.  The Department of Justice is currently investigating the claim to determine the legality of the USAID programs.

Aid Agencies Team Up with Meteorologists

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) has joined forces with two meteorological centers and an agricultural research agency to help coordinate aid.  Earlier this month, the IFRC used precipitation estimates to prepare aid for flooding in Senegal in advance of the rains.  Seasonal climate data has only recently become available for much of Africa and aid agencies are hoping drought and flood predictions can help them use their resources more effectively.

Less Testing Means More Medicine

A trial by the Development of Anti-Retroviral Therapy in Africa (DART) has shown that laboratory tests for AIDS patients in Africa provide little benefit.  The study suggests that HIV therapy can be safely delivered without lab tests, which can be expensive in rural parts of Africa.  An estimated two thirds of Africans with HIV do not receive anti-retroviral therapy, and making treatment less expensive will allow aid agencies to treat more patients on a given budget.