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Since 1999, USAID has supported activities aimed at creating a more democratic and free market-oriented society in Belarus by helping to develop Belarusian civil society, the private sector and communities. USAID has provided access to objective information, stimulated economic empowerment and helped protect vulnerable groups from such global challenges as trafficking in persons (TIP) and infectious diseases. To increase Belarusian exposure to American values and enhance mutual understanding, USAID has facilitated international exchanges for Belarusian professionals, NGO leaders, entrepreneurs and public sector officials, and brought American volunteers to Belarus to share best practices.

Since the mid-2000s, USAID has contributed to improving and protecting the health of families living in radiation-affected areas of Belarus by strengthening the awareness of radiation-safe behaviors among residents in the Chernobyl zone and training health care providers in parental and child health in the low-dose radiation affected environment. USAID programs have helped improve the quality and effectiveness of TB prevention, diagnosis, and treatment programs by training medical professionals and strengthening TB control systems.

Support to civil society in Belarus is one the key priorities for U.S. Government assistance programs. USAID has implemented civil society development programs in Belarus to build mature, sustainable organizations that can effectively partner with key stakeholders to solve current social and economic issues, as well as to advocate for governance and policy changes at the local and national level. Additionally, USAID-support has provided millions of Belarusians with access to more objective information about pertinent domestic and international issues.

Today, USAID’s economic growth programs are focused on strengthening and growing Belarus’ private sector, especially micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). USAID provides support to improve the business climate, strengthen business support infrastructure, increase competencies of private entrepreneurs, facilitate access to finance, and embolden the entrepreneur spirit of Belarusians. The Agency’s support to multi-faceted business education and training activities have demonstrated long-term impacts by local business schools’ adopting international standards of business education. As a result,  modern curricula and innovative formats, including distant learning courses, are successfully implemented at numerous local business schools. As a result, nearly 6,000 MSMEs have strengthened their management skills and capacity through USAID-supported business management training using the internationally known Business Edge training toolkit developed by IFC. Additionally, close to 90 startups were created as the result of the USAID-supported TechMinsk entrepreneurship school.

USAID has been providing continuous assistance to Belarus to reduce TIP and support victim protection activities to facilitate their reintegration into society. The USAID-supported national toll- free hotline provides information on safe travel to 144 countries to thousands of people every year.

For ten years, in 2005-2015, USAID  helped prevent child abuse and neglect, training biological and adoptive parents and service providers in proper child care. USAID worked to move orphans and vulnerable children from institutions to families. As a result of USAID’s support, the nationwide level of institutionalization of children in adversity has decreased from 29.4 percent to 16.5 percent, and the average level of institutionalization in 12 core USAID project communities dropped to less than 1 percent.

Lastly, USAID continues to support people with disabilities in becoming more active socially and economically by promoting the development of community-based programs for the disabled while strengthening the capacity of non-government organizations to advocate for the rights of the disabled in Belarus. To date, over 700 specialists and volunteers were trained in advocating for the rights of PWDs.  Additionally, an awareness raising campaign promoting  PWD inclusion and eliminating stigma reached over 15,000 people through creative events, exhibitions and informational materials.