Posted on June 22, 2009 by Aaron Sherinian, Managing Director, Public Affairs
MCC, together with friends from the ONE Campaign and (RED), witnessed the reality of what can happen when people come together to fight poverty. At the Bawjiase Junior Secondary School, hundreds of students, teachers and parents welcomed us to view the renovated classrooms where education has an improved, better home in this community. The words of the Head Mistress were a moving tribute to what positive things the peoples of the United States and Ghana are accomplishing together.
The decision of the ONE and (RED) delegations to visit MCC programs was a visible signal of the commitment of diverse groups to foster innovative approaches to reduce poverty in Africa and around the globe. They asked the men, women and children they met about their hopes for their future and the biggest obstacles to economic growth in their homes and communities. One thing that was clear from the conversations I witnessed was that integrated approaches—programs that tackle the problem of poverty from all angles, including infrastructure, education, agricultural training, trade, and policy—are the best way to ensure lasting, tangible results. We at MCC are grateful for the commitment of groups like ONE and (RED), who want to see poverty reduction programs in action and experience first-hand the challenges and the exciting headway we are making with partners like Ghana.
From the N1 Highway that MCC is helping rehabilitate to the farmer training programs to the renovated classrooms in Bawjiase, it was inspiring to see the U.S. Government’s $547 million compact with Ghana helping to fortify our strong relationship as friends while ensuring that the next generation of Ghanaians can take advantage of the potential and promise of their future.
Posted on June 9, 2009 by Dr. Stahis Solomon Panagides, Resident Country Director, Cape Verde
This weekend, I had the pleasure of joining the Prime Minister of Cape Verde, other government authorities, U.S. Ambassador Marianne Myles, hundreds of citizens, and the leadership of MCA-Cape Verde at the inauguration of the newly rehabilitated road from OrgÃ£os to Pedra Badejo on the island of Santiago, made possible through MCC’s $110 million compact. It is a significant milestone for Cape Verde’s development, and marks MCC’s first completed road project in Africa. This new construction is the first of three roads being rehabilitated on this island. In addition there are four bridges under construction on Santo AntÃ£o Island. These works decrease transportation costs for people and goods, improving access to markets and services. This will help move Cape Verde closer to realizing its goal of poverty reduction and economic growth for the benefit of its citizens.
The new road, over hilly terrain through one of the island’s productive agricultural valleys, is already starting to make a real difference in the lives of Cape Verdean families, farmers, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and social service providers who live and work in communities along its path. It is a six meter wide road with improved safety and drainage systems, complying with environmental and social requirements. We estimate that nearly 12,500 people will directly benefit from just this 10.2 kilometer stretch of road. They will now be able to reach markets more efficiently and have better access to schools and other community services.
This road is just one component of Cape Verde’s MCC compact, aimed also at increasing agricultural productivity, modernizing the Port of Praia-the nation’s capital-and fostering private sector development. Reliable road infrastructure is indispensable to the long-term success of projects in these other sectors. The fact that the Government of Cape Verde, with Parliament’s endorsement, set aside a maintenance fund for upkeep of the newly constructed road and others being refurbished demonstrates a commitment to quality and sustainability.
In these ways, the new road brings new opportunities. The statement I delivered at the road inauguration on behalf of MCC’s Acting CEO Rodney Bent reaffirms our determination to build on the success of this first opportunity to now realize the potential of the MCC-Cape Verde compact. My MCC colleagues and I are very proud to be part of this partnership between the US and Cape Verde that made this investment possible, concrete evidence of the historic friendship between our peoples.
Posted on June 3, 2009 by Ken Hackett, Member of MCC's Board of Directors and President of Catholic Relief Services
During a recent trip to Niger, I had the opportunity and privilege of meeting with those coordinating this West African country’s MCC Threshold Program. I came away impressed with their energy and dedication as they work in a challenging environment.
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking near the bottom of the United Nations’ Human Development Index. It has bounced from drought to coup to famine for centuries. Nonetheless, its people persevere with dignity and fortitude in this country nearly twice the size of Texas.
And the MCC, in partnership with the government and people of Niger, have identified an important way to foster long-term progress and sustainable development: promoting the education of girls. Building upon its innovative program in Burkina Faso, the Niger Threshold Program is funding the IMAGINE (Improve the Education of Girls in Niger) project, which includes the building of 68 ““girl friendly”” schools in seven regions throughout the country. These school complexes will include three-classroom buildings with sufficient desks for all students, separate latrines for boys and girls, a water source, housing for female teachers and a school canteen.
Throughout the developing world, there are many obstacles that prevent children, especially girls, from going to school. Those barriers include long walking distances from school, hunger, early and forced marriages, and time-consuming chores at home. The result is that the cycle of poverty is continued over generations. Conversely, education is a powerful tool in fighting poverty, unleashing the potential of a whole segment of the population unaccustomed to having the opportunity to earn their own livelihoods. Research shows that providing girls one extra year of education beyond the average can boost eventual wages by 10-20 percent.
Over the long term, we believe that these kinds of programs aimed at improving the education of girls will lead to increased food security. This is because girls in school receive the knowledge and develop the skills that will enable them to better manage resources for themselves and their families.
Better education for girls also contributes to improvements in the nutrition, health and education of future generations. This knowledge will bolster other assistance efforts being carried out by organizations like my own, Catholic Relief Services. For example, we are implementing a nationwide effort in Niger to encourage the use of mosquito nets to prevent malaria. Better educated women will be more likely to see the benefits of using the nets and will make sure their families do so.
Posted on June 2, 2009 by Vince Ruddy, Resident Country Director, El Salvador
“As chair of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, it is wonderful for me to see the results of our work and our investment,” shared Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last Sunday as she toured MCC projects in El Salvador that are improving the lives of the poor. I felt honored and proud to show Secretary Clinton just how MCC’s $461 million grant is reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth here in El Salvador, where a new president has just taken office following a remarkable democratic election. As the Secretary met with Salvadorans benefiting directly from MCC projectsâ€”from students to farmers to families assisted as electricity finally comes to their homes in the country’s Northern Zoneâ€”we see tangible proof of U.S. commitment to the region, and the effective role MCC’s smart assistance continues to play in changing the lives of the poor of El Salvador.
It was especially gratifying for Secretary Clinton to witness the signing of a public-private partnership (PPP) that will leverage MCC resources with those of the private sector and provide sustainable benefits for the poor. This contract is a true milestone, as it represents MCC’s first financing of a public-private partnership in infrastructure and serves as a model for similar partnerships in other MCC partner countries. By combining funds from MCC, the Government of El Salvador, and the company AES, this partnership will construct 1,300 kilometers of rural electrification lines, connections, and extensions to existing lines in the Northern Zone. This innovative PPP transaction will provide access to electricity for over 30,000 poor families in El Salvador’s Northern Zone.
In these challenging economic times, when every development dollar must count, MCC understands that we can do more by working with partners who share our vision for economic growth and prosperity for the world’s poor. Today, we all join Secretary Clinton in applauding how the private sector and MCC are setting an example in El Salvador by working together to benefit the poor in sustainable ways.
Posted on June 1, 2009 by Darius Mans, Vice President, Department of Compact Implementation
It was a great pleasure to help welcome an impressive group of distinguished guests to MCC last week to mark Africa Day. What continues to unite Africaâ€”a continent of 53 countries each with their own distinct culture and historyâ€”is a shared vision for a new day of opportunity and prosperity to transform the lives of the continent’s poorest. The U.S. Government’s MCC is proud to play a role in realizing this goal by diligently implementing results-driven programs that are making a difference in the lives of Africa’s poor.
We have invested more than 70 percent of our total grant funding-more than $4.7 billion-to fight poverty and stimulate sustainable economic growth in 18 African countries. Our partners are using these investments
- to boost agricultural productivity so as to increase food security,
- to educate girls and teach mothers how to prevent HIV transmission to their newborns, and
- to build roads not only to help farmers get their crops to market but also to help families get to schools and health clinics.
MCC’s partnerships throughout Africa are helping the poor earn the income they need to pull themselves and their households out of poverty and toward a better future. MCC is proof positive of the Obama Administration’s support for Africa, even in the midst of the current economic crisis.
Those who joined us for Africa Day from the Administration, the diplomatic corps, and the development community spoke with one voice: Africa’s promise is vast and the commitment to partner with Africans to realize such potential is firm. Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Relief, Stabilization, and Development at the National Security Council, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Rodney Bent, our acting CEO here at MCC, Her Excellency Ambassador Amina Salum Ali from the African Union, His Excellency Ambassador Aziz Mekouar of Morocco and chair of Africa Day, Ken Hackett, President of Catholic Relief Services, and David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World, discussed the continent’s constraints to growth and realistic approaches for overcoming them. Their special insights offered pragmatic, practical, and results-driven solutions that are meaningful and sustainable for the people of Africa. View the event’s video for details.