Poverty Reduction Blog Tag: Namibia
Posted on March 6, 2014 by Cassandra Q. Butts, senior advisor
Gender is one of MCC’s top priorities and for good reason. Creating better opportunities for women and girls is not only the right thing to do—a core value we share with our partner countries across the globe—but also because inequality can stifle a country’s fight to lift its people out of poverty.
My role at MCC is in part to prioritize MCC's gender work to ensure that women and men are equal beneficiaries at the forefront of our approach to development.
On March 8—International Women’s Day—MCC is partnering with Devex and other development leaders on a month-long campaign called She Builds that highlights the role women play in building communities, economies, innovations, and the future.
Together, we will unveil a series of stories and videos of women who have seen their lives change through gender inclusion projects, as well as profiles and interviews of female Millennium Challenge Account CEOs who are leading the charge in implementing MCC-funded programs. From Burkina Faso and Cabo Verde to the Philippines and beyond, these stories will describe how our partnerships are making a positive impact across the world.
We’re also excited about our participation in the White House Council on Women and Girls’ celebration of Women’s History Month, which will highlight some of our achievements in ensuring women and girls benefit from our projects.
But that’s not all. Today, MCC is presenting the latest issue of Milestones, which focuses on our approach to gender. And later this month, I will be sharing my experiences from a recent trip to Malawi.
MCC’s gender investments are paying off, and I am proud of the strides we have made toward greater gender equality. Together with our partner countries, we are helping ensure a better future for all by standing up for women and girls.
Keep checking mcc.gov throughout March to read more about MCC’s progress on advancing gender equality.
Posted on January 24, 2014 by Dave Cole, Natural Products Activity manager, MCA-Namibia, and Karen Nott, institutional development specialist, MCA-Namibia
(This post is part of an ongoing series on food security and is adapted from the Winter/Spring 2012-13 issue of Knowledge and Innovation Network Journal, a technical publication featuring lessons, innovations, ideas, and thinking behind MCC’s poverty reduction investments around the world.)
Can a spiny little desert plant really contribute to food security? It can in Namibia, where the indigenous medicinal plant known as devil’s claw is harvested, dried and sold to exporters by small producer groups.
Because of MCC’s five-year, $304 million compact, the number of organized producer groups who harvest and sell devil’s claw has already more than tripled. The plant, however, is also protected by Namibian law to prevent its overharvesting, making the balance between conservation and income generation tricky.
With the help of MCC, the Government of Namibia ratified a law in 2010 that allows it to more easily trace the sourcing of indigenous natural products and issue permits to produce and sell a sustainable level of devil’s claw.
The compact helped create a sustainable harvesting model that trains and registers harvesters who apply for a group permit, a traceability system for quality control and record keeping, monitoring of sustainable harvesting methods, a reliable partnership with a local exporter to access markets and market information, and a premium price paid directly to harvesters.
The private sector’s role is fundamental to this model, ensuring the sustainability of the activity long after the compact ends later this year. Meanwhile, MCA-Namibia is encouraging harvesters to form cooperatives and producer groups, giving them a stronger voice in negotiating contracts.
Share your experiences! Have you marketed indigenous natural products or helped to establish sustainable harvesting practices in another value chain? We’d love to read about your experiences and continue this conversation.
Click here to read the full article.
Posted on August 9, 2013 by Eliza Keller, Public Affairs Officer
In recent years, demographic changes and the rise of new technologies have positioned youth as drivers of economic and social progress across the world. Youth are key players in MCC’s mission to reduce poverty through economic growth; through engagement in the United States and in our partner countries, MCC works to empower youth with knowledge and economic freedom.
In the United States, MCC partners with universities across the country and includes students in today’s most pressing development issues through research projects, roundtable discussions and speaking engagements. And it’s not just university students getting involved—last week, MCC hosted a group of local high school students at our Washington headquarters. The students, all starting their freshman year, learned about our innovative model and the impact of our programs and engaged in a spirited discussion on emerging trends in development assistance with MCC experts.
Many MCC-funded programs overseas involve youth through investments in education, technical and vocational training and promoting entrepreneurship. In Namibia, for example, the MCC compact includes a program for young professionals to learn a variety of skills related to working in the tourism industry, like language training, communications skills and knowledge of local plant and animal life. With this expertise, young Namibians are better equipped to enter the professional market and lead Namibia’s growing tourism industry.
Youth in today’s global economy face unprecedented challenges—and opportunities. At MCC, we work to provide youth with access to these opportunities, enabling ownership and leadership for a more prosperous future.
Posted on August 24, 2012 by Oliver Pierson, Resident Country Director
MCC and our counterparts at MCA-Namibia are proud to see that Namibia has been chosen to host the 10th Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) taking place in October 2013. The ATWS will draw around 600 delegates and many of the biggest players in the adventure travel tourism industry to Namibia to discuss industry best practices and collaborate on issues facing adventure travel.
MCA-Namibia provided support to the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism in developing Namibia’s bid to host the summit. The MCC-funded tourism project in Namibia, part of the country’s overall $304.5 million compact, is focused around encouraging private investment in the tourism industry, supporting communal conservancies to establish and manage tourism enterprises, and broadening the marketing of Namibia as a tourist destination.
MCC has also worked toward increasing the capacity of Namibia’s tourism industry and improving its management by funding training courses toward the certification of Namibian tour guides. The training courses create new jobs in the sector and work to promote a skilled and educated labor force to cater to the needs of a growing tourist industry. Tourism, already Namibia’s second-most lucrative industry, has the potential to be a strong source of economic growth, helping create more jobs and reduce poverty.
The selection of Namibia, the first African country to host the ATWS, will highlight Namibia’s tourism industry and ideally foster opportunities to build on MCC-funded work in this key sector and drive new private sector investments in tourism.
For more information about the Namibia Compact, visit www.mcc.gov/namibia.
Posted on February 28, 2012 by Tom Campbell, Senior Director
I served as a panelist today at an event MCC co-hosted with the World Wildlife Fund that focused on strategies, implementation and lessons learned from promoting community-driven approaches to natural resource management and eco-tourism in Namibia. We discussed the ways the Government of Namibia is involving the community in a wide-ranging approach to attract tourists while safeguarding the environment.
MCC hosted this event because of its compact with Namibia: a five-year, $305 million investment that is creating business opportunities and jobs in rural Namibia. Our focus today was the compact’s Tourism Project, which seeks to grow the tourism industry in northern communal areas and increase the income of households living in these communal areas.
To do this, MCC is working closely with Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), conservancies and the private sector to improve the management and infrastructure of Etosha National Park, enhance the marketing of Namibian tourism and develop conservancies’ capacity to sustainably manage their natural resources, attract investments in ecotourism and develop tourism skills.
Three examples illustrate our efforts:
Etosha Management and Infrastructure: MCC and MCA-Namibia are working with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on reforms that will offer tourists a better product, encouraging longer stays and boosting revenues to the ministry and conservancies. MCC is also working with the Government of Namibia to open the western half of Etosha to tourism, which should also help attract additional tourists and revenue.
Conservancy Ecotourism Development: MCC and MCA-Namibia are helping conservancies increase their roles and benefits from tourism, generally through joint ventures with the private sector. MCA-Namibia has contracted with the World Wildlife Fund to provide technical assistance and training to 31 conservancies with high tourism potential. MCC funds are also being used for grants to leverage private sector investment in new tourism businesses. Through these partnerships, conservancies and the private sector develop agreements that lead to increased revenue and employment for the conservancies.
Two community joint venture lodges have already received partial grants, and we hope the compact will lead to as many as seven new lodges.
Marketing Namibian Tourism: To promote Namibia as an attractive tourism destination and to increase the number of tourists to the country, the Namibia Tourism Board has launched a redesigned website.
The Namibian delegation that attended today’s event are in Washington as part of the marketing campaign focused on increasing the number of American businesses that market vacations to Namibia, as well as increasing the number of tourists from the United States and Canada. This effort is already showing results: More than 120 travel agencies now offer trips to Namibia, up from 106 agencies at the beginning of the compact.
If you visit Namibia, you can be assured that your money is contributing to community-driven approaches that help increase incomes for some of the country’s poorest people.
Posted on May 26, 2011 by Oliver Pierson, Resident Country Director,Namibia
The $304.5 million MCC Compact in Namibia is focused on improving the quality of education and training for underserved populations and use Namibia’s comparative advantages to increase the incomes of Namibians in the northern areas of the country. As Resident Country Director for MCC in Namibia, I provide support and oversight for all aspects of compact implementation. I am also the MCC sector lead on the Tourism Project, one of the key components of our efforts to capitalize on Namibia’s assets -- like its diverse wildlife and landscapes -- to raise incomes and create employment.
In this regard, I am pleased to report that May 6, 2011 was a big day for the Namibia Tourism Board—they won two prestigious awards. The first, an award for Best Tourism Board, was received at INDABA, Africa’s largest tourism fair. The Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) competed against over 315 nominees in 18 different categories; over 300 safari tour operators and product owners, along with about 50 media and press personalities, attended this event. Also on May 6, the NTB won the award for Best Website at the Travel Mole African Web Awards, sponsored by Tourism KwaZulu Natal.http://www.namibiatourism.com.na/
Formally established by an Act of Parliament in 2000, the NTB was formed to regulate the tourism industry and market Namibia as a tourist destination. The NTB is an implementing partner to MCC under the Namibia Compact, and MCC funds are being used to support the development of the award-winning and new NTB website in an effort to promote Namibia as a global destination. The NTB’s new slogan, “Namibia – Endless Horizons,” is setting the stage for this strategic push. The new website also gives consumers the opportunity to thoroughly explore what Namibia has to offer, including the Etosha National park, the Skeleton Coast, and the Fish River Canyon. MCC funds will also help NTB promote Namibian tourism by conducting destination marketing campaigns in strategic target markets and develop and advertise new tourism routes featuring community-based tourism products.
In addition to this marketing support, the MCC-funded Tourism Project aims to improve the management and infrastructure of Etosha National Park and develop the capacity of communal con¬servancies to attract investments in ecotourism and capture a greater share of the revenue generated by tourism. Through these efforts MCC also hopes to promote increased private sector investment in tourism enterprises in and around national parks and conservancies, increase tourist visitation to these sites, and also increase national tourism revenue to the Government of Namibia. Together, these activities will increase incomes and create employment opportunities for some of the poorest populations in Namibia, while conserving the natural resources that serve as the basis for the tourism industry. I’m proud to be a part of this effort, and I look forward to working with the government and the people of Namibia to make it happen.
Posted on April 27, 2010 by Oliver Pierson, Deputy Resident Country Director, Namibia
Namibia’s MCC compact, signed in July 2008, includes MCC’s largest education project, which is designed to improve the quality of Namibia’s education system. One of the substantial challenges Namibia is trying to address is a lack of textbooks for many of its students, particularly those in rural areas, where as many as five students share one textbook. It was with much pleasure and pride that the first textbooks were transferred to the Namibian Ministry of Education this past Saturday, April 24th. The event was even more significant as the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns was present to hand the books over on behalf of the U.S. Government.
In a ceremony marked by a great turnout from the Namibian government and people, Undersecretary Burns described how the books will improve the textbook ratio for Namibian students in grades 5 to 12 to one book per student in English, Math, and Science. To make this possible, MCC funds were used to conduct a textbook inventory of elementary schools and to identify all the gaps. This tranche of textbooks will fill the identified gaps, and in the later years of the compact, an entire new set of textbooks will be purchased with MCC funds for all students in Namibia in grades 5 to 12.
The delivery of textbooks is just one small aspect of the MCC-funded Education Project in Namibia. The delivery of these books is part of a much broader project that also includes expanding and renovating 47 schools, constructing regional libraries and vocational training centers, and training teachers. Undersecretary Burns referred to some of the upcoming challenges in his remarks, “Now comes the hard part. It will be up to teachers and students to make good use of these materials.” MCC will help address those challenges as well by providing training for teachers on how to use the textbooks to improve the quality of their lesson plans. They will also be trained on ways to improve the textbook ordering and distribution systems.
On that sunny Saturday morning in Windhoek, MCC, MCA-Namibia, the local entity in change of implementing the MCC compact, and Namibian government officials were pleased to recognize that an initial milestone had been reached and that the compact was beginning to show tangible results. But no one was happier than the 30 to 40 students present, who got a first glimpse of what students across Namibia will be seeing in their classroom on a daily basis. Almost 700,000 textbooks will be delivered to 1,000 Namibian elementary schools starting in May, and by the end of June, all these books should be in the hands of Namibia’s next generation.
Namibia’s Minister of Education Abraham Iyambo best described the impact of the MCC Education Project when he said, “In the long-term, this support will contribute to the aspiration of our country’s national development plans for productive and competitive human resources and institutions.” While he is setting the bar very high, the MCA Namibia team and our partners are ready to meet the challenge. Already, we are eagerly awaiting the next milestone in the Education Project, which will be the start of renovation, expansion, and construction work at some elementary schools with the greatest need.
Posted on March 4, 2010 by Jason Bauer, Director of Private Sector Initiatives
This week more than 167 companies attended a procurement conference and heard about contracting opportunities arising from projects funded by Millennium Challenge Corporation compacts. Supported by Business Unity South Africa, Standard Bank, and the U.S. Embassy, the conference was hosted at the Development Bank of Southern Africa in Midrand, South Africa. Country teams from Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Tanzania discussed over $3 billion in procurement opportunities, ranging from building roads and water systems to building health centers and schools. The compact in Ghana and compacts still being developed with the governments of Malawi and Zambia were also discussed.
The conference highlighted the business opportunities that ultimately support MCC’s mission of reducing poverty through economic growth. The conferences key themes included the openness and transparency of the procurement processes, the ability for international companies to bid on compact projects and the unique opportunities for U.S. and international suppliers.
Companies attending the conference included those focusing on infrastructure engineering, design, and construction, as well as those providing project management and technical assistance. The resounding message: MCC partner countries throughout Africa are open for business.
Posted on November 30, 2009 by Patricia Moser, Director of Health
Tomorrow, we mark the 21st commemoration of World AIDS Day. In 1988, the World Health Organization designated December 1st to raise awareness about and focus attention on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. There is a link between HIV/AIDS and the work of MCC, particularly in southern Africa where high HIV/AIDS rates constrain economic growth and compound human misery through early deaths, illness, and orphaned children.
Lesotho’s MCC compact signed in 2007, for example, recognizes the economic and human toll of HIV/AIDS. Thirty-four percent of the compact is dedicated to assisting Lesotho’s Ministry of Health and Social Work and the non-governmental sector expand access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and response. The compact provides financing to improve health infrastructure and to strengthen health systems nationwide.
The compact is renovating clinics and staff housing at up to 139 primary health centers throughout the country in an effort to improve the working and living conditions of health staff. The program is also reconfiguring the out-patient departments of 14 of the 19 secondary hospitals in order to provide needed space for integrating HIV/AIDS activities into these departments. Particular attention is being paid during these renovations to reducing the potential spread of tuberculosis in waiting rooms and clinical spaces, providing greater occupational safety for health workers, and decreasing the level of deadly tuberculosis co-infection of HIV positive patients.
In addition to infrastructure improvements, the compact is working to strengthen health systems by funding efforts to improve health care waste management. This reduces the level of infectious medical wastes at health facilities and in communities. It is also improving management systems and capacities for community health, district health management, and hospital out-patient departments. On-the-ground coordination between MCC, MCAthe local entity implementing Lesotho’s MCC compact—USAID, and the Centers for Diseases Control (both implementing agencies for the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, funds) has been exceptionally strong, including the co-location of U.S. Government health-related staff and regular coordination of programming and implementation issues.
Moreover, MCC is looking at issues related to HIV/AIDS issues beyond the health sector. Construction activities in all high prevalence countries require HIV/AIDS mitigation efforts, including HIV/AIDS awareness and education for workers and communities to prevent the spread of HIV, especially as a result of labor migration. MCC compacts in Tanzania and Namibia, and compact development activities in Malawi, pay special attention to HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation in non-health sector activities.
December 1st is an important reminder of global HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, and MCC is committed to working with partner countries to help provide better access to health services and treatment to ensure a better future for those affected.
Posted on November 16, 2009 by Van Crowder, Director of Education
International Education Week 2009 (Nov 16-20) is an occasion to celebrate the benefits of worldwide learning and exchange. International cooperation prepares citizens in every country to live, work and compete in the global economy. MCC is working with partner nations to improve their education and training systems so that students learn the skills to get good jobs and boost economic growth in their countries and communities.
Youth development is central to a healthy, skilled and productive workforce. Investing in human capital through education and training is critical for improving productivity and economic growth and for reducing poverty and unemployment. About 36 percent of MCCs $358 million direct investment in education is focused on youth development through technical and vocational education and training (TVET).
In El Salvador, working through FOMILENIO (which is the government entity accountable for compact implementation), MCC is helping to renovate 20 middle technical schools, revise curricula, train instructors, and provide scholarships to deserving students, who will get jobs in agronomy, tourism and information technology—all areas crucial to the development of the country’s northern zone.
In Mongolia, MCC’s investment is helping to reform the TVET legal and policy framework so that schools are financially sustainable and can respond effectively to labor market demand. Competency-based curricula are being developed in key sectors like mining and construction. Selected schools are being renovated and equipped with modern technology and teachers trained in its use.
In Namibia, MCC supports community-based resource and study centers to provide basic job skills and information services for unemployed youth and low-skilled adults. Also, the MCC investment is helping the National Training Authority develop demand-led programs, and a National Training Fund will ensure that the TVET system is financially viable.
In Morocco, TVET focuses on key artisan trades (leather, wood, metal, pottery, and textiles) whose products are in demand in the home, export and tourist markets. About 15 schools will be renovated and equipped with facilities to teach students the skills needed by employers and the market.
International Education Week is a great moment for MCC, partner countries and agencies to highlight the strategic importance of youth development. The links between education and economic growth, income distribution and poverty reduction are well established. Income, productivity and growth are closely linked to educational opportunity. Strengthened TVET programs are particularly valuable for developing countries with large youth populations in need of the skills that lead to decent jobs, which in turn drive growth and reduce poverty.
Posted on September 22, 2009 by John Wingle, Resident Country Director, Namibia
Last week, I had the pleasure of witnessing the five-year $304.5 million Namibia compact enter into force. Reaching entry into force (EIF) is a fancy way of saying that the five-year clock to implement the compact has now started ticking. There was a great sense of excitement on both sides, along with a sense of shared responsibility to deliver on the promise of the compact. The Namibian Prime Minister gave the keynote address, which he opened in quite a non-conventional way. After asking the staff of MCA Namibia to stand, he challenged, How many days are there in five years? You must achieve something every day. He then, in turn, asked each minister or senior official from the ministries involved in the compact program to stand; he read them their budget and defined their principal responsibilities under the compact. He did the same to me—quite an effective way to instill a sense of urgency and responsibility in us all!
Namibia’s $304 million compact will reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth by:
- improving the skills and productivity of the Namibian workforce,
- growing Namibia’s tourism industry, and
- increasing the total value-added from livestock in the Northern Communal Areas.
The Namibia compact breaks new ground for MCC, as it is the first time MCC funds a project in the tourism sector. The tourism-related component of Namibia’s compact will
- improve management and infrastructure of Etosha National Park,
- enhance the marketing of Namibia tourism and
- develop the capacity of communal conservancies to attract investments in ecotourism and capture a greater share of the revenue generated by tourism in Namibia.
Together, these activities are aimed at generating income and creating employment opportunities for communities in the Northern Communal Areas, while conserving the natural resources that serve as the foundation of the tourism industry.
Five years is a relatively short period of time to accomplish these compact goals, so it is very important that a country use the time following compact signing and before EIF to fully prepare for program implementation. MCA Namibia—the local independent entity in charge of implementing the compact—completed a number of important steps leading up to EIF so that the full implementation of the compact could proceed effectively and expeditiously. They have already:
- hired a team of 29 professionals to staff MCA Namibia through an open and competitive process;
- drafted a detailed Monitoring and Evaluation Plan that will allow MCC, MCA Namibia, and stakeholders to monitor the implementation of the three projects, assess results, and evaluate their impact;
- contracted a consortium of Namibian firms to design and supervise the rehabilitation and expansion of 47 schools; and
- contracted a firm to work with the Ministry of Education to accurately count textbooks in schools as a first step to purchasing sufficient English, science, and math books.
Namibia is the second country in which I have the privilege of serving as an MCC Resident Country Director. An obvious improvement in the MCC implementation process that resulted from lessons learned in earlier programs has been to lengthen the period between compact signing and entry into force. In Namibia, this strategic time proved to be essential to properly staff the MCA Namibia program management unit, prepare bidding documents, train staff, and establish the supplementary legal framework all vital things that need to be done before implementation begins. Clearly, Namibia used this time wisely.
During the EIF ceremony, there was no doubt that this is a Namibian-led program. The Prime Minister ended his speech with the declaration, Get ready Namibia, because MCA is coming to you. This pronouncement seemed to capture both the optimism in the room about the compacts potential and the shared eagerness to now move forward with implementation.
Posted on July 28, 2008 by Rodney Bent, Deputy Chief Executive Officer
Namibia is celebrating its 18th year of independence and, as coincidence would have it, MCC today signed its 18th compact with Namibia, a $304.5 million partnership for education, ecotourism, and agriculture.
This morning, I met with Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba to congratulate him and his government on the compact. The government is intent upon development of its poorest areas, as Namibia has the second highest disparity of household income in the world. The compact has three main projects.
The education project will focus on school textbooks, primary and secondary school infrastructure improvements, vocational training, and a sustainable system of scholarships for post-secondary school students. We estimate that about a million students will benefit over the years from this project.
The ecotourism project, largely in the poor northern part of the country, will focus on communal conservancies, protecting Namibia’s astonishingly beautiful natural resources, including wildlife for future generations. In addition, this project will attract more tourists to Namibia and improve the jewel of the country’s tourism industry, Etosha National Park.
The agriculture project is focused on livestock, as a substantial number of households graze cattle on communal lands in northern Namibia. The project will provide veterinary centers and training for farmers in rangeland management, improved livestock productivity, and land access. A small part of the project is focused on helping poor families harvest high-value indigenous natural products like devils claw, marula oil, Kalahari melon seed, hoodia, and ximenia.
The signing ceremony was held at the office of the Prime Minister, with the Right Honorable Prime Minister Nahas Angula presiding over the event. A number of ministers, including the Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC), board members of the NPC, and a U.S. trade mission organized by the Corporate Council on Africa were among the dignitaries who attended the event. Tonight, our Namibian counterparts will host us at a celebration to mark the compacts signing at the base of the Auas Mountains, featuring a local choir and traditional dancers.
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