Poverty Reduction Blog Tag: Transportation
Posted on December 30, 2013 by Piper Anne Wind Campbell, U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia
At the opening ceremony near the town of Ayrag in Dornogobi province on September 5, the American and Mongolian governments celebrated a major milestone—the successful completion of the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s North-South Road Project connecting the cities of Choir and Sainshand.
Building on the success of the MCC project, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) completed a separate road project between Sainshand and Zamyn-Uud on November 20. For the first time in history, these developments allow Mongolians to easily travel across their country on an all-weather paved road, connecting them to their two neighbors, Russia and China.
MCC’s North-South Road Project—funded by the U.S. Government and implemented by Millennium Challenge Account-Mongolia (MCA-Mongolia)—constructed 174 kilometers of road to reach key national and regional markets. Two link roads were also built to connect thousands of Mongolians to the main corridor, and the project provided road maintenance equipment to the Ministry of Roads and Transportation for the sustainable upkeep of the newly built road.
I’m proud of this project because it finished on schedule and will ultimately benefit more than 150,000 Mongolians. It is also an example of strong partnership and coordination: MCC and MCA-Mongolia collaborated with the ADB to assess road maintenance needs and received initial designs for the Choir-Sainshand road from the ADB.
In fact, I’m proud of all the good work produced during MCC’s five-year, $285 million compact, which I’ve seen unfold firsthand during my 1½ years as the U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia. I've spoken with herders and urban beneficiaries who are receiving land titles for the first time, met students who intend to use their MCC-funded vocational education to find better-paying jobs and toured the newly equipped Cardiac and Stroke Intensive Care and Diagnostic Unit at Shastin Hospital in the capital, Ulaanbaatar.
The completion of the North-South Road Project is particularly impressive given the limited construction timeline. Implementation began halfway through the five-year Mongolia Compact, following a major restructuring. Adding to these challenges, the initial construction contractor experienced financial insolvency at a time when there were only two construction seasons remaining in the compact’s terms.
Mongolia’s harsh winters mean construction can only occur from April through September, and MCA-Mongolia worked diligently to keep the subcontractors from the initial contractor working to avoid losing a valuable construction season. After rebidding the contract, the two new contractors worked long hours to get work done on time, while adhering to the strict environmental and social standards set by MCC and MCA-Mongolia.
The road is also a remarkable achievement because it reflects high quality standards. Many Mongolians view the road as the best ever built in their country because of its international-standard quality and technical specifications. In its funding, design and construction, the North-South Road Project is an example of what international efforts and cooperation among various donors and contractors can achieve.
In all these ways, the road is more than pavement. It is a corridor to the new opportunities of economic development and growth. And, it will long be a symbol of a Mongolia on the rise and a testament to the power of partnerships to reduce poverty and replace it with prosperity.
Posted on August 3, 2012 by Preston Winter, Deputy Resident Country Director
The event was hosted by Santa Rosa Guachipilín, a small town situated on the newly-constructed Northern Transnational Highway, one of the key projects under the MCC-funded compact with El Salvador. The highway connects remote towns to the rest of the country and provides new economic opportunities for the residents of the Northern Zone. As part of this investment, more than 220 kilometers of road, three large bridges, and 20 smaller bridges have been rehabilitated or constructed in northern El Salvador to help improve connectivity with the rest of the country. Given the mountainous terrain, the highway also happens to be a great place for a downhill skateboarding event, drawing competitors from around Latin America and even the United States.
It was a joy to see so many Salvadorans, both young and old, enjoying the event. More than 45 skateboarders flew down the course at up to 45 mph. The highway, smoothly paved and ideal for such an event, overlooks the green mountains of the Department of Santa Ana. In between heats, we also enjoyed a variety of pupusas, local versions of shaved ice and other food that local vendors offered.
The mayor was very pleased to have such a strong turnout. Before the construction, it would have been rare to have a gathering of Salvadorans from various parts of the country, including many who had never before seen the town. Now it is only a short drive from nearby towns and major highways, opening up opportunities for visitors to enjoy the natural beauty that this region has to offer and attend unique events like this one.
Posted on July 30, 2012 by Steve Kaufmann, Chief of Staff
While visiting our compact work sites in Senegal last week, I was struck by the ways in which water can both take and support life. My first site visit took me to the village of Ndioum, where MCC is working with MCA-Senegal to build a 160 meter bridge over the Doué River. Now, to get from their homes to their fields, many of the residents must take either pirogues (small canoe-like boats) or a ferry which runs infrequently and is often under repair. Tragically, fatal accidents can occur when pirogues tip due to strong currents or poor weight distribution.
After surveying the work site, my colleagues and I struck up conversation with two village elders. The elders explained that they have been waiting for over 25 years for a bridge to be built. While we were speaking, a young boy named Masseck joined our conversation. He was excited for the bridge to be completed; he told us that his older brother had drowned while crossing the river, and he didn’t want to lose another family member. We knew the river was dangerous, but Masseck’s story reminded us of the urgency of completing construction of the Ndioum Bridge. It will not only save lives, but will improve access to the fertile lands across the river and help farmers get their crops to market.
As we were touring the site, a man approached our car and asked if he could take us to visit the old irrigation pump in the Ngallenka area. We agreed, and upon arrival, our new friend, Mamadou Alanane Hame, began to speak passionately about his experience working with MCC.
Mr. Hame emphasized the participatory decision-making process that allowed him, as an expected beneficiary, to voice his opinions on the project. He remembered that during compact consultations, community members had talked about the importance of irrigation to help assure food security in the region. Now, with improved means to bring critical water to agricultural fields, the local population will plant crops and boost their yields. This unsolicited praise provided strong reinforcement for the importance of MCC’s transparent practices and our commitment to listening to beneficiaries and our partner countries.
Reflecting on my trip, the importance of water is more striking than ever. The agricultural viability of the Sahel, a zone that extends the entire width of Africa from Senegal in the west to Eritrea in the east, is rapidly decreasing as desertification claims an increasingly large amount of previously fertile land every year. As the inhabitants of the Sahel find themselves at greater risk of famine, the difference between food security and insecurity can be the difference between life and death.
MCC has reason to be proud for investing in over 30,000 hectares of irrigated land in Senegal, which is expected to directly benefit more than 250,000 individuals. In partnership with MCA-Senegal and the residents of Ndioum and the Ngallenka area, MCC is implementing water and infrastructure projects that will help to save lives, promote economic growth and reduce poverty.
For more information about the Senegal Compact, visit www.mcc.gov/senegal.
Posted on April 6, 2012 by Patrick Fine, Vice President for Compact Operations
Nampula Province in central Mozambique is 2,200 kilometers north of the capital Maputo, about the distance from the East Coast to the Mississippi River. The countryside is marked by granite domes that tower hundreds of feet off the lush plains and by isolated mountains that rise up in surreal silhouettes worthy of artist Shane Devries. The land is not heavily populated, and villages are simple collections of traditional thatched-roof rondavels plastered with mud from ubiquitous conical ant hills. Rural electrification has not yet reached most of these villages, roads are simple dirt tracks, most people still fetch water from rivers, and boys stand by the roadside holding out bags of freshly shelled cashews for sale.
You can see signs of growing prosperity, including the results of MCC’s $506 million partnership with Mozambique: Our investment has helped build hundreds of village water points; pave major routes to facilitate agriculture, mining and commerce; and upgrade and expand straining municipal water and sanitation systems.
A year ago, these projects were seriously behind schedule and over budget, causing MCC and the Government of Mozambique to create an action plan to overhaul the approach for completing the work within the five-year deadline. I was impressed by the way Mozambique’s management authority, MCA-Mozambique, had consistently met its implementation milestones since the revised plan was adopted in March 2011.
Last week, with only 18 months remaining in the compact, I visited Nampula to get a firsthand view of what is being accomplished.
I was encouraged by the road and water system construction underway and came away with increased confidence that Mozambique will complete its work on time. In one rural community down a narrow 13 kilometer dirt track, I inaugurated a new borehole and water pump that serves 700 community members and will eliminate the need for women and children to spend up to two hours a day fetching water.
In the town of Nampula, I witnessed the distribution of property titles that give people secure property rights for the first time. The ceremony took place in an open neighborhood square where local officials called out names; the property owners came forward from the large crowd, signed a ledger and took their titles. At the end of the ceremony a number of people started to angrily call out, demanding their titles. The officials explained that the titles would be distributed each day that week. I found this spontaneous demonstration of the demand to have a title a reassuring indication of the value of MCC’s investment.
While my focus was on the MCC-financed projects, what really caught my attention was the extraordinary economic opportunity in Mozambique. Already, Mozambique exports electricity from the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa, and it still has unexploited capacity. A Portuguese contractor working on the MCC road project drove up in a Ford Ranger and had American-manufactured scientific equipment in its materials lab. Recently an American company, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, announced it had discovered one of the world’s largest reserves of natural gas off the northern coast; the center of the country holds huge deposits of coal, and as more exploration takes place it is very likely that other minerals will be found in commercial quantities. Anadarko has plans to invest approximately $20 billion over the next five years! A Brazilian mining company is already shipping coal and has announced a $6 billion expansion.
I see all sorts of opportunities, from village hardware stores, hair salons and groceries to the suppliers and services that new investments in mining will require. Seen in this light, American investments in basic infrastructure are prescient. And a U.S. company is the supervising engineer on the drainage activity in Nampula city—where one of the main customers and beneficiaries of the new water system is Coca-Cola.
But far more important than market opportunities created by individual MCC-financed projects are the market opportunities that will open up for U.S. goods and services if Mozambique’s economy takes off. Road-building and mining equipment, chemicals and a spectrum of products and services will be needed to build this economy. Now is the time for U.S. companies to invest in establishing a presence in the country so that they can be competitive.
The government is implementing business-friendly reforms—such as the MCC financed land reform program—and there is a still-untapped entrepreneurial spirit among the youth. Mozambique’s economy has already been growing at nearly 8 percent per year over the past several years and is on the verge of an economic era that could transform its villages and create prosperity and opportunities not only for one of the world’s poorest populations but for the companies and individuals intrepid enough to join an economy just taking off.
I left Mozambique with the impression that almost everything is in place for it to become the next big growth economy in Africa.
Posted on March 30, 2012 by Daniel Yohannes , Chief Executive Officer
Today’s release of MCC’s 2011 Annual Report, appropriately titled Gateway to Opportunity, captures the milestones of the past year and articulates clear priorities moving forward. In the report, you can read about the significant strides we have made in delivering results, forging partnerships with countries and civil society, and championing policy reforms to create opportunities for sustainable economic growth in some of the world’s poorest countries. This foundation allows us now to expand our work not just to help poor countries rise out of poverty and break the cycle of aid dependency but also to create stable trading and investment partners for the United States, which means more jobs here at home.
By incentivizing the right policy conditions and generating an enabling environment for growth, MCC builds a Gateway to Opportunity for American businesses interested in exporting to or doing business in these next generation emerging markets as they climb out of poverty. Because of this, MCC’s mission is key to Secretary of State Clinton’s 21st century economic statecraft and President Obama’s efforts to put in place an American economy that is “built to last.” MCC is pushing the envelope on development effectiveness and sustainability through our commitment to transparency, accountability, results, policy reform, and country-driven solutions.
MCC’s approach has not gone unnoticed. A November 2011 Fortune Magazine article concludes that MCC “certainly gives the taxpayer real bang for the buck.” A recent MarketWatch commentary by Thomas Kostigen arguing for a robust MCC budget sums up the impact best: “MCC deserves its fair share so the U.S. can gain its fair share in the emerging markets. The global impact of these investments comes back to us all in the form of food, jobs, more open markets for trade, and doing good and right by others. It’s a boomerang effect.”
We agree, and we’re committed to showcasing even more investment and procurement opportunities for U.S. businesses in the months ahead to ensure the full “boomerang effect” of positive impact for the world’s poor as well as American businesses and workers.
Posted on February 8, 2011 by Jonathan Brooks, Resident Country Director for Honduras
The community at Colonia Milenio Pumas has been dear to MCC’s heart. Nestled on a hill about 30 km north of Comayagua along the CA-5 highway, it is the largest and among the earliest resettlement communities set up as part of the highway construction (nearly 30 families). We followed the community’s progress throughout the years as it slowly changed from a group of people linked only by one of the poorest stretches of the CA-5 highway, into neighbors who formed a true community.
January 25th was special. Overcoming some initial difficulties, MCA-Honduras, the Honduran entity which implemented the compact, established a water system to guarantee water access though both the dry and rainy spells of the year. We were invited to join in the inauguration of the water system as well as the naming of the community school. In a touching tribute to one of our colleagues who worked with dedication on the resettlement effort, the community named their new school, “Escuela Jonathan Nash.”
There was much clapping and giggling from the school children who joined in the naming of their new school, and there was even louder applause from the entire community when they witnessed the rush of water that flowed from a faucet in the school yard as part of the dedication. The water flowed into a clay jug which had been set aside for the occasion. As I saw the water line begin to fill the jug, I was reminded of what many Hondurans have pointed to as one of the legacies of the program: the belief that their lives can improve. As I stood and smiled with the community as the water flowed, I realized that they had come to see their own jug as half full.
Posted on June 23, 2010 by Patrick Fine, Vice President for Compact Implementation
Earlier this month, I spent three days getting a firsthand look at MCC’s investments in Honduras. The MCC-funded program there will end in September, so most activities are almost finished. In fact, Honduras will be the first country to complete its five-year MCC compact. I was impressed by what I saw both in terms of the development impact and in terms of how the program has been managed toward a successful conclusion.
The program has two principal components: (1) a transport project that is widening and repaving 105 kilometers of the main highway through the country; 68 kilometers of paved secondary roads; and about 500 kilometers of dirt feeder roads; and (2) a rural development project that includes a training program to move small farmers from traditional methods into greater commercial activity by selling high-value horticultural crops.
I particularly liked seeing the direct link between the compact’s investments and increased income. The program works with approximately 7,400 farmers who previously were earning $350-$400 per hectare growing maize and beans using traditional methods. 6,000 of these farmers are now earning at least $2,000 and, on average, $4,000 per hectare per year growing vegetables using modern methods that include drip irrigation. Not only is there a clear and large boost in the income of program participants, but they, in turn, have created new jobs, most part-time, in their communities.
Many participants have used the increased income to improve their farms and homes and buy motorcycles or cars and, in some cases, trucks to haul their produce. Signs of increased prosperity were visible in the communities I visited. These two projects are clearly linked together. Roads are being built in productive areas where many of the farmers are being trained, to facilitate getting their produce to market.
In addition to seeing how the MCC compact program has helped to increase incomes in rural Honduras, I also saw the potential of the program’s CA-5 road project bring lasting and positive improvements to Honduras’ transport sector. The CA-5 highway runs through mountains and the construction is making cuts and fills to create a broad, safe and modern road bed. The new road beds will have a lasting improvement. The paved secondary roads also looked like they would bring long-term improvements to local communities.
A final part of this program worth commenting on is capacity building. Because this tends to be intangible, it is one of the more difficult benefits to convey. From conversations, it was clear to me that the MCA-Honduras staff feel like the program is building on their expertise and institutions. Small grants to local institutions have resulted in impressive work on biological pest control and on developing new strains of coffee (programs also tightly linked to raising rural incomes), and have introduced renewable technology, such as some innovative water wheels used to supply irrigation systems.
Many Hondurans I met noted that the program’s resettlement policies set a new standard in Honduras, and some saw this as “game changing” with respect to future resettlement. It is clear that the processes and safeguards enforced by the program benefited affected communities and provide an example of best practices. Whether this example drives future practice remains to be seen, but authorities seemed impressed by the MCC experience.
Good management underlies most successful programs, and the MCC experience in Honduras is no exception. MCC’s Honduras team and MCA-Honduras enjoy a strong, professional relationship that provides a basis for problem identification and solving. Based on my visit, I am proud of what has been accomplished, and I would describe the program as a success.
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 February 16, 2010 by Stephen Marma, Resident Country Director, Nicaragua
As the Resident Country Director in Nicaragua, I have seen firsthand how the quality of life of the poor has improved because of MCC development assistance that emphasizes country-led and country-implemented solutions. This type of country ownership makes programs stronger, empowers partners, and ensures sustainable results. The Nicaraguan compact is an example of a homegrown program that helps to reduce poverty and generate economic growth.
MCC is investing to increase the incomes of rural farmers and entrepreneurs living in the departments of León and Chinandega. MCC investments in strategic projects are helping to reduce transportation costs, improve access to markets, strengthen property rights, increase business investments, and raise incomes for farms and rural businesses. Road rehabilitation works have been completed, and a road maintenance fund has been established by law to ensure that all roads in Nicaragua are maintained. In addition, farmers have received technical assistance, business development services, and grants to help develop higher-profit agriculture, agribusiness, and artisan enterprises. To ensure sustainability, farmers and cooperatives have increased and improved production and have better access to markets, including contracts to provide products to local and international companies.
Clear results can already be seen in Nicaragua as documented in two recent productions.
Check out the video produced by Millennium Challenge Account-Nicaragua, the local entity responsible for implementing Nicaraguas MCC compact:
Together, MCC and MCA-Nicaragua are paving a way to a better life for thousands of Nicaraguans.
Posted on February 11, 2010 by Molly Glenn, Deputy Resident Country Director, Burkina Faso
On Friday, January 29, 2010, I had the privilege of attending a launching ceremony in the town of Sabou with the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, senior government and local officials, the MCC Resident Country Mission, dedicated members of the MCA Board, hundreds of residents of the Sabou Commune, and the senior management team of MCA-Burkina Faso, which is in charge of implementing Burkina Faso’s $481 million MCC compact. The event was vibrant and animated, filled with pertinent skits and musical interludes. Even though we were just an hour south of Ouagadougou, it felt like we were a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city and were truly in the heart of Burkina Faso. The town of Sabou, its residents, and MCA animated the countryside with a truly inspiring and motivating ceremony.
The event marks the start of on-the-ground field activities for two components of the Burkina Faso compact: feasibility studies for the 270 kilometers of primary roads to be constructed under the Roads project and the communication and education campaign surrounding the new national land law and regulations in 17 pilot communes under the Rural Land Governance project. With the complexity and intensity of the demands and deadlines revolving around projects of this size and scope, we often get caught up in Ouagadougou with meetings, workshops, project planning, financial number crunching, and all the necessary management responsibilities. When we stop and take the time to go to the field to visit with program participants, we see firsthand the excitement on their faces about the transformation of their future. We realize just where the real energy is with this compact.
The ceremony was filled with information, speeches, gratitude, theater, and music. It was a perfect mix of formal and informal, ceremonial and artistic, and cultural and educational. Information booths were filled with explanatory visuals and maps of project activities. Experts were on hand to explain the components: roads to be constructed, land conflict resolution techniques, decentralized administrative buildings to be constructed, and other aspects.
The skits were dynamic and filled with appropriate humor on the sensitive subject of land tenure. Even with my extremely limited knowledge of Moor_, one of the local languages of Burkina Faso, it was evident that the audience absorbed from the skits that land laws, regulations, and tools are now in place in Burkina Faso to clarify ambiguous land use situations, such as those between cattle herders and farmers. The theater troupe was able to infuse a touch of comedy into a serious subject and provide the audience with a glimpse into the land conflict resolution mechanisms and positive outcomes that will be possible through the Rural Land Governance project.
The official speeches were inspirational, expressing thanks to the American people and MCC, an understanding of the challenges ahead, and a clear message from the Government of Burkina Faso via Minister Laurent Sédogo from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Water Resources, who said that the MCC compact, will bring about dynamic change, will require a rigorous pace of implementation, and will change the lives of Burkina Fasos disenfranchised, including women.
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