Charting a Course for the Future: Investing Today in Education, Infrastructure, Land Tenure

We have so much to learn from schoolchildren. Their curiosity and imagination have never ceased to intrigue and impress me during my service as U.S. Ambassador and, more recently, as Millennium Challenge Corporation CEO. One of the most gratifying aspects of this job has been the chance to talk with young people in some of the 35 countries where we are partnering to reduce poverty. My visit to Ghana late last month was a particularly poignant reminder of the huge investment that the United States is making in education around the world.

Education is a major driver of economic growth, which is at the heart of a sound antipoverty strategy. Last month in Ghana, I participated in the commissioning ceremony for one of the hundreds of schools that will be renovated or built through Ghana’s $547 million MCC compact. In the joy of the children and the enthusiasm of the teachers, we can already see how our investments in education are making a difference. Investing in education enhances future earnings and employment opportunities for students, while contributing to overall economic growth and poverty reduction. In addition to Ghana, MCC grants support educational programs in Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Mongolia, Morocco, Niger, and Namibia.

I was also in Ghana to preside over the groundbreaking of a major road project, together with President Kufuor. Funded through Ghana’s MCC compact, the rehabilitation of this critical transportation route from the capital of Accra to the port of Tema will help farmers get their products to the marketplace in a quicker, more cost-efficient manner. Having pineapples or mangos, for example, sit on the back of a lorry for three hours on their way to markets wastes time and fuel and shortens the fruit’s shelf-life. This new roadway will transform Ghana’s agriculture sector and help fuel sustainable economic growth. I am proud of these tangible results unfolding in our partner countries worldwide. Investments in infrastructure are essential to the very real needs for development our partners themselves have identified as vital for long-term growth and prosperity.

Our partners also consistently identify secure and efficient access to land as critical for sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. We have seen our partners invest their MCC grants in ways to promote improved legal frameworks, more client service-oriented property registries, and formal recording of land rights in selected communities. To further discuss the importance of secure land tenure for the poor, I welcomed Ron Terwilliger, Chairman of the Board for Habitat for Humanity International, to MCC last Thursday for a standing-room only event to delve into the ““housing crisis that no one is talking about”“-the issue of secure land tenure for the world’s poor.

Investments in education, infrastructure, and land tenure are making a difference in ways that matter to the poor. MCC looks forward to advancing this progress under the Obama-Biden administration. We encourage the new administration and congressional representatives, from both parties, to continue the fight to end global poverty through sustainable and results-based programs like MCC. Given today’s global economic concerns, we recognize the increased importance of investing every dollar of taxpayers’ money wisely when it comes to foreign aid. MCC remains committed to making smart and innovative investments in countries that are focusing on positive policy reform and delivering tangible results in the fight against poverty.

In the end, fighting global poverty is about good policies, not politics. It is a fight based on partnership. Our partners know this; and we know this. MCC’s effective, results-driven collaboration with partner countries to replace poverty with prosperity is something we can all be proud of as Americans and as responsible and concerned citizens of an increasingly connected world.