I am delighted to be here to celebrate the close partnership between the people of Zambia and the people of the United States. Today’s groundbreaking is a testament to what we can accomplish together.
I would like to recognize key partners in the Zambian government, including the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company, and the Lusaka City Council. Working together, we are building a prosperous future for the people of Zambia.
I would also like to thank our cooperating and civil society partners who are with us today. Let me specifically recognize Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, a group that is strengthening MCC’s work by raising community awareness about water and sanitation hygiene practices.
I also want to acknowledge the five Millennium Challenge Innovation Grant Program recipients that are with us today, including the Zambian Breweries’ Manja Pamodzi program that I had a pleasure of visiting yesterday. The recycling center is an amazing example of how government and the private sector can work together to create jobs for men and women and serve the community.
And finally, I am deeply grateful to Ambassador Schultz, and the entire Embassy staff, including teams from USAID, PEPFAR, Peace Corps and the Centers for Disease Control. You have been instrumental in advancing MCC’s partnership with Zambia, and you helped bring us to where we are today.
As you know, the United States and Zambia are longtime partners. Together, the United States and Zambia have improved the education system for young people in Zambia; we have provided healthcare and HIV services for families across the country; and we have worked together to promote economic growth that will lift up the people of Zambia.
The partnership between the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation and the government of Zambia is a pillar of this strong relationship between our two countries.
MCC is providing $355 million to support the government’s efforts to improve the water sector. This partnership will expand the supply of clean water, support critical sanitation efforts, and help reduce flooding through improved drainage infrastructure. In total, it will make a difference in the lives of more than 1.2 million Zambians.
Access to clean water and sanitation is critical to the health and prosperity of our communities.
And yet, too many people in Zambia and around the world do not have access to this basic services.
Consider people like Rachel, who gets her water at a kiosk here in Mtendere. Rachel, her husband, and her children live in a home with five other families.
While they are fortunate to have a toilet in their home, the on-site pit latrine increases the chances of contamination and diseases like cholera.
And they do not have running water at their home. Instead, each day, they have to fetch as many as 20 buckets of water back from the local kiosk—water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and for using in their toilet.
But water is only pumped a few hours a day and the wait can sometimes be very long. So Rachel and her eldest daughter have to line up for water at the kiosk and hope that water will not run dry. Sometimes, she and her neighbors have to take turns protecting their spot in the line. And during the dry season, the wait can be as long as three days.
But Rachel can look forward to a future where she no longer has to wait in line. The project we are celebrating today will provide clean water and sewer access to Rachel and her community.
I had the opportunity to meet with Rachel and visit her home, and it was clear how important this project will be for her, her family and other members of the community.
She says that the sewage access will not only rid the house of leaks and bad smells, but it will also ensure the health of her family.
And she says that access to water at home will transform her daily routine. It will give her extra time that she can spend sewing or earning extra money. And it will give her children the time they need to study and attend school.
That is the kind of impact this project will have on so many families across the community.
So this is an exciting time for Mtendere, for Zambia, and for MCC.
I am grateful to the amazing efforts of all who have helped bring us to this point.
And I want to congratulate MCA CEO Pamela Bwalya and the entire MCA-Zambia team for driving this compact forward.
Of course, today’s celebration is only the beginning. Much of the challenging work lies ahead, and it is critical for people like Rachel that these projects are completed on time and on budget.
I also want to stress the importance of a safe work environment. At MCC, safety is our top priority, and we expect compact partners to maintain a commitment to keeping construction sites safe.
As we enter the second half of the compact, I am thrilled by the progress we have made so far. And it is clear to me that the compact is in good hands moving forward.
I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in the months to come.