Thank you, all, for such a warm welcome!
I am pleased to be here this evening to celebrate the many successes of the $363 million compact between Lesotho and the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation. Our partnership is close and pursues a shared goal to reduce poverty and promote economic growth.
I will see firsthand what the Lesotho-MCC partnership is achieving. I commissioned a new health center and toured the Botsabelo Health Complex, and learned more about the work that is going into improving public health outcomes. I will visit Metolong Dam and a rural water site that are part of a project designed to provide homes and businesses with safer, more reliable sources of water. And, I will hear about private sector investments that promote growth as well as gender equality.
Health, water and private sector growth reflect the priorities for development you—the Basotho people—outlined for your future. I am proud that the U.S. Government—through MCC—partnered with Lesotho on these priorities. And the progress underway reflects three principles at work.
First, policy reforms. During compact implementation, Lesotho did not shy away for making necessary—and often tough—policy reforms. This included passing landmark legislation expanding the legal rights of women, such as the right to own property or enter into a binding contract for the first time. Women’s full participation in the economy is absolutely vital for long-term growth, and Lesotho’s commitment to gender equality is moving this country forward. Other policy reforms include the legislation that created the Land Administration Authority; the credit reporting and data protection legislation;the National Identification Bill; and changes that benefit the Basotho people by improving health care, water access and the private sector environment.
Second, partnerships. I am struck by how committed Lesotho has been in forging the right partnerships to ensure compact success. Through MCA-Lesotho, under the leadership of Mrs. Sophia Mohapi, this compact celebrates partnerships with government, the private sector and other U.S. Government donors—like USAID, PEPFAR, the CDC, and the Peace Corps—to get the job done.
And, third, sustainability. MCC’s investment will be sustained through both financial support from the Government of Lesotho and operational excellence from those entities receiving the assets the compact built. MCA-Lesotho has worked tirelessly to engage the government to provide that financial and operational support. As a result, the Government of Lesotho has pledged over $150 million to cover outstanding project costs. MCA-Lesotho is working hard alongside various ministries and stakeholders to ensure that the projects stay in good hands at the end of the compact.
I had the honor this past April of presenting Mrs. Mohapi with our prestigious MCC Country Commitment Award. This award recognizes an MCA employee or team that forges partnerships to increase the sustainability of a compact’s investments. Well, that is exactly what Mrs. Mohapi did! And, she is most deserving of our award this year.
So, because of our compact investments—grounded in policy reforms,partnerships and a focus on sustainability—I believe that we are making a big difference.
I want to thank all those who played a part in bringing Lesotho’s MCC compact to completion, including: the dedicated team at MCA-Lesotho under Mrs. Mohapi’s inspiring leadership; all the government officials for their constant support; other donors for their willingness to share best practices and work together; and, of course, the people of Lesotho who are keeping us all accountable to deliver the results they expect and deserve.
Tonight, the best way we can celebrate the completion of Lesotho’s MCC compact is to make sure that the good achieved in the fight against poverty and to promote sustainable growth continues. Congratulations, and may the people of Lesotho benefit from the successes of the Lesotho-MCC partnership for generations to come. Thank you!