Buenos dias y gracias! It is wonderful to be in El Salvador! On behalf of the American people and Daniel Yohannes—the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation—let me express our warmest congratulations to the people and government of El Salvador on the successful completion of the $460 million MCC compact. Felicidades! I wish to especially congratulate you on the tremendous progress you have made in the Northern Zone through the completion of the Human Development Project. Let me also thank all those who played a role in managing and implementing this important project.
This project worked to invest in the Northern Zone’s greatest asset: its people. As you know, the sole mission of the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation is to reduce poverty through economic growth. And, of course, a key way to do this is to invest in human capital, to invest in the abilities of citizens to be champions of their own development and destinies. The Human Development Project, made possible through the partnership between El Salvador and MCC, is doing just that.
Through the Human Development Project, I am pleased to report that:
• 1,950 solar systems were installed in homes and 1,435 kilometers of new electric lines were hung, connecting over 28,000 households to the electricity grid;
• 81,700 residents are benefiting from small bridges and rural roads;
• a new Megatech vocational training school was constructed; and
• an additional 20 technical high schools have been remodeled and equipped.
• In all, more than 30,000 students have participated in activities we funded.
As MCC’s Chief of Staff, one of the areas I monitor closely is MCC’s investments in the water and sanitation sector, which are underway in such partner countries as Mozambique, Zambia, Jordan, and, of course, here in El Salvador. So, I am pleased to report that through the Human Development Project, MCC also funded 278 kilometers of pipes—equivalent to the length of El Salvador—that connected over 6,300 households to potable water. These homes are expected to benefit from an estimated 74 percent decrease in the cost per cubic meter of water. Similarly, more than 6,600 households now have access to better sanitation infrastructure, including latrines, filter strips and grease traps. Since 2007, the percentage of households with basic sanitation in the Northern Zone has increased from 82 percent to 88 percent from MCC investments and other efforts.
All these investments in the people of the Northern Zone are more than the right thing to do for basic human dignity and decency. They also signal that the Northern Zone is ready and open for business. The people are equipped with the workplace skills that businesses need to compete. And, the infrastructure entrepreneurs need to operate and thrive is in place. These investments in people also complement the compact’s other accomplishments, both building the Northern Transnational Highway and increasing the productivity of farmers and businesses through targeted technical assistance. In all these ways, we are promoting economic growth in the Northern Zone that is expected to create jobs and fuel prosperity.
Already, there is renewed energy and excitement here because of what El Salvador and MCC have accomplished by working together. Our partnership to invest in the people of the Northern Zone was smart and strategic. Enduring change and sustainable growth that will transform the Northern Zone—and all of El Salvador—starts by transforming the lives of individual Salvadorans for the better.
In the stories of students benefitting from training, families with electricity and improved sanitation, and households and communities with access to better roads and bridges, we see the transformation underway. And, I am proud that the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation could partner with El Salvador to make this new, hopeful reality possible. Muchas gracias!