Celebrating the USAID Development Objective Grant Agreement

Remarks by U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires David Young
Celebrating the USAID Development Objective Grant Agreement
State House, Lusaka, Zambia
October 14, 2020

 (as prepared for delivery)

Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu
Honorable Dr. Bwalya Ng’andu, Minister of Finance
Honorable Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, Minister of Health
Honorable Dr. Dennis Wanchinga, Minister of General Education
Honorable Alexander Chitemi, Minister of National Development
Planning
Honorable Michael Zondani Katambo, Minister of Agriculture
Honorable Given Lubinda, Minister of Justice
Honorable Mulenga Kampamba, Minister of Community
Development and Social Welfare
Ladies and Gentlemen

Today, I’m here to talk about Hope and DREAMS.  Hope is a young woman who lives on the Copperbelt.  And it is because of Hope—and DREAMS—that I am speaking to you today.  When Hope was 14 years old, her father died and her family was plunged into poverty.  She and her young sister had to drop out of school.  Her mother and the family were forlorn.  What would their future hold?

But shortly thereafter Hope enrolled in the DREAMS program, funded by USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.  DREAMS is a program that mentors vulnerable adolescent girls and young women.  DREAMS stands for young women who are Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe.

A year after joining the program, Hope’s life changed dramatically.  She found new hope that opened a better future for her.

Hope earned a scholarship and enrolled in a heavy machinery repair course.  In a short time, she was outperforming many of her male classmates and excited to take charge as a trailblazing young woman in a new field of opportunity.  She began to earn a good salary and provide for a successful future.  Today, the lives of more than 500,000 girls and young women are being transformed through the DREAMS program, just one of the wonderful initiatives that USAID sponsors.

Across Zambia there are many other stories like Hope’s.  She gives us optimism about the good work we do together, the United States and Zambia, each and every day.  We all know that for every Hope, there are many people who still need help to achieve their dreams and rise out of poverty.  Yet, because of Hope, we work hard to build that better future together for all the children and all the adults of Zambia.

Today, it is my honor to celebrate the new USAID Development Objective Grant Agreement for Zambia, together with USAID/Zambia’s new five-year Country Development Cooperation Strategy for Zambia.

The five-year plan of USAID’s development work here in Zambia totals a proposed investment of 39 Billion kwacha.  Yes, 39 billion kwacha—equivalent to 1.9 billion U.S. dollars.  But that’s not the most important number.  Most important is that two and a half million Zambians receive life-changing benefits from this assistance each and every day.  And this funding represents a continuation of the rich and diverse contributions that the U.S. government and the American people have provided for two decades in Zambia.  We have a longstanding and profound relationship of partnership and cooperation.

The U.S. government is Zambia’s largest donor, and we are standing strong by your side at this time of the global COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.  You may have heard of our efforts together.  But our behind-the-scenes work is perhaps not so well known.

USAID is our largest assistance agency here in Zambia, but our team also comprises of the Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense, and the Peace Corps.  We all work together to advance the mutual interests of the American people and the Zambian people.

Sometimes, I have been asked if the United States is a dedicated friend of Zambia.  To me, it’s a surprising question.  I have served in your country as a diplomat on two occasions for nearly four years.  The friendship and partnership we share is second to none.  We have an expression in America: “Put your money where your mouth is.”  And by that measure, our friendship can be measured more than 39 billion times, in the points of light we shine each and every day in the fight against poverty, disease, violence, and poor education in Zambia.

The launch of USAID’s new development strategy cements our continued support to the people of Zambia for years to come.  This new USAID strategy helps support a road map to Zambia’s self-reliance, aiming for a time when Zambia will no longer need to rely on foreign assistance.  And it’s not just our vision, it aligns with and supports Zambia’s Seventh National Development Plan.

Ladies and gentlemen, over the next five years, through USAID, the United States is committed to working with the Government of the Republic of Zambia, its citizens, the private sector, and other Cooperating Partners to invest K39 Billion to:

  1. Improve the health, literacy, and food security for the most vulnerable Zambians, including pushing this year to epidemic control of HIV/AIDS;
  2. Increase sustainable economic development and diversification throughout Zambia;
  3. Improve domestic resource mobilization, public financial management, and the fight against corruption to bolster Zambia’s ability to fund its own development;
  4. Support Zambian’s democracy and its efforts to decentralize governance and improve service delivery to its people; and
  5. Establish a vibrant and diverse independent media landscape so all Zambians can freely and constructively express their views.

These are ambitious objectives—but much of what we will support builds on USAID’s previous success in partnering with the Government of the Republic of Zambia and members of this diverse society to achieve life-saving impacts over the next five years.

Some of these dramatic successes include:

  • Helping Zambia to control several infectious diseases including HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria. And we are working hand in hard to combat COVID-19.
  • Improving maternal and child health and nutrition. S. assistance has also helped Zambia to join with other sub-Saharan countries to eradicate wild polio from the region.
  • Reducing poverty in rural areas thanks to a successful partnership with the Zambian government and the private sector. For example, Eastern Province had one of the highest poverty rates in the country in 2012 at 88 percent; by 2018, with support from our Feed the Future program, that number went down to 75 percent.
  • Helping Zambia’s children to read. Thanks to a successful partnership with the Ministry of General Education, USAID has delivered over two million textbooks to primary children throughout the country and designed and implemented a nationwide primary literacy curriculum.
  • Providing critical support to district government financial systems as well as support and capacity building to this country’s civil society—to ensure greater transparency, oversight, and accountability to Zambians throughout the country.

These are some impressive figures.  But even more important is that each of these numbers represents a life-changing impact on a real person.  As you hear these statistics, think of the more than two and a half million Zambians who benefit from these many programs.  Two and a half million people like Hope from the Copperbelt.

At the heart of our work is the core belief that each country must be empowered to lead its own development journey.  I am honored today to say that USAID’s new strategy and the U.S. government’s development investments are designed to do just that—work together with the Government of the Republic Zambia on its journey to self-reliance.

The K39 billion in committed funds are not a handout, nor are they a loan that must be paid back.  These funds are an investment in the Zambian people—and they are contingent on a successful partnership with the government, the Zambian people, the private sector, and civil society.

We recognize Zambia’s current economic challenges.  We understand that we cannot meet our joint goals without the Zambian government meeting its financial commitments, and without effective management and prioritization of government resources.

We depend on your leadership and that of all leaders and civil servants to ensure budgets are transparent, fully released, and executed as planned.  For our partnership to succeed, the Zambian government must prioritize funding for critical needs, such as education, health, and social protection, and ensure key oversight institutions are empowered to fulfill their obligations.

For our strategy to work and to change the quality of life for all Zambians, it also requires meaningful engagement with the private sector so that a positive, productive macroeconomic environment enables the private sector to thrive.

The world is changing, and we are changing with it.  Today, private sources represent 91 percent of financial flows into emerging markets.  The private sector has the scale and resources to match the complexity of the challenges that countries face on their journey to self-reliance.

We want to help Zambia grow and diversify its economy.  Key to this is to address the high levels of national debt.   We urge improvements in fiscal transparency and accountability, and a stable investment climate, which together will help grow your economy and attract new sources of foreign direct investment.

Your Excellency, honorable guests, ladies and gentlemen, we are facing difficult times, but we will get through them together.  The U.S. government and the American people have long been, are today, and will remain steadfast partners with the government and people of Zambia into the future.

As I close, let me emphasize again.  The United States government and the American people stand together with the Zambian government all the Zambian people in working for a better future.

Together we save lives.  Together we change lives.  And together we extend the hand of friendship to all of the Hopes of Zambia—so that young girls and boys like her, from the Copperbelt to Southern Province, from Eastern to Western, from Luapula and Lusaka—will live healthier, happier, better educated, and more prosperous lives.  That is the future we work for together.

In the months and years ahead, all of my colleagues and I look forward to celebrating the Hopes and DREAMS of Zambia.  Thank you for journeying with us on this road to a better future together.  On behalf of the American people, I say God bless you and all the people of this beautiful country of Zambia.  Thank you.