Earlier this week, I flew four hours from Moscow to Sarajevo. Bosnia and Herzegovina is mountainous and very green in the spring. While it is a post-conflict country, people here are still in many ways searching for the path towards sustainable peace and prosperity. Divisions still run deep. Life remains segregated by ethnic community. There are separate schools within the same buildings. Multiple layers of segregated government and politics. There are even segregated telephone systems! Speaking with our very talented local foreign national staff, it is clear that there are still deep and painful memories of war here, even though it ended more than a decade ago. It’s striking to note that, according to the UNDP, a considerable proportion of Bosnians (up to 19% per UNDP figures), which enjoyed a relatively high living standard before the war now live at or below the poverty line.
I spent Wednesday and Thursday on the road. We drove around the country from Sarajevo to Mostar, Grude, Jajce, and Banja Luka in the Republika Srpska, and back. Along the way, I saw some hope along with the challenges. In Grude, I met with a mayor that is pressing for reforms to make government more responsive to the needs of the people. I understand there are a handful of other mayors and local officials like him throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina. I had the privilege of participating in a community event
Economic growth is critical to reducing poverty and building a better future. The African Growth and Opportunity Act was signed into law 10 years ago to support free markets and growing economies throughout Africa, and USAID has been building on AGOA by supporting entrepreneurs, promoting exports, and creating trade networks. And the results have been incredible. Success stories throughout Africa—from fair-trade cotton farmers in Senegal to a blooming flower market in East Africa—illustrate how trade improves lives. Read a brand-new collection of stories from the field.
Later this week, Administrator Shah will be in Dhaka to participate in the Food Security Investment Forum hosted by the Government of Bangladesh. This forum is a country-specific element of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.
Just came from a series of meetings with our international partners in South Darfur.
We discussed a number of Darfur’s complex challenges with leaders from the World Food Programme, United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the UN Population Fund and other UN agencies and humanitarian NGOs.
Security continues to be a serious challenge for humanitarian agencies trying to access vulnerable populations. And now there’s a disturbing trend of attacks and abductions of humanitarian staff. Two UNAMID peacekeepers were recently killed when their vehicle was ambushed outside of Nyala.
Insecurity is also preventing the millions of displaced Dafuris from returning home.
But in addition to the security concerns, many Darfuris are wondering what they have to go back to, especially the young people, who have largely grown up in these camps.
We had a great start to our day in Nairobi — we met an inspiring group of Kenyan media and technology entrepreneurs who are the driving force behind Kenya’s blossoming technology community.
Silicon Valley, watch out. This group of entrepreneurs is forging the next frontier in digital media and mobile based technology. From mobile banking and SMS crowd sourcing technology, to mapping slums and watch-dogging government, I’m convinced these are the kinds of transformational actors that are driving Kenya’s future – and Africa’s future.
They’re the likes of Ory Okolloh, founder of Ushahidi and Mzalendo; Joseph Macheru from Google Kenya, Karanja Macharia, founder of Mobile Planet, Kwame Nyongo, founder of Animations; Mike Rabar, founder of Home Boyz Entertainment and Salim Amin from A24. They’re just a sample of a much broader community of entrepreneurs whose influence and impact is building across the continent.