As President Obama travels to Kenya and Ethiopia this week, he’ll reflect on the progress we’ve made there, as well as looking at how to continue U.S. work in accelerating economic growth, strengthening democratic institutions and improving security in sub-Saharan Africa.
USAID has been a key partner in this mission. For example, we’ve supported Nigerian farmers in earning $103 million in crops in a single year, helped establish 350 schools in South Sudan and trained 38,000 female health workers in Ethiopia. The statistics could go on. But numbers don’t tell the whole story. The real story is about the families we touch, the lives we transform. At the end of the day, at the heart of all we do, are people:
People like Teresia Olotai, a leader in a community that, for the first time, now has the ability to turn on the light.
Her Masaai community in Tanzania never had electricity, which made it difficult to conduct business, stay safe at night, make phone calls and perform daily tasks. However, after USAID brought in a solar microgrid, all that has changed, opening up a new world of convenience and opportunity.
Teresia is one of many whose lives have been transformed by Power Africa, an initiative leveraging partnerships across the globe to double access to energy across sub-Saharan Africa. In two years, the initiative has already made great strides, and we’re only moving forward from here.
People like Dhaki Wako Baneta, a mother in Ethiopia whose life revolves around milk.
As a pastoralist, she’s always relied on milk for income, but in the past she’s struggled to make a living. However, now that USAID has connected her to a milk processor in town, she sells all of her milk–and some of her neighbor’s–every day, without fail.
Thirteen million people in Ethiopia live like Dhaki as pastoralists, struggling to feed their families enough nutritious food on meager incomes. USAID teaches communities how to prepare for drought and earn more from their livestock, empowering people like Dhaki with better health, security and opportunity.
People like Varbah Dolley, a brave member of a Liberian Red Cross Burial Team during the Ebola epidemic.
Her job, helping communities safely and carefully bury their dead, was one of the most important in stopping the spread of the Ebola virus — and one of the most dangerous. Varbah reported to the homes of Ebola victims, risking contagion to remove bodies, disinfect areas and assess where else the disease may have spread.
The work was emotional and often difficult, but essential. USAID supported nearly 200 burial teams, a key effort in our success in helping Liberia stem the crisis
People like Hapsatou Kah, an extraordinary Senegalese woman who’s on a mission to end malnutrition in her community.
After years of seeing poor families raise skinny babies and sickly children, Hapsatou received health and nutrition training from USAID and put it to good use. She taught her neighbors better agricultural practices and how to wash their hands; she gave her community access to better nutrition and helped run a livestock program.
By training entrepreneurs like Hapsatou who educate about and sell nutrition-rich products, this Feed the Future program will improve food security and nutrition for more than 1 million people in rural Senegal.
People like Habiba Suleiman Sefu, a “malaria hunter” in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
As a malaria surveillance officer, Habiba uses a tablet, mobile phone and motorcycle to test, treat and track cases of malaria in her community. Each morning, she receives SMS messages about new patients and responds to their homes to carry out care. She’s progressive, passionate and making a real difference.
The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, launched in 2006, dramatically scaled up the U.S. response to the disease. In less than a decade in Tanzania, we’ve delivered millions of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and anti-malarial drugs. Today, the malaria rate in Zanzibar is less than 1 percent.
There’s still work to be done. And, together with our partners, we’ll need to work smart to accomplish more. But we’re committed to doing exactly that — we’re determined to lift out of poverty one life, one community and one country at a time. Just like Teresia, Dhaki, Varbah, Hapsatou and Habiba, millions more Africans will soon know a world of extreme possibilities instead of extreme poverty.