Exceptional International Development Projects Win U.S. Awards

Farmers walk home after working in NERICA rice fields near Maferenya, Guinea, in this 2002 photo. New rice varieties have allowed West African farmers to boost yields, gain greater food security and reduce poverty.
Farmers walk home after working in NERICA rice fields near Maferenya, Guinea, in this 2002 photo. New rice varieties have allowed West African farmers to boost yields, gain greater food security and reduce poverty.

Washington,
24 July 2014

The U.S. Treasury Department announced awards July 23 for exceptional development projects undertaken by the multilateral development banks (MDBs).

The winning projects deliver clear results in combating food insecurity, creating jobs, expanding the use of clean energy, promoting infrastructure development and increasing access to education and health care, the Treasury Department said in a July 23 news release.

The third annual Development Impact Honors ceremony in Washington gathered members of the U.S. Congress, senior leaders of the MDBs and the development community, and senior Obama administration officials to recognize and promote excellence in development. The projects honored reflect the critical work of the MDBs, which strengthens communities around the world, including those in fragile states, the Treasury Department said.

“When you consider recent global events, it is clear that we must continue to support international financial institutions like those that we are honoring today,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. “The United States has demonstrated steadfast support for the multilateral development banks,” Lew said, noting that the banks leverage each dollar of investment many times over.

U.S. support for the banks goes beyond funding. “We have marshalled our best experts and best thinking to make measurable progress on reducing poverty, promoting broadly shared economic growth and expanding our trade partners,” Lew said.

Among other significant impacts, the Treasury Department said, as a result of these projects, food security has improved and poverty has been reduced for an estimated 241,000 agricultural households across West Africa; a sustainable model of microfinance support has been created for over 208,000 small farmer households in Bangladesh; and primary health services have been extended to over 537,000 people and approximately 256,000 new students have been able to enroll in school in Yemen.

Projects were evaluated in a number of key areas, including their effects on beneficiary communities’ livelihoods, adherence to the highest environmental and social standards, learning from past projects’ experience and innovation in addressing development challenges. Many of the projects specifically focus on addressing the needs of the world’s most vulnerable groups by providing economic and educational opportunities, improving infrastructure and offering health support.

Almost 30 projects were nominated for an award. They were evaluated by a senior interagency group of representatives from the Treasury Department, the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

THE HONOREES

New Rice for Africa (NERICA) Project (Benin, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Mali and Sierra Leone), African Development Bank. This project has helped develop better rice varieties and introduced new technology, improving food security and reducing poverty for an estimated 241,000 agricultural households, 80 percent of whom are women and the underprivileged. By the project’s end, more than 35,000 people living in participating rice-farming households had been lifted above the extreme poverty line of $1.25 per day.

Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif Railway Project (Afghanistan), Asian Development Bank (ADB). With assistance of $165 million from the ADB, Afghanistan built and managed the operation of its first railway line in near record time, providing connections that allow for more effective and reliable transportation of freight and humanitarian aid.

Salkhit Wind Farm Project (Mongolia), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. This project introduced wind-generated renewable energy into Mongolia for the first time, allowing the country to decrease its reliance on coal-fired power plants and reduce pollution.

Galpão Aplauso: Sociocultural and Productive Integration of At-Risk Youth in Rio de Janeiro Project (Brazil), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The IDB worked with a well-regarded local nongovernmental organization and other partners to provide financing for skills and vocational training and job placement services for at-risk youth in Brazil, with a unique incorporation of arts and theater as instructional tools and an emphasis on the development of socio-emotional “soft” skills.

Microfinance for Marginal and Small Farmers Project (Bangladesh), International Fund for Agricultural. Setting out to fill a gap for small farmers who earned too much to qualify for existing microfinance initiatives but were too poor to access other financial services, this project created a viable and sustainable model of microfinance support for over 208,000 small farmer households.

Third Public Works Project (Yemen), World Bank. This project provides basic infrastructure and temporary employment for over 2.1 million poor Yemenis living in dispersed and sparsely populated rural settlements, as well as poor communities in urban areas. Among its successes, primary health services have been extended to over 537,000 people; approximately 256,000 new students have been able to enroll in school; and some 503,000 people have access to an all-season road.

More information on the honorees can be found on the Treasury Department website.