"It's easy to be critical of development, especially in hard times at home," said US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew."But today shows the very best it can do."
Setting out some of the core principles of US development support - "impacts not inputs", "developing countries in the driver's seat", the diminishing role of aid and the growing role of the private sector - he praised the "vital on-the-ground work that strengthens communities and regions around the world, while also advancing American economic and security interests abroad.
These kinds of successful investments help to create the next generation of emerging markets and strengthen our national security,"Lew said.
His words came during the second annual Development Impact Honors ceremony, held at the US Treasury building on Pennsylvania Avenue inWashington DC on the morning of Thursday,July 25,2013. Five of the eight multilateral development institutions were present to receive awards: Jim Kim, President of the World Bank;Donald Kaberuka, Presidentof the African Development Bank; XiaoyuZhao, Vice-Presidentof the Asian Development Bank; Luis Albert Moreno, Presidentof the Inter-American Development Bank;and Carlos Sere, Vice-Presidentof the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A panel of experts had selected five winners from some 40 projects.
"The MDBs are the first multipliers of America's commitment to the poor," said Lael Brainard, US Under-Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs. "We have never had as close cooperation between the US and the MDBs as we have today."
Each award-winner was introduced by a senior US Government figure, and the African Development Bank came twice to the podium, as the winner of two awards. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) said of Donald Kaberuka: "He has steered his institution through a far-reaching reform agenda. The region is proud of the Bank - Africans look to it as an anchor."
The first AfDB project thus honoured was a broad-ranging support project for Côte d'Ivoire as it emerged from the civil war which was unleashed in 2003. Bank research had revealed that nearly two-thirds of women in the north, centre and west of the country had experienced some form of physical or sexual violence. With the violence born of unequal power relationships between men and women came trauma, stigma and failures of justice in a situation compounded by state collapse, in which 17,000 officials were no longer in post. The project built, equipped and staffed four integrated service centres in Bouake, Korhogo, Dabakala and Man - as places where were women could go, free of charge, and access social, health, legal and economic services. It also supported income-generating projects for women's associations, giving 470 survivors of gender-based violence and 5,500 members of women's associations business training in areas as diverse as marketing, accounting, corn and rice processing, poultry farming and more.
In the spirit of partnership and capacity-building, the project also trained the staff of six local NGOs, who in turn trained 150 health workers, 150 community leaders, and 150 policemen. All told, some 3,500 women were directly impacted by the project, and an estimated 1.5 million indirectly benefitted. Much of the work was unquantifiable but no less important, not least in the awareness-raising campaigns carried out toeducate men. The project survived the 2010 unrest in the wake of disputed Presidential elections, and its legacy already runs deep. In the words of one 16-year-old girl, herself a victim of rape and abuse: "Now the community knows that it must not harm people - now it knows that women are protected."
Kaberuka set the project in the context of the Bank's longstanding commitment to fragile states (it has offices in 12 of them, and has seen funding for its fragile states work rise from $60 million to $350 million a year in the last decade), and to women. "As so often in crises,"he said, "it is women and girls who pay the highest price... Women are 51% of Africa's onebillion people, but they make up a disproportionate part of its poor. The transformation of Africa hinges very much on inclusive development, and that is why gender is very much at the heart of what we do."
Introducing the second AfDB award, Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) said: "I'm awed when I look at what these Multilateral Development Banks do, and how they contribute to this place we live in, called Earth. We can solve poverty... I salute my good friend Donald Kaberuka: we respect him, and we respect what the Bank does."
The award-winning project itself was designed to fill chronic gaps in rural Ugandan infrastructure that stopped agricultural products getting to market, and seriously limited the possibility of agro-processing by which African farmers can climb the value chain. The Bank saw farmers producing less and earning less, with little building of skills or use of technology or information.
In the five years from 2007-2012, the Bank committed $45 million alongside IFAD's $32 million, to a project spanning 26 districts of eastern and central Uganda which benefitted some 2.6 million people. It built thousands of kilometres of rural roads, hundreds of kilometresof feeder roads, rural markets, and units of agro-processing production from coffee and rice hullers, to maize mills and milk coolers. The rise in farm-gate prices was as astounding as it was quantifiable: the price for cassava went up 2½ times, maize 20 times, milk fourtimes, bananas twotimes. Travel times to take produce to market were cut in half, travel costs cut in half, and the cost of wasted food cut by a fifth.
"It is a project which demonstrates three important things,"said Kaberuka: "how relatively small investments can generate very large returns; how international institutions work together, each in their field of comparative strength; and how critically important is infrastructure. Good infrastructure - combined with credit, support services and smart subsidies - is what will lay the basis of agricultural transformation, and create jobs."
He put the projects in the context of the African Development Fund of which they are a part. "The prizes the Bank receives today honour the work of the African Development Fund, to which the USA is a long-standing and firm supporter," he said. "In these tight economic times, times of budget constraints, these awards are visible evidence that the ADF has been an effective tool, and together we should strengthen it in the replenishment which is going on right now."
"We are celebrating the fact that our collective endeavours are making a difference in the lives of ordinary people, and that we are winning, and getting results. We are pleased that the African Development Bank, the continent's premier development instrument, is having an impact."