Ethiopia: U.S. Pledges $230m for Multisector Development Projects

Ethiopia has received a 230-million-dollar grant from the United States through a partnership agreement for the development of agriculture, education, economic growth and good governance.

Donated through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the grant agreement was signed on May 8, 2020, between Admasu Nebebe, state minister for Finance, and Sean Jones, USAID mission director. The grant came a week after the United States donated 37 million dollars to help Ethiopia's effort to contain the potential spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The financing aims at expanding Ethiopia's capacity through programmes aimed at health, nutrition, education, agriculture, food security, democracy, governance and community resilience issues. USAID's help also aims at helping Ethiopia achieve its goal to become a middle-income country, according to a statement from the United States Embassy in Addis Abeba.

"The agreement is more than just money," said Jones. "This is about building upon the strong people-to-people partnership the two countries have shared for decades."

The development partnership agreement, which is signed yearly to support Ethiopia's journey toward self-reliance, is provided as grants through local and international non-governmental organisations operating in Ethiopia, according to John T. Ice, spokesperson for the United States Embassy in Addis Abeba.

The development partnership between the two countries dates back to the 1950s before USAID was established in 1961. The partnership ranges from food and humanitarian assistance efforts to more forward-leaning investments.

In the past two decades, the United States' long-term investment in Ethiopia has amounted to more than 13 billion dollars in total assistance, with over four billion dollars in the last five years alone.

"The funding will be used to support Ethiopia's transition to a more democratic, prosperous and resilient society with accountable institutions and private-sector-led growth," said John.

The money will be disbursed for the projects phase by phase, according to an official from the Ministry of Finance, who asked for anonymity.

"USAID sends quarterly financial performance reports for every sector to the Ministry," he said.

Eshetu Gurmu (PhD), an associate professor at Addis Abeba University's Institute of Development & Policy Research, believes that Ethiopia needs more sustainable development partners.

"I believe the country needs support that will permanently address the country's deep-rooted problems and bring fundamental change," he said. "It doesn't always have to be from foreign aid."

Eshetu advised that the government use the fund for long-term and sustainable solutions by adopting modern technologies in agriculture, education and governance.

Last week, USAID donated 37 million dollars that will be used to ensure continued operations at Hawassa Industrial Park to preserve jobs and repurpose manufacturing facilities to produce personal protective equipment. It will also be used to support COVID-19 case surveillance and investigations as well as for contact tracing and to strengthen laboratories to prepare lab systems for large-scale COVID-19 testing.

Since the first case of the pandemic was reported in the country, USAID has been working with partners from the ministries of Health and Peace, the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, the National Disaster Risk Management Commission, and other international and local partners to provide life-saving support for the ongoing emergency response.

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