July 14, 2008

Millennium challenge actions to start in September

Actions on the ground to use the 506.9 million dollars promised to Mozambique from the United States Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) will start in September, according to Planning and Development Minister Aiuba Cuereneia. It is now almost exactly a year since Cuereneia signed the agreement (known as a "compact") with MCC Chief Executive Office John Danilovich in Washington, under which almost 507 million dollars was allocated mostly for water supply, sanitation and roads in four provinces north of the Zambezi river {Zambezia, Nampula, Cabo Delgado and Niassa}.

"The conditions have been established to begin activities on the ground", said Cuereneia. "Mozambique has already set up an agency that will coordinate the actions, and agreements have been signed with the implementing bodies". The largest slice of the MCA money, 203.6 million dollars, will be spent on water and sanitation. The roads component accounts for 176.3 million dollars. Land tenure and registration activities will account for 39.1 million dollars, and support for farm incomes the remaining 17.4 million dollars. Cuereneia stressed the importance of clean drinking water for public health and for preventing the spread of parasitic diseases. He said the activities to be developed with the MCA funding will be of major importance in the fight against poverty, enabling the government to undertake activities which it could not possibly undertake with its own limited funds. The two main implementing bodies are FIPAG and the National Roads Administration (ANE). They will shortly launch tenders to select the contractors who will carry out the building work involved.

The MCA and MCC result from an initiative of President George Bush, with initial funding of a billion dollars in 2004, rising to five billion dollars a year as from 2006. It looks certain to continue, whoever wins the US presidential election, since it enjoys bipartisan support in Congress. Low income countries are eligible for money from the MCA - but only if the US administration believes that they are, in the words of Bush, "ruling justly, investing in their people and encouraging economic freedom". So far 16 compacts have been signed, 10 of them with African countries. (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)

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