On Africa Day, Celebrating U.S.-Africa Partnership and Cooperation
The world has witnessed the significant and tragic loss of more than 3 million people due COVID-19 over the past year. What hasn’t made headlines is the more than 3 million children who have died from malnutrition during that same time, and the tens of millions more who will face lifelong consequences after suffering from malnutrition during critical periods of their growth. Now, experts predict that the COVID-19 pandemic could cause up to a 50% rise in severe malnutrition — 10,000 more child deaths each month as a result of pandemic-related disruptions in essential services.
As the United States and other countries are increasingly vaccinated and reopening their economies, 20 countries across Africa are facing a third wave that could be the “worst yet.” The IMF reports that COVID-19 infections in sub-Saharan Africa are the fastest growing in the world—driven in part by the highly contagious delta variant—and hospitals are already at capacity in Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda, highlighting the urgent need for a global response to prevent new variants of the coronavirus from spreading.
As Congress negotiates a bipartisan domestic infrastructure package, the Administration set its sights on the global infrastructure challenge at the G-7 meetings in June. Infrastructure—from roads to schools—forms the connective building blocks of a sustainable economy, and infrastructure needs are especially high in low and lower-middle income countries. However, total infrastructure needs in the developing world will exceed $40 trillion by 2035, exacerbated by challenges from COVID-19 to climate change, and there remains a significant gap in financing to meet these needs.
My first three months with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) have been a whirlwind. I am struck by the scope of the challenges ahead and how profoundly the global landscape has changed since the agency’s founding in 2004. In the immediate term, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to erase hard-won development gains, with the first increase in global poverty levels in nearly 20 years. Other global challenges also loom large on the horizon – climate change, the rise of autocracies and dangerous geopolitical tensions – further threatening prospects for sustainable, inclusive economic growth and challenging democratic values. And there are pressing needs here at home, so it has never been more crucial to use our limited development dollars effectively and strategically.
It has been 40 years since the first cases of what later became known as AIDS were reported— and despite incredible scientific and programmatic strides, the end of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is not yet in sight. But lessons learned from HIV/AIDS are germane as the world responds to other infectious disease threats, including COVID-19. We asked Dr. Paul Stoffels of Johnson & Johnson about these lessons, the success of PEPFAR and the importance of global health security for preventing future pandemics.
In celebration of Africa Day 2021 and its 58th anniversary, we had the opportunity to interview Ambassador Cindy Courville, who served as the first U.S. Ambassador to the African Union (AU) from 2006 to 2008. Ambassador Courville’s long and illustrious public service career includes decades of experience shaping and transforming U.S. policy in Africa while serving with the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council, and as Ambassador to the AU based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
As Vice President Harris prepares for her upcoming trip to Central America, recent events have raised concerns about corruption not only as one of the root causes of migration but also as a risk that potentially undermines U.S. assistance to improve conditions on the ground.
Africa Day 2021 marks the 58th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity—now the African Union—and is a celebration of the diversity and independence of Africa’s 54 countries. The U.S. has a long and robust bipartisan history of support for building partnerships across the continent, especially when it comes to strengthening public health, developing local infrastructure, supporting political stability, and advancing trade. In celebration of Africa Day 2021, here are five areas where the United States’ partnership with the African continent has led to tremendous progress in recent years.
In Malawi, poor sanitation, space limitations and inadequate provision for personal hygiene at schools, paired with societal norms and expectations, cause girls to abandon school far too prematurely. In result, girls are left uneducated which often leads to early pregnancy, marriage, and/or new HIV infection. To address these significant constraints to girls’ education, USAID is partnering with the Government of Malawi to build more schools and deliver education more equitably through the five-year Secondary Education Expansion for Development (SEED) project.
America’s diplomacy and development tools are on the front lines of the global COVID-19 response—and during today’s hearing on COVID-19 and the international response, both Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed that U.S. global engagement is a critical component of our country’s own health and economic recovery.