US-Senegal: MCC to bring Senegal a step closer to greater food security

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The board of directors of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), chaired by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, approved a five-year, $540 million compact grant to the Republic of Senegal to reduce poverty through economic growth. The compact, according to a September 7 MCC announcement, will focus on road rehabilitation and food security initiatives in some of the poorest regions of Senegal.

“On behalf of MCC, I want to congratulate the people and government of Senegal for developing an innovative compact that will make a tremendous difference in reducing poverty through economic growth by bolstering food security and transportation connectivity,” said Darius Mans, acting MCC chief executive officer. “The Senegalese have laid out a clear vision of improving the quality of their lives through a results-oriented plan. MCC welcomes the opportunity to work together to achieve these compact goals.”

The compact will invest in rehabilitating roads in the northern and southern regions of Senegal. Improving these roads is vital to supporting the agricultural sector — by creating reliable, cost-effective and time-saving means to transport locally produced agricultural products to domestic and international markets year-round, the MCC announcement states. In addition to getting products and consumers to markets, these roads will provide access to essential community services such as schools and hospitals.

The compact also will invest in a strategic irrigation and water resources management project. This project, according to the MCC, will develop up to 10,500 hectares of additional irrigated land in the Senegal River Valley by increasing the volume of irrigation water. This work will prevent the abandonment of 26,000 hectares of existing irrigable land by rehabilitating drainage canals and expanding secure land tenure. The project will maximize the potential of the irrigated zone by increasing crop yields. For a country that currently imports 70 percent of its rice, the irrigation project will move Senegal a step closer to greater food security.

A compact is a multiyear agreement between the Millennium Challenge Corporation and an eligible country to fund specific programs targeted at reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth. These programs must be developed in consultation with a country’s citizens — including women, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector — and have the ability to measure both economic growth and poverty reduction.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation is a U.S. government corporation designed to work with some of the poorest countries in the world. Established in January 2004, MCC is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance and economic freedom and investments in people. MCC’s mission is to reduce global poverty by promoting sustainable economic growth. Before a country can become eligible to receive assistance, MCC looks at its performance on independent and transparent policy indicators. MCC selects eligible countries for compact assistance.

MCC expects to sign the compact with Senegal on September 16. It will be signed by Senegalese Minister of Finance and Economy Abdoulaye Diop and Acting MCC CEO Mans at the State Department in Washington. Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and Secretary Clinton will preside at the signing, the MCC announcement said.

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