The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a month-long activity this month to commemorate a major milestone, marking 60 years since its founding by President John F. Kennedy and development support to Nigeria.
Nigeria was among the first countries in the world to receive development assistance under the agency in 1961.
A statement by the US Mission in Nigeria made available to The Tide in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said, “For six decades, USAID has built its reputation as the world’s premier international development organisation by partnering with more than 100 countries to strengthen communities and improve lives”.
In the statement, USAID Mission Director, Anne Patterson said, “On this anniversary of President Kennedy’s vision of the United States as the world’s leader in providing a helping hand to countries struggling to develop, I am proud to represent USAID in Nigeria, a country with tremendous potential to be leader in West Africa if it can overcome its many challenges.”
The statement added, “In Nigeria and around the world, USAID partners with some of the world’s top development agencies, the United Nations, local non-governmental and civil society organisations, and host country governments to help save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen governance, and improve health, education, and economic prosperity.
“In 2021, USAID will spend $787million in development and humanitarian assistance in Nigeria.
“Perhaps, its biggest ongoing success in Nigeria has been its response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that has wrought the country since the 1980s.
“Through funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in collaboration with the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Walter Reed Army Research Institute, culminating in a 2019-2020 ‘surge’ that greatly reduced a rising trend in vulnerable areas, especially in combination with the ongoing tuberculosis and new COVID-19 pandemics.
“Today, USAID supports testing for 2.4million Nigerians a year, and provides free life-saving antiretroviral therapy for 89percent of the nearly 400,000 individuals who have tested positive.
“Another 62million Nigerian mothers and children benefited from USAID health programs last year through training of public health workers, increasing access to quality medicines, and improving leadership in the health sector with a focus on primary health care.
“USAID support has protected 68million Nigerians from malaria by donations of mosquito nets through the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), which has contributed to a drop in child deaths by 16percent over 10 years and helped reduce malaria prevalence from 42percent to 23percent.
“Since 2015, USAID interventions in education have helped millions of children and youth improve their lives through better early grade reading skills, and focus, especially on more than 340,000 children whose education was suspended through conflict.
“Through Feed the Future, 2.3million smallholder farmers benefited from improved products, improved techniques, and access to markets and financing through USAID agriculture programmes last year.
“Power Africa reforms will improve an enabling environment and increase private investment in the energy sector, and strengthened management of water systems to increase access to reliable water and sanitation.
“USAID Democracy and Governance programmes support free and fair elections, 230 civil society organisations working for more responsive governance and local solutions to ongoing economic and ethno-religious tensions between farmers and herders.
“Finally, USAID is the biggest bilateral donor of humanitarian assistance to Nigeria, donating about $343million in commodities and logistical support to ensure the displaced have enough to eat and access to basic health and human rights.
“All across the world, during this anniversary month of November, USAID staff and partners are reflecting on the agency’s success and challenges still to be met.
“Under the dynamic new leadership of Ambassador Samantha Power, the agency is poised to continue to be the premier development agency in Nigeria and across the world”, the statement added.