On July 14, 2008 the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. aid program that works to end poverty in developing countries for the long-term, signed a much-anticipated compact with Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in Africa and in the world. The agreement will provide approximately $480 million for food production, education, and girls empowerment. The signing is a testament to the power of advocacy to transform lives.
In May, the Senate proposed to cut the budget of the MCC by one third (read more) in order to pay for emergency relief for Burma and Jordan. With the cuts, the MCC wouldn't have been able to go through with its agreement with Burkina Faso, which had been in the works for years (in fact, Burkina Faso had already spent 5 million of its own budget and underwent years of reform in order to qualify for the funding). While responding to emergencies is vital, cutting long-term development funding to pay for it puts the poor, especially women and children, at greater risk of poverty and hunger, the very problems we are trying to solve.
Working with other organizations, Women Thrive Worldwide immediately advocated against the proposed cuts. As a result of the outcry, Congress overturned the original reductions. This has allowed the MCC to go through with the compact and the government of Burkina Faso to assist girls, families and farmers struggling with poverty.
The compact will allow Burkina Faso to invest in agriculture, irrigation (especially important now because of the impact the food crisis is having on weomen), education and empowerment for girls. For example:
1) Each of the country's 132 'girl friendly' primary schools will receive three new classrooms.
2) People working on land will receive protection from looting and confiscation.
3) Farmers and rural workers will receive credit, technical assistance, and help with irrigation and water management to help them grow more and better food in a sustainable way.
4) Rural and urban roads -- which are essential to helping the poor participate in trade, but are often unusable and dangerous -- will be renovated.