Good morning and welcome to the U.S. Embassy.
Thank you so much for coming here at the U.S. Embassy. I know some of you had to travel from up country in order to be present at this event and we very much appreciate your efforts.
It has been almost two years since I arrived in Côte d’Ivoire and this is the second year when I am honored to sign the grants for the Special Self Help Program. I am happy to be here and to be able to do that, taking into consideration the importance of this program for communities throughout Africa. As you all know, the Ambassador’s Special Self Help Fund was created to support community-led initiatives. Successful Self Help projects include significant community-based contributions in the form of funding, labor, or materials – often, all three. Over the years we observed that the success of the Self-Help program is driven by the commitment of participants in building better futures for their communities, by their initiatives and involvement.
The Self Help Program began in Togo in 1964 and has become one of the U.S. Government’s most visible and successful assistance programs, aiding thousands of communities and individuals throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. This year marks the 51st Anniversary of the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help program and we are looking forward to many more.
The Self-Help Program’s history in Côte d’Ivoire includes a diverse range of projects which demonstrate our commitment to community-led development. We have supported projects ranging from improved access to potable water to vocational and educational trainings, health and nutrition programs as well as agricultural and nature preservation projects. The Self-Help Program in Côte d’Ivoire has improved the lives and livelihoods of communities throughout the country.
Today we are here to initiate more excellent examples of the Self Help spirit:
- Local associations and leaders from two communities in Tafire will improve access to potable water by installing new water pumps and extending existing water systems. These projects will decrease the rates of water-borne diseases and dramatically cut down the distance individuals currently need to travel to access safe water, freeing up time and energy for other activities and efforts in community development.
- Schools in Bingerville, Many Bereby, and San Pedro, and a child care center in Grand Lahou will benefit from renovations that will contribute to creating a safer and cleaner environment for the children of those communities.
- La foundation Akwaba, in coordination with the Kpanan village community from Bondoukou, will bring solar energy to a local health center which will enable the clinic to be open for longer hours and store and maintain their own equipment and medicine.
- The Social Justice NGO from Bouake along with the Women’s Association from Djebonoua will contribute to improving agricultural performance and health of women from their communities.
This year’s beneficiaries proved that they are not waiting for change to come to them. Instead, they worked together with their communities to create project proposals that address key needs; and demonstrate strong sustainability plans. We view a successful project as one which has lasting results for years to come.
Last year, five communities throughout the country benefited from this program. Today four of these communities have better access to potable water and about 120 children participated at a literacy and life skills training. Next year I hope to be able to say that another seven communities improved their way of living by benefiting from this program. Today, I am happy to sign the funds over to you. The success of these projects is now in your hands and I encourage you to continue developing community-led economic and social initiatives. The strength of Côte d’Ivoire is not judged by only large development projects here in Abidjan but by the health, safety, and growth of its communities at the grassroots.
Thank you for participating in today’s ceremony. Please join me in celebrating this year’s Self Help award recipients.