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There are countless examples of SMART Aid programmes achieving results across Africa, whether in fighting disease, promoting literacy, boosting agriculture, helping African countries to trade and attract investment, or empowering African citizens to fight corruption and hold their own governments to account. Smarter aid approaches have helped African countries put 50.8 million children in school between 1999 and 2010, have helped halve malarial death rates in countries like Rwanda and Ethiopia, and have helped place an estimated six million Africans on lifesaving anti-retroviral AIDS drugs since 2002. These are tremendous results which should be celebrated - and accelerated. Here are a few more specific examples of smart aid working in tandem with effective African leadership to bring about real change on the ground.
SMART Aid helps Ethiopia halve malaria deaths in two years
More than 50 million people in Ethiopia live in areas at risk of malaria. At the turn of the decade, the disease was killing more than 29,000 children a year. In 2005, the Ethiopian government unveiled an ambitious strategy, with donor support, to deliver two mosquito nets to every family at risk. By January 2008, 20.5 million bed nets had been delivered and a third of at-risk children were sleeping in safety (up from two per cent in 2005). Within three years of the start of the program, cases of malaria, and death rates, had been halved. This success was also thanks to delivery of effective malaria treatment, which can cost as little as US$2 per dose. Ethiopia is working to expand access to primary health services, particularly through the training of two health extension workers per village. Thirty thousand young women have been mobilised to transfer health skills to communities, a vital initiative in a country where health services often fail to reach those in isolated rural areas. The training of these health workers, and the provision of disease test kits and drugs, is paid for by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
SMART Aid opens school doors to the poor in Ghana
As in many African countries, children in Ghana often missed out on schooling because their parents could not afford the school fees or needed them to help work in the fields or the home. In 2004, Ghana started a free compulsory Universal Basic Education Program, which abolished school fees and introduced a National School Feeding Program. Much of this was done with the help of donor funding. Between 1999 and 2006, donor support for basic education in Ghana more than doubled. Ghana is now on track to achieve 100 per cent basic education enrolment by 2015. The removal of school fees opened school doors to the poorest Ghanaian children; school lunches have helped improve attendance and retention rates. By the end of 2008, 595,000 children were receiving lunches through the program, many of them eating locally produced food purchased largely by the United Nations World Food Program. Thanks to this combination of measures, Ghana's net primary school enrolment rates for boys increased from 60 per cent in 2004-2005 to 84 per cent in 2007-2008. Enrolment of girls increased from 58 per cent in 2004-2005 to 82 per cent in 2007-2008.
SMART Aid helps Ugandans fight corruption
When the Ugandan government ended primary school fees in 1997, millions of the poorest children were able to attend school for the first time. Enrolments more than doubled over the next decade. Donor aid was needed to support the schools, but many donors were hesitant to invest in the system because of a reputation for corruption. With support through the World Bank's International Development Agency (IDA), a Public Expenditure Tracking Survey in 1996 showed that only 13 per cent of education funding was reaching schools. As a result, donors made their support conditional on the Ugandan Government's implementation of an anti-corruption programme. Through newspaper and radio campaigns, the Government informed parents' associations of the amount of money their schools should be receiving; parent groups were able to act as watchdogs. As a result of this campaign, and other reforms to the education system, a second survey in 2002 showed that 80 per cent of resources were reaching schools. This model has been replicated in other African countries; it serves as a strong example of "bottom-up accountability", engaging civil society, donors and governments to improve aid systems and deliver smarter aid continent-wide.
SMART Aid supports innovative health insurance in Rwanda
Rwanda has made remarkable progress in improving the health of its people since the 1994 genocide. The Rwandan government, in partnership with donors, has scaled-up access to health insurance through local schemes called mutuelles de santé. This community-based health insurance scheme provides coverage for a variety of basic services for a small fee ($1.80 per year). Support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria is currently subsidising the fee for those families least able to afford it. In 2003, approximately seven per cent of the population was covered by this subsidised insurance scheme; by 2009 the proportion had risen to around 85 per cent. Rwanda has seen significant improvements across a range of health indicators. The Ministry of Health is also providing incentives for health facilities to improve the care provided. As a result, the likelihood that women will give birth in a health facility has increased by more than twenty per cent. This incentivised system played a role in bringing AIDS treatment to more than 70 per cent of those who needed it by 2007, compared with just one per cent in 2003.
SMART Aid and private partnership helps Tanzania make bed nets for Africa
A to Z Textile Mills in Arusha, Tanzania is an example of what can be achieved when aid works in tandem with private partnerships to support industry and employment - and when African countries reform their business climates to welcome investors. A to Z is the only African factory that manufactures long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets to protect families from malaria, the leading killer of children throughout the continent. It's a joint venture with a Japanese company Sumitomo Chemical, which gave A to Z a royalty-free technology license to produce the special nets which last at least five years without retreating. The nets are bought by the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, donor agencies and non-governmental organisations including UNICEF and Population Services International (PSI). They are used to fight malaria across Africa. The A to Z factory has the capacity to produce more than ten million nets a year. It employs 4,600 Tanzanians, mostly women, each supporting an average of six people. A to Z will be opening a stitching facility in Ethiopia in June 2009 and a factory in Nigeria in the near future.
SMART Aid boosts commerce with US through African Trade Hubs
Trade, fuelled by economic growth and investment, is an essential tool for poverty reduction. One challenge for many African businesses is navigating the complex rules and regulations involved in exporting to lucrative developed country markets. The USAID "Trade Hub" programs are designed to help African businesses take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) - an American preference program that permits the export of certain African goods to the United States duty- and quota-free. Four Trade Hubs - in Botswana, Senegal, Ghana and Kenya - are helping African entrepreneurs navigate US customs laws, identify export financing, find buyers, and get assistance with pricing and marketing. The hubs have been successful in helping businesses introduce products such as clothing, fresh flowers, and fruit juice to the United States. In total, since 2005, the four African Trade Hubs have generated an additional $60 million in exports to the US alone. The West African Trade Hub has been particularly successful in boosting the shea butter and cashew industries.
SMART Aid helps mobile phones bring banking to Kenya's rural poor
In Kenya, as with many places in Africa, opening a bank account requires a minimum deposit which is often beyond the reach of poor families. In rural areas, banks can be far away and inconvenient to reach. M-PESA is a money transfer system which allows people to deposit, withdraw, and transfer money by mobile phone without a bank account. The model was piloted by Vodafone with assistance from the UK Department for International Development (DFID). It was implemented in early 2007 by Safaricom, Kenya's largest mobile phone provider. It now has approximately five million users. A worker in Nairobi can open an account at any M-PESA agent, in a local shop, a Safaricom dealer, or a petrol station. He/she can deposit earnings into an M-PESA account and transfer money to family members via SMS. The recipients go to a local store in their village and cash the SMS using a secret code contained in the message, and their identification card. Considering that mobile phone subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa grew by more than 60 per cent annually between 1994 and 2005, and are still rising rapidly, the M-PESA model could be the money transfer mechanism of the future.
SMART Aid boosts food production in Malawi through fertilizer subsidy
Since 2005/2006, the Malawian government has provided a fertiliser subsidy to smallholder farmers, a programme that is now supported by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID). This subsidy provides vouchers to farmers to purchase fertiliser and seeds that enable them to produce a more robust crop. Like many African countries, Malawi has been prone to food shortages due to droughts and under-investment in agriculture. As recently as 2005, almost five million of Malawi's 13 million people were in need of emergency food aid. The subsidy has made a substantial contribution to food security. In tandem with good rains and appropriate macroeconomic policies, it has enabled Malawi to produce a surplus of maize since 2007. In that year Malawi even donated maize to the World Food Programme and also sold some of its surplus in the region. While still a work in progress, there are early indications that the subsidy could also be fuelling other successes in Malawi, such as a decrease in the number of under fives who are severely underweight, and an increase in the number of meals per day people are eating.
SMART Aid lays foundations for private sector investment across Africa
The Investment Climate Facility (ICF) is an initiative that grew from the 2005 Commission for Africa and started operations in July 2007. Its aim is to work with receptive African governments "to make the continent an even better place to do business". It is currently active in ten African countries and working on four pan-regional projects and two other initiatives. The ICF is funded by eight donor agencies - Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa, the UK, the African Development Bank and the International Finance Corporation - and nine companies - Anglo American, The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, SABMiller, Sasol, Shell Foundation, Standard Bank, Unilever and Zain. Current projects cover issues such as improving land registration in Burkina Faso, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone; improving business registration processes in Burkina Faso, Liberia, Madagascar, and Rwanda; simplifying VAT administration in Lesotho; enhancing the commercial justice system in Mali and Rwanda; and improving customs administration in Senegal.
SMART Aid supports Ethiopian farmers to market their food
The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), which opened in January 2008, provides a low-cost, low-risk way for Ethiopian farmers to trade and get a fair price for their produce. It trades coffee, sesame, haricot beans, teff, wheat and maize. The exchange ensures the quality of the produce, and manages delivery and payment through exchange warehouses and clearing. This is a huge step for smallholder farmers - 85 per cent of Ethiopia's population - who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. For years, they struggled to sell their produce at a competitive price as buyers had the power to set prices. When there was a good harvest, food prices plummeted. Now, after years of famine and market reforms that did little to alleviate hunger, they have a much better chance of increasing their incomes. The idea for the Commodity Exchange was developed by researchers at the Ethiopian Development Research Institute and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The IFPRI is one of 15 agricultural research centres supported by a collection of donor governments, private foundations, and international and regional organisations.
SMART Aid helps harness Africa's agricultural potential
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is an initiative funded by international donors including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. AGRA works to enhance agricultural productivity in Africa by training smallholder farmers, supporting the development of high-yielding seed varieties, and ensuring that farmers have access to good quality seeds, tools, and fertiliser. AGRA's Program for Africa's Seed Systems (PASS) provides grants and scholarships to agricultural scientists who take their knowledge into local communities, working with farmers to see which seed varieties best suit their land. AGRA works on innovative ways to make these seeds and other supplies widely available to rural farmers. Since 2006, AGRA has trained and certified over 5,000 new agro-dealers, and aims to reach 9,000 by 2011. This is having a real impact on farmers: in 2006 in Western Kenya, for example, a farmer had to travel an average of 17 kilometres to an agro-dealer to purchase seeds and fertiliser; today that distance is an average of five kilometres. AGRA has also provided loan guarantees through which farmers can access credit to purchase supplies that will boost their yields.
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