Friday, November 29, 2013

D.C. Mayor Gray and OAA Host 2nd Annual DC to Africa Business Symposium



Courtesy DC Mayor’s Office of African Affairs
Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Growing Local, Going Global

On Monday, November 25, 2013, Mayor Vincent C. Gray and his Office on African Affairs hosted a highly successful and well-received 2nd Annual DC to Africa: ‘Growing Local, Going Global’ Business Symposium. Held at the Mayor’s Citywide Conference Center at One Judiciary Square, this all-day symposium brought together over 300 local business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in direct contact with more than 20 business resource providers from District, federal and nonprofit agencies.
Coordinated in partnership with the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), the US Department of Commerce and the Office of Community Affairs, OAA’s DC to Africa business symposium aimed, first and foremost, to advance the Mayor’s top priority of growing and diversifying the District’s economy as a vehicle for expanding the tax base and employment opportunities for District residents.

“By connecting our aspiring and existing businesses to resources and opportunities, we diversify our economy and build resilience and sustainability. Our 1776 Incubator Program, DSLBD’s Export DC Program, our Great Streets Capital Improvement Program, and our new Innovation Hub for Entrepreneurs at St. Elizabeth are just a few examples of the kinds of business development programs we are implementing to nurture entrepreneurship and innovation,” said the Mayor in his welcoming remarks.

Coming right on the heels of Global Entrepreneurship Week and the first anniversary of the Obama Administration’s Doing Business in Africa Campaign, the symposium was designed to promote emerging opportunities in US-Africa trade. “We’re here to encourage and equip the District’s African diaspora community to invest in and trade with their countries of origin in Africa by building sustainable enterprises that can simultaneously stimulate the US economy,” said OAA Director Ngozi Nmezi in her opening remarks.

“Sub-Saharan Africa has six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, which makes Africa poised to be the world’s next great economic success story. That is why the Commerce Department launched the Doing Business in Africa Campaign last year – to help American businesses take advantage of that growth and increase exports, which support millions of U.S. jobs,“ said Acting U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Patrick Gallagher.

The 2nd Annual DC to Africa symposium created a unique platform for the business community to learn about the full range of support available to advance and globalize their business goals and pursuits. Breakout sessions tailored to the distinct needs of startups and established businesses provided resources on licensing, counseling services, access to capital, contracting and procurement, international trade financing, export incentives, and country-specific investment opportunities in Africa.

Additionally, the symposium provided ample time for one-on-one networking and relationship building. “I appreciated the interactive panels, the knowledgeable speakers, and the topics, but mostly I thoroughly enjoyed being able to meet and engage a wide variety of government agency representatives, business owners, embassy representatives and all kinds of inspiring professionals I would have otherwise not met,” said a participant.

As part of its Business Engagement and Capacity Building program, OAA is committed to further strengthening District businesses through ongoing technical assistance, greater access to information, and targeted educational programs.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement On Mauritania’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
November 27, 2013

On behalf of the American people, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Mauritania on the 53rd anniversary of independence on November 28.

Mauritania and the United States work closely to advance regional peace and security. We are especially proud of our cooperation through the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership.

The United States fully supports Mauritania’s democratic and economic development. We look forward to finding new opportunities to promote human rights and expand trade and investment.

I wish all Mauritanians a safe and festive 53rd anniversary celebration. We are committed to building upon our partnership to promote prosperity and peace in the coming year.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Maryland Gov. O’Malley Appoints AMIP News Head, Nnoma-Addison as Commissioner on African Affairs

File Photo: Governor O’Malley (R) with AMIP News Head, Nnoma-Addison at the Governor’s Reception Room
State House

Annapolis, Maryland USA
October 22, 2013

Maryland Governor, Martin O’Malley today appointed Ghanaian-born journalist, media consultant, and author, Frederick Nnoma-Addison as Commissioner on African Affairs in the state of Maryland. In this role Mr. Nnoma-Addison, together with other appointees, will serve on the Governor’s Commission on African Affairs to address needs specific to the African Diaspora community in the state of Maryland. He will also work to strengthen relations between the state of Maryland and African institutions, diplomatic missions, communities, and organizations both in the United States and in Africa.

Governor O’Malley established the Commission on African Affairs through an executive order he signed in May 2009.

In a citation presented to Mr. Nnoma-Addison, the Governor commended him for his public service and leadership on Africa-related matters, both in the state and nationally.

Nnoma-Addison began his career as a young television presenter with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Accra, in the early ‘90s. He immigrated to the United States in the late 90’s, and established AMIP News (www.amipnewsonline.org) in 2004, in Washington, DC to draw attention to African affairs, in ways that Americans can more easily relate to. AMIP News is currently the only U.S. news organization dedicated exclusively to U.S. and Africa relations.

As CEO and Washington, D.C, Bureau Chief for AMIP News he has interviewed several senior U.S. government officials involved with Africa, written articles and granted interviews for major news networks like CNN & CBS, and covered most of the historic Africa-related events such as the President’s Young Africans Leadership Program, presidential state visits, and most recently (July 18), the U.S. Congress’s 95th birthday celebration of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela (Madiba) held at the National Capitol.

Nnoma-Addison is the author and publisher of two historic, commemorative books “The United States & Ghana” and “The United States & Nigeria” launched in Washington, DC in 2010 and 2012 in conjunction with the embassies of Ghana and Nigeria respectively.
Prior to establishing and managing AMIP News he worked for the Discovery Networks at the world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Nnoma-Addison and his family have been Maryland residents since 2004.

President Obama and King Mohammed of Morocco Hold Meeting in Washington

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
November 22, 2013

Joint Statement by the United States of America and the Kingdom of Morocco
In their meeting today at the White House, President Obama and His Majesty King Mohammed VI reaffirmed the strong and mutually beneficial partnership and strategic alliance between the United States and the Kingdom of Morocco. The two leaders stressed that this important visit provides an opportunity to map out a new and ambitious plan for the strategic partnership and pledged to advance our shared priorities of a secure, stable, and prosperous Maghreb, Africa, and Middle East. The two leaders also emphasized our shared values, mutual trust, common interests, and strong friendship, as reflected throughout our partnership.

Support for Democratic and Economic Reforms

The President commended the action and the leadership of His Majesty the King in deepening democracy and promoting economic progress and human development during the past decade. The President and His Majesty the King reaffirmed their commitment to work together to realize the promise of Morocco’s 2011 constitution and explore ways in which the United States can help strengthen Morocco’s democratic institutions, civil society, and inclusive governance. The President welcomed the King’s commitment to end the practice of military trials of civilians. The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the UN human rights system and its important role in protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms, and committed to deepening the ongoing U.S.-Morocco dialogue on human rights, which has been a productive and valuable mechanism for the exchange of views and information. Noting their shared concern about migrants, refugees, and human trafficking issues worldwide, the President expressed support for Morocco’s initiative to reform its asylum and immigration system based on recommendations from Morocco’s National Human Rights Commission. The President welcomed Morocco’s intent to take concrete steps to qualify for and join the Open Government Partnership and to realize the vision of the Equal Futures Partnership by ensuring women fully participate in public life, and that they lead and benefit from inclusive economic growth.

Economic and Security Cooperation

The two leaders emphasized that the United States and Morocco are dedicated to working together to promote human and economic development in Morocco. They noted the successful conclusion, in September 2013, of Morocco’s first Millennium Challenge Compact, and the Compact’s positive impact on job creation, economic growth, and human development throughout Morocco. The President highlighted the U.S. Agency for International Development’s new development strategy for 2013-2017, designed to help the Moroccan government achieve its reform goals and respond to the needs of Moroccan citizens. This strategy focuses on: enhancing the employability of youth; increasing civic participation in governance; and enhancing educational attainment for children at the primary level.

They noted that the two countries signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement on November 21, 2013 to expand bilateral cooperation on the detection of money laundering, trade fraud, and other financial crime. Additionally, on November 21, 2013 the United States and Morocco signed a Trade Facilitation Agreement that furthers the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement and represents a forward-leaning, 21st century agreement on customs reform and modernization. Morocco is our first partner in the region to conclude such an agreement, as well as to endorse joint principles on investment and information communication technology services trade. These important initiatives reflect our common commitment to building stronger economic ties with and among the region.

The President and His Majesty the King recognized the importance of Morocco as a trade and investment platform for North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa and the benefits of maintaining an attractive business climate for investment in Morocco. Building on the December 2012 U.S.-Morocco Business Development Conference in Washington, DC, the King noted that planning is underway for a second such Conference to be held in Rabat in 2014. The 2014 Business Development Conference aims to build on business-to-business contacts in aviation, the agriculture and food industry, and energy to expand trade and promote investment, as well as regional economic integration. The President expressed appreciation to the King for offering to host the 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and both leaders highlighted the importance of fostering broad-based economic opportunity in the region, particularly for young people and women.

Educational and Cultural Cooperation

Applauding their people-to-people ties, the President and His Majesty the King are committed to exploring further cooperation to promote mutual understanding and interfaith dialogue in Morocco and throughout the region. They reiterated their commitment to enhance and diversify exchange programs that include the Moroccan American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange. The President and His Majesty the King underscored the importance of early ratification and implementation of the agreement between the two countries on the registration and status of the system of American schools in Morocco. Both leaders committed to strengthening ties and increasing mutual understanding between Moroccan and American youth. The President commended His Majesty the King for graciously committing to donate $1 million per year over the next 5 years to the J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative, which hopes to connect youth from all different age groups in the Middle East and North Africa with youth in the United States through virtual exchange.

The Issue of the Western Sahara

The President pledged to continue to support efforts to find a peaceful, sustainable, mutually agreed-upon solution to the Western Sahara question. U.S. policy toward the Western Sahara has remained consistent for many years. The United States has made clear that Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic, and credible, and that it represents a potential approach that could satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity. We continue to support the negotiations carried out by the United Nations, including the work of the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy Ambassador Christopher Ross, and urge the parties to work toward a resolution. The two leaders affirmed their shared commitment to the improvement of the lives of the people of the Western Sahara and agreed to work together to continue to protect and promote human rights in the territory.

Regional Security and Counterterrorism Cooperation

The leaders noted their partnership on the United Nations Security Council over the past two years in the advancement of international peace and security, including in Mali, the Sahel, Syria, Libya, and the Middle East. They reaffirmed their commitment to continue to deepen civilian and military cooperation in the areas of non-proliferation and counter-terrorism. To address their deep concern for the continuing threat posed by terrorism, the United States and Morocco intend to continue cooperation to bolster democratic criminal justice institutions and to counter the threat of violent extremism in the region. The leaders also reinforced their commitment to regional cooperation initiatives.

The leaders are committed to continuing close cooperation in the Global Counterterrorism Forum and to work to strengthen regional political, economic, and security ties across North Africa and the Sahel, including through a reinvigorated Arab Maghreb Union and other regional forums.

The President encouraged Morocco to join the United States in founding the International Institute of Justice and the Rule of Law in Malta, which intends to train a new generation of criminal justice officials across North, West, and East Africa on how to address counterterrorism and related security challenges through a rule of law framework.

Africa

His Majesty the King thanked the President for the importance given to the promotion of social development and economic prosperity within Africa. The President acknowledged His Majesty the King’s leadership and the actions carried out by Morocco in the field of peace keeping, conflict prevention, human development, and the preservation of cultural and religious identity.

In this context, both countries committed to explore joint initiatives to promote human development and stability through food security, access to energy, and the promotion of trade based on the existing Free Trade Agreement. The two Heads of State were pleased to note their common assessment of the critical role of human and economic development in promoting stability and security on the African continent, and committed to explore in greater detail concrete options for pragmatic, inclusive cooperation around economic and development issues of mutual interest.

Middle East Peace

His Majesty commended the continuous commitment of the President and the efforts of the Secretary of State to advance Middle East peace. The President acknowledged the contribution of His Majesty, Chairman of the Al Quds committee, to the efforts aiming to achieve a two state solution.

Conclusion

The President and His Majesty the King closed the meeting by emphasizing their shared commitment to the special and longstanding relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Morocco, which in 1777 became the first nation to recognize the independence of the United States. President Obama and King Mohammed VI reaffirmed their commitment to stay in close contact and to continue on a path of increased cooperation that will strengthen the United States-Morocco strategic partnership, including the next meeting of the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue in Rabat. They each intend to designate a senior official to lead the implementation of the commitments made today, and the President thanked His Majesty the King for his invitation to visit Morocco. Today’s meeting demonstrates that the interests of the United States and Morocco continue to converge, and that this historic partnership, which began in the 18th century, continues to thrive well into the 21th century.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kenyan Educator, Kakenya Ntaiya, Named Amongst CNN Top 10 Heroes For 2013

More than 150 Maasai girls are enrolled at the Kakenya Center for Excellence in Enoosaen, Kenya.

By Kathleen Toner, CNN

Enoosaen, Kenya (CNN) — When she was 14 years old, Kakenya Ntaiya entered the cow pen behind her home with an elderly woman carrying a rusty knife.

As a crowd from her Maasai village looked on, Ntaiya sat down, lifted her skirt and opened her legs. The woman grabbed Ntaiya’s most intimate body parts and, in just moments, cut them out.

“It (was) really painful. I fainted,” recalled Ntaiya, now 34. “You’re not supposed to cry.”

For generations, this ceremony was a rite of passage for every Maasai girl, some as young as 10; soon afterward, they would marry and drop out of school.

About 140 million girls and women worldwide have been affected by female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision. The procedure is commonly based on religious and cultural beliefs, including efforts to prevent premarital sex and marital infidelity.

While female circumcision and child marriage are now illegal in Kenya — new laws banning genital mutilation have contributed to a decline in the practice — officials acknowledge that they still go on, especially in rural tribal areas. Despite free primary education being mandated 10 years ago by the Kenyan government, educating girls is still not a priority for the Maasai culture. According to the Kenyan government, only 11% of Maasai girls in Kenya finish primary school.

“It means the end of their dreams of whatever they want to become in life,” Ntaiya said.

But when Ntaiya endured the painful ritual in 1993, she had a plan. She negotiated a deal with her father, threatening to run away unless he promised she could finish high school after the ceremony.

More than 150 Maasai girls are enrolled at the Kakenya Center for Excellence in Enoosaen, Kenya.

“I really liked going to school,” she said. “I knew that once I went through the cutting, I was going to be married off. And my dream of becoming a teacher was going to end.”

Dreams like Ntaiya’s weren’t the norm in Enoosaen, a small village in western Kenya. Engaged at age 5, Ntaiya spent her childhood learning the skills she would need to be a good Maasai wife. But her mother encouraged her children to strive for a better life, and Ntaiya heeded her advice, postponing the coming-of-age ritual as long as she could. When her father finally insisted, she took her stand.

Ntaiya’s bold move paid off. She excelled in high school and earned a college scholarship in the United States. Her community held a fundraiser to raise money for her airfare, and in exchange, she promised to return and help the village.

Over the next decade, Ntaiya would earn her degree, a job at the United Nations and eventually a doctorate in education. But she never forgot the vow she made to village elders.

In 2009, she opened the first primary school for girls in her village, the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Today, Ntaiya is helping more than 150 girls receive the education and opportunities that she had to sacrifice so much to attain.

The Kakenya Center for Excellence started as a traditional day school, but now the students, who range from fourth to eighth grade, live at the school. This spares the girls from having to walk miles back and forth, which puts them at risk of being sexually assaulted, a common problem in rural African communities. It also ensures the girls don’t spend all their free time doing household chores.

“Now, they can focus on their studies — and on being kids,” Ntaiya said. “It’s the only way you can give a girl child a chance to excel.”

Students receive three meals a day as well as uniforms, books and tutoring. There are also extracurricular activities such as student council, debate and soccer. Class sizes are small — many schools in Kenya are extremely overcrowded — and the girls have more chances to participate. With these opportunities and the individual attention they receive, the girls are inspired to start dreaming big.

“They want to become doctors, pilots, lawyers,” Ntaiya said. “It’s exciting to see that.”

Just 4 years old, the school already ranks among the top in its district.

“Fathers are now saying, ‘My daughter could do better than my son,’ ” Ntaiya said.

As a public school, the Kakenya Center for Excellence receives some financial support from the Kenyan government. But the majority of the school’s expenses are paid for by Ntaiya’s U.S.-based nonprofit. While families are asked to contribute to cover the cost of the girls’ meals, an expense that can be paid in maize or beans, Ntaiya covers the costs of any students who cannot pay.

Each year, more than 100 girls apply for approximately 30 spots available in each new class. Parents who enroll their daughters must agree that they will not be subjected to genital mutilation or early marriage.

Many families are willing to accept Ntaiya’s terms, and that’s the kind of change she was hoping to inspire. It took her years to drum up support for the project, but eventually she persuaded the village elders to donate land for the school.

“It’s still quite challenging to push for change. Men are in charge of everything,” she said. “But nothing good comes on a silver plate. You have to fight hard.”

Chief John Naleke, a village elder, can testify firsthand to Ntaiya’s powers of persuasion. As recently as 2006, he claimed there was no need for girls to be educated. But she managed to win him over; he’s now an important partner in her efforts.

Naleke said Ntaiya’s accomplishments and spirit have made her a role model, noting that villagers also respect the fact that she didn’t forget her promise.

“We have several sons who have gone to the United States for school. Kakenya is the only one that I can think of that has come back to help us,” Naleke said. “What she tells us, it touches us. … She brought a school and a light and is trying to change old customs to help girls get a new, better life.”

In 2011, Ntaiya moved to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, with her husband and two young sons. She spends about half her time in Enoosaen, where she loves to visit with the girls and see them evolve.

“When they start, they are so timid,” she said. “(Now) the confidence they have, it’s just beyond words. It’s the most beautiful thing.”

Her nonprofit also runs health and leadership camps that are open to all sixth-grade girls in the village and teach them about female circumcision, child marriage, teen pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.

“We tell them about every right that they have, and we teach them how to speak up,” Ntaiya said. “It’s about empowering the girls.”

In the coming years, Ntaiya plans to expand her school to include lower grades. She also wants to provide tutoring for the students from her first class when they head to high school next year, and she wants to eventually open a career center for them. She hopes that one day the school will serve as a model for girls’ education throughout Africa.

Ultimately, Ntaiya wants girls to have the opportunity to go as far as their abilities will take them.

“I came back so girls don’t have to negotiate like I did to achieve their dreams,” she said. “That’s why I wake up every morning.”

Cameroonian Doctor, Georges Bwelle, Named Amongst 2013 Top 10 CNN Heroes

Dr. Georges Bwelle and his team of volunteers have performed 700 free surgeries in the past year.

By Meghan Dunn and Danielle Berger, CNN

Yaounde, Cameroon (CNN) — For 21 years, Georges Bwelle watched his ill father slip in and out of consciousness, traveling to hospitals that weren’t equipped to help him.

Jamef Bwelle was injured in a 1981 car accident near Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital. He suffered only a broken arm at first, but an infection developed and spread to his brain, creating a hematoma that would affect him for the rest of his life.

“There were no neurosurgeons in Cameroon,” Georges Bwelle said. “We would have taken him out of Cameroon if we had the money.”
Instead, Bwelle spent years escorting his father to overcrowded clinics and hospitals, getting whatever treatment they could get.

“It’s not easy,” Bwelle said. “You can leave home at 5 a.m., running to the hospital to be the first, and you are not the first. There (are) a lot of patients. … Some people can die because they are waiting.”

The situation hasn’t changed much since Bwelle’s father passed away in 2002.

In Cameroon, there is only one doctor for every 5,000 people, according to the World Health Organization. For comparison’s sake, the ratio in the United States is one doctor for every 413 people.

And even if they could see a physician, many Cameroonians couldn’t afford it. Two out of five people in the country live below the poverty line, and nearly three-quarters of the country’s health-care spending is private.

“The only problem they have is poverty,” Bwelle said. “And with poverty, they … cannot enjoy their life.”

Seeing his father and so many of his countrymen suffer, Bwelle was determined to do something about it.

He became a doctor himself, working as a vascular surgeon in Yaounde’s Central Hospital. And he started a nonprofit, ASCOVIME, that travels into rural areas on weekends to provide free medical care. Since 2008, he and his group of volunteers have helped nearly 32,000 people.

Almost every Friday, he and up to 30 people jam into vans, tie medical supplies to the roofs and travel across rough terrain to visit villages in need.

Their luck doesn’t always hold out: They’ve had to push vehicles through rivers and mud more than once. But when they arrive, they receive a true heroes’ welcome: a feast, singing and dancing, and the best accommodations the community can offer.

In these villages, free medical care is truly a cause for celebration, and Bwelle — with his big smile and boundless energy — is more than happy to join in the fun.

The next morning, the team begins meeting with hundreds of patients.

“We are receiving 500 people in each trip,” Bwelle said. “They are coming from 60 kilometers (37 miles) around the village, and they’re coming on foot.”

Each of these weekend clinics provides a variety of medical care. Many people are treated for malaria, tuberculosis, malnutrition, diabetes, parasites and sexually transmitted diseases. Others might receive crutches, a pair of donated eyeglasses or free birth certificates — documentation that’s required for school but that many impoverished families simply can’t afford.

In the evenings, the team will do simple surgeries with local anesthesia. Operations are usually done in a schoolhouse, town hall or home; after the procedure, patients get up and walk to the recovery area to make way for the next person.

With the group’s generator lighting the operating room and sanitizing equipment, Bwelle and his volunteers work into the early hours of Sunday morning. It’s a backbreaking pace, but village musicians usually help keep the team motivated.

“They are beating drums all the night to (keep us) awake and continue our work,” Bwelle said.

On Sunday, the team heads back to the city, tired but proud of their work. The group — a mix of Cameroonian doctors and foreign medical students — has performed 700 free surgeries in the past year, and they know that their help can make a world of difference to those they help.

One man explained that the free hernia surgery he’d received will allow him to work again.

“This will change my future with my family,” the man said.

In addition to holding these weekend clinics and working as a hospital surgeon, Bwelle also works nights at private medical clinics around Yaounde. It’s this second job, he said, that funds about 60% of his nonprofit; the rest is covered by private donations.

“I’m not sure when he sleeps,” said Katie O’Malley, a second-year medical student from Drexel University in Philadelphia and volunteer with Bwelle’s group. “He is always either at the hospital or trying to make money for the organization so he can go on these campaigns.”

For medical and nursing students such as O’Malley, who come from the United States and Europe to join Bwelle on his missions, it’s a hands-on opportunity they’d never get at home.

“We’ve been able to scrub in on surgeries where we help blot blood away or hold tools for Dr. Bwelle,” O’Malley said. “That’s not something you’d ever get to do in America as a second-year medical student.”

The student volunteers usually pay their own way to Cameroon, often arriving with donated medical supplies. But once they arrive in Yaounde, their board, transportation and instruction are covered by Bwelle.

“He’s a hero, without a doubt,” O’Malley said. “He gives his life to this organization, and his desire to help the Cameroon people is everlasting.”

For Bwelle, the near-constant workload isn’t a hardship. Helping others live happier lives, fulfilling a promise he made to his father, is something that brings him great joy.

“I am so happy when I am doing this work,” Bwelle said. “And I think about my father. I hope he sees what I am doing.

“To make people laugh, to reduce the pain, that’s why I’m doing this.”

Two Africans Named Amongst 2013 Top 10 CNN Heroes

Courtesy CNN
Left to Right | Top to Bottom

1. Dale Beatty

2. Georges Bwelle (Cameroon)

3. Robin Emmons

4. Danielle Gletow

5. Tawanda Jones

6. Richard Nares

7. Kakenya Ntaiya (Kenya)

8. Chad Pregracke

9. Estella Pyfrom

10. Laura Stachel

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

wPOWER: Promoting Women’s Critical Role In Clean Energy Solutions To Climate Change In Africa

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
November 19, 2013

In honor of “Gender Day” at the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP-19), the United States is highlighting its actions to harness the potential of women and women’s networks to increase the use of clean energy technologies, which in turn helps reduce climate change. The Department of State launched the Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Renewables (“wPOWER”) in January 2013. wPOWER aims to empower more than 8,000 women clean energy entrepreneurs across East Africa, Nigeria and India who will deliver clean energy access to more than 3.5 million people over the next three years.

To reach this goal, the Department of State and USAID have teamed up with the MacArthur Foundation, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, CARE International, Solar Sister, Swayam Shikshan Prayog and the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies.

Globally, more than 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity, and at least 2.7 billion people lack access to clean cookstoves and fuels. While not the primary source of climate pollution, inefficient lighting and cooking contribute to climate change and the degradation of natural resources. In off-grid communities, women are the primary users of clean technologies like solar lamps and clean cookstoves and are at the forefront of adopting the use of new technologies. wPOWER is working to unlock this largely untapped potential of women and women’s groups to help fill the “last mile” gap in the supply chain to reach areas lacking energy access.

Recent wPOWER accomplishments include:

* Launch of wPOWER Hub at Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies (WMI): The Department of State, together with parallel support from the MacArthur Foundation, has created a wPOWER Hub at the WMI, founded by the late Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. The new wPOWER Hub will build the evidence base on women, energy access and climate solutions; hold train the trainer workshops; facilitate African and Indian women entrepreneur and leadership exchanges to build a network of women climate leaders, and build public awareness.

New Strategic Partners:

* Women for Women International (WfWI): WfWI provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency. WfWI will work with wPOWER partners to begin offering a clean energy entrepreneurship vocational track to the women who are part of its program in Nigeria.

* Green Belt Movement-Kenya (GBM): Professor Wangari Maathai’s GBM pioneered a community-based tree-planting approach that put women at the forefront of environmental stewardship. By partnering with some of GBM’s 4,000 community groups, we will expand wPOWER networks of women clean energy entrepreneurs and introduce new livelihood opportunities to GBM’s grassroots women leaders.

U.S. Official Speaks About Crisis In The Central African Republic

Testimony
Robert P. Jackson
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs
House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on African Affairs, Global Health, Human Rights and International Organizations
Washington, DC
November 19, 2013

Thank you very much Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass, and Members of the Subcommittee for the opportunity to testify before you today on this most important subject. We are deeply concerned about the continuing insecurity, humanitarian crisis and human rights violations across the Central African Republic (C.A.R.). We are working closely with our European allies, the United Nations, and the African Union to press for stability, the respect of human rights and the restoration of democratic governance in C.A.R.

The crisis in the Central African Republic began in December 2012 when Seleka forces, a loose coalition of four rebel groups, under the command of Michel Djotodia, began their violent trek from the northeast region of the country toward the capital city of Bangui, which I had been following from neighboring Cameroon. After rejecting the power-sharing arrangement that had been brokered in January in Libreville, Gabon, by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Seleka rebels were able to take the capital Bangui, by force on March 24. President Bozize fled the country, and Djotodia declared himself president, suspended the constitution, and dissolved the national assembly. After significant pressure from the region, Djotodia chose to abide by the ECCAS-brokered arrangement with opposition leaders. This agreement and a second ECCAS summit in April led to a new power-sharing arrangement, the drafting of an interim constitution, and the swearing-in of Djotodia as interim President of the Transition in August. In accord with agreements brokered by ECCAS, Djotodia also promised to hold elections by February 2015.

Djotodia has never had strong command and control of his own Seleka forces and has been unable to sustain them in the field with salaries and stipends. With the collapse of the former national armed forces, the Central African Armed Forces (FACA), and the absence of any other meaningful government authority outside of the capital, relatively autonomous Seleka commanders – including Chadian and Sudanese militia leaders with groups of loyal fighters under them — have become criminal enterprises preying on local populations. Seleka’s targeted violence – including murders, rapes, robberies, looting and burning of villages has created inter-religious tensions in a country that had previously enjoyed excellent Christian-Muslim relations. These Seleka abuses, in turn, have given rise to primarily Christian self-defense groups that have sought to kill both Seleka fighters and C.A.R. Muslims, creating a dangerous dynamic of inter-religious hatred and tension that risks spiraling out of control. For example, fighting in Bossangoa and Bangassou between Seleka and local defense militias in September and October 2013, although primarily an anti-Seleka backlash, has the potential to lead to large-scale atrocities.

The United States, along with others in the international community, have publicly condemned Seleka’s overthrow of the government from the very beginning. In early April, as a matter of policy, the United States Government decided to suspend direct assistance to the C.A.R. central government, but allowed support for programs operated by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). These programs provide for humanitarian assistance throughout accessible areas in C.A.R., and combat trafficking in persons, and civilian protection in support of the counter-Lord’s Resistance Army campaign.

So far, the conflict in the C.A.R. has internally displaced nearly 400,000 people and forced approximately 68,000 new refugees into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.), the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, and Chad. This has brought the total number of C.A.R. refugees in neighboring countries to over 220,000. During Seleka’s advance on Bangui, hospitals, schools, and warehouses were looted and entire villages destroyed. Today, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have little to no access to clean water, schools, or health services. The ongoing conflict and displacement raises particular concern for the protection of civilian populations. Food security is a growing concern as many farmers missed the planting season due to the violence. U.S. Government partners continue to try to reach these populations with life-saving assistance, but are constrained by lawlessness and banditry. In Fiscal Year 2013, the U.S. Government provided more than $24 million in humanitarian assistance in C.A.R. to support programs providing food and non-food items, health services, access to clean water, and more. The UN Humanitarian Air Service, supported by USAID and the State Department, continues to provide access to affected populations that are otherwise inaccessible. On September 25, the State Department announced an additional $6.2 million contribution to respond to the needs of new refugees in neighboring countries.

We continue to call on all armed groups in this conflict – primarily the Seleka and an increasing number of self-defense groups — to refrain from violence, including attacks against innocent women and children. Establishing civilian protection in Bangui and the countryside is a prerequisite to a more substantial international presence in addressing the ongoing humanitarian, human rights, and political crisis. In order to help restore peace and ensure civilian protection throughout the country, we strongly supported the adoption on October 10 of UN Security Council resolution 2121, which expressed the Council’s support of the African Union-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA).

We believe MISCA is the best mechanism for quickly addressing the ongoing violence in the C.A.R. Establishing a secure environment is necessary for the provision of humanitarian assistance and for an eventual political transition to take place. To help MISCA deploy in as rapid and effective a manner as possible, the Department of State has identified and is now in the process of notifying Congress of our intention to provide logistical, nonlethal equipment, training, and planning assistance to MISCA. We are closely coordinating with our international partners who are supporting MISCA. We continue to urge countries in the region, as well as the broader international community, to assist in facilitating the mission’s rapid deployment.

While we continue to receive credible reports of human rights abuses against civilians, we know that these reports, alarming as they are, are almost certainly not comprehensive. The lack of access to significant parts of the country is deeply concerning. We continue to receive reports from credible international human rights NGOs that humanitarian workers in the C.A.R. assisting victims of the crisis have been physically harassed, intimidated, beaten, and killed by Seleka rebels. Individuals suspected of committing these crimes are unlikely to face justice while insecurity and instability reign. It is important that all reports of human rights violations be investigated and violators be brought to justice. Therefore, we have supported the UN Security Council decision to reinforce the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) in order to monitor and report on the human rights situation.

We support the Council’s decision for BINUCA, as part of its mandate to investigate human rights abuses, to report to the UN Security Council regularly on individuals or groups who are responsible for serious human rights abuses. Furthermore, we also strongly support the UN Human Rights Council’s decision in September to establish an Independent Expert to monitor the human rights situation. The State Department along with USAID is examining potential assistance for monitoring, atrocity prevention and/or transitional justice.

Furthermore, we believe the international community must continue to demand that the transitional C.A.R. Government end any and all support to the Seleka rebels; exclude rebels responsible for human rights abuses from the reconstituted military, gendarmerie, and police; and abide by the agreements that established the transitional government, including abiding by the electoral timeline of February 2015 and the ban on members of the transitional government contending for office. The United States also co-sponsored a September 2013 resolution with African nations in the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) that called for adherence to the electoral timeline. The Department of State will seek opportunities to express support for this timeline both bilaterally and multilaterally, understanding that security needs to be restored throughout the country and the new constitution needs to be completed in order for elections to be feasible.

We also continue to work to address the crisis in C.A.R. with our regional and international partners through the International Contact Group (ICG) for C.A.R. On November 8, as part of our continued commitment to working with the international community to find an immediate solution aimed at ending the violence and creating stability in the C.A.R., the State Department Senior Advisor for C.A.R. traveled to Bangui for the first time to participate in the third meeting of the ICG. The African Union chaired the third Contact Group meeting in Bangui, with more than 40 countries represented, including many regional states and a handful of non-African countries. The Contact Group released the Bangui Declaration, which calls for the international community to strengthen the AU-led MISCA military mission and support the C.A.R. political transition roadmap. It also expresses alarm over the current humanitarian crisis and calls for robust international donor support. During the meeting, Republic of the Congo President Sassou, who has led ECCAS’ efforts to respond to the crisis in C.A.R. and restore stability, stated his strong opposition to delaying national elections beyond 2015 and voiced his support that transitional government officials not be allowed to stand for elections.

The United States led the discussion calling for President Djotodia to reverse his plan to integrate 3,500 former Seleka rebels into the C.A.R. security forces and another 1,500 additional Seleka rebels to be recruited as law enforcement officers and park rangers. We emphasized that Djotodia’s plan to include large numbers of unvetted and functionally illiterate Seleka fighters was a clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2121, which calls for a professional, balanced, and representative (by ethnic group, region, and religion) national military force. We strongly oppose the trend of authoritarian leaders in the C.A.R. using the military as an instrument of personal power instead of an instrument of national defense for all citizens.

While in Bangui, the State Department’s senior advisor on C.A.R. made it a priority to meet with local and international civil society representatives, in addition to senior government officials. One local NGO, for example, reported that ten women per day came to their Bangui offices from April to August to report being raped; since September, five women per day report being raped. Undoubtedly, the number of rapes since Seleka started its advance is much higher as stigmatization causes the majority of rapes to go unreported. This violence also continues with total impunity since not one accused rapist has yet to be brought to trial.

We have also received reports from local civil society representatives of secret detention centers run in Bangui by the so-called “Extraordinary Committee for the Defense of Democratic Gains.” According to our contacts, torture is being carried out at the Roux military camp and another location in Bangui, according to at least 15 victims of torture who have spoken to human rights groups in Bangui.

It was also obvious that fear and tension still pervades the capital as Bangui’s streets at night were largely devoid of citizens. Djotodia’s announcement in September that he had dissolved the Seleka force was nothing more than a smoke screen as Seleka fighters continue to carry weapons and deny the use of arms to “legitimate” law enforcement authorities whose efforts are needed to end the lawlessness in the C.A.R.

We are deeply concerned that Djotodia does not intend to abide by his commitment to hold elections by February 2015, but will instead continue to take other measures to delay them and further consolidate his hold on power. His nomination on October 8 of Seleka fighters to take command of 10 of 12 military regions of the country, was a worrying indication of his real intentions. The commitment of Djotodia to even the notion of a unified republic in the C.A.R. is also in doubt. On multiple occasions in recent weeks, Djotodia has told foreign interlocutors that if pushed too hard he might lead the north in seceding from the C.A.R.

We will continue our diplomatic efforts to coordinate with our partners and to highlight our own commitment to helping address the
issues facing the C.A.R. As our immediate priority, we will continue to work assertively with the French and other members of the international community to bolster efforts to establish security in the C.A.R. We will continue to utilize these and other engagements, including constructive consultations with the Government of France in Paris last week, as a means to urge regional and international partners to provide troops, additional funding, and other support necessary for MISCA to deploy quickly into C.A.R. We also use these opportunities to press our international partners to join us in looking for ways to bolster responsible stakeholders in the transitional government, including Prime Minister Tiangaye, so that governance can begin to be restored to the country and we can begin focusing on holding elections by February 2015. We hope these engagements will result in increased commitment by the international community to be more engaged on issues facing the C.A.R.

Finally, let me also note that we remain concerned about the continued activity of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in southeastern C.A.R. This year, the LRA has continued to commit attacks against civilians across the Mbomou, Haut-Mbomou and Haut-Koto prefectures of the C.A.R. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), from January to September 2013, presumed LRA fighters committed 21 attacks, resulting in 33 deaths and 128 abductions in the CAR. According to UNOCHA, an estimated 21,000 Central Africans remain internally displaced and over 6,000 are living as refugees as a result of the LRA threat. The United States continues to support efforts by the regional forces of the AU Regional Task Force (AU-RTF) to end the LRA threat and bring its top commanders to justice. AU-RTF operations have resumed in the C.A.R., but remain limited by the insecure environment. With the support of U.S. military advisors, we believe the AU-RTF continues to make progress to degrade the LRA’s capabilities and promote defections from the LRA’s ranks.

Chairman Smith and Members of the Committee, let me assure you that we remain substantively engaged and will continue to address the ongoing crisis in the C.A.R. There is no doubt that the international community must act quickly. A wide range of U.S. departments and agencies are working to bring to bear all of the appropriate policy tools at our disposal, and we are committed to working with our international partners to bring about peace and security for the people of C.A.R. We also look forward to keeping you and the Committee informed regarding our efforts in this regard. I would be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Acting U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Issues Statement On Passage Of PEPFAR Stewardship & Oversight Act Of 2013

Deborah von Zinkernagel
Principal Deputy Global AIDS Coordinator, Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator
Department of State,
Washington, DC
November 19, 2013

We commend the U.S. Congress for passing the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act of 2013, reaffirming its strong commitment to this historic global health program. The Act, a bi-partisan and bi-cameral effort, extends critical authorities and strengthens oversight of the landmark 2003 legislation establishing the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

A mere decade ago, AIDS was a death sentence in Africa. It threatened the very foundation of societies – creating millions of orphans, stalling economic development, and leaving countries stuck in poverty. Today, the picture has changed dramatically, with millions of lives being saved and people with HIV being empowered to lead long and productive lives.

Moreover, landmark scientific advances coupled with success in implementing effective programs have put an AIDS-free generation in sight. We are also maximizing our impact through unprecedented coordination with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, partner countries, the private sector, faith-based organizations, and civil society to invest our respective resources in the most complementary and synergistic manner possible.

The passage of the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act demonstrates the United States’ sustained commitment to fighting this deadly disease, but the U.S. cannot do it alone. Achieving an AIDS-free generation is a shared responsibility. We are profoundly grateful to Congress for its leadership in ensuring our path and our purpose in the global fight remains strong.

DC Mayor Vincent Gray Addresses Ethiopian Orthodox Church Congregation

Courtesy, Mayor’s Office of African Affairs Washington, DC
November 2013

Mayor highlights administration’s accomplishments and announces new sister city agreement between DC and Addis Ababa.
On Sunday, November 3, 2013, Mayor Vincent C. Gray offered remarks at the Debre Selam Kidist Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Church to convey his administration’s ongoing effort to engage and improve access for the District’s linguistically and ethnically diverse communities. Over 1200 church members were in attendance as the Mayor announced that DC and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia have agreed to enter into a Sister City agreement and highlighted his administration’s accomplishments directly addressing the needs of the District’s growing African community “My administration continues to take action and fully support programs that increase access to services, improve quality of life, and nurture the development of our city’s diverse immigrant communities.” said Mayor Gray in his opening remarks.

Following a warm welcome and introduction by Dr. Getachew Metaferia, Chair of the Board of Advisors at DSK Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Mayor underscored landmark policies such as the Mayor’s Executive Order on Secure Communities declaring DC as a ‘Sanctuary City’, and the Driver’s License Safety Amendment Act of 2013 granting identity cards to undocumented residents as testament to the administration’s continued commitment to creating a welcoming city that facilitates the full engagement of its immigrant residents.

“I’m proud to announce that our city and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia have agreed to enter into a sister city agreement,” Mayor Gray said to an enthusiastic crowd. He added, “this agreement is inspired by the large and vibrant Ethiopian diaspora here in the District and by Ethiopia’s emergence as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.” Mayor Gray invited the congregation to attend the signing ceremony, and indicated that the agreement will create opportunities for the District and Addis Ababa to exchange information and collaborate on mutual priorities in economic development, education, youth engagement and cultural projects.

Mayor Gray invited the congregation to attend the signing ceremony, and indicated that the agreement will create opportunities for the District and Addis Ababa to exchange information and collaborate on mutual priorities in economic development, education, youth engagement and cultural projects.

Additional milestones specific to the District’s linguistically and culturally diverse African communities mentioned by the Mayor include the Office on African Affairs’ (OAA) newly acquired grant making authority, the launch of the African Community Grants Program which will build the capacity of culturally and linguistically diverse community-based organizations serving Africans, and the proclamation of September as African Heritage Month for two years in a row in the District.

The Mayor’s visit concluded with a special religious ritual performed by the choir and clergy as well as a tour of the church and Sunday school housed in a building adjacent to the church. Located on 1350 Buchanan Street, NW in Ward 4, the DSK Mariam Church boasts one of the largest Ethiopian congregations in the District and has since its founding in 1987 served as a central place of worship and community life for District residents and families.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

2014 Scholarships for American High School Students to Study In Africa

Department of State
Washington, DC
November 13, 2013

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs sponsors many programs that are now accepting applications for scholarships that provide American high school students the opportunity to study abroad. These exchange programs prepare American young people to live, work, and succeed in a global economy, as well as connect with other future leaders around the world.

Opportunities include:

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad Program offers scholarships to American high school students to spend an academic year living with host families and attending school in countries that may include Bosnia & Herzegovina, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mali (semester), Morocco, Oman, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, and Turkey. This post-9/11 program focuses on increasing understanding between people in the United States and countries with significant Muslim populations. Visit www.yes-abroad.org to apply. The application deadline is January 9, 2014.

For more information on exchanges sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, visit www.exchanges.state.gov.

US Designates Boko Haram and Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organizations

File Photo
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
November 13, 2013

Statement by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, Lisa Monaco

Today, the United States designated Nigeria-based groups Boko Haram and Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organizations and Specially Designated Global Terrorists. In the last several years, Boko Haram and Ansaru have been responsible for thousands of deaths in northeast and central Nigeria, including dozens of attacks on churches and mosques, targeted killings of civilians, and the 2011 suicide bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja that killed 21 people and injured dozens more.

By cutting these terrorist organizations off from U.S. financial institutions and enabling banks to freeze assets held in the United States, these designations demonstrate our strong support for Nigeria’s fight against terrorism and its efforts to address security challenges in the north.

As President Obama emphasized when he met with Nigerian President Jonathan in September, we encourage Nigeria to pursue a comprehensive counterterrorism approach that uses law enforcement tools effectively, creates economic opportunity, and ensures that human rights are protected and respected. The United States stands firmly with the people of Nigeria in their efforts to bring the terrorist violence perpetrated by these groups to an end.

About Boko Haram

The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad better known by its Hausa name Boko Haram is an Islamic jihadist militant organization based in the northeast of Nigeria, north Cameroon and Niger. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2001, the organization seeks to establish a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law putting a stop to what it deems “Westernization.” The group is known for attacking Christians and government targets, bombing churches, attacking schools and police stations, but has also assassinated members of the Islamic establishment. Violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths between 2001 and 2013 and roughly 3,600 killed, including 1,600 civilians between 2009 and 2013.
The group exerts influence in the northeastern Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa, Kaduna, Bauchi, Yobe and Kano. In this region, a state of emergency has been declared. The group does not have a clear structure or evident chain of command and has been called “diffuse” with a “cell-like structure” facilitating factions and splits. It is reportedly divided into three factions with a splinter group known as Ansaru.

Whether it has links to terror groups outside Nigeria is disputed. According to one US military commander, Boko Haram is likely linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), but others have found no evidence of material international support, and attacks by the group on international targets have so far been rare. The United States Department of State has offered a $7 million reward for Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau’s capture. In the UK, Boko Haram has been banned from operating. On November 13 2013 the United States designated the group a terrorist organization.

Many of the group’s senior radicals were reportedly partially inspired by the late Islamic preacher known as Maitatsine. Others believe the group is motivated by inter-ethnic disputes as much as religion, and that its founder Yusuf believed there was a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” by Plateau State governor Jonah Jang against the Hausa and Fulani people.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Asst. Sec. Richard Attends International Family Planning Conference In Ethiopia

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
November 12, 2013

Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard will travel to London, United Kingdom and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, November 12-21.

While in London, Assistant Secretary Richard will attend the Protecting Girls and Women in Emergencies conference hosted by the UK Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening. The conference will build on Safe from the Start, the U.S. Government’s initiative to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls from the very onset of a crisis.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Assistant Secretary Richard will provide closing remarks at the International Conference on Family Planning and visit U.S. Government-funded health clinics that provide sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning and services to survivors of gender-based violence. She will also meet with government officials and representatives of both international and nongovernmental organizations. Later in the week, Assistant Secretary Richard will travel to the Tigray Region in northern Ethiopia with U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Patricia Haslach, to visit Eritrean refugees living in camps and to witness refugee programs and assistance provided on the ground. Ethiopia is hosting 77,000 refugees from Eritrea, and hosts refugees from Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan, as well.

For more information on the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), you can follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Monday, November 11, 2013

U.S. Dept of State Announces Funding Opportunity For NGO Programs Benefitting Refugees in Ethiopia & Kenya

Funding Opportunity Announcement
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
November 8, 2013

Funding Opportunity Number: PRM-PRMOAPAF-14-001

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number: 19.517

Announcement Issuance Date: Thursday, November 7, 2013

Proposal submission deadline: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. EST (noon Washington, DC time). Proposals submitted after this deadline or incomplete proposal packages will not be considered.

ADVISORY: PRM strongly recommends submitting your proposal several days early to allow time to address any technical difficulties that may arise.

Proposed Program Start Dates: January 1 – April 1, 2014
Duration of Activity: Program plans from 12 to 36 months will be considered. Applicants may submit multi-year proposals with activities and budgets that do not exceed 36 months from the proposed start date. Actual awards will not exceed 12 months in duration and activities and budgets submitted in year one can be revised/updated each year. Continued funding after the initial 12-month award requires the submission of a noncompeting continuation application and will be contingent upon available funding, strong performance, and continuing need. In funding a project one year, PRM makes no representations that it will continue to fund the project in successive years and encourages applicants to seek a wide array of donors to ensure long-term funding possibilities. Please see the Multi-Year Funding section below for additional information.

Eligible Applicants: (1) Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with IRS, other than institutions of higher education; (2) Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) status with IRS, other than institutions of higher education; and (3) International Organizations. International Organizations (IOs) should not submit proposals through Grants.gov in response to this Funding Opportunity Announcement. Rather IOs such as UN agencies and other Public International Organizations (PIOs) that are seeking funding for programs relevant to this announcement should contact the relevant PRM Program Officer (as listed below) on or before the closing date of the funding announcement.

Current Funding Priorities for refugees in Ethiopia and Kenya:

(a) PRM will prioritize funding for proposed NGO activities that best meet the Bureau’s priorities for filling programming gaps in the Horn of Africa region as identified below.

While PRM encourages activities that include host communities, because of PRM’s mandate to provide protection, assistance, and durable solutions for refugees and victims of conflict, PRM will consider funding only those projects that include a target beneficiary base of at least 50% refugees. Please note that projects that do not meet the protection/assistance gap(s) below will not be considered.

ETHIOPIA

Proposals must focus on one or more of the following:

Benishangul-Gumuz Refugee Camps
* Livelihoods[1] (vocational education/training that benefits both refugees and host nationals)

Tigray Refugee Camps
* Livelihoods1 and/or vocational education/training that will help minimize onward migration

KENYA

Proposals must focus on one or more of the following:

Kakuma Refugee Camp
* Protection (e.g., protection assistance for children and new arrivals, including those living with a disability, gender based violence prevention and response)

Dadaab Refugee Camps
* Livelihoods1 (secondary and/or vocational education/training that ideally benefits both refugees and host nationals, and that for Somali refugees has a clear link to eventual voluntary return)

(b) For both countries, proposals should be shared with UNHCR in advance of submission and must be developed in full consultation with UNHCR to ensure coherence with its overall comprehensive planning for refugee operations.

(c) Proposals must have a concrete implementation plan with well-conceived objectives and indicators that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and reliable, time-bound and trackable (SMART), have established baselines, and include at least one outcome or impact indicator per objective; objectives should be clearly linked to the aforementioned sectors.

(d) Proposals must adhere to relevant international standards for humanitarian assistance. See PRM’s General NGO Guidelines for a complete list of sector-specific standards.

(e) PRM will accept proposals from any NGO (refer to Eligible Applicants section above) working in the above mentioned areas although, given budgetary constraints, priority will be given to proposals from organizations that can demonstrate:

* A working relationship with UNHCR and/or current UNHCR funding. Proposals must include a letter of support from UNHCR for the proposed activities (this letter should highlight the gap in services the proposed program is designed to address and should include any UNHCR co-funding for the proposed activities and/or similar refugee activities);
* A proven track record in providing proposed assistance both in the sector and specified location;
* Evidence of coordination with international organizations (IOs) and other NGOs working in the same area or sector as well as – where possible – local authorities;
* Projects in protracted refugee situations and multi-year funding applications must include (1) concrete steps that will be taken during the program period to support the eventual transition of activities to government ministries, local NGOs, or development actors, (2) the estimated timeframe for the transition, and (3) what obstacles might inhibit the transition;
* A budget that is appropriate for meeting the objectives and demonstrates co-funding by non-U.S. government sources;
* Appropriate targeting of beneficiaries in coordination with UNHCR and other relevant organizations; and
* Inclusion of persons living with disabilities within the targeted population.

(f) Country Specific Instructions

* Ethiopia: Proposals for activities must be accompanied by a letter from the UNHCR Addis Ababa Office showing endorsement of the proposed activities and inclusion on the Government of Ethiopia’s Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs’ (ARRA) accountability matrix (3W matrix).

* Kenya: Proposals for activities must be accompanied by a letter from the UNHCR Nairobi Office showing endorsement of the proposed activities and inclusion on the respective camp’s accountability matrix (3W matrix). The UNHCR Nairobi letter should also acknowledge coordination with the relevant UNHCR camp sub-office.

Funding Limits: Project proposals cannot exceed $1,000,000 per year or they will not be accepted.

As stated in the PRM General NGO Guidelines, PRM looks favorably on cost-sharing efforts and seeks to support projects with a diverse donor base and/or resources from the submitting organization.

Proposal Submission Requirements: Proposals must be submitted via Grants.gov. See “Applicant Resources” page on Grants.gov for complete details on requirements (http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/applicant-resources.html). Please also note the following highlights:

* Do not wait until the last minute to submit your application on Grants.gov. Organizations not registered with Grants.gov should register well in advance of the deadline as it can take up to two weeks to finalize registration (sometimes longer for non-U.S. based NGOs to get the required registration numbers). To register with Grants.gov, organizations must first receive a DUNS number and register with the System for Award Management (SAM) at www.sam.gov which can take weeks and sometimes months. We recommend that organizations, particularly first-time applicants, submit applications via Grants.gov no later than one week before the deadline to avoid last-minute technical difficulties that could result in an application not being considered. PRM partners must maintain an active SAM registration with current information at all times during which they have an active federal award or an application under consideration by PRM or any federal agency.

* Applications must be submitted under the authority of the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) at the applicant organization. Having proposals submitted by agency headquarters helps to avoid possible technical problems.

* If you encounter technical difficulties with Grants.gov, please contact the Grants.gov Help Desk at support@grants.gov or by calling 1-800-518-4726. Applicants who are unable to submit applications via Grants.gov due to Grants.gov technical difficulties and who have reported the problem to the Grants.gov help desk, received a case number, and had a service request opened to research the problem, should contact the relevant PRM Program Officer to determine whether an alternative method of submission is appropriate.

* International Organizations (IOs) should not submit proposals through Grants.gov in response to this Funding Opportunity Announcement. Rather IOs such as UN agencies and other Public International Organizations (PIOs) that are seeking funding for programs relevant to this announcement should contact the relevant PRM Program Officer (as stated below) on or before the closing date of the funding announcement.

* Pursuant to U.S. Code, Title 218, Section 1001, stated on OMB Standard Form 424 (SF-424), the Department of State is authorized to consolidate the certifications and assurances required by Federal law or regulations for its federal assistance programs. The list of certifications and assurances can be found at: http://fa.statebuy.state.gov/content.asp?content_id=161&menu_id=68 )

Proposal Content, Formatting and Template: This announcement is designed to accompany PRM’s General NGO Guidelines, which contain additional administrative information on proposal content and formatting, and explain in detail PRM’s NGO funding strategy and priorities. Please use both the General NGO Guidelines and this announcement to ensure that your proposal submission is in full compliance with PRM requirements and that the proposed activities are in line with PRM’s priorities. Proposal submissions that do not meet all of the requirements outlined in these guidelines will not be considered.

PRM strongly recommends using the proposal and budget templates that are available upon email request from PRM’s NGO Coordinator. Please send an email, with the phrase “PRM NGO Templates” in the subject line, to PRM’s NGO Coordinator. Single-year proposals using PRM’s templates must be no more than 20 pages in length (Times New Roman 12 point font, one inch margins on all sides). If the applicant does not use PRM’s recommended templates, proposals must not exceed 15 pages in length. Organizations may choose to attach work plans, activity calendars, and/or logical frameworks as addendums/appendices to the proposal. These attachments do not count toward the page limit total.

To be considered for PRM funding, organizations must submit a complete application package including:

* Proposal reflecting objectives and indicators for each year of the program period.
* Budget and budget narrative for each year of the program period.
* Signed completed SF-424.

In addition, proposal submissions to PRM should include the following information:
* Focus on outcome or impact indicators as much as possible. At a minimum, each objective should have one outcome or impact indicator. Wherever possible, baselines should be established before the start of the project.
* To increase PRM’s ability to track the impact of PRM funding, include specific information on locations of projects and beneficiaries (GPS coordinates if possible).
* Proposals should outline how the NGO will acknowledge PRM funding. If an organization believes that publicly acknowledging the receipt of USG funding for a particular PRM-funded project could potentially endanger the lives of the beneficiaries and/or the organization staff, invite suspicion about the organization’s motives, or alienate the organization from the population it is trying to help, it must provide a brief explanation in its proposal as to why it should be exempted from this requirement.
* The budget should include a specific breakdown of funds being provided by UNHCR, other USG agencies, other donors, and your own organization. PRM strongly encourages multilateral support for humanitarian programs.
* Proposals and budgets should include details of any sub-agreements associated with the program.
* Copy of the organization’s Code of Conduct (required before an award can be made).
* Copy of the organization’s Security Plan (required before an award can be made).
* Most recent Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA), if applicable.
* NGOs that have not received PRM funding since the U.S. Government fiscal year ending September 30, 2004 must be prepared to demonstrate that they meet the financial and accounting requirements of the U.S. Government by submitting copies of 1) the most recent external financial audit, 2) proof of non-profit tax status including under IRS 501 (c)(3), as applicable, 3) a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, and 4) an Employer ID (EIN)/Federal Tax Identification number.
* Organizations that received PRM funding in FY 2013 for activities that are being proposed for funding under this announcement must include the most recent quarterly progress report against indicators outlined in the cooperative agreement. If an organization’s last quarterly report was submitted more than six weeks prior to the submission of a proposal in response to this funding announcement, the organization must include, with its most recent quarterly report, updates that show any significant progress made on objectives since the last report.

Multi-Year Funding: Applicants proposing multi-year programs should adhere to the following guidance:
Applicants may submit proposals that include multi-year strategies presented in 12-month cycles for a period not to exceed 36 months from the proposed start date. Fully developed programs with detailed budgets, objectives and indicators are required for each year of activities. These can be updated yearly upon submission of continuation applications. Applicants should note that they may use PRM’s recommended multi-year proposal template for this application, which is different from the single year template. Multi-year funding applicants may also use PRM’s standard budget template and should submit a separate budget sheet for each project year. Multi-year proposals using PRM’s templates must be no more than 30 pages in length (Times New Roman 12 point font, one inch margins on all sides). If the applicant does not use PRM’s recommended templates, proposals must not exceed 25 pages in length. Organizations may choose to attach work plans, activity calendars, and/or logical frameworks as addendums/appendices to the proposal. These attachments do not count toward the page limit total.

Multi-year applications selected for funding by PRM will be funded in 12- month increments based on the proposal submitted in the initial application as approved by PRM. Continued funding after the initial 12- month award requires the submission of a noncompeting continuation application and will be contingent upon available funding, strong performance, and continuing need. Continuation applications must be submitted by the organization no later than 90 days before the proposed start date of the new award (e.g., if the next project period is to begin on September 1, submit your application by June 1). Continuation applications are submitted in lieu of responding to PRM’s published call for proposals for those activities. Late continuation applications will jeopardize continued funding.

Organizations can request multi-year funding and continuation application templates by emailing PRM’s NGO Coordinator with the phrase “PRM NGO Templates” in the subject line.

Reports and Reporting Requirements:

Program Reporting: PRM requires quarterly and final program reports describing and analyzing the results of activities undertaken during the validity period of the agreement. It is highly suggested that NGOs receiving PRM funding use the PRM-recommended program report template. To request this template, send an email with the phrase “PRM NGO Templates” in the subject line to PRM’s NGO Coordinator.

Financial Reports: Financial reports are required within thirty (30) days following the end of each calendar year quarter during the validity period of the agreement; a final financial report covering the entire period of the agreement is required within ninety (90) days after the expiration date of the agreement.

For more details regarding reporting requirements please see PRM’s General NGO Guidelines.

Proposal Review Process: PRM will conduct a formal competitive review of all proposals submitted in response to this funding announcement. A review panel will evaluate submissions based on the above-referenced proposal evaluation criteria and PRM priorities in the context of available funding.

PRM may request revised proposals and/or budgets based on feedback from the panel. PRM will provide formal notifications to NGOs of final decisions taken by Bureau management.

Applicant Vetting as a Condition of Award: Applicants are advised that successful passing of vetting to evaluate the risk that funds may benefit terrorists or their supporters is a condition of an award for Kenya. Applicants may be asked to submit information required by DS Form 4184, Risk Analysis Information (attached to this solicitation) about their organization and its principal personnel. Vetting information is also required for all sub-award performance on assistance awards identified by the U.S. Department of State as presenting a risk of terrorist financing. When vetting information is requested by the Grants Officer, information may be submitted on the secure web portal at https://ramportal.state.gov, via Email to RAM@state.gov, or by hardcopy to the Grants Officer.

Questions about the form may be emailed to RAM@state.gov. Failure to submit information when requested, or failure to pass vetting, may be grounds for rejecting your proposal. The following clause shall be included in Section 9, Special Award Conditions, or as an addendum to the solicitation, whenever assistance is awarded after vetting:

Recipient Vetting after Award: Recipients shall advise the Grants Officer of any changes in personnel listed in the DS Form 4184, Risk Analysis Information, and shall provide vetting information on new individuals. The government reserves the right to vet these personnel changes and to terminate assistance awards for convenience based on vetting results.

Branding and Marking Strategy: Unless exceptions have been approved by the designated Bureau Authorizing Official as described in the proposal templates that are available upon email request from PRM’s NGO Coordinator, at a minimum, the following provision will be included whenever assistance is awarded:

As a condition of receipt of this assistance award, all materials produced pursuant to the award, including training materials, materials for recipients or materials to communicate or promote with foreign audiences a program, event, project, or some other activity under this agreement, including but not limited to invitations to events, press materials, event backdrops, and podium signs must be marked appropriately with the standard U.S. flag in a size and prominence equal to (or greater than) any other logo or identity. Sub-recipients and subsequent tier sub-award agreements are subject to the marking requirements and the recipient shall include a provision in the sub-recipient agreement indicating that using the standard, rectangular U.S. flag is a requirement. In the event the recipient does not comply with the marking requirements as established in the approved assistance agreement, the Grants Officer Representative and the Grants Officer must initiate corrective action.

PRM Points of Contact: Should NGOs have technical questions related to this announcement, they should contact the PRM staff listed below prior to proposal submission. (Note: Responses to technical questions from PRM do not indicate a commitment to fund the program discussed.)

PRM Program Officer Madelina Young-Smith (YoungMM@state.gov; 202-453-9382), Washington, DC; please include PRM 
Program Assistant Lin’an Bartlett on email correspondence (BartlettL@state.gov)
Regional Refugee Coordinator for the Horn of Africa Bindi Patel (PatelBK@state.gov), U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Regional Refugee Assistant for the Horn of Africa Lin’an Bartlett (until Dec. 9) (BartlettLD@state.gov), U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Deputy Refugee Coordinator for Kenya and Somalia Kristin Alderman (AldermanKL@state.gov), U.S. Embassy, Refugee and Migration Affairs, Nairobi, Kenya

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement On Angola’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
November 10, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I send best wishes to all Angolans as you celebrate 38 years of independence on November 11.

The United States celebrates your independence and all that Angolans have achieved after decades of war. We are optimistic about the opportunities for economic growth and trade between our countries, and we look forward to working together to strengthen Angola’s democratic institutions, promote economic prosperity, combat HIV/AIDS and malaria, and reinforce peace and security.

As you celebrate this special day from Lubango to Lucapa, I wish all people of Angola peace and prosperity in the coming years.

U.S. Immigration Extends Temporary Protected Status for Eligible Somalis

File Photo
Department of Homeland Security
US Citizenship & Immigration Service
WASHINGTON, DC
November 6, 2013

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Somalia for an additional 18 months, effective March 18, 2014, through Sept. 17, 2015.

Current Somali beneficiaries seeking to extend their TPS status must re-register during a 60-day period that runs from Nov. 1, 2013, through Dec. 31, 2013. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages beneficiaries to re-register as soon as possible once the 60-day period begins. USCIS will not accept applications it received before Nov. 1, 2013.

The 18-month extension also allows TPS re-registrants to apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Eligible Somali TPS beneficiaries who re-register during the re-registration period and request work authorization will receive a new EAD that expires on Sept. 17, 2015.

To re-register, current TPS beneficiaries must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. Re-registrants do not need to pay the Form I-821 application fee, but they must submit the biometric fee, or a fee-waiver request, if they are age 14 or older. All TPS re-registrants must also submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, but no I-765 application fee is required if the re-registrant does not want an EAD. TPS re-registrants requesting an EAD must submit the Form I-765 application fee, or a fee-waiver request.

Applicants may request that USCIS waive any or all fees based on inability to pay by filing Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, or by submitting a written request. Fee-waiver requests must be accompanied by supporting documentation. Failure to submit the required filing fees or a properly documented fee-waiver request will result in the rejection of the TPS application.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco to Visit the White House, Friday November 22nd

File Photo
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
November 7, 2013

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of King Mohammed VI of Morocco

On Friday, November 22, President Obama will host King Mohammed VI of Morocco at the White House. This visit will highlight the long-standing friendship between the United States and Morocco and strengthen our strategic partnership. The President looks forward to discussing a range of issues of mutual interest with King Mohammed VI, including support for Morocco’s democratic and economic reforms. This visit is also an opportunity to increase our cooperation on addressing regional challenges, including countering violent extremism, supporting democratic transitions, and promoting economic development in the Middle East and Africa.

MCC Helping To Change Healthcare In Lesotho

Photo and Story Courtesy of MCC.gov

The services Mahlape receives at her community health clinic have drastically improved her health—and possibly even saved her life, she said. She receives regular checkups and antiretroviral treatments to battle her HIV. The treatments and immunizations have provided her infant son with a better chance at a more productive future.

And with the recent opening of a new clinic—whose construction was funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation—Mahlape is hopeful even more people from her eastern Lesotho community will benefit.

“It’s not cold like the old clinic,” she said in mid-May, the first time the 19-year-old visited the new clinic in Samaria. “The roof doesn’t leak. It’s much more comfortable. And it can hold more people. I think more people will come here.”

Linking more people with health care is a cornerstone of MCC’s five-year, $363 million compact with Lesotho. The Health Sector Project aims to mitigate the negative economic impacts of poor maternal health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other diseases by substantially strengthening Lesotho’s health care infrastructure and building the capacity of those who work in the field.

Mahlape’s community clinic in Samaria is one of 138 health centers rehabilitated or built under the project. MCC is also funding the staff housing at each clinic along with the construction of 14 hospital outpatient departments, a blood transfusion center, a central laboratory, and residences to accommodate students and staff at the National Health Training College, the country’s largest health training school.

Health care is a major concern to all Basotho. Almost a quarter of adults age 15-49 are infected with HIV/AIDS, the third-highest prevalence rate in the world. HIV/AIDS and other diseases have dragged down the country’s economy and stifled its attempts to reduce poverty.

MCC’s health investments support the Government of Lesotho’s efforts to provide HIV-battling anti-retroviral therapy by reinforcing a sustainable platform to deliver this and other essential health services throughout the country.

The goal is to extend the productive years for Basotho citizens living with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other debilitating diseases so they can contribute to the economy.

Mahlape and her son rely on the clinics to stay alive. She receives anti-retroviral treatment free of charge each month from the clinic. Her son’s father previously died of complications due to AIDS, and her son received treatment during childbirth to prevent the HIV transmission. Her son has also received his regular immunizations from the clinic.

Several hundred yards from where Mahlape and her son sat in the new clinic’s waiting room stands the dilapidated building that previously served the community. The plaster on the walls is discolored and cracking. Glass is missing from some of the windowpanes. It lacks running water inside the building, meaning doctors and nurses needed to head outside to wash their hands at a standpipe between procedures. During the brutal mountain winter, the temperature inside the clinic would plunge below freezing.

One patient, 38-year-old Mathabiso Matsoele, just assumed this was how a rural health clinic operated—until the Health Sector Project.

“I used the old clinic often and I used to think it was OK,” she said. “But now I know better.”