WASHINGTON, July 23 The United States on
Wednesday honored six development projects for helping some of
the world's most politically fragile countries or poorest
people, including a railway in Afghanistan and basic health and
water services in Yemen.
The projects, all funded by one of the major development
banks, range from helping rice farmers in West Africa to dealing
with pollution in Mongolia. The awards recognize "exceptional"
development impact and give insight into the United States'
priorities in overseas aid, including its focus on fragile
states and food security.
"When you consider recent global events, it is clear that we
must continue to support international financial institutions
like those that we are honoring today," U.S. Treasury Secretary
Jack Lew said in announcing the Development Impact Honors.
The railroad in Afghanistan, funded by the Asian Development
Bank and completed in 2011, was the country's first rail link in
almost a century and was meant to boost the fragile state's
economy, and also help supply NATO troops there and provide aid.
The railroad covers a 75 km (50 mile) stretch of single
track that links Afghanistan's main city in the north,
Mazar-i-Sharif, to Uzbekistan, which serves as the gateway for
many of Afghanistan's imports.
"Fragile states pose concerns of peace and security for both
their people and beyond their borders," said Marisa Lago,
Treasury's assistant secretary for international markets and
development affairs. "So when we think about why the U.S.
government engages in development - we recognize the strong
benefits for our national security."
Treasury said the railroad has provided about 1,200 local
jobs so far, helped boost the area's economic growth, lowered
the price of goods, and reduced poverty.
Treasury chose the projects based on how much they improved
the lives of the people in the country, followed environmental
and social standards and were innovative, among other criteria.
All the projects had to have been completed in the last seven
years to be eligible
In Yemen, dealing with crises including political turmoil,
deep poverty and separatists, the World Bank provided funding
and training for several community-driven projects that hired
local Yemenis to offer better health and water services and
vocational training, and also built new schools and a more
"While the state may be fragile, there are communities, so
we're looking for the strength in the community," Lago said,
adding that it was important to tailor each project to the local
The project follows the World Bank's model of focusing on
community-driven development in uncertain environments, similar
to its initial foray into Myanmar.
Other U.S.-honored projects include a program that enables
West African farmers to grow more durable rice with a higher
protein content, a wind farm project in Mongolia, microfinance
to small-scale farmers in Bangladesh, and training for
low-income youth in Brazil in job skills and "soft skills" like
self-esteem and civic responsibility.
(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)