Friday
May 08
2015
May 8, 2015

Looking at the How of Africa's Progress

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Throughout my presidency and over the last 14 years at the Clinton Foundation, it has been my great privilege to work closely with people across Africa toward a future of shared opportunity and shared prosperity.  Since my first visit in 1998, I’ve traveled to the continent more than 10 times to see this work in action and listen to the inspiring people who are building better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities.  From visiting Robben Island with Nelson Mandela to planting a row of seeds with a woman’s small hoe on our Anchor Farm in Malawi, every experience has reinforced something I learned long ago: that everyone wants to live in dignity, and everyone has a story to tell. At the Clinton Foundation, we work to help people live their best stories.

Last week, Chelsea and I returned to Africa to visit the sites of several Clinton Foundation and Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) projects and Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) members’ Commitments to Action that are helping thousands of people. Meeting the people who are benefiting from our programs, and the partners on the ground who are supporting them, is always a powerful reminder of why we do the work we do—and why how we do it is so important.

We believe that the most effective way to solve problems and seize opportunities is by working together in networks of creative cooperation. In our interdependent world, we all have a stake in helping other people succeed. That’s why our programs in Africa are supported by individuals, foundations, governments, and multinational organizations from all over the world. Whether focused on creating economic growth, fighting climate change, improving access to quality health care, or empowering women and girls, we’ve seen over and over again that our impact is amplified when we bring diverse partners together and work with national governments and local communities.

For example, our Anchor Farm Project operates commercial farms in Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania and partners with local smallholder farmers to provide them with access to high-quality, low-cost seed and fertilizer, climate-smart agronomic training, and transportation to market. Participants in the program have more than doubled their yields on average, increased their incomes, and dramatically improved their quality of life. I visited with one of these farmers, Wazia, in Tanzania—where we recently began operations thanks in large part to the support of the Dutch government—and learned how her increased productivity has helped her improve her homes and keep her seven children in school. Wazia is one of more than 85,000 farmers who are participating in the program, forging their own paths out of poverty with a system that is life-changing and sustainable. 

Chelsea and I also traveled to Liberia, where CHAI has been on the ground for nearly 10 years working hand in hand with the Liberian government to rebuild from over a decade of civil conflict and increase their health system’s capacity.  When the Ebola outbreak began last year, the CHAI team put their expertise and experience into action as part of the National Ebola Taskforce.  CHAI has worked with partners to scale-up and adapt Ebola Treatment Units, distribute critical supplies to health facilities, and train Liberian health care workers and staff from foreign governments, multilateral agencies, and NGOs.  Chelsea and I heard directly from resilient Liberians, including Ebola survivors, health workers, and Ministry leadership, about their struggles during the outbreak, the future they envision for their country, and how we can help them overcome the challenges that remain.

Our trip to Africa concluded with the CGI Middle East & Africa Meeting in Marrakech.  The meeting brought together regional and global leaders from across sectors and across the continents to highlight success stories in a region where the problems are better known, and to create a platform to drive further action.  We focused on issues like education, public health systems, youth employment, infrastructure, and water, food, and energy resources.  To date, CGI members have made more than 1,000 Commitments to Action designed to impact Africa, and attendees in Marrakech made commitments that will drive even greater progress in the years to come.  

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my life is that there is often a big difference between the headlines and the trend lines.  We usually only hear about the headlines, but the trend lines tell us what is really happening out there in people’s lives.  When I look back at all of my trips to Africa over the last 17 years, it is clear that many of the trend lines are headed in the right direction.  I have tried to be part of that progress, and I am grateful to the Clinton Foundation’s more than 300,000 supporters from all around the globe who have made our work possible. 

I hope you will continue following our work.  Together, we can build a future we can all be proud to share.

Learn more about the some of the projects President Clinton and Chelsea saw on this trip at africa.clintonfoundation.org.