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USAID announces additional $18.5m Covid, democratic openings support to Zambia

UNITED States Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Samantha Power has announced approximately $18.5 million in additional US government funding to support Zambia, including the country’s fight against COVID-19.

Power and President Hakainde Hichilema met to discuss US support for the Zambian people and President Hichilema’s ambitious agenda of democratic and economic reforms.

According to a statement, in view of President Hichilema’s early efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and freedom of expression since his inauguration on August 24, Power announced $1.25 million to help bolster Zambia’s new democratic openings.

“This funding will advance USAID’s activities to strengthen the foundations of freedom of expression and assembly, and will help safeguard a space for activists, human rights defenders, oppositional voices, and independent and new media,” the agency stated.

Power also highlighted USAID’s recent announcement of $6.7 million from the American Rescue Plan for strengthening the Zambian government’s response to the pandemic.

It stated that since 2020, the United States has provided more than $33.9 million to fight COVID-19 in Zambia in addition to providing vaccines to fully vaccinate over 300,000 Zambians.

It stated that US assistance had supported Zambia’s outbreak response, outreach, and communications on COVID-19 prevention measures and vaccine delivery.

“The pandemic has also generated new challenges for the global AIDS response. Today, administrator Power announced an additional $9.6 million from the American Rescue Plan to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on HIV/AIDS programmes in Zambia. Since 2020, the United States has provided more than $734.3 million to fight HIV/AIDS in Zambia,” reads the statement.

Power also announced $1 million in FY 20 Power Africa Clean Energy funds to strengthen Zambia’s energy sector by continuing and amplifying support for sector reforms to facilitate investment, off-grid networks to expand access to electricity, and health facility electrification to improve health services and benefit neighbouring communities.

And Power conveyed to President Hichilema the support of the Biden-Harris administration and the USAID in strengthening the US-Zambia partnership, and in his efforts to expand economic opportunities, reduce inequality, end the COVID-19 pandemic, deliver responsive and transparent governance, and advance democracy and human rights.

According to USAID spokesperson Rebecca Chalif, Power and President Hichilema discussed the President’s early efforts to tackle corruption, sustain and create jobs, and address trafficking in persons, as well as ways to build on USAID’s long standing work in Zambia to meet the new challenges facing the country.

“Power and President Hichilema discussed the dramatic circumstances that led to his landslide victory in Zambia’s August 12 presidential election. As a longtime opposition leader, President Hichilema had been arrested 15 times and faced significant persecution for his political activity. As election day approached, observers expressed significant concerns about the prospects for a free and fair election,” stated Chalif. “Yet as the entire world witnessed, the Zambian people came out in force, determined to exercise their rights and to send a message about the direction they wanted for their country. The result was a historic turnout powered by millions of first-time voters, young people, and women. Zambian civil society also played a critical role in ensuring that Zambians were able to have their voices heard and in successfully monitoring the electoral process. President Hichilema ultimately won by nearly 20 percentage points – a Zambian victory by Zambians and for Zambians.”

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