The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced an additional $18.5 million in funding for Zambia.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced an additional $18.5 million in funding for Zambians, including the country’s fight against COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS.

Samantha Power, USAID Administrator, announced this yesterday during a meeting with President Hakainde Hichilema to discuss US support for Zambia and President Hichilema’s ambitious agenda of democratic and economic reforms.

Administrator Power was delighted to welcome President Hichilema on his first visit to the United States as President of Zambia following his election victory in August 2021.

She conveyed to him the support of the Biden-Harris Administration and USAID in strengthening the U.S.-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.

Administrator 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.

In view of President Hichilema’s early efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and freedom of expression, since his inauguration on August 24, Administrator 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,” Administrator Power stated.

Administrator 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.

She disclosed 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.

“U.S. assistance has supported Zambia’s outbreak response, outreach, and communications on COVID-19 prevention measures and vaccine delivery,” she added.

She further announced an additional $9.6 million from the American Rescue Plan to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS programs in Zambia, saying that since 2020, the United States has provided more than $734.3 million to fight HIV/AIDS in Zambia.

Administrator Power announced another $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 neighboring communities.

After the meeting Administrator Power and President Hichilema discussed the dramatic circumstances that led to his landslide victory in the August 12 presidential election.

President Hichilema explained that as a longtime opposition leader, he had been arrested 15 times and faced significant persecution for his political activity.

He went on to say that as Election Day approached, observers expressed serious reservations about the prospects for a free and fair election.

“Yet, as the entire world saw, the Zambian people came out in force, determined to exercise their rights and send a message about the direction they desired for their country. “As a result, millions of first-time voters, young people, and women participated in unprecedented numbers,” President Hichilema explained.

President Hichilema also stated that Zambian civil society played an important role in ensuring that Zambians’ voices were heard and that the electoral process was successfully monitored.

This is contained in a statement issued to ZANIS in Lusaka today, by USAID Spokesperson, Rebecca Chalif.

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