R 200029Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY MALABO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0428
INFO AMEMBASSY MALABO
UNCLAS MALABO 000135
C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION
USAID/WA FOR HENDERSON PATRICK USAID/AFR/WA FOR NATALIE FREEMAN AND TORINA WAY
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: EK XA SUBJECT: MALABO DELIVERS MONEY TO BACK SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT FUND PROJECTS
1. (U) Summary: The Prime Minister of Equatorial Guinea delivered eight checks to three Ministers to begin eight priority projects to be financed under the Social Development Fund Program of the Government of Equatorial Guinea. Attending the November 17, 2008 event were the Prime Minister, the Executive Director of the Fund, the seven ministers or their representatives involved in the Fund, as well as members of the press, the diplomatic community, and representatives from the major US oil companies working in the country. The projects involve such health programs as the Demographic and Health Survey, a fistula obstetrics program and a primary health care initiative. Education activities involve a preschool education program, school renovations and new construction of primary and secondary schools, the renovation of the national training center, and a national school data system. These are the first of approximately 50 projects to be carried out over the next three years. Approximately $20 million is budgeted.
2. (U) Priority Fund Projects: The first projects of the Fund involved a broad range of activities. The school data system and the Demographic and Health Survey are important because they will establish for the first time a reliable set of baseline information and indicators about the actual health and education conditions in Equatorial Guinea. A recent IMF report cited the serious deficiencies regarding available data of all kinds in the country and this information will provide a broad range of health and education information that have to date not existed. There may be an added benefit in that the health survey will require methodical estimate of national population (the first reliable estimate since 1994) from which to draw a sample of the population to be surveyed. The primary health care, fistula obstetrics and preschool education programs are major national efforts to significantly improve the delivery of important national services targeting children and women of child bearing age. Over 100 schools are planned to be renovated or built anew. A national teacher training center will be renovated. The final program is a women's employment generation initiative spearheaded by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Promotion of Women.
3. (U) Government Capacity Building: The Government of Equatorial Guinea is now entering the most difficult, challenging phase of the Social Development Fund Program, actual implementation of social projects. It will test the Government's ability to carry out projects with its own staff supported by various international NGOs and private consultants. The IMF in its recent report on Equatorial Guinea flagged the Fund and strongly encouraged its implementation as a key recommendation in the Executive Summary. In the past, most social project initiatives have been carried out by bilateral donors or UNDP and the other family of UN organizations. In addition, three major government service initiatives have been the malaria eradication project and solid waste management in Malabo started by Marathon Oil several years ago and the Hess Oil primary education project begun around 2006. In those instances the activities emphasized bringing in outside companies to do everything regarding project implementation. In the case of the Fund Program, the emphasis is on capacity building of the Ministry staff responsible for government services.
4. (U) Social Infrastructure Investment: In the meantime the Government of Equatorial Guinea continues to support basic infrastructure investments in developing its national road system, telecommunications, the power grid, and urban water and sewer systems for Malabo and Bata, and the like. These systems have been on going over the last several years and will continue. They are constructed by international contractors in association with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Urbanism. The Fund investment though small by comparison will likely grow. As the Fund begins to produce tangible results, the Government will grow more confident with the work being carried out by USAID and the investment figure for the Fund will likely grow significantly. Moreover, developing capacity of national government employees is the principle way social indicators will be improved and sustained.
5. (U) Next Steps: USAID/WA Advisor and Contractor in Equatorial Guinea will continue to assist the Government in implementing the Memorandum of Understanding, signed April 11, 2006, and will keep Washington informed about any significant changes or issues that arise.