Remarks by Charge d’ Affairs Maria Brewer – Ambassador’s Small Grants Signing Ceremony (August 4, 2014)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, all of our grantees and all the members of the press.

I am pleased and honored to see our grantees with us today for the ambassador’s small grants signing ceremony.  These grants that the U.S. Mission supports today represents our continued commitment to investing in Nigeria’s people and complement the wonderful and creative work that each of you do in your communities.

For over two decades, the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, through our small grants program, has partnered with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) throughout the country to fund small community-based development projects that include significant local contributions in land, labor, capital, and expertise.

The Ambassador’s Small Grants Program receives support from the Special Self-Help Program through the Department of State and from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  Through these programs, we try to respond to requests for small, community-based development projects to improve the living conditions of people within their home towns and villages.

The Special Self-Help Program involves small development projects structured to be self-sustainable.  These community-driven grants seek to encourage communities to undertake similar activities on their own in the future.

Several of the Self-Help projects will assist Nigerian children to access educational facilities and acquire new skills.  These include the construction of classrooms and classroom furniture, the purchase of library books, and the installation of sporting facilities.

Other projects will construct a community pharmacy and provide communities with clean drinking water to improve health and living conditions.   Some provide communities with food processing machines, such as rice and cassava processing machines and root grinding mills, that will help generate income and stimulate economic growth.

The Ambassador’s PEPFAR Small Grants Program provides funding assistance to communities with innovative projects that provide care and support to orphans, vulnerable children, and their households. These grants assist communities to improve the standard of living of children (with ages ranging from infants to 17-year olds) through community-led projects.

The PEPFAR Small Grants Program focuses on community-initiatives for the welfare of children living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.

Many of these projects include construction, renovation, and furnishing of early childhood care and learning centers and construction of hygienic and safe school toilets to mitigate communicable diseases.  Training centers offer training in parenting and life skills, and even skills’ acquisition, such as sewing and knitting.

Some projects equip schools and clinics, fund the construction of small clinics and water boreholes, and support caregivers in addressing the economic, nutritional, and hygienic needs of households affected by HIV/AIDS.

Other projects include the construction and maintenance of an animal husbandry project and provisions for the production of silver enhanced water filters.

This year the Ambassador’s Small Grants Program has been able to award 46 grants totaling $352,696.

I am proud to note that this year’s grantees hail from across Nigeria.  We have recipients from each one of Nigeria’s geographic regions.  The sum of all our small grant projects that we will sign today will benefit more than 160,000 Nigerian men, women, and children.

The U.S. Mission and I look forward to working with your organizations as your projects move forward.  And more importantly, we hope to attend inauguration ceremonies for these wonderful projects in each of your communities.

Thank you once again as we now begin our grants signing ceremony.