WASHINGTON, DC - The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) today appealed to Secretary of State John Kerry and Dana J. Hyde, the Chair and CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), to defer approval of additional aid funding of up to $450 million until Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete takes action against the corruption and criminal syndicates behind the nation's massive elephant poaching epidemic and its large scale smuggling of poached ivory to China.
The objection by the non-profit EIA is based on a year-long study of Tanzania's poaching epidemic, published last month in a new report, Vanishing Point – Corruption, Criminality and the Destruction of Tanzania's Elephants. Tanzania has the highest level of elephant slaughter of any country in Africa and is the largest exporter of poached ivory smuggled to China, the world's largest consumer of illegal ivory. Smuggling of poached ivory by members of the entourage travelling on the Chinese president's planes during two state visits in 2013 and 2011 were revealed in EIA's report.
The Board of the MCC, which funds international development projects, will meet today in Washington to discuss a second major grant, known as a "compact," to Tanzania worth approximately $450 million. The previous MCC five-year compact ending in 2013 gave $698 million to Tanzania to build roads along the Kenyan border and rebuild the electricity grid in regions of mainland Tanzania and on Zanzibar.
In Tanzania's famous Selous Game Reserve, the elephant population has declined from 38,975 in 2009 to only 13,084 in 2013, a 67 percent drop in just four years. In July 2013, President Obama announced his Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking Crime during his state visit to Tanzania.
Elephant poaching threatens Tanzania's billion dollar-a-year tourism industry. A recent USAID report noted that tourism employs almost 1.2 million people in Tanzania and is the largest source of foreign currency for Tanzania.
"Although 10,000 elephants are being poached every year in Tanzania, the MCC gave Tanzania a 99.9 percent rating for 'Natural Resource Protection'," said Allan Thornton, President of EIA. "The MCC must require Tanzanian government action against the criminal syndicates behind the poached ivory trade or the same roads MCC funded could facilitate smuggling of ivory to China."