In FY 2008, the overall goal for United States Government (USG) assistance to Moldova was to promote the country’s development towards a more prosperous, democratic, market-oriented society with strong Euro-Atlantic ties. In support of Peace and Security, USG-supported programs aimed to promote defense reforms, reduce WMD proliferation threats, enhance border controls with the breakaway region of Transnistria, improve the ability of the Government of Moldova (GOM) to detect and counteract the illicit movement of goods and people, and help improve Moldovan law enforcement's ability to identify and deal with illegal trafficking. In support of Governing Justly and Democratically, USG assistance focused on strengthening the ability of Moldova’s judicial system to address anti-trafficking and anti-corruption-related issues, and to provide basic protection of human rights, fighting corruption, increasing political competition and promoting democratic political processes, strengthening civic participation and education, and increasing access to independent information. USG assistance in support of the Investing in People objective focused on HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C. Economic Growth objectives were to increase the competitiveness of key domestic industries. Humanitarian Assistance objectives are to provide goods and equipment to the most vulnerable people.
(*Foreign Operations appropriated assistance, excluding Peace Corps funds and centrally managed Foreign Operations funds that are not budgeted for specific countries. HA total does not include the value of donated humanitarian commodities transported by the U.S. Department of State, estimated at $25.67 million in FY 2008.)
Highlights of FY 2008 Performance by Area of Focus
Peace and Security
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Helped improve Moldova’s military operations through training, technical assistance, and equipment. USG support assisted Moldova as it continued to work towards its FY 2008 Individual Partnership Action Plan objectives, including further defense reforms, enhanced inter-operability, and improved capability to conduct Peace and Stability Operations. Following USG training, a 16-person Moldovan de-mining contingent was deployed to Iraq, as were four independent staff officers that were integrated into a joint task force in Iraq. The USG supported Moldova’s participation in six Partnership for Peace exercises, as well as in other multinational training events. USG support included the purchase of command and control information and intelligence systems to enable Moldova to integrate with Western-style command posts and staff.
- Assisted Moldova in strengthening its border security to meet EU standards. USG assistance increased the GOM’s ability to detect and counteract illegal border crossings and to analyze current, emerging and long-term border threats related to terrorism. USG assistance has encouraged the registration of Transnistrian import/export companies with the Moldovan government, increasing the registration rate from 87 percent to 96 percent in 2008. Assistance to the European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) has improved cooperation between the Moldovan Border Guard and Customs Agency, and among the Moldovan Customs Service, Police, and Interpol. Joint border control operations have helped to cement relations and improve exchange of information between the Border Guards of Moldova and Ukraine.
- Helped to establish the last of nine Social Reintegration Centers (SRCs) that provide services for vulnerable groups, including graduates from orphanages and other institutions, victims of domestic violence and their children, and victims of trafficking. The final center receiving USG funding is dedicated to providing support for victims of trafficking from Transnistria. In total, over 2,600 beneficiaries were assisted in FY 2008, including 26 confirmed victims of trafficking, ten percent of the total of confirmed victims of trafficking in Moldova. In addition to providing psychological care in a safe, supportive environment, SRCs provided vocational training to 289 beneficiaries and assisted 498 individuals in finding employment. To provide for Centers’ financial sustainability, four of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating SRCs established income generating enterprises in FY 2008, at the same time creating 59 new jobs. Through a diversified set of funding sources, seven of the nine SRCs have become self-sustainable.
- Reduced proliferation threats through cooperative engagement of scientists, technicians, and engineers with WMD and applicable expertise through USG assistance to the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU).
- Trained approximately 80 Moldovan police officers. Equipment donation and training assisted the Ministry of Interior’s Operative Services Branch in making three major arrests, including a narcotics arrest of unprecedented size for Moldova and the arrest of a major organized crime figure.
Governing Justly and Democratically
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Helped improve Moldovan legislation. USG assistance contributed to the passage of a witness-protection law as well as a money laundering/terrorist financing law. A whistle-blower protection statute was developed and is pending parliamentary action. A “yellow card” system for administrative recognition of corruption within the government was developed and is pending implementation. In February 2008, the Parliament passed its first law on preventing and combating domestic violence, incorporating input from USG program experts. The law defines, for the first time, what constitutes domestic violence, designates it as a crime with appropriate punishment for perpetrators, and provides for protective measures. This is especially significant as domestic violence victims in Moldova are the number-one risk group for human trafficking.
- Helped to reform Moldova’s justice system. USG support was provided to the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Center for Combating Economic Crime and Corruption in order to reduce institutional opportunities for corruption, strengthen the mechanisms within each office for combating corruption, and increase transparency and accountability. The Superior Council of the Magistracy finalized a new draft Code of Judicial Ethics that incorporates substantial USG input. The new draft includes provisions for recusal of judges in the case of a conflict of interest due to personal or financial relationships. USG training for over 1,200 individuals from the broader justice sector, including judges, prosecutors, police, lawyers, law professors, and students improved their professional knowledge and skills.
- Improved Moldova’s governance and ability to fight corruption. USG assistance helped a group of Moldovan government agencies to enact regulatory and procedural reforms that facilitate business access to government services, increase transparency, and reduce opportunities for corruption. The USG also supported the Anti-Corruption Alliance, a coalition of non-governmental organizations, to pass a new law that obliges state institutions to assess their internal corruption risks and requires the disclosure of revenue declarations on public institution websites.
- Supported a review of the training manuals and public outreach plan and materials of the Central Election Commission, serving as the basis for further assistance in advance of Moldova’s parliamentary elections in the spring of 2009. With the support of USG technical assistance to electoral bodies, the Gagauz Provincial Assembly elections were recognized by domestic and international observers as free and fair. USG programs increased the capacity of 430 individuals who observed local run-off elections in Gagauzia. USG assistance also promoted political competition and party responsiveness to constituents through training to approximately 5,800 individuals -- representing all political parties -- in areas such as communications, grassroots organizing, and canvassing.
- Strengthened civic education through assistance to over 5,500 people, with a strong focus on participation in elections. USG-sponsored civic education information was distributed through 19 newspapers and ten local television programs, training of teachers, and the nationwide distribution of materials to schools. As a result of the nation-wide campaign, the Ministry of Education re-introduced a civic education course in Moldovan schools.
Investing in People
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Helped improve Moldova’s health services and prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis B and C. A total of eight percent of all Moldovans die from the effects of chronic hepatitis, a mortality rate seven times higher than that in the European Union. USG assistance supported the establishment of 32 Voluntary Counseling and Testing Centers (VCTC). As a result of these new centers, more than 80 percent of the adult population in Moldova has access to healthcare services for HIV and Hepatitis B and C. A national communication campaign on viral hepatitis and VCTC services reached 6,000 members from at risk groups. As a consequence of the campaign, 20 percent of the population increased its knowledge about viral hepatitis, while between 92 and 100 percent of the at-risk population such as prison inmates, intravenous drug users, and commercial sex workers, were able to identify means of transmission of Hepatitis B and C. Widespread training and the development of 80 standard operating procedures, process documents, and national guidelines brought Moldova’s blood service system up to international standards. USG assistance contributed to the implementation of new national standards for blood transfusion and a new quality management program at the National Blood Transfusion Center, which has now developed a comprehensive plan to establish a voluntary blood-donation system.
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Supported Moldova’s membership in the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) in 2007. This year, one year after joining, Moldova assumed the presidency of CEFTA and the leadership of its subcommittees. Moldova’s membership in CEFTA has served as a platform for greater regional economic integration within Southeastern Europe.
- Assisted Moldova in completing its WTO accession request to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement. This unusual and unsolicited step for a developing country reflects a dedication to pursuing regional integration and reducing corruption. USG support resulted in the publication of 13 WTO monograph issues, containing 191 articles on WTO and regional trade integration issues, which assisted government officials, academia, and small businesses in understanding the rights and benefits of WTO membership. Over 6,600 visitors accessed the USG-supported WTO trade website for Moldova.
- Improved the potential for the Moldovan agri-business sector by advising on legislation and sponsoring the participation of officials and business owners in workshops and training programs. USG assistance provided training in the U.S. to learn about industry trends, innovative technologies, and new managerial and financial concepts. All participants provided information on which U.S. organizations they would continue to work with, new legislation that they wanted to propose, and new ideas that they wanted to introduce. Several alumni also reported the positive impact of prior exchange visits, including progress on obtaining certifications and European accreditation authority. USG assistance helped develop legislation in accordance with EU standards and increased rural incomes and employment in Moldova by improving the international competitiveness of the high-value agricultural sector, boosting its export potential and trade capacity. USG programs are helping to meet preconditions for this, such as improved product quality, marketing strategies, trade linkages, and financing.
- Improved the professionalism of financial sector professionals and contributed to the overall development of the financial sector in Moldova, a key component of sustainable, long-term economic growth. Through its project implementer, the USG trained over 100 leasing and mortgage lending specialists, strengthened Moldova’s leasing and primary and secondary mortgage-lending markets, and laid the foundations for issuance of corporate and mortgage-covered bonds. As a result, opportunities for individuals and businesses to gain access to credit have increased in Moldova.
- Focused on three key sectors of the Moldovan economy including wine, apparel, and textiles, and on information and communications technology (ICT), resulting in a $40 million increase in sales and improved productivity in growth-oriented companies in FY 2008. Client firms created 2,500 jobs in vulnerable rural areas.
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Provided 29 sea containers of medical and non-medical humanitarian assistance, valued at over $2.6 million, and distributed by local NGOs to vulnerable populations throughout Moldova.
- Improved the quality of medical care through the donation of medical provisions. One hundred truckloads of medical supplies and equipment, valued at approximately $23 million, were donated to 15 hospitals and medical or dental centers in or near four major cities, including in the Transnistrian region. This equipment upgraded the quality of cardiac, intensive care, and sterilization services, and transformed these services in Transnistria. The types of institutions supported were dentistry and pharmacy schools, primary healthcare centers, general hospitals, dental clinics, and hospitals specializing in pediatric care, neurology and neurosurgery, general surgery, and perinatology.
- Met the basic needs of victims of the summer floods. In July of 2008, the level of water on both the Nistru River in the eastern and the Prut River in the western part of Moldova reached heights not recorded in 40 years. Although the dams did hold and catastrophe was averted, the USG provided humanitarian relief to purchase emergency supplies for over 1,300 people directly affected by the floods. Distributed through local NGOs in each of the affected areas, emergency packages were tailored to individual needs. The contents included emergency linens, groceries, drinking water, and personal hygiene products. The NGOs cooperated with local authorities in identifying potential recipients and distributing the emergency supplies.
Workforce Development Program Reaches 4,500 at Risk for Trafficking
– In addition to USG efforts in the key target sectors for workforce development, USG assistance provided a complex set of services including vocational training, internships, and entrepreneurship training to almost 4,500 women at risk for trafficking. Coordinated through four Regional Support Centers (RSCs), these efforts address the economic roots of trafficking in Moldova and resulted in approximately 500 women finding confirmed employment in 2008, with another 74 starting their own businesses. The RSCs also improved public awareness about human trafficking through an extensive multimedia campaign that reached over 250,000 television viewers, 125,000 radio listeners, and 45,000 readers. The dedicated website generated over 129,000 hits in 2008.