Posted on October 28, 2014 by Leila Calnan , Cardno Emerging Markets USA, and Andriy Shevtsov, Cardno Emerging Markets USA
A key part of MCC’s recently completed compact with Namibia was an investment in the tourism sector to drive economic growth. The Tourism Project’s North American Destination Marketing (NADM) Activity sought to help Namibia attract more tourists from the United States and Canada through an innovative, trade-focused destination marketing campaign. Cardno Emerging Markets USA of Virginia implemented the campaign by focusing on telling Namibia’s story as an enticing new destination for North American tourists—with particular emphasis on promoting conservancy-based tourism.
The Cardno team custom-tailored 22 destination marketing tools for effective use by both the North American and Namibian travel trade. For example, NADM developed a Destination Specialist Program, an online training tool to sell the destination. Passing the course entitles operators to regular content, images, new itinerary uploads, a 100-page sales guide, use of the destination marketing seal, and other benefits to support their sales efforts.
More than 800 Namibian travel professionals and students completed the training, gaining a better understanding of the North American market. They are now effectively using the NADM-developed online marketing tools, including help with social media, search engine optimization, cooperative marketing campaigns, and creating Namibia tourism content apps.
NADM also organized participation in 36 strategically selected trade shows and three road shows to American and Canadian cities. This allowed Namibia’s tourism operators to develop strong, new trade links by directly talking about their country’s competitive advantages to the North American market. Cardno also arranged more than 500 media placements to a circulation of over 768 million with an advertising value of over $150 million. Placements included Outside Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, Travel & Leisure, National Geographic, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Condé Nast Traveler, among others. Notably in 2014, NADM helped secure Namibia’s recognition as The New York Times’ number six of 52 Places to Go in 2014, and most recently, the number two destination to visit in 2015 by Lonely Planet.
Results like these have put Namibia on the map as a new destination for North American travelers. There are now 141 new U.S. and Canadian tour companies selling trips to Namibia, offering 158 new itineraries. NADM established a database of more than 2,000 agents and operators in the United States and Canada with information on Namibia.
In the final months of the compact, Cardno worked with Millennium Challenge Account-Namibia, the local organization implementing the compact, the Namibia Tourism Board and the private sector to help sustain these major accomplishments. Cardno set up a train-the-trainers program so that tourism marketing training can continue well into the future. It also supported the Namibia Tourism Board’s selection of U.S. representation partners to further work with the media and relevant trade sources to support ongoing public relations efforts after the compact ends.
Posted on October 28, 2014 by Geroldine Sicot, Program Officer
Chairmaine Aukhumes used to feel ashamed when friends would visit her house. Aukhumes, a ranger at Etosha National Park in northern Namibia, and her two young children shared a cramped house with no running water or sanitation.
Thanks to MCC’s five-year, $304.5 million compact with Namibia, Aukhumes’ new home now features reliable electricity and running water. It’s one of 98 staff houses built as part of the compact’s Tourism Project, which sought to improve the management and infrastructure of Etosha National Park that serves as a major source of tourism and revenue for Namibia.
Recruiting and retraining park rangers has been a major challenge—in large part because of poor living accommodations. By improving housing, the Government of Namibia hopes to increase the quality and experience of its park staff as it also promotes efforts to attract more international visitors to Namibia.
Aukhumes said it’s already having an effect.
“I feel encouraged to do a better job,” Aukhumes said. “These houses boost our morale and make us want to work harder.”
In addition to the new houses, the project funded utility connections for an additional 54 plots of land where the government will build additional housing if the park staff expands.
And if staff retention is the goal, Aukhumes is already thinking long-term.
“I have 20 years left before retiring,” she said, “and I am looking forward to enjoying many years in this home.”
Posted on October 23, 2014 by Natalia Ionel, Communications and Program Specialist, Moldova
More than 100 cyclists—professionals and amateurs, Americans and Moldovans, diplomats and local residents—took part in a bike ride earlier this week to help showcase MCC’s work renovating the Sarateni-Soroca road in northeastern Moldova.
Starting in near-freezing temperatures, more than 100 cyclists traversed 46 miles of the smooth asphalt of the road, which was recently completely rehabilitated through MCC's five-year, $262 million compact with Moldova. U.S. Ambassador to Moldova William H. Moser and Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca joined the ride, as did 47 professionals competing in a 25-mile race.
Leanca—wearing a cycling jersey emblazoned with the national flag and riding a bike with an American flag tied to the handlebars—called the race a “fantastic event.”
The compact’s Road Rehabilitation Project included more than 58 miles of a strategic international thoroughfare, including full reconstruction of 38 miles of roadway, renovation and new construction of 14 bridges, the addition of 13.6 miles of sidewalks in 14 villages, lighting along 12½ miles of the road, installation of seven miles of iron guardrails, 2,113 road signs and more than 9,000 road reflectors. The project pioneered the country’s first environmentally beneficial use of cold-recycling of asphalt and was the first road in Moldova to introduce enhanced road safety measures, such as road reflectors at road crossings and curbs.
It was a major accomplishment, and the road race was just one way MCC and MCA-Moldova (the local organization implementing the compact) are helping draw attention to the project.
“This road is a gift from the American people to the Moldovan people, and the bike ride was the perfect way to celebrate the dedication of this road for the people, by the people, and of the people that will benefit every day from the rehabilitation of this road,” Ambassador Moser said.
Posted on October 16, 2014 by Steve Felton, World Wildlife Fund
Asser Ujaha remembers when wildlife roamed free across the whole of northern Namibia—as did people, tending their cattle herds.
“We were chased out of the park,” says Asser, thinking back to the days of apartheid after the creation of Namibia’s Etosha National Park. Wildlife was fenced in, and people were moved to barren areas to make way for white settler farmers. “But now, we are back.”
Asser takes pride in this last statement. Members of the Ehi-Rovipuka Conservancy now guide tourists into Etosha National Park, an 8,600-square-mile expanse teeming with wildlife that draws tourists from across the world. Central to this effort is building a lodge the community hopes will draw more tourists to the region and ultimately more income for local families.
This link between increased tourism and higher incomes is at the heart of the Tourism Project, part of MCCs five-year, $304.5 million compact with Namibia. The project aimed to improve the management and infrastructure of Etosha National Park, enhance the marketing of Namibian tourism and develop the capacity of communal conservancies to attract investments in ecotourism and capture a greater share of the tourism-generated revenue.
For the residents of the Ehi-Rovipuka Conservancy, the new Hobatere Roadside Lodge will be a source of jobs and income. It will have 20 bedrooms overlooking a valley. Visitors will have access both to an area where local communities plan to display Himba and Herero culture and to a watering hole that attracts wildlife.
During a visit earlier this year, Asser pointed down to the drinking point from one of the stunning rock outcrops around which the lodge and campsite are situated. A herd of 40 rare black-faced impala were running by.
“There is everything here,” he said “One day, I saw 12 lions just walking through in a row.”
He expects the upgrades to have a ripple effect throughout the conservancy.
“We are not just upgrading the campsite,” he said. “We are upgrading the community. With money from tourism, we hope to no longer have to sell livestock to send children to school.”
Asser has two children, aged 9 and 6. He believes they will have a bright future.
“When they grow up, they will no longer look after the goats,” he said. “They will go to college.”
Posted on October 14, 2014 by Catherine Marschner, MCC Data Program Manager
What is data?
Data is raw information. When you collect all kinds of data on all kinds of different things, you can put it together to provide reliable information. This structured data can help partner country governments plan the best use of their resources, and it can help the people hold their governments accountable.
Collecting data in a standardized way makes the data even more reliable. In the case of foreign assistance, it leads to transparency, which is a priority for MCC.
So what have we done about it?
Our data team at MCC has worked hard over the last year to improve the quality of the data we share with the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), an international registry that tracks the level of transparency in stakeholder-produced data on foreign aid. We have also made our efforts to produce data more efficient and sustainable. So while we are certainly proud to have been ranked among the top three donors in the 2014 Aid Transparency Index, we are even more proud—and committed to—the substantive improvements we have made and continue to make.
The quality of our data is better because we have added new data and functionality to our programmatic management information system and we’ve added detail for a number of IATI data fields: In our XML file users will find useful information now on
- planned disbursements by year for our compact programs,
- descriptions of our programs and their associated activities,
- and on the results of our work.
In fact, MCC’s data on performance was higher than any other donor ranked in the ATI – in part because we provide results descriptions, performance indicators and links to materials from our independent evaluations.
MCC has also built a more streamlined process for producing our data. We have an integrated team with expertise on the policy, data analysis, finance and technical sides. We also have an ability to pull data from different systems in order to build out an integrated data set in XML that meets the reporting requirements of both the Foreign Assistance Dashboard and IATI.
As we continue to build out our internal data systems, we are paying careful attention to how we link different pieces together. For example, our IATI file this year includes links back to our Evaluation Catalog, where MCC makes all the metadata and microdata from our independent evaluations freely available to the public.
All these strides forward have netted a dataset with a lot of richness – and some very interesting and high quality data! Yet at MCC, we also realized that it was not enough to just put this out there in XML: a format that is far from “human-readable.” Our team knew that for our efforts to become sustainable, we also needed to create an internal demand for this kind of data from our own staff. So we built a tool that visualizes the data so that MCC staff can use it to help them in their everyday work. The response has been enthusiastic so far, and we look forward to building additional analytical components, learning about staff demand, and reporting back on what we are learning!
We would love for all of these efforts to become more demand driven – so we welcome your thoughts and feedback on what we ought to prioritize as we strive to continually improve the quality and quantity of information MCC makes available to the public.