Posted on November 18, 2014 by Dana J. Hyde, Chief Executive Officer
Members of Congress, the Administration, the private sector, NGOs and the diplomatic community will gather tonight to mark MCC’s first 10 years of driving change and delivering impact in the fight against global poverty. Senator Lindsey Graham and John Podesta will deliver remarks that are expected to touch on MCC’s contributions to U.S. development policy. So today is a fitting moment to reflect on how far MCC has come in 10 short years.
A decade ago, MCC’s founders embraced the challenge of changing the discipline of global development by adopting a new, business-minded approach. MCC was an experiment to test concepts that many agreed should define a different way for delivering development assistance. Terms like country selection, country ownership, impact evaluations, evidence-based or data-driven decision making, accountability, and transparency did not characterize the development landscape 10 years ago as they do today.
I believe MCC played a huge role in making that change possible.
What MCC has achieved over the last decade is proof that the experiment works, and MCC’s focused mission on poverty reduction through economic growth has real impact.
We see that impact today in how other development practitioners—both inside the U.S. Government and beyond—adopt our learning and best practices.
It is seen in the partnerships we have forged with countries around the world to help them achieve their development priorities, incentivize good governance, change the lives of their poor, and create measurable results for sustained economic growth that will ultimately end the need for assistance.
And it is also seen in MCC’s ongoing commitment to push our principles and practices even further as we look ahead. We want to explore new partnerships. We want to embrace the power of evidence, learning and data as stand alone forces for change. And we want to contribute to environments in developing countries for increased business investments, strong governance models and meaningful civil engagement.
The best way for MCC to honor our first decade of change and impact is by building on our fundamental values while embracing innovative and efficient ways to apply them toward ending global poverty. As we plan now for the next 10 years, that is exactly what we intend to do.
Posted on November 6, 2014 by Geroldine Sicot, Program Officer
Eighth grader Jack Nangolo and his classmates at Uukumwe Combined School in northern Namibia are thrilled by the new facilities now available at their school.
Before last school year, Jack sat in an overcrowded and degraded classroom without access to a computer. Now students at Uukumwe Combined School and at 47 other schools in Namibia have refurbished schools with new equipment, including computers with Internet access.
Many of Namibia’s schools are unable to educate students with the skills needed to meet labor market demands. Major challenges include resource gaps in rural areas, inadequate alignment of qualified teachers across schools and skills training that fails to meet the demands of the private sector. The Education Project, which was part of MCC’s five-year $304.5 million compact with Namibia that successfully ended on September 16, 2014, worked to change that. Together, MCC and Namibia improved livelihoods in the country's impoverished northern communities by renovating and equipping schools.
One of the compact’s key objectives is improving the quality of general education by providing a conducive learning and teaching environment in 48 Namibian schools. To tackle overcrowding and space shortages in classrooms, MCC invested in renovating and upgrading primary and secondary schools in 10 of Namibia’s 14 regions.
In addition to expanding and upgrading the schools’ infrastructure, the compact purchased and delivered over 1.7 million new textbooks in English, math and science for students in grades 5 to 12 across the entire country. Other learning and support materials included laboratory equipment, laptops, electronic boards, and projectors to facilitate the government’s initiative to use more technology in instruction. New equipment was complemented by teacher training, as well as training of school leaders in instructional leadership and facilities management.
“Five years ago, we used to feel ashamed and could not tell people that we are learners of Uukumwe Combined School,” Jack said. “But today, because of the work done, we are very proud of our school.”
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.