Posted on February 29, 2008 by Ambassador John Danilovich, Chief Executive Officer
MCC headquarters, for those of you who havent visited us yet, is a relatively small space designed to house the 300 people who work in our organization. Its size notwithstanding, we maintain an open-door policy and welcome as many individuals and groups as possible to learn about MCC, our ongoing projects in partner countries, and to talk about how we can learn together from this process and tackle the problem of systemic poverty worldwide. Just this week, over 260 people have been in our offices, as we hosted public outreach sessions: one celebrating our most recent $698 million compact with Tanzania signed by President Bush and President Kikwete, and one focusing on ongoing implementation progress with our $461 million compact with El Salvador.
I view these meetings as a continuation of the all-important and all-inclusive consultative process something we expect from our countries as a hallmark of our model, and something MCC does here in the
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The consultative process is more than just meetings with investors and stakeholders from our partner countries. This week I testified before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations in what could also be considered part of this open, transparent dialogue on MCC. The hearing was as it should be rigorous and probing, and allowed MCC to talk to one of its most important stakeholders, the US Congress, about our progress to date and our plans for the future. I am keenly aware that the funds we at MCC administer are taxpayer investments. When you are before a group of elected officials, as I was on Tuesday, you must demonstrate how your organization is fulfilling its mission. I was proud to be able to tell Congress that MCC is doing what it was designed to do: helping countries reduce poverty and sustain growth, based on a sound foundation of good government policies. I was pleased to note the positive and encouraging reaction of certain committee members and told the group as a whole that we welcome further dialogue with them as we do with all our stakeholders on MCC’s work. That’s what makes this a real consultative process and guides us in fulfilling our mission in even better ways.
Posted on February 19, 2008 by Ambassador John Danilovich, Chief Executive Officer
This has been an exciting few days for MCC. President Bush signed our largest compact to date, with Tanzania, in Dar es Salaam this past weekend, bringing unprecedented attention to what MCC is achieving with partner countries—poverty reduction through sustained growth. The comments made by both President Bush and President Kikwete during the signing ceremony capture what I believe is already clear through our work: People expect and demand results and accountability for these funds, for reforms that will bring about prosperity and stability. Poverty reduction is so much more complex than a single program or a single effort. It requires solid policy reforms to establish the institutional foundation upon which these investments can be based. I am currently in London en route from Africa back to the United States and have had the chance to speak with the international press regarding the MCC. One thing that clearly struck a chord with journalists ranging from the BBC to major media outlets in the pan-Arab press was that MCC’s work is a clear manifestation that the U.S. isnt ““imposing”” anything on these countries. The poverty reduction proposals come from the countries themselves. We cannot force a country to adopt a project or a policy reform that does not come from the partners. Only this way will they have the backing and wherewithal to flourish. I told the press that MCC, together with the historic investments in programs on the African continent, are a clear statement that the President, the U.S. Congress, and the American people understand the urgency for poverty reduction in Africa. America grasps the extent of the problem and we are working to address it.
While in London, I met with UK Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander MP, to sign a memorandum of understanding to solidify cooperation between our two organizations. Our work together has been extremely positive to date, and this new agreement will help the two organizations—whether in the field, in places like Africa, or at headquarters, in London or Washington—better share data, and work through coordinated programs. The agreement demonstrates a willingness at the highest levels in our governments to deepen our already positive collaboration. The agreement strengthens practical cooperation in Africa where concrete cooperation is already underway. It also addresses sector and technical cooperation issues ranging from infrastructure to growth diagnostics to impact analyses. It makes sense that our two organizations should look for ways to work together. We owe it to our respective taxpayers whose funds we administer. Poverty reduction is a bigger problem than any one country—or any single donor—can handle on its own. I am pleased that the agreement I signed with DFID does more than more than just talk about coordination. It is a tangible example of donor coordination.
I am returning to Washington from my trip to Morocco having witnessed firsthand the potential of one very unique aspect of our compact therethe support for artisans, tourism development, and the environment in Fez Medina. This innovative component of the compact will enable artisans to increase the quality of their goods by supporting access to training and support in much-needed areas such as: modern production techniques, business management, access to bank and microcredit loans, the construction of modern, environmentally friendly kilns, and pottery workshops. While only a portion of the $698 million MCC compact with Morocco, it speaks volumes about how integrated strategies in poverty reduction affect multiple sectors, groups of people, and have great potential for growth. I was struck by the historical beauty of these crafts. Even more impressive, however, was the desire of the Moroccan artisans to transform something of beauty into something that will transform their long-term well-being. Helping craftsmen conserve their traditions while prospering from the process is a scenario where not just the Moroccans, but all of us, win.
Posted on February 15, 2008 by Ambassador John Danilovich, Chief Executive Officer
I came to Morocco to review first-hand the progress on its $697.5 million MCC compact. It has been a fantastic, productive trip thus far, both in terms of the people I have met, their message of enthusiasm and gratitude for the work we will achieve together, and the clear commitment from our partners to make this compact a success.
MCC’s compact with Morocco is diverse and spans a wide geographic area. Beginning in Marrakech, I first traveled west through Chichaoua and Essaouria provinces, two of the poorest in the country. I was also able to visit areas where we will implement the innovative, $300 million Fruit Tree component of the compact. Talking with the potential beneficiaries of our programs, the hard-working local farmers, I learned first-hand about how MCC’s work will improve irrigation techniques in Morocco. The irrigation systems in these targeted areas have been used by local populations for centuries. These systems are built by the communities and demonstrate great ingenuity, including the capture of water from springs and the construction of clever zigzagging networks of earthen canals. In an effort to build on the wisdom of the past and help render it sustainable—and environmentally-friendly—for the future, MCC assistance will be used to rehabilitate these irrigation systems—covering an area of over 50,000 hectares—to allow for more efficient use of scarce water and increase revenues through higher yields and improved quality of crops like dates, olives, almonds and figs.
In the coastal town of Essaouria (which people were quick to tell me was the setting of Orson Welles 1950s classic Othello) I met with Morocco’s first and only woman serving as mayor, Asma Chaabi, and the Director of the National Office of Fishing (ONP). Together, they presented an overview of the challenges small-scale Moroccan fisherman are facing and the anticipated benefits MCC investments in the sector will have in the very near future. These fishermen were themselves involved in the development of this project and are confident that it will result in benefits for their households and their community. Working with ONP, MCC will invest $116 million to improve the competitiveness of thousands of small-scale fisherman across the country through improved landing sites and port facilities. MCC assistance will facilitate the development of wholesale fish markets in support of hundreds of mobile fish vendors.
So far, I have been tremendously satisfied that the MCC program is off to a fantastic start. It is clear that this compact is a successful, tangible partnership between the people of Morocco and the United States. Countless Moroccans, ranging from local farmers to government leaders at all levels, have expressed gratitude to the American people for investing in their future. It is clear that the talented team in place so far, led by Moroccans themselves, has the professional skills and deep determination to successfully and fully implement this program. I have also been touched by the candor and friendship of the many hardworking farmers and fishermen I have met along the way who are looking for a better life, one that will be a reality thanks to MCC’s work.
Posted on February 7, 2008 by Ambassador John Danilovich, Chief Executive Officer
Last Friday, I met with a number of groups in Miami who have taken an active interest in MCCs work in Latin America and throughout the world. There is an obvious connection between our work in the Western Hemisphere and the communities of South Florida, but what impressed me about these groups, and the questions they posed, was their level of engagement on issues related to poverty reduction worldwide. During a meeting with students and development experts at Florida International University’s Summit of the Americas Center, my fellow panelists and members of the audience delved deeply into the issue of civil society participation in our MCC compacts. It was clear from their comments that a part of our model for development assistance that resonates deeply is that of meaningful, broad-based consultations with the public. I hope that people realize that the consultative process does not end when we sign a compact. It is present during the creation, continues throughout the life of a compact and, in many ways, is directly related to the steadfast policy of transparency that distinguishes MCC. I push my staff—in Washington and abroad—to put as much information as possible about our dealings with countries (including our indicators, scorecards, reports) on the internet and to share our data about how we do business in our partner countries and in Washington. When people want to talk about MCC, we want to engage with them. We owe it to the people in the partner countries where we work and to the taxpayers whose dollars are working hard to build the bridges, roads, irrigation systems, and schools overseasto be transparent in our actions undertaken on their behalf.
Another interest repeatedly expressed during the days events (which included a meeting sponsored by the Global Leadership Campaign and Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami) was corruption. There were many questions about MCCs corruption indicator, a measure a country must pass to be eligible for MCC assistance. Corruption is a killer of long-term economic development. I raised this point during other meetings this week (with CSIS as part of their Smart Power series and with the Inter-American Dialogue). Weve got to open our eyes when we talk about how this problem affects burgeoning economies. We cant simply think of corruption as something that happens when a public official takes a bribe or skews his balance sheets. There is a lot that goes into corruptionwhich is why it deserves a hard look. MCC has put together some ideas on the issue which you can read on our web site’s anticorruption page. Corruption is a complex issue, and not always easy to measure, but it has to be a part of our equation when we are investing US assistance funds. At the end of the day, we in America pay for corrupt practices abroad because it limits our ability to do business honestly and efficiently and jeopardizes our opportunities here at home.
I got an earful regarding corruption this past week—which tells me that we are on the right path by helping to fight it through the MCC process. Its just one of the reasons why what we do in places like Malawi or Madagascar matters to people in Miami or Maryland. As well it should. (Let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org).