Posted on November 24, 2010 by James Parks, Acting Vice President, Department of Policy and Evaluation
With MCC’s FY11 country scorecards posted online earlier this week, I wanted to take this opportunity both to highlight MCC’s approach to country selection and to make a sincere call for feedback.
MCC is widely recognized for its focus on countries that exhibit good policy performance relative to their peers. As part of its process to select partner countries, MCC uses globally-recognized, public, quantitative indicators that help assess governments’ policy performance on Ruling Justly, Investing in People, and Economic Freedom. MCC then compiles that indicator data on a scorecard for each candidate country. This public, data-driven approach to selecting partner countries has worked well for MCC for the past six years.
As a learning organization, we feel it is appropriate to look rigorously at the selection system from time to time. Over the past six years, new hypotheses and research have emerged on the relationship between a range of development policies on the one hand and economic growth and poverty reduction on the other. There also have been important improvements to data, some of which already have been incorporated into our policy indicators. We want to ensure that MCC can make dynamic adjustments to its indicators, and, as follows, its scorecards, where appropriate to account for new research and improved data.
We are currently initiating a three part review to:
- examine what the current indicators are capturing;
- ask what else would be important to measure, based on links to poverty reduction and economic growth; and
- identify which indicators most effectively reflect relevant government policies and performance.
This review is an important opportunity to evaluate our indicators and scorecards, even if it may not result in significant changes.
We are asking you to share your suggestions and to encourage your professional colleagues to offer their assessments. We are particularly interested in comments that go beyond flagging a concern to recommending a solution. The link to our page for accepting public comment is: http://www.mcc.gov/pages/selection/selectionfy2011feedback/.
MCC will publish online comments received between now and January 10. This is an opportunity to make a recommendation early and have it published in advance of a good bit of public conversation and consultation in the months that follow. Thanks in advance for your time and critical thinking!
Posted on November 4, 2010 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
Late last month, I surveyed progress in two MCC partner countries: Moldova, which is just beginning the implementation of its compact, and Georgia, which is on track to bring its compact to a successful close in the next six months.
In Moldova, I was impressed with the farmers I met in Slobozia-Dusca, a village not far from the capital of Chisinau. These farmers will benefit from MCC-funded irrigation projects and are already talking about the impact a centralized irrigation system will have on their livelihoods, as it will lower operating costs and allow them to diversify into high-value crop production and increase their yields. I was particularly moved by my conversation with Iurie Stahi. He told me he was grateful for America’s assistance from the bottom of his heart, and he explained that, as a result of MCC’s planned investments in the agriculture sector, he intends to plant apple orchards and sell his apples during the winter when they command a higher price, as well as during the summer and autumn seasons. I’m looking forward to following Iurie’s progress as the Moldova compact ramps up implementation.
In Georgia, I was deeply impressed with the transformative power of a road. I traveled the Samtske-Javakheti road, which Georgia is rehabilitating with MCC compact funds, from Tbilisi to where it nears Georgia’s border with Turkey and Armenia. What I saw and whom I met along the way showed me exactly how paving a reliable road is essential for generating economic opportunities.
I first witnessed this when I met Valodia Mestvirishvili at his trout farm in Algeti, just off the Samtske-Javakheti road. The agricultural development activity of Georgia’s compact supplied hatchery equipment, oxygen tanks, a transportation vehicle, and veterinary supplies to his farm to raise the trout, and the road rehabilitation funded by the compact provides him much-needed access to markets to sell his product to Georgian retailers and consumers. Valodia shared with me that his annual trout yield has skyrocketed from 5 to 12 tons. I am proud of the fact that MCC funding has provided this hardworking entrepreneur the tools he needs to succeed.
My road trip took me past Georgia’s Lake Sagamo, a place of serene natural beauty. Against a mountainous backdrop, as the sun was setting and the moon was rising, I planted trees along the Samtske-Javakheti road. These trees are critical; they provide proper landscaping and better wind protection and they help advance the sustainability of the MCC-funded road. Tree planting also reaffirms that sound environmental stewardship protecting natural resources goes hand-in-hand with economic development.
I was particularly pleased to see that MCC’s funding of the Samtske-Javakheti road has enhanced the Georgian people’s accessibility of Vardzia. Vardzia is home to a cave monastery, an unforgettable historic treasure of great cultural and religious significance dating back to the 12th century. I learned that, for too long, this part of Georgia was lost to outsiders; the trip to reach Vardzia was treacherous and the roads were literally impassible in some sections. Buses risked overturning on the dangerously unpaved roads. Now, the rehabilitated Samtske-Javakheti road is reconnecting Georgians with Vardzia and their heritage, and opening up this area to tourists. Boosting tourism in this otherwise underdeveloped area is generating economic development and growth vital to the prosperity of Georgians.
The MCC-funded Samtske-Javakheti road also nears Georgia’s border with Armenia and Turkey in the town of Akhalkalaki. This once quiet outpost is now bustling with activity, which will increase as a bridge, currently under construction, is completed. New shops are already opening, and the prospects for increased trade and commerce create further opportunities for Georgians to prosper.
In all these ways, Georgia proves that the MCC model is working well. Our partnership is creating conditions for sustainable economic growth that are increasing incomes. As the compact moves toward completion, I am looking forward to the independent evaluations that will assess the impact of our investment. True to President Obama’s new vision for U.S. global development, what I saw in both Georgia and Moldova already reaffirms for me that MCC practices the principles essential for long-term impact: investing in economic growth, promoting country-led development, demanding accountability and transparency, and delivering sustainable results that matter in the lives of the poor.
Posted on November 2, 2010 by Nthati Moorosi, MCA-Lesotho Public Outreach Director
After visiting MCA-Lesotho in April 2010, MCA-Burkina Faso National Coordinator, Bissiri Joseph Sirima, invited the MCA-Lesotho Human Resources Officer, Teboho Mahloane, and me to visit MCA-Burkina Faso to discuss ways to expand the role of communications and share expertise in human resources management. By increasing capacity in these areas and sharing our experiences, our countries are hoping to enhance both the transparency and the efficiency with which we implement our respective MCC compacts. Mr. Sirima visited MCA-Lesotho because it had good practices to share regarding implementation, particularly with regard to human resource management and tools for public outreach activities. He was accompanied by the MCC Burkina Faso Resident Country Director, Kateri Clement.
From May 17 to 28, we visited Burkina Faso to work with MCA-Burkina Faso’s project managers and directors, helping them to identify their public outreach needs and develop strategies to meet those needs. I shared tools for strengthening intra-MCA communications and public outreach coordination, creating a branding manual, and developing standard protocols for public communications.
As I have learned in Lesotho, not only does public outreach need to be budgeted for and conceptualized at an early stage but also it is equally important to integrate public outreach into each of the compact projects so that public buy-in and support can be secured well in advance of project implementation. The success of a compact’s projects depends on the constant coordination of strategic communication with the public across the whole spectrum of MCA activities.
In addition, we worked closely on human resource management issues. The collaboration resulted in the adoption of a four-pronged work plan to address human resources issues within MCA-Burkina Faso. The plan addressed performance management, human resource rules and regulations, training and development, and administration. Each of the tools shared were customized to complement the context in which they will be used.
This experience has contributed positively to capacity building on both sides, and could not have come at a better time for MCA-Burkina Faso, which is still refining its human resources policies and management systems.
In addition to sharing human resource expertise and MCA-Lesotho’s public outreach best practices, we observed and learned from MCA-Burkina Faso’s dedicated team. MCA-Lesotho and MCA-Burkina Faso will be stronger and more efficient in fulfilling their roles, which are critical to the success of individual projects and the two countries’ respective MCC compacts. The collaboration between the two MCAs was in the spirit of comradery, through which I believe various MCA teams can share experiences and knowledge in order to contribute to the success of the broader MCC goal of reducing poverty through sustainable economic growth.
Ultimately, poverty reduction demands a global response among friends. I am proud to be at the heart of these conversations that have introduced new ideas and helped forge new friendships among colleagues who are working to build a better future for our countries.