Posted on November 22, 2011 by Robert Reid, Mongolia Resident Country Director
Earlier this month, seven technical and vocational schools in Mongolia received donations of more than $1.7 million in heavy equipment from the Department of Defense. In return, the students will be trained on usage, maintenance and repair to better prepare them to find jobs. This was the first time Mongolia has received equipment through the program.
MCC’s five-year compact with Mongolia includes $47 million to improve the country’s vocational education system. To leverage these investments, MCA-Mongolia signed a memorandum of understanding in March with the U.S. Department of Defense Excess Property Program, which allows for the donation of non-lethal, excess property to countries that contribute to the U.S. Government’s efforts to promote democratic development and regional stability.
The schools, which often cannot afford to purchase expensive machinery, received 18 pieces of donated machinery frequently used in the mining, road, construction, and agriculture industries.
Donated items include cranes, graders, tractors and scoop loaders. Hands-on training will better prepare students to find jobs after school.
MCC is helping improve Mongolia’s technical and vocational education system through policy reforms, professional development for instructors, the establishment of a labor market information system, and the provision of essential equipment. An estimated 170,000 people are expected to benefit from the project over the next 20 years.
Posted on November 21, 2011 by Daniel W. Yohannes , Chief Executive Officer
With great hope that we can transform the lives of Indonesia’s poor for the better, I joined Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Indonesia’s Finance Minister Martowardojo, along with other distinguished government ministers, ambassadors and guests, for the signing of Indonesia’s $600 million MCC compact in Bali this past Saturday. As Secretary Clinton said, each of the elements of the compact represents a step forward in the relationship between the United States and Indonesia. I am proud that MCC is partnering with the Indonesians to achieve their goals for long-term poverty reduction and economic growth.
MCC’s investments in low-carbon economic development, better natural resources management, nutrition to prevent childhood stunting, and procurement modernization create new opportunities to improve the quality of life for Indonesians. Our partnership will work to raise productivity, increase household incomes, reduce household energy costs, and improve the delivery of growth-enhancing goods and services by the public sector. I am struck by how open the Indonesians have been to MCC’s distinct model for development—one that is country-driven, reform-centered and results-focused to maximize effectiveness and sustainability. This innovative compact embodies Indonesia's priorities and its strong commitment to our partnership.
As I shared with the Indonesians, much hard work awaits us. Our partnership must now turn the inspiration of a momentous signing into the implementation of an action plan that will deliver lasting impact. Through an unfaltering commitment to tangible results, accountability and transparency, we can achieve the full promise of the compact. Let’s get to work.
Posted on November 18, 2011 by Sheila Herrling, Vice President, Department of Policy and Evaluation
As the development community looks outward to the upcoming Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, MCC looks inward at its own experience putting two key Busan agenda items into practice: country ownership and development results.
MCC was founded at a time when country ownership and accountability for results were emerging as central to the global dialogue on aid effectiveness. In creating MCC, Congress explicitly built into its model authorities and approaches to enhance these principles. In the run-up to Busan, and in the context of the United States Global Development Policy, MCC’s Principles into Practice series takes stock of what MCC has learned putting these principles of aid effectiveness into practice over the last seven years.
The starting point for MCC’s approach to country ownership is that development investments are more effective and sustainable when they reflect countries’ own priories and strengthen governments’ accountability to their citizens. MCC’s newly released Country Ownership paper draws on its experience in 22 partner countries to synthesize six key lessons in applying the country ownership principle.
Top among these lessons is that country “ownership” is actually too simple a term; rather, MCC pursues “partnerships” based on mutual accountability. Pursuing ownership requires a delicate balancing act with other principles of effectiveness—but despite the challenges, country ownership pays off in achieving development results.
Oxfam America’s review of the Country Ownership paper recognizes that “if local people don’t feel the investment serves their interests, it won’t actually deliver its full promised potential,” and calls on MCC to continue its practice of learning and applying lessons learned to even further enhance its best-practice procedures in broad-based consultation and transparency.
As the development community gathers November 29 in Busan to forge a global consensus on measuring results that matter for people, MCC’s Principles into Practice Focus on Results paper, published in February 2011, offers ten lessons about the benefits, challenges and tradeoffs associated with applying a transparent and rigorous approach to a continuum of results.
MCC received particularly high praise from the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee this summer. In the “peer review” report, the OECD identified MCC as a leader in the effort to measure the results of development assistance. The Center for Global Development’s review of the Focus on Results paper and blog about MCC’s results approach gives MCC kudos for “candidly capturing real lessons—the kind that are learned when things don’t work.” We at MCC are exceedingly proud of the many positive results our partner countries are delivering, and we are committed to learning lessons from the results that didn’t meet our expectations.
Transparency is at the heart of both country ownership and accountability for results. MCC provides partner country governments and citizens information ongoing activities by publishing economic analyses that inform investment decisions, five-year budgets, expected results, data on program benchmarks and progress, and findings of independent impact evaluations as programs complete.
We expect our partner countries to embrace transparency as well, which empowers their citizens to hold governments and donors accountable for how development resources are used and what results they achieve.
MCC operates at the forefront of transparency to advance development effectiveness and contributes to the principles of open government—a fact recognized just this week by the 2011 Publish What You Fund aid transparency report, in which MCC ranks seventh out of 58 donors worldwide, and as the most transparent U.S. Government donor.
We hope that these lessons from MCC’s experience feed into rich discussion at Busan. Your input on the Principles into Practice papers are welcome and encouraged—MCC Puts Aid Effectiveness Principles into Practice: Lessons on Country Ownershipplease leave your comments below.
Posted on November 18, 2011 by Cassandra Butts, MCC Senior Advisor
When the Millennium Challenge Corporation released its hallmark policy scorecards last week, the occasion marked several firsts for us. In addition to transitioning to a new scorecard system, gender equality is elevated now as a key indicator in determining country eligibility and selection for MCC investments.
MCC remains at the forefront of prioritizing gender equality as key to effective development. Our success to date has been in first recognizing gender inequality as a constraint to economic growth and then integrating and operationalizing gender analyses in our work to maximize the effectiveness and sustainability of our investments to reduce poverty through growth. The new “Gender in the Economy” indicator takes this work to another level.
The “Gender in the Economy” indicator, one of eight indicators on the MCC scorecard measuring economic freedom, assesses a government’s commitment to promoting gender equality by providing women and men with the same legal ability to interact with the private and public sectors. Specifically, the indicator measures the legal capacity of married and unmarried women to execute 10 economic activities: get a job, register a business, sign a contract, open a bank account, choose where to live, get passports, travel domestically and abroad, pass citizenship on to their children, and become heads of households. The International Finance Corporation’s Women, Business and the Law report is the source for the information included in this indicator.
MCC’s own work in advancing gender equality provides a striking example of the progress that can be made by linking a similar set of rights to our compact process. In 2006, MCC worked with the Government of Lesotho to ensure that the minority legal status of women, which had created similar economic inequalities, was removed in law before compact signing. As a result of the government’s embrace of this policy reform and other efforts, Lesotho now ranks in the world’s top ten in closing its economic gender gap according to the World Economic Forum’s most recent Global Gender Gap Index.
The “Gender in the Economy” indicator builds on MCC’s groundbreaking Gender Policy by recognizing the relationship among growth, poverty reduction and gender equality. Quite simply, the indicator identifies legally sanctioned gender inequality as negatively impacting a country’s economic growth because it prevents a large portion of the population from fully participating in the economy. What is exciting about the indicator is its potential to generate greater awareness of this critical issue while creating a powerful incentive for improved policy performance in partner countries and other developing countries seeking MCC investment.
As the U.S. Government continues to further its commitment to gender equality and to improving the economic rights of women and men around the world, we at MCC are proud to deepen our efforts through this emphasis on gender equality in our country selection process. And with this focus, we look forward to realizing even greater development achievements.
Posted on November 9, 2011 by Sheila Herrling, Vice President for Policy and Evaluation
The Millennium Challenge Corporation just posted its hallmark policy scorecards for the world’s low- and low-middle-income countries – and for the first time, MCC is publishing two scorecards for each country.
After more than a year of research and consultation, the MCC Board recently approved the transition to a new, updated scorecard. MCC is publishing both scorecards this year to make the change as transparent as possible.
The heart of the new scorecard remains the same: independent data, a control of corruption hurdle and policy measures to evaluate a country’s commitment to ruling justly, investing in people and economic freedom. The changes we made are consistent with MCC’s work and approach: We have added a democratic rights hurdle and indicators that measure gender in the economy and access to credit.
What may not be obvious—but what I am most proud of—is how the new scorecard shines a spotlight on MCC’s ability to innovate and stay current. For years, the foreign assistance community has recognized our scorecards as a leading mechanism to help drive evidence-based decision-making. The incorporation of emerging policy areas and new data—like the data on Internet filtering in the freedom of information indicator—show that MCC is nimble enough to adapt to a rapidly changing global world.
We often say challenge is our middle name at MCC. This is one of many challenges the agency takes on that I have been thrilled to be a part of.
Posted on November 9, 2011 by Marc Tkach, Associate Director, Infrastructure
Just out of school on a warm day, these boys take a rest under the shade of an old tree in Morogoro, Tanzania. They sit atop part of the dilapidated Mambogo water treatment plant from which their drinking water flows. Nestled against the Uluguru Mountains in the Tanzanian highlands, Morogoro is one of the largest and most picturesque towns in East Africa. Its water supply system, though, is undersized and the situation is quickly becoming worse as the population booms.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation's investment in Tanzania involves construction of a new water treatment plant to replace the Mambogo plant, rehabilitation of the larger Mafiga plant down the hill, installation of almost two kilometers of water main pipe, and the upgrade of the town’s water storage capacity. Access to reliable, affordable and clean water is a key factor in the reduction of disease and the increase in productivity that will benefit the Morogoro region.
MCC investments also will improve the water supply in the nation’s largest city, Dar es Salaam. An expansion of the Lower Ruvu water treatment plant will lead to an output of 270 million liters per day, an increase of 50 percent.
Learn more at mcc.gov