Poverty Reduction Blog Tag: Governance
Posted on April 3, 2014 by Alicia Phillips Mandaville, Managing Director of Development Policy
It seems that everyone is talking about how data will shape our global future. It is a beautiful and unprecedented level of enthusiasm for data—bring it on! But bring it practically.
While we are getting excited about what data can do for development, let’s also get excited about what we are finally in a position to do about development data. For too long, we have lacked credible numbers about many of the things we care most about—including comparative data on governance—and now people are finally starting to take note. But what can we actually do? As a first step, MCC and Global Integrity (with support from the Omidyar Network and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation) are convening a group of global governance data users, producers and funders who are trying to identify collective action solutions to the way the current state of play affects the availability and quality of governance data.
MCC relies on independently produced, third-party data to drive the annual process of selecting country partners for large-scale grant investments in economic growth. We are painfully aware of data gaps, especially with regard to measurements of countries' efforts to fight corruption. For MCC’s purposes, the data on our scorecard remains the best available measure of anti-corruption efforts that covers all low and lower middle income countries. However, no single data set can answer every question—particularly for something as complex as corruption.
At its heart, these data challenges are a collective action problem. Plenty of people want more and better data, but no one is really doing anything about it yet. Until the field of governance measurement as a whole is more coordinated, we will have gaps and overlaps in our collective knowledge. Heck, at this point, we still battle huge gaps and overlaps with respect to what data is available in a machine-readable format (what can I suck into my computer without first tediously rearranging and cleaning enormous spreadsheets).
The consequences of this are a big deal to MCC, but they extend way beyond us. MCC has experienced firsthand how frustrating it is to want to compare national-level education or health outcomes (like literacy or maternal health at delivery) and find the data lacking. It would be terrible if the thing that undermined global focus on governance issues was inadequate data. So we're trying something new.
In mid-April, MCC and Global Integrity are co-hosting a two day effort to convene global organizations that rely on governance data (governments and donors), organizations that produce governance data (largely third-party NGOs) and organizations that are working to enable improvements in the quality and availability of governance data (philanthropic foundations and academics). If we can get the people who have a data problem (users) in the same room with the people who can solve the problem (data providers and enablers), maybe we can make some real progress. We've been excited by the enthusiasm we've met so far.
What will come of this? We aren’t sure. But no matter what, we'll end with much greater clarity between the users and producers of governance metrics (in part through some pre-event surveys that will be public shortly), and that's no small thing. But could we see a commitment to collectively move governance data into more easily useable spaces? A sort of alliance of actors who create or rely on the quality of the information available? What would that look like anyway, and what would it do?
A first step might be as technically wonky as agreement about the formats that data gets published in. Or a public calendar of when new data is available or being used. And while that sounds unexciting to outsiders, in the long run these are exactly the kinds of first steps that enable governance data to be broadly and regularly used by more than just MCC. Whether you care about measuring, monitoring, ranking, or investing – you have to start with useable data.
This kind of opportunity doesn’t come along all the time—people are talking about and calling for data! And not just some data—global data! At MCC, we will continue to celebrate the fact that people are finally paying attention to the promise and potential of development data. That environment makes us keener than ever to get people focused on practical questions attached to resolving collective action problems in the data world. And, of course, keen to hear your perspective and ideas about next steps and solutions!
Posted on March 28, 2013 by Ambassador Adrienne S. O'Neal, United States Ambassador to Cape Verde
I accompanied Cape Verdean Prime Minister Neves on his trip this week to Washington, D.C., where he was invited to meet with President Obama at the White House as part of a delegation of four African leaders, including the presidents of Sierra Leone, Senegal and Malawi. It was an honor to be a part of this delegation of leaders, who set a strong example on good governance and are living proof that democracy does work on a continent that has seen its share of conflict.
Prime Minister Neves recently said, "When a country is as small as Cape Verde, you have to be the best student to get noticed. We have opened up doors for women, set up an e-governance system that is working and are reforming critical policies that will help our country attract investments and improve our systems. We have to be innovative in everything we do or we will be ignored." Cape Verde is a shining example of the "little engine that could." The country has seen rapid development success relative to its peers and performs well on most indicators of economic and democratic governance. Cape Verde is an example for other African countries.
MCC's first compact with Cape Verde was a great success. When I visit various islands, people are still praising the work done during compact I. The impact was huge. Farmers tell me that because of MCC they are now able to think about agribusiness and engage the private sector. With the second compact, the Cape Verdeans decided to tackle tough issues surrounding land as well as water and sanitation. As the prime minister put it, they are tackling things that are vital to Cape Verdean lives, using the compact to make transformative policy reforms in key sectors. For the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, these reforms will help improve the investment climate tremendously. Reforms in land tenure and security will likewise help promote investments, particularly in tourist areas.
Cape Verde is primed for private sector investment. American firms may shy away from investing in Africa because of distance or perceptions of a weak policy environment. Yet, investing in Cape Verde offers an historic opportunity to be part of the momentum of change that continues to build this country. Cape Verdeans are courageous in taking on tough policy reforms and improving the business environment. I invite all firms, especially American ones, to take a look and explore Cape Verde’s potential.
For me personally, it's exciting to be witnessing the transformation with my own eyes. Cape Verde is a model of good governance that continues to push itself toward further growth opportunities.
Posted on March 30, 2012 by Daniel Yohannes , Chief Executive Officer
Today’s release of MCC’s 2011 Annual Report, appropriately titled Gateway to Opportunity, captures the milestones of the past year and articulates clear priorities moving forward. In the report, you can read about the significant strides we have made in delivering results, forging partnerships with countries and civil society, and championing policy reforms to create opportunities for sustainable economic growth in some of the world’s poorest countries. This foundation allows us now to expand our work not just to help poor countries rise out of poverty and break the cycle of aid dependency but also to create stable trading and investment partners for the United States, which means more jobs here at home.
By incentivizing the right policy conditions and generating an enabling environment for growth, MCC builds a Gateway to Opportunity for American businesses interested in exporting to or doing business in these next generation emerging markets as they climb out of poverty. Because of this, MCC’s mission is key to Secretary of State Clinton’s 21st century economic statecraft and President Obama’s efforts to put in place an American economy that is “built to last.” MCC is pushing the envelope on development effectiveness and sustainability through our commitment to transparency, accountability, results, policy reform, and country-driven solutions.
MCC’s approach has not gone unnoticed. A November 2011 Fortune Magazine article concludes that MCC “certainly gives the taxpayer real bang for the buck.” A recent MarketWatch commentary by Thomas Kostigen arguing for a robust MCC budget sums up the impact best: “MCC deserves its fair share so the U.S. can gain its fair share in the emerging markets. The global impact of these investments comes back to us all in the form of food, jobs, more open markets for trade, and doing good and right by others. It’s a boomerang effect.”
We agree, and we’re committed to showcasing even more investment and procurement opportunities for U.S. businesses in the months ahead to ensure the full “boomerang effect” of positive impact for the world’s poor as well as American businesses and workers.
In Zambia, MCC’s newest compact brings clean water and improved sanitation and drainage services to more than one million residents
Posted on March 26, 2012 by Raja Kaul, MCC Resident Country Director, Zambia
Last Thursday, the MCC Board of Directors approved a $355 million compact with Zambia that focuses on the water sector in Lusaka. MCC investments are expected to have a significant impact on the lives of more than one million Lusaka residents by improving their health and economic productivity and helping the country reduce poverty on a sustainable basis. Fittingly, the Board’s decision fell on the annual UN-designated World Water Day.
This single-sector compact aims to address one of the Zambia’s most binding constraints to economic growth through infrastructure investment in the rapidly urbanizing capital city of Lusaka. It is designed to reduce the incidence and prevalence of water-related disease, decrease the number of productive days lost due to disease and time to collect water, lower costs of water and new sanitation, and reduce flood losses for businesses and residential homes.
In addition to investments in water supply, sanitation and drainage infrastructure, MCC’s integrated investment will also support the government’s ongoing water sector reform efforts by strengthening responsible institutions. The investment is expected to significantly benefit Lusaka’s poor, as 73 percent of the more than one million Zambian beneficiaries currently have incomes below $2 per day.
The Zambia compact will promote key MCC corporate priorities, including gender and social integration, environmental and social impact assessments, and private sector development. In the Zambia compact, social and gender integration is prioritized, and activities are designed to extend project benefits to women and vulnerable groups.
Since its inception in 1993, World Water Day has served to spotlight the global challenge to provide safe water and sanitation services to those living in poverty. So far, MCC has invested $793 million in WASH-related projects in nine partner countries, and MCC’s compacts with Cape Verde, Jordan, and Mozambique, like Zambia, focus primarily on water sector development. Our growing WASH portfolio reflects our partner countries’ recognition of the important role of access to clean, affordable, and reliable water in promoting economic growth.
For more information on MCC’s water and sanitation projects, visit www.mcc.gov/water.
Posted on October 14, 2011 by Cassandra Butts, MCC Senior Advisor
It is fitting that this past Monday the Mo Ibrahim Foundation ended its two-year hiatus in awarding its prestigious Ibrahim Prize, which is reserved for African leaders who demonstrate a commitment to democracy, by recognizing former Cape Verde President Pedro Verona Rodrigues Pires. While President Pires deserves recognition for his years of leadership in various positions since Cape Verde’s independence in 1975, it is his most recent act of leadership in stepping down from office at the end of his second term to pave the way for the peaceful election of opposition candidate Jorge Carlos Fonseca that merits attention.
On a recent visit to Cape Verde to review progress towards MCC’s second compact development, I participated in the inauguration of newly elected President Fonseca. While there, I was one of a few hundred guests to experience a very rare event in Africa: the beginning of shared government with representation from Cape Verde's two major parties.
President Fonseca described his victory in the August 21, 2011 run-off election (against ruling party candidate Manuel Inocencio Sousa) as a victory “for democracy, for the dignity of the Cape Verdean people.” While the inauguration ceremony lacked the fanfare sometimes typical of such events, it made up for it through careful attention to the details of a constitutional transfer of power and through the enthusiasm of those in attendance.
The ceremony and the internationally recognized free and fair election that preceded it highlight why Cape Verde has succeeded as an MCC partner country, and why it has qualified for second compact consideration. By creating a stable political environment to achieve key policy reforms in the areas of economic development and social investment, Cape Verde has become a model for governing maturity in West Africa.
The recent presidential election is yet another indication of how Cape Verde embraces the just and democratic governance principles at the heart of the MCC country selection process. It remains to be seen how Cape Verde will function under shared government, yet we have every reason to believe that it will continue to lay the groundwork for good governance that is deserving of recognition by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, MCC, and others.
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