Poverty Reduction Blog Tag: Mca-ghana Mida
Posted on May 29, 2012 by Jolyne Sanjak, Managing Director, Technical Services Division
MCC and a majority of our partner countries believe that improvements to their agricultural and rural sectors are a crucial part of lifting people out of poverty and to improving food security. MCC’s portfolio includes $4.4 billion of investments in improvements to the agricultural and rural sectors that are relevant to reducing food insecurity. This includes a substantial focus on infrastructure investments in large-scale irrigation schemes to ensure reliable access to water and improved yields, as well as roads and post-harvest storage and packaging facilities to move goods to market more efficiently.
MCC projects also invest in direct assistance to farmers with a focus on smallholders. Training activities help farmers learn about cultivating high-value yields, deal with pests and diseases and manage scarce land resources. Rural credit programs are designed to raise incomes by expanding access to credit to help purchase inputs. Land tenure projects work to create secure land rights and efficient institutions for managing land rights.
In seven years, MCC-funded projects have trained nearly 200,000 farmers and assisted more than 3,500 enterprises worldwide. Roughly 170,000 hectares under production receive MCC support through technical assistance, new or rehabilitated irrigation systems or access to agricultural inputs and credit. Land tenure projects have supported legal and regulatory reform in six countries and the formalization of land rights of more than 1 million hectares of rural land, including farmland, grazing areas and forests.
Just last month, our commitment to food security received high praise from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization. MCC received an “outstanding” evaluation in The 2012 Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Global Agricultural Development, a thorough study of how the U.S. Government is performing in its commitment to improve food security and support agricultural development in regions with the greatest levels of rural poverty and hunger.
“The Millennium Challenge Corporation has demonstrated outstanding leadership in agricultural development in its role as the largest U.S. Government provider of funding for agriculture and food security infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia,” the report said. “It has increased its capacity to disburse funds and complete agreements in a timely fashion.”
The report chose Ghana, one of our partner countries, for a case study of U.S. Government development efforts. It labeled the U.S. Government's actions there as “outstanding” and said the MCC compact's “vital work in agriculture has laid a solid foundation for expanded Feed the Future activities.” The MCC compact also supported innovation in applying land tenure law in Ghana by demonstrating an approach to formally recording rural land rights in the context of strong customary practices.
As project results continue to come in, MCC remains committed to learning and being held accountable for how well these program outputs translate into increased incomes and well-being for program beneficiaries. MCC currently has 16 independent impact evaluations underway to address questions such as the impact of our programs on increased productivity, investment in high-value agriculture and business and marketing opportunities. Ultimately, these evaluations are designed to measure and better understand our impact on incomes and poverty reduction. Just as MCC contributed its leadership and technical skill to the State Department and USAID as the Feed the Future Initiative was developed and moved into implementation, we see our rigorous approach to monitoring progress and evaluating impacts as a source of learning for the whole U.S. Government. Learning from our programs can also contribute lessons for donors worldwide.
At MCC, we are proud of our investments and inspired by the changes we are seeing in people’s lives as a result of our compacts. At the same time, we are humbled by the gravity of poverty and the level of food insecurity in our partner countries, fully realizing that true poverty reduction and economic growth are not easy tasks. They will continue to require full attention and support, including using better evidence as we gain it, to improve and promote effective programs.
This recent report is both an endorsement of MCC’s seven years of work in this field and also a reminder of the urgent need for continued investments in agriculture and food security programs around the world.
Posted on February 15, 2012 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
I just witnessed an incredible celebration here in Ghana: thousands of people rejoicing at the opening of the long-awaited N1 highway—renamed the George Walker Bush Motorway—which links the capital, Accra, with major ports, the international airport and the country’s major agricultural regions. This has been a Ghanaian dream since 1965, and it’s finally coming true.
As I drove down the road, thousands of people that live along the road greeted us. School children celebrated. People stood on banisters to catch a better glimpse of the celebration, and crowds waved from their nearby apartments.
There was dancing and chanting. The American and Ghanaian flags swayed together. A nearby large banner read, “Thank you, America.” The celebration resonated deeply with me.
MCC helped improve a 14-kilometer stretch of the highway as part of its five-year, $547 million compact. It runs through the heart of the capital city and for decades has been clogged with people and traffic. The need to widen the highway has been in the planning 40 years, but it only became a reality thanks to the Ghana and MCC partnership. It’s not hard to see why people were so excited.
The highway project was Ghana’s largest public works project in decades, and workers labored until the final minutes of compact closeout to ensure project completion. As President John Atta Mills told the crowd, “This is not President Kufuor's compact. This is not my compact. It’s Ghana's compact.”
During closeout speeches, the chief executive officer of Ghana’s MiDA, the entity in charge of implementing Ghana’s MCC compact, said it best: “MCC is the spearhead for development.” In Ghana, we certainly are spearheading a true partnership based on goodwill, trust and collaboration.
The opening of the N1 highway is a major event in Ghana’s development and a highly visible reminder of MCC’s partnership. It’s a milestone that transcends political parties, both in the U.S. and Ghana. And most importantly, it’s a reason all Ghanaians have to celebrate.
Posted on February 13, 2012 by Katerina Ntep, Resident Country Director, Ghana
As the Ghana Compact closeout date rushes toward us—less than a week remains to finish the ambitious set of projects we put in motion five years ago—I was honored that seven members of Congress visited West Africa to inspect the progress and impact of the compact, as well as the status of the U.S.-Ghana partnership.
Senator Lindsey Graham, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, and Representative Kay Granger, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, led the delegation, which visited Ghana in early January. Both have the enormous responsibility to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent effectively overseas.
Senator John Thune, Senator Kay Hagan, Senator John Barrasso, Senator Mike Johanns, and Senator Richard Burr also joined the delegation. Much of the trip was coordinated with the ONE Campaign; the organization’s founder, Bono, and a board member, Josh Bolten, accompanied the lawmakers.
The delegation inspected progress of the MCC-funded section of the N1 Highway that connects the central region, the country’s main seaport in Tema and the international airport in Accra. The highway improvement is part of the compact's $215 million Transportation Project, which is expected to benefit more than 314,000 people and raise household incomes by $321 million over 20 years.
It is already clear that MCC’s investment will significantly alleviate Accra’s legendary traffic congestion and help small farmers export their crops. The highway improvement—including construction of a six-lane, 14-kilometer motorway in the heart of Accra—has been a massive engineering feat. The workers are laboring around the clock to finish this project before the compact closes.
I was particularly proud that the delegation joined me to cut the ribbon on a newly constructed primary school in Bontrase—a shining example of the 249 rural school blocks MCC has rehabilitated or built as part of the $75 million Rural Development Project. As Senator Graham said, “every child deserves an education,” and MCC-funded schools are providing that access to poor rural children.
Throughout the trip, Bono and Senator Graham stressed that MCC was a different type of foreign assistance program. MCC’s country ownership model means we work with governments to deliver assistance where it is most needed. MCC partner countries identify their constraints to economic growth, and implement solutions to those barriers. Ghana is a perfect example of effective country ownership. In fact, Bono noted MCC was founded in “partnership, not patronage.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Posted on December 1, 2011 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer, MCC
The Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness took place this week as government leaders from over 150 countries gathered to discuss progress made on donor promises to tackle global poverty. These discussions started with the Paris Declaration in 2004, then the Accra Agenda for Action in 2008 and continued in Busan. Delegates talked about “ownership,” “mutual accountability” and “outcomes.” Ownership is about countries determining and driving their own development priorities. Mutual accountability means we work in partnership—as donor and recipient countries—to achieve development solutions and share responsibility for successes and failures. And as partners, we are committed to delivering tangible outcomes and meaningful impacts–the ultimate result of any assistance.
MCC's Sheila Herrling, Daniel W. Yohannes, and David Weld participate in discussions at this week's 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness.
Achieving results was a major theme that weaved through discussions at Busan. Results-focused aid is a shared objective. Yet, an interesting set of questions around “how” and “for whom” remains. Who defines results? How are they obtained? Do process results no longer matter? Are we measuring results for donors, for recipients or for both? MCC brings much to the table in terms of putting a results-focused assistance program into practice. As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in her speech at the forum’s opening ceremony, MCC is a pioneer in measuring results. Some thoughts based on our experience at MCC:
First, how we pursue a results-focused approach matters. Country ownership is bigger and deeper than consultations around a national development strategy. As MCC Vice President Sheila Herrling mentioned during Tuesday’s Results Thematic Session, a big part of that ownership is how countries include civil society in results setting and results monitoring, and how countries and donors find ways to share that information transparently and accessibly with the public. During my remarks at the Results Plenary, I stressed that inclusive, country-driven development must embrace the voices of women because we know gender equality is key to development effectiveness. Efforts to more purposefully examine how a results agenda can strengthen country systems and institutions will ultimately lead to better and more sustainable outcomes.
Second, focusing on outcomes and impact is absolutely the right approach. That said, we should not lose sight of monitoring and evaluating policy reforms and intermediate targets, which help us establish the path to outcomes and impact. At MCC, we embrace an innovative “continuum of results” — tracking, measuring and publicly communicating results along the entire lifecycle of each country-determined program we fund, from inputs, to outputs, to policy reforms, and ultimately to measurable outcomes for beneficiaries. We count interim milestones met along the way because each one brings us a step closer to reaching the program goal. MCC’s continuum of results also includes post-program impact evaluations to help us improve accountability, determine if observed outcomes are attributable to MCC’s investments and to learn whether programs were designed correctly. Because MCC’s continuum of results is built on transparency and critical learning, it becomes a tool for assessing what works and does not work in development and what can be improved for the future.
Third, the question of “results for whom” got a lot of play in Busan. To be accountable to their own citizens, partner countries must answer this often difficult question and demonstrate how development resources are used and what results they achieve. As we discuss our drive for positive results, we must never lose sight of what an actual result means for ordinary men and women around the world. Ayesha Otibo, the chairwoman of a farmer-based organization comprised of 50 female rice processors in Ghana, received training on ways to develop her business and increase crop production. Ghanaian pineapple farmers, like Tony Botchway, used MCC support to seek new markets. Andre Soui-Guidi, a business owner in Benin, is now able to access credit in order to expand his operations and create more jobs for his fellow citizens. At the same time, we cannot and should not ignore the fact that results matter also for the taxpayers of donor countries who, even during these challenging economic times, want to continue funding for development. Our ability to demonstrate that their investments are paying off—that developing countries are improving governance and democratic rights, assistance is reaching the poor, and investments are yielding positive returns--is critical to sustaining strong development cooperation.
Lastly, international events like Busan tend to focus on what hasn’t been achieved. That’s fine in terms of accountability and the need to keep progressing toward commitments. But, let’s remember the real advancements made, including by the United States. Major U.S. development efforts—from the multilateral development banks, to Feed the Future, to Partnership for Growth, to MCC—all emphasize inclusive, country-led, outcomes-focused approaches. For MCC’s part, we look forward to continuing our work to break new ground in advancing and innovating on development effectiveness, and putting principles in this area into practice.
Posted on February 3, 2010 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
For my first official trip as MCC’s CEO, I chose to look at MCC projects in two African partner countries, Ghana and Cape Verde. Both countries are well into their compacts, and I wanted to come and see the impact our funds are having on the lives of the men and women here.
I just completed the Ghana portion of the trip and am very excited about this country’s future. MCC is investing $547 million into making agriculture more productive, building schools, and paving roads. The numbers are impressive enough, but until you see the progress on the ground, it is hard to truly understand how complex, integrated, and successful this compact is.
Much of the credit for the success goes to the Ghanaians themselves, who set up an entity called MiDA that will exist and foster economic development long after the MCC compact is over. I also want to acknowledge MCC’s resident mission, led by Jim Bednar, Resident Country Director, and Katerina Ntep, Deputy Resident Country Director, who are working with the Ghanaians to oversee implementation.
As a child of Africa, I was thrilled to meet some of the boys and girls who now sit in classrooms for their lessons, instead of under trees. The Ghanaians identified lack of education as a constraint to their country’s economic growth, and MCC is proud to help address this challenge by funding the building of 310 schools, of which 65 are already finished. We have seen enrollment increase substantially. The number of girls in just the two schools I visited has doubled. This project is also an important example of collaboration and coordination with our partners at USAID, who are training teachers for the schools we are building.
In addition to the schools I visited, I was able to inspect progress on some of the rural roads our funds are paving, talk to pineapple farmers about how MCC-funded investments in cold storage are helping them export their crops, and meet a number of people who now have full rights and title to their property, thanks to the MCC-funded land titling project.
All of these elements are critical to successfully driving sustainable economic growth in Ghana through increased agriculture productivity. MCC’s five year program, therefore, works up and down the value chain. It starts with training the small farmer, works with banks to ensure he or she has access to credit, supports cooperative farming, and develops the roads to get products to markets.
I was honored to be part of the group who passed out land title certificates to about 30 people, half women. MCC is funding new offices and surveys to provide these official land titles to a total of about 5,000 Ghanaians. As the many government ministers in attendance said, these titles are an absolutely critical step in ensuring economic growth. If people have title to their land, they can use that asset to access credit and have the security they need to expand production. I was particularly happy to see so many women obtaining titles in their names.
Before we left, I met with representatives of both the local and international private sector, who are also very excited about Ghana’s future and MCC’s role in addressing economic constraints. I met one farmer who was able to increase her yield from five bags of rice a season to more than 140 bags after a MCC-funded training program, and another farmer who increased his income from around $60 a year to over $1,070 by changing his crops to line up with international market demand. In Ghana, we have literally hundreds of stories of men and women like these who now “see their farms as businesses and not just as an occupation,” as one program participant said.
I also had a good meeting with Ghanaian President John Atta-Mills, who, like many Ghanaians I met, was keenly interested in learning how Ghana could qualify for a second compact when the current compact finishes in two years. The president reaffirmed his commitment to making sure the projects finish on time, with transparency, accountability, and measured results.
It is clear to me that there is real opportunity in Ghana. I look forward to the next half of my trip to see the progress unfolding in Cape Verde.
Posted on June 22, 2009 by Aaron Sherinian, Managing Director, Public Affairs
MCC, together with friends from the ONE Campaign and (RED), witnessed the reality of what can happen when people come together to fight poverty. At the Bawjiase Junior Secondary School, hundreds of students, teachers and parents welcomed us to view the renovated classrooms where education has an improved, better home in this community. The words of the Head Mistress were a moving tribute to what positive things the peoples of the United States and Ghana are accomplishing together.
The decision of the ONE and (RED) delegations to visit MCC programs was a visible signal of the commitment of diverse groups to foster innovative approaches to reduce poverty in Africa and around the globe. They asked the men, women and children they met about their hopes for their future and the biggest obstacles to economic growth in their homes and communities. One thing that was clear from the conversations I witnessed was that integrated approaches—programs that tackle the problem of poverty from all angles, including infrastructure, education, agricultural training, trade, and policy—are the best way to ensure lasting, tangible results. We at MCC are grateful for the commitment of groups like ONE and (RED), who want to see poverty reduction programs in action and experience first-hand the challenges and the exciting headway we are making with partners like Ghana.
From the N1 Highway that MCC is helping rehabilitate to the farmer training programs to the renovated classrooms in Bawjiase, it was inspiring to see the U.S. Government’s $547 million compact with Ghana helping to fortify our strong relationship as friends while ensuring that the next generation of Ghanaians can take advantage of the potential and promise of their future.
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