Partnerships in the Field: Working together out of poverty

From Honduras to Benin to Vanuatu, MCC staff and our country counterparts strive to reduce poverty through economic growth and, in doing so, create hope and opportunity for beneficiaries around the world. The stories below represent just a few of countless experiences that have made an impact on our staff and partners.

Wednesday, October 17 is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been observed every year since 1993, when the U.N. General Assembly designated this day to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries, particularly in developing countries.

  • MCA-Honduras staff Mario Magaña (left) and Alex Moraes provided an array of legal services for the organization.

    Alex Moraes

    MCA-Honduras legal officer

    Working at MCA–Honduras has become an unprecedented experience. Throughout our transport and rural development projects, I have witnessed heavy duty machinery and hundreds of workers constructing and improving roads in different parts of the country. I also saw 7,000 trained and provided with technical assistance. This is making an important contribution to the national economic growth, and I feel very proud of being part of all this progress for my country.

    I feel not only proud and privileged but also blessed to be part of the implementation of such an extraordinary program. MCA-Honduras represents the most credible and extraordinary program in Honduras, with a great reputation among international cooperation agencies, civil society, private companies, media, government, and the population of Honduras. I say proudly: I am very glad to be part of the MCA-Honduras team.

  • Jonathan Nash poses with one of the families who was resettled to make way for the expansion of the CA-5 highway.

    Jonathan Nash

    MCC senior director for environment and social assessment

    When I joined MCC in early 2006, I was thrilled to learn I would have the opportunity to work on the Honduras Compact. I had developed a special affinity for Honduras and the Honduran people during my time there as a Peace Corps volunteer in the late 1990s.

    From the start, both the MCC and MCA-Honduras teams were motivated by the belief that the compact would have a positively transformative impact on the lives of many Hondurans. MCA-Honduras never ceased to impress me, particularly as they worked urgently and tirelessly—often in uncertain political environments—to achieve their ambitious plans. One project that I worked closely on involved the relocation of a number of families to make room for the expansion of the main highway. MCA treated each of these families with the upmost respect and ensured that their livelihoods were not only restored, but improved—all without creating delays for the construction of the road.

    The legacy that MCA-Honduras leaves behind is the proof that a small group of Honduran government officials can achieve great things in a short amount of time through hard work and a commitment to transparency and delivering high-quality results. 

  • Luis Silva describes the construction taking place to modernize the Port of Praia.

    Luis Silva

    MCA-Cape Verde project manager

    There is a difference between MCC and other donors. During preparation of the second compact, we held many consultations with stakeholders from the private sector, civil society and government departments to inform the constraints analysis, the concept papers and other studies—all this before we even prepared the project design. We had a lot of consultations, and a wide range of partners gave their inputs in preparation for the projects. This is the difference between MCC and other donors—consultation allowed us to select the right projects for the compact.

    Anyone can see the results the first compact has made. All international donors are interested in results. But for MCC, since the beginning, the compact is aimed toward impact. I'm sure the compact will make huge impacts on Cape Verde.

  • Jennifer Lappin relied on a strong partnership with counterparts in Washington, Tbilisi and elsewhere to successfully implement the Georgia Compact.

    Jennifer Lappin

    MCC deputy resident country director

    I am really inspired by the way MCC makes its investments: countries lead and we support. I joined MCC during the fifth year of the Georgia Compact, and I was not quite sure what this support would look like on the ground – or what was in store for me as deputy resident country director.

    It was quickly apparent that the support is partnership—one that spans the globe from Washington to Tbilisi. Joining the team near the end, I had an outsider’s eye to witness the tireless commitment from both our headquarters and Millennium Challenge Georgia Fund staff to make sure that MCC’s investments would succeed. Many of MCG’s consultants and implementing entities also put in extraordinary efforts to make the most of MCC’s investments. It is difficult to truly convey the ways that dedication, passion and sacrifice were expressed.

    Driving back from the project sites at night, we would see silhouettes of fortresses and monasteries dotting the mountainsides on our ride home. We would drive by this breathtaking past having just had the opportunity to partner with Georgia and Georgians to build an important bit of their future. I feel grateful to have been a part of it.

  • MCA-Vanuatu program director Johnson Wabaiat speaks with stakeholders during a meeting in Epau.

    Johnson Wabaiat

    MCA-Vanuatu program director

    These roads will open access for the majority of our people to improve their quality of life and move from subsistence farming and a cashless existence to economic growth. The compact is the biggest single development program ever managed by the people of Vanuatu. The enthusiasm, smiles and tears of joy are everywhere. There have been many celebrations and a lot of singing, dancing and speeches, as is our custom. I have seen rural chiefs and elders break down in tears as they see their road completed. The roads have already saved the lives of mothers and babies as they have a smooth and safer trip to the hospital.

  • Rodney Chow and his partners in Nicaragua helped build roads and connect communities.

    Rodney Chow

    MCC infrastructure senior program officer

    My immersion into the MCC program in Nicaragua began in 2008, after much work and energy had been poured into the development of road projects for the country. I was new at MCC at the time, and the full evidence of this investment was not really apparent for me until a couple years later.
    In the country’s northwest region, three road projects began to slowly take shape as resources were put into place. Dirt was churned, bitumen was delivered and signage finally went up. While many rave about the impact of these projects in the connection of domestic and international markets—and we should—I often think about the sense of collaboration, sacrifice and commitment many individuals demonstrated while delivering these projects.
    Among these individuals, I will always remember Don César, as he was fondly known. A seasoned engineer and fully committed to the program, he was instrumental in leading the road infrastructure team at MCA-Nicaragua and delivering the road projects. Because of individuals like him, and others, tourists, merchants and residents now have comfortable road access to the El Guasaule border crossing into Honduras, North Pacific beaches of Poneloya and Las Penitas and a fishing village near the Juan Venado Wildlife Reserve, as well as unrestricted access between the towns of Somotillos and Cinco Pinos.

  • Alex Russin (right) helped oversee the largest grant investment in the country’s irrigation sector in three decades.

    Alex Russin

    MCC resident country director

    When people ask me to describe what we have accomplished in Armenia, I sometimes simplify by saying we have created a partnership that is not just helping to invest in irrigation infrastructure, but actually helping farmers and government systems maintain and grow Armenia’s agriculture sector in the long run.

    In my five years living and working in Armenia, I sincerely believe the compact has created an example of how good development assistance builds successfully on strong partnerships and mutual understanding of how to make lasting investments. And as I leave the country, I am most impressed with the fact that even though the program has reached its formal end, the Government of Armenia continues to actively study the impact and effectiveness of the compact so as to build on its successes and further ensure the value of the single largest grant investment in the country’s irrigation infrastructure in the last 30 years.

  • Gabriel Degbegni believes the success of the Benin Compact sends a message to the world.

    Gabriel Degbegni

    MCA-Benin Access to Markets project director

    Although I had interacted with donors before, working with MCC was different – exciting, demanding and full of challenges, especially having to base projects on solid economic analysis. We had to quickly learn and follow a participative process involving civil society, produce reliable statistics and operate in a climate of disbelief and lack of confidence in our own national capacity to implement such a program.

    After five years of implementation, the majority of the original objectives have been achieved. I was filled with a sense of joy, satisfaction and pride to have been part of the modernization of the Port of Cotonou and putting into place port and custom reforms. The experience MCC afforded me is priceless. There is no university education equal to what I learned about development, managing and monitoring large construction projects, working with international experts, consultants and contractors, managing teams and risk, and succeeding in spite of setbacks.

    With the will to succeed, belief in the results and respect for rules and procedures that operate in a climate of transparency and good governance, MCC has proven to the world that country ownership in Benin produces results.

  • Martin Eson-Benjamin, Millennium Development Authority chief executive officer

    Martin Eson-Benjamin

    Millennium Development Authority chief executive officer

    Prior to the MCC compact, Ghanaians were awakened to the fact that there would be an investment by U.S. taxpayers of $547 million into our country. Through the compact, we demonstrated what can be done. We showed that Ghanaians can use the U.S. money effectively to showcase results for Ghana. We enjoyed good collaboration between the Millennium Development Authority and MCC colleagues. We proved that development projects could be implemented in an apolitical manner, in a way that benefits all Ghanaians.

    Rural communities really benefitted from the compact. The way we interacted with the district assemblies and beneficiary communities gave them a voice. Through district assemblies and regional ministers, communities told us when implementation was not going well and we responded. MiDA was accountable to the beneficiaries.

    This level of accountability is why the MCC approach should become the benchmark in Ghana.

  • Rebecca Goldsmith (third from left) visits with a group of handicraft producers.

    Rebecca Goldsmith

    MCC director for monitoring and evaluation

    When El Salvador was announced as eligible for a MCC compact in November 2005, I jumped at the chance to work on its compact development team. The initial collaboration with the Salvadorans was exciting and fast-paced—we worked together to develop the compact in less than one year.

    Surprisingly, the intensity of the effort put in by the Salvadorans and my MCC colleagues never really slowed down over the five years of implementation. The compact was a complicated program involving investments in more than five different sectors, but the extra effort was made to make sure that all of the moving parts came together in the end.

    We already know that all of the hard work has paid off—more children are attending school, water systems were built on time and farmers were trained in improved technologies— but the evaluation of the impact of those investments on economic growth and people’s well-being is ongoing.

    In El Salvador, the end of the compact is just the end of one phase and the beginning of another, since our dedication to working together to measure impacts does not end when the program ends.