Joining Forces with Friends like DFID to Fight Poverty

This has been an exciting few days for MCC.  President Bush signed our largest compact to date, with Tanzania, in Dar es Salaam this past weekend, bringing unprecedented attention to what MCC is achieving with partner countries—poverty reduction through sustained growth.  The comments made by both President Bush and President Kikwete during the signing ceremony capture what I believe is already clear through our work:  People expect and demand results and accountability for these funds, for reforms that will bring about prosperity and stability.  Poverty reduction is so much more complex than a single program or a single effort.  It requires solid policy reforms to establish the institutional foundation upon which these investments can be based.  I am currently in London en route from Africa back to the United States and have had the chance to speak with the international press regarding the MCC.  One thing that clearly struck a chord with journalists ranging from the BBC to major media outlets in the pan-Arab press was that MCC’s work is a clear manifestation that the U.S. isnt ““imposing”” anything on these countries.  The poverty reduction proposals come from the countries themselves.  We cannot force a country to adopt a project or a policy reform that does not come from the partners.  Only this way will they have the backing and wherewithal to flourish.  I told the press that MCC, together with the historic investments in programs on the African continent, are a clear statement that the President, the U.S. Congress, and the American people understand the urgency for poverty reduction in Africa.  America grasps the extent of the problem and we are working to address it.

UK Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander MP, and Ambassador John Danilovich.

While in London, I met with UK Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander MP, to sign a memorandum of understanding to solidify cooperation between our two organizations.  Our work together has been extremely positive to date, and this new agreement will help the two organizations—whether in the field, in places like Africa, or at headquarters, in London or Washington—better share data, and work through coordinated programs.  The agreement demonstrates a willingness at the highest levels in our governments to deepen our already positive collaboration.  The agreement strengthens practical cooperation in Africa where concrete cooperation is already underway.  It also addresses sector and technical cooperation issues ranging from infrastructure to growth diagnostics to impact analyses.  It makes sense that our two organizations should look for ways to work together.  We owe it to our respective taxpayers whose funds we administer.  Poverty reduction is a bigger problem than any one country—or any single donor—can handle on its own.  I am pleased that the agreement I signed with DFID does more than more than just talk about coordination.  It is a tangible example of donor coordination.

I am returning to Washington from my trip to Morocco having witnessed firsthand the potential of one very unique aspect of our compact therethe support for artisans, tourism development, and the environment in Fez Medina.  This innovative component of the compact will enable artisans to increase the quality of their goods by supporting access to training and support in much-needed areas such as:  modern production techniques, business management, access to bank and microcredit loans, the construction of modern, environmentally friendly kilns, and pottery workshops.  While only a portion of the $698 million MCC compact with Morocco, it speaks volumes about how integrated strategies in poverty reduction affect multiple sectors, groups of people, and have great potential for growth.  I was struck by the historical beauty of these crafts.  Even more impressive, however, was the desire of the Moroccan artisans to transform something of beauty into something that will transform their long-term well-being.  Helping craftsmen conserve their traditions while prospering from the process is a scenario where not just the Moroccans, but all of us, win.