Thank you for that kind introduction. I appreciate the invitation to join you as you kick off this important workshop to discuss lessons learned from the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s threshold program and the role the U.S. Agency for International Development has played—and continues to play—in its success.
The partnership between MCC and USAID is strong—andso it should be—and nowhere is the strength of our cooperation and synergy more evident and more fruitful than with the threshold program. We are both, MCC and USAID, significant tools in America’s development assistance toolbox, working together to fight poverty.
As a member of MCC’s Board, USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore is an important voice, together with other MCC Board members, in determining MCC’s future, including which threshold programs we pursue. So, I am delighted to be here with her this morning.
Examples of cooperation
USAID is overseeing implementation in all but one of MCC’s 18 signed threshold programs, working directly with the country to execute the specific projects outlined in what are typically two-year agreements. MCC’s threshold program benefits considerably from USAID’s
- technical and development expertise,
- field presence,
- and administrative infrastructure.
And, through MCC’s threshold programs, we see journalists in Malawitrained on investigative reporting techniques to expose corruption.
We see the business registration process reduced from 10 days to one in Zambia, speeding up the time it takes to open a business.
We see legislation to reform municipal governments passed in Jordan, reducing the voting age and establishing a quota for women in local councils.
And, in our first and very successful program, we see 132 new "girl-friendlyâ€ schools open in Burkina Faso as a result of threshold funding.
Later this morning, I will join Burkina Faso’s president to sign a $481 million compact that, in part, builds on this threshold program. Burkina’s successful completion of its MCC threshold program is one of the key factors our Board considered in making its decision to move ahead to the compact stage. And, USAID’s implementation of Burkina’s MCC threshold program—with participation from international and local nongovernmental organizations—is a striking example of how development agencies—even with different approaches and mandates—can work together in partnership to accomplish extraordinary results for the good of the poor.
Lessons learned/way forward
You, individually and collectively, have my deepest appreciation and sincerest gratitude for the terrific work you do to ensure the success of each MCC threshold program. As you discuss lessons learned from the threshold program and the way forward during the course of this workshop, I would offer three thoughts for your consideration.
First, the MCC-USAID threshold partnership is working. It is positive and productive; it has evolved and improved over time as we engage in a dynamic learning process to determine how best to apply our core competencies to the success of each threshold program. USAID remains our country’s primary bilateral development agency, and your field experience and technical expertise have provided many of the "best practicesâ€ that are now at the heart of MCC’s efforts to bring about policy reform, with the ultimate goal of reducing poverty through economic growth.
The threshold program provides us with an excellent opportunity to find synergies to maximize development impact and benefit the lives of the poor.
Second, policies matter. By its very nature, threshold assistance is meant to improve policy performance. It is meant to help countries address their policy weaknesses so they can qualify for MCC’s full compact funding. Our threshold program partnership demonstrates a fundamental understanding that performance-based development assistance is key to sustainable economic growth.
Many of our countries would not be eligible for MCC assistance had USAID not provided important tools necessary for policy reform. Sound policy performance, ultimately, is the best guarantee that our efforts will take root and succeed—and that is what makes our threshold program incredibly important.
And, third, let us deepen our dialogue. MCC and USAID communicate on many levels, and a workshop of this nature complements our ongoing conversations. I would encourage those of you on the ground—in our partner countries—to share with us what is working and where we can together improve.
Your firsthand field perspectives are valuable in determining the way forward. By supporting each other through our frank and open exchanges, we are lifting the development field as a whole and reaffirming the networks that can bring sustainable change to poor countries committed to growth and development. I look forward to hearing about the lessons learned that are discussed at this workshop.
We are dedicated to sustainable growth and development in our partner countries. At the heart of this is a strong and cooperative MCC-USAID relationship that embraces a shared vision for a better world where the burden of poverty is reduced. The threshold program is a cornerstone of that commitment, and an excellent example of what we are accomplishing by working together.
I wish you a very productive workshop as you evaluate where the threshold program has been and, more important, where it should be heading in the fight against poverty.
Toward this goal, the Millennium Challenge Corporation is proud to work alongside USAID as a partner in development.
Thanks again for inviting me here this morning, and, I’d be happy to take some questions.