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Sarah Rose is a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. Her work, as part of the Center’s US Development Policy Initiative, focuses on US government aid effectiveness. Areas of research and analysis include the policies and operation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the use of evaluation and evidence to inform programming and policy, the implementation of country ownership principles, and the process of transitioning middle income countries from grant assistance to other development instruments.
Previously, Rose worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Mozambique as a specialist in strategic information and monitoring and evaluation. She also worked at MCC, focusing on the agency’s evidence-based country selection process. She holds a Masters degree in public policy and a BS in foreign service, both from Georgetown University.
In CGD’s last blog post on the new strategy, we commended the US government for leading the charge for adolescent girls—by issuing the first-ever country strategy specifically focused on the demographic. But how do we make sure that this articulated commitment continues to get translated into concrete action? What can MCC specifically contribute? One opportunity may lie in MCC’s country scorecards.
The FY17 State and Foreign Operations spending bill brought good news for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) with big implications for its operations. New authority to engage in concurrent compacts in a single country would enable MCC to operate on a regional level, and provisions adjusting the criteria MCC uses to select partner countries could influence where MCC works. These are reasonable (even good!) ideas in theory, but the proposed eligibility requirement gives me some pause and could be challenging to apply in practice.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) was established to provide large-scale grant funding to poor, well-governed countries to support their efforts to reduce poverty and generate economic growth. However, the statutory definition of which countries are “poor” for the purposes of MCC candidacy is inadequate. Based solely on GNI per capita with a rigid graduation threshold, it does not portray a clear picture of broad-based well-being in a country. Using a new, comprehensive country-level dataset of median consumption/income, the authors explore the merits and limitations of such a measure and suggest how it might be applied as an additional determinant of MCC candidacy.
For some time, we’ve been cheering MCC’s interest in pursuing approaches that pay for outcomes and encouraging the agency’s stakeholders to get onboard (here and here). Now we can applaud an important step forward. The agency’s new compact with Morocco, which both partners celebrated at an event last Thursday in Rabat, spells out the potential for a results-based financing component—a welcome development.
In recent months, USAID has been working diligently to craft its approach to “strategic transitions,” framing the principles it will follow, the benchmarks that will help inform transition decisions, and the programs and tools it can bring to bear. This Thursday, in a public discussion with the agency’s Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid (ACVFA), USAID will outline its initial thinking about strategic transitions. Our recent paper, Working Itself Out of a Job: USAID and Smart Strategic Transitions, offers some advice to the agency as it charts the course ahead. Here are the main takeaways.
MCC has entered a new era for its threshold program. Honduras is set to become the first country to implement a new model of the program which is expected to help a country become compact eligible by allowing it to demonstrate its willingness to tackle tough reforms addressing policy constraints to growth in partnership with MCC. There is potential for valuable insight from this approach, but it has some limitations: the threshold program experience may not translate directly to a future compact experience, and any insight gained will only be relevant for countries that have a shot at compact eligibility based on other criteria.
The votes are in! Yesterday, MCC’s board of directors met to select countries for FY2015 compact and threshold program eligibility. Last week, I made some predictions about the choices the board would make. Let’s look at yesterday’s decisions and see how I did…
Last month, the MCC Board of Directors made its annual decisions about which developing countries are eligible to receive the agency’s large-scale assistance. In the end, they selected five countries for MCC support: Cote d’Ivoire, Kosovo, and Senegal for compact programs, and Sri Lanka and Togo for threshold programs. Several strategic factors and considerations underpinned each of these decisions. Should MCC undertake regionally-based programs? Which previous MCC compact countries should receive further support going forward? Do MCC’s current income-level measures remain fit for purpose for identifying prospective partners?