Julia Gitis is a Presidential Management Fellow in the Bureau of Economic Growth, Agriculture & Trade. She recently visited Senegal, Ghana, and Mozambique with a focus on donor coordination in the field.
USAID celebrated its 50th birthday last week, thereby also celebrating half a century of successful partnerships in global development. One of the more recent and high-level partnerships in which USAID engages is with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US government foreign aid agency started in 2004. USAID and MCC collaborate closely in Washington, DC, with the USAID Administrator serving as a permanent member of the MCC Board of Directors.
In the field, USAID and MCC look for concrete ways to partner more intently on the ground. Many of these opportunities currently revolve around Feed the Future, President Obama’s global hunger and food security initiative. I recently visited USAID and MCC counterparts in three Feed the Future focus countries—Senegal, Ghana, and Mozambique—to discuss how the two agencies can better leverage each other’s resources.
In Senegal, the relationship between MCC and USAID is positive. The 5-year, $540 million MCC compact in Senegal includes a focus on rice cultivation, with opportunities to leverage USAID’s value chain programs that include seeds, feeder roads, marketing to promote local programs, and access to credit. The Government of Senegal has assumed a proactive role in donor coordination, by including USAID representatives in discussions concerning collaboration around the MCC compact. Both agencies have a strong agriculture focus in Senegal, and MCC’s investments in roads, water resource management, and irrigation systems will tightly align with USAID’s implementation of Feed the Future priorities.
In Ghana, USAID and MCC have both worked extensively in the north, where the poverty rate is twice that of the rest of the country. In direct collaboration, USAID has helped place teachers in schools that were constructed by MCC. And the two agencies have focused on investments in agriculture; one farmer I spoke with has benefited from both USAID and MCC programs and saw his crop yield increase from 2 bags of corn to 10 bags of corn per acre—after which he was able to send his kids to school. Success stories like this one illustrate the importance of the work both agencies are doing. Under the Obama Administration’s Partnership for Growth effort, Ghana was selected as one of four countries to participate in an interagency process to improve development outcomes. USAID and MCC are working closely with the Government of Ghana to identify binding constraints to economic growth. Future work in the identified sectors will likely link with USAID’s implementation of Feed the Future programming.
In Mozambique, the MCC compact is also focused on agriculture, with investments in water supply and sanitation, roads, land tenure, and farmer income support. USAID recently completed its Feed the Future strategy for Mozambique, and as part of its donor mapping incorporates MCC programs and priorities across the regions that both agencies are working in. Both agencies are focused on provinces such as Nampula and Zambezia, and USAID is eager to see the results of the $507 million MCC compact. MCC and USAID engaged closely in the design of a USAID-funded health and nutrition program in Nampula province. The Government of Mozambique has also taken the lead on donor coordination, through its publicly available database of Official Development Assistance.
Senegal, Ghana, and Mozambique are just three of the countries where USAID and MCC projects share sectoral and geographic focus. USAID Administrator Raj Shah and MCC CEO Daniel Yohannes, through their frequent meetings, are committed to working in a collaborative fashion in Washington. My trip to the field showed that this attitude has translated to significant coordination at the country team level as well. Collaboration between MCC and USAID is a testament to the continuing success of a whole-of-government approach to development.