The Millennium Challenge Corporation
1. It’s a breath of fresh air
Ever since the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) creation in 2004, it has been drastically different from other United States foreign aid programs. According to the Congressional Research Reserve, it places emphasis on “free market economic and democratic principles and policies, where governments are committed to implementing reform measures in order to achieve such goals.” Basically, it favors long-term economic development over short-term aid and calls upon poverty-stricken countries to design and apply remedial projects. This is in stark contrast to U.S. foreign aid policies pre-MCC.
2. Fastidious selection process
Although withholding aid from a deserving country sounds ignoble, it’s a necessary step for the MCC to ensure its efficacy. Before awarding grants, the MCC scrutinizes potentially eligible countries, checking for stable government, transparency and a general “sound track record.” An impoverished but corrupt country cannot receive aid.
3. Enabling (never prescribing)
The MCC does not decide what “aid” looks like. Rather, it funds problem-solving initiatives led by the impoverished countries themselves. This empowers the people who best understand the critical issues, meanwhile inspiring local innovators and inventors. If prescriptions are tawdry and shortsighted, MCC is authentic and enabling.
4. Enabling (never controlling)
Selected countries not only design the economic growth initiatives, but they implement them as well. The MCC works closely with these countries to support and refine tactics, but it is the responsibility of the selectee to drive the bus. While impoverished countries steer and navigate, MCC fuels.
5. Partner accountability
One technique the MCC uses to motivate its partner countries is a five-year deadline. By the fifth year of funding, the problem-solving projects will have been completed and their successes will have been gauged. This keeps selected countries accountable.
The MCC works hard to remain as accountable and as transparent as they expect their partners to be. It tracks its achievements and evaluates its impact scrupulously. Successes can then be duplicated, and shortcomings can be fixed.
7. Big achievements
The Millennium Challenge Corporation gives two types of awards: Compacts (five-year grants) and Threshold Programs (smaller grants.) Since its creation in 2004, MCC has, in total, awarded $8.4 billion to initiate and support poverty-reduction projects. Over 38 impoverished countries, from Albania to Zambia, have received grants.
8. It’s only growing
In March of this year, the fiscal year 2015 State Foreign Operations budget request, was released. According to this issue it will provide the MCC with $1 billion. This is 11 percent more funding than it received over the 2014 fiscal year.
— Adam Kaminski
Sources: FAS, MCC, USA