Partnership Drives Development
Empowering and creating partnerships with local actors is a longstanding tenet of effective development projects. When those in need rely too heavily on outside influences, regardless of their intentions, they risk losing control of the resources and decision-making best left to those closest to the problem. Partnership with local actors gives development projects the best chance of being effective and sustainable. Here are three examples of how partnership drives development.


In 2009, the community of Agra, India — home to the iconic Taj Mahal — suffered from a water sanitation crisis. Waste collection and disposal became nonexistent and a large majority of residents practiced open defecation. As waste flowed into the Yamuna river of which locals relied for irrigation and drinking, residents risked exposure to polio, typhoid, dysentery and cholera.

In partnership with the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence, a USAID-supported non-governmental organization (NGO), Agra’s governing municipality constructed a wastewater treatment plant to protect the water source used by the 2,000 community members living in Agra.

The plant employs natural processes requiring minimal power and maintenance; however, the true indicator of the project’s success came in 2017, when Agra’s municipality took over all operations from outside actors and ensured clean drinking water for the people of Agra for years to come.


In another example of how partnership drives development, the Human Resources for Health in 2030 (HRH2030) program is partnering with the government of Malawi to recruit and hire 300 medical workers to combat the HIV epidemic. In Malawi, more than 900,000 people currently live with HIV. To add to the problem, the country suffers from a severe shortage of healthcare professionals needed to address this issue.

While the program only started in November 2017, facility managers from the HIV-freighted Lilongwe and Zomba districts have already noted the positive impact of the increase in workers. Furthermore, the local government has signed an agreement to take on financial responsibility for the new workers by 2020, committing to self-reliance and sustainability.


In addition to increasing access to a network of health professionals, the community of Tabora, Tanzania highlights the effectiveness of another way of combating HIV — male circumcision. Studies suggest that male circumcision reduces transmission in heterosexual men by near 60 percent, and is a powerful preventative tool, especially in combination with other approaches.

In an example of how partnership drives development, The USAID-funded Strengthening High-Impact Interventions for an AIDS-free Generation (AIDSFree) project is partnering with the Tabora regional health administration to increase access to voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC). A standard bearer of the cause, traditional healer Albert Cosmas acts as a VMMC ambassador, encouraging other men to have the procedure and thereby helping reduce the HIV footprint in Tabora.

When development agencies make top-down decisions without partnership with local actors, they risk harming the communities they aim to serve. Indeed, “acting in collaborative partnership” is explicitly included in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These three stories illustrate the powerful impact of a bottom-up approach that empowers local actors with the capacity to carry progress into the future.

– Whiting Tennis
Photo: Flickr

Housing Shortage in BahrainBahrain is an archipelago in the Persian Gulf with a very small population and land size. Nearly half its population consists of foreign expatriates. After gaining independence from Britain in 1971, the country’s ruling monarchs led it toward development. Today, however, with Bahrain’s huge expatriate population, housing has proven a critical issue. In October 2010, 41 percent of the country’s population could not afford shelter. This is a sharp increase from 24 percent in March 2009. Lack of adequate planning has led to a severe housing shortage in Bahrain.

The lack of affordable housing is one of Bahrain’s main economic concerns, especially considering the increase in demand from the youth sector. The shortage is one of many key factors creating housing inequality and fueling grievances against the country’s wealthy rulers.

When compared to neighboring Arab states, Bahrain subsidizes fewer housing units. The government has promised to provide living spaces, but the waiting list keeps increasing. According to the housing ministry, more than 46,000 people in Bahrain are waiting for subsidized houses, and current recipients of homes have been waiting since the 1990s.

To resolve the affordable housing shortage in Bahrain, the country’s government launched a new plan based on Public Private Partnerships (PPP). The project aims to build and deliver low-cost housing for ordinary citizens. Its goal is for private corporations to raise funds and brainstorm innovative ideas to support the public sector’s housing projects. This method has proven successful in other countries such as Mexico and Brazil.

The real problem lies in the fact that the government spends more money on luxurious housings units for the wealthy, even though the majority of Bahrainis are looking for simpler, more affordable housing. In addition to this, the government’s plans for new housing units are taking an extremely long time to complete. Nevertheless, the government hopes that its projects will foster better relations with opposition groups in the country.

Recently, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman urged officials to continue providing speedy solutions to the peoples’ housing needs. He also urged stronger and more cooperative relations with the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat).

Noman Ahmed

Photo: Flickr

Public-Private Partnerships in Africa
While over the last few decades the economies of Africa have, as a whole, grown quite substantially, the economic problems Africa faces are still monumental in scope. On a continent that supports around a billion people, nearly 600 million lack access to electricity and almost 300 million have no access to safe water.

A promising solution to help combat these vast problems concerning infrastructure and service delivery is Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). Although there are many distinct models for PPPs, in essence, they are contracts between the public sector and a private party in which both entities share their skills and assets in delivering a service or facility for the use of the general public.

Each party shares in the risks and rewards of the venture. PPPs have taken place mainly in economic infrastructures such as power, transportation, telecommunications and water and sanitation.

Unsurprisingly, the most developed country in Africa, South Africa, has had the most experience with PPPs. Fifty PPPs have occurred on the national or provincial level and 300 at the municipal level between 1994 and 2005.

Furthermore, between 1992 and 2012, there were a total of 51 PPPs in the water and sewage sector in Africa, with a total investment during this period totaling a little more than $3 billion. This limited number of PPPs in these sectors are due to certain constraints that hinder the further success and development of PPPs in Africa.

These constraints include: inadequate legal and regulatory frameworks for PPPs, lack of technical skills to manage PPP programs and projects, unfavorable investor perception of country risk, Africa’s limited role in global trade and investment, small market size, limited infrastructure, and limited financial markets.

More simply, many companies believe the potential reward of a PPP venture into Africa is outweighed by the potential risk. Yet encouragingly, the belief that Africa is an attractive investment destination is much more likely held by a company, if it has already ventured in Africa.

According to data gathered from the Ernest Young 2014 Africa attractiveness survey, while only 39 percent of respondents without businesses in Africa thought that Africa’s attractiveness has improved over the past year, 73 percent of those with businesses in Africa thought the continent’s attractiveness improved over the past year.

It seems that the perception of Africa that many businesses hold does not match what is actually happening in the continent.

The likelihood that those numbers are primarily fueled by a mismatch of perception and reality rather than positive bias by companies willing to venture into Africa in the first place, greatly improves in light of another encouraging finding.

According to the same EY 2014 survey, Africa was the second most attractive region in the world to invest in. In 2010 it was the eighth most attractive region out of the world’s 10 regions and in 2012, the fifth.

While comprehensive, holistic data on PPPs in Africa is scarce, it is fair to think that their potential is vast on the continent. A World Bank report on PPPs found in Uganda’s 10-year experience in small town water PPPs, water connections have almost tripled since PPPs introduction in 2002. More than 1.5 million people are now served through PPPs in small Ugandan towns.

The report aptly concluded, “Involving the private sector has proven worthwhile even if the private party isn’t bringing much money in. Small-scale PPPs have a significant role in reaching the poor.”

Public, Private Partnerships are a valuable tool in solving Africa’s vast infrastructure deficits. Mitigating the impediments for these contracts would be an important step in providing basic services to hundreds of millions of Africans. But maybe more importantly, companies should dip their toes in the water holes of Africa, as they may be surprised with what they find.

Connor Bohannan

Sources: African Development Bank, Earnest Young, National Treasury of South Africa, OECD, Venture Africa, The World Bank
Photo: Flickr

Global Development Lab Brings Silicon Valley to Washington-TBP

USAID’s mission to fight global poverty has just received significant support with the recent addition of the Global Development Lab. USAID has long been the leading government agency seeking to alleviate poverty, yet their mission has primarily been that of implementation. The agency is now not only committed to the physical deployment of aid, but also the development of future relief systems.

Founded in April of 2014, the new subdivision seeks to change the ways in which aid is delivered and developed. According to the official website, “The U.S. Global Development Lab is a new entity within USAID that brings together a diverse set of partners to discover, test, and scale breakthrough solutions to achieve what human progress has only now made possible—the end of extreme poverty by 2030.”

The Global Development Lab is bringing the fight against extreme poverty into the 21st century information age. Its aim is to use strategies that top technology companies have used, such as crowd sourcing, big data collection, and constant research and development to find the best solutions in terms of ending extreme poverty.

USAID has appointed Ann Mei Chang as Executive Director for the Global Development Lab. Chang worked for twenty years in Silicon Valley, spending eight of them working for Google as lead engineer of its mobile division. With both experience in the technology and nonprofit sectors, Chang brings a fresh outlook on new ways to implement global development.

The lab is revolutionary in its mission to use resources and partners from both the public and private sectors. The Global Development Lab is partnered with technology companies that are synonymous with innovation. Microsoft, Intel and Nike are listed as cornerstone sponsors. Many of the nation’s top universities, including the University of California, Duke and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have also partnered with the lab. USAID hopes that these partnerships will “leverage the combined skills, assets, technologies, and resources of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to deliver sustainable development impact.”

USAID and its new Global Development Lab are not only attempting to alleviate extreme poverty through donations and other tried methods, but the agency is now attempting to end the suffering of millions around the globe by seeking cutting edge solutions through science, innovation, and collaboration.

– Joe Kitaj

Sources: USAID, The White House
Photo: USAID Blog


As the donors of the Global Fund gather in Brussels, the amount of $15 billion was requested in order to replenish the organization’s money supply. This replenishing process occurs every three years for the Global Fund. In the 2011-2013 replenishing phase, the Global Fund was successful in reaching their goal of $12 billion. Therefore this new goal is a step up from previous endeavors.

In order to reach the Global Fund’s goal of $15 billion, many donors will have to ward off any potential budget cuts. Instead of succumbing to the current economic crisis that is enveloping the world, donors will have to step up to the challenge to fight global poverty. Reaching this goal will require Europeans to step up their commitments. It will require new donors, both from Europe and from emerging economies, to invest for the first time. It will require African nations, whose citizens are some of the most heavily impacted by diseases and whose economies are in some cases growing the fastest, to recommit to spending 15 percent of their national budgets on health. It will require new partnerships with the private, faith, and NGO sectors.

This will not be an easy task. However, if this goal is reached, the world would be a much different and better place in 2016. The Global Fund suggests: More than 18 million people in affected countries could receive antiretroviral treatment; 17 million patients with TB and multidrug-resistant TB could receive treatment, saving almost 6 million lives; millions of new cases of malaria would be prevented, saving approximately 196,000 additional lives each year than there would be based on their current budget level; and more than 1 million new HIV infections could be prevented annually.

While the amount of $15 billion may seem like a daunting figure, it is obtainable. Not only does the Global Fund need the support of its donors, it needs the support of everyone who cares about the issue. Everyone has a voice, it is their choice to use it. If you care about global poverty and support the Global Fund’s cause, please call your local representatives and express your support. The number of your local representatives can be found here.

– Matthew Jackoski

Source: ONE
Photo: Global Fund