blog logo image

Posts Tagged ‘Millennium Challenge Corporation’

Noteworthy News – 12.11

Friday, December 11th, 2009
Bookmark and Share

This weekly posting includes key news stories and opinion pieces related to foreign assistance reform and the larger development community.

What we’re reading:

  • Aid Gives Alternative to African Orphanages (The New York Times, December 6)  More than a billion dollars in foreign aid has been spent over the past five years for orphans and vulnerable children, but some major donors cannot break down how their contributions were spent. Researchers say donors need to weed out ineffective, misconceived programs, scrutinizing those that are managed by international nongovernmental organizations or governments but reliant on volunteers in villages to do the work.  “An enormous amount of money is going into these efforts with very little return,” said Linda Richter, who runs the children’s programs at South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council.
  • McCaffrey Afghan assessment says there will be no civilian surge (Politico-Laura Rozen, December 7) Note this point, for instance, in the summary: “The international civilian agency surge will essentially not happen —although State Department officers, US AID, CIA, DEA, and the FBI will make vital contributions. Afghanistan over the next 2-3 years will be simply too dangerous for most civil agencies.”  The State Department, USAID and CIA etc. are providing “vital contributions”? Ouch.
  • Lessons from Lesotho:  Smart Coordination to Save Lives (All Africa-Ambassador Robert Nolan, December 7) The coordination between MCC and PEPFAR to help the government and people of Lesotho overcome the HIV/AIDS crisis is one of the best I’ve seen in all my years of service.    With results like this materializing in Lesotho, American taxpayers can rest assured that their resources are being invested wisely.  At a time of global economic challenges, it is imperative that we seek and implement ways that leverage American assistance so that it complements, not duplicates, efforts on the ground and that it reflects the priorities of partner countries themselves, not outside donors.  This is how real progress is unfolding in Lesotho in the critical national fight against HIV/AIDS, and I am proud that American aid through MCC and PEPFAR is contributing effectively to this reality.  It is a model of smart coordination worth emulating elsewhere around the world.
  • Lew On The Civilian Surge: Another ‘20-30 Percent’ Increase Next Year (Washington Independent-Spencer Ackerman, December 9) During his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning, Jack Lew, the deputy secretary of state, praised Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Ambassador Eikenberry for “their commitment for truly joined civilian-military efforts are absolute” in Afghanistan. Accordingly, he said, the U.S. troop increase has to be matched by “fully resourced” civilian resources from State, USAID, U.S. Department of Agriculture and other civilian agencies are working to “ramp up” programs at the “national and sub-national” level that will continue “long after our combat troops … begin to depart.”
  • How to Mend Fences with Pakistan (New York Times-Asif Ali Zardari, December 10) Although we certainly appreciate America’s $7.5 billion pledge over the next five years for nonmilitary projects in Pakistan, this long-term commitment must be complemented by short-term policies that demonstrate American neutrality and willingness to help India and Pakistan overcome their mutual distrust. It could start by stepping up its efforts to mediate the Kashmir dispute.  We need the support of our allies in war but also to help build a new Pakistan that promises a meaningful future to our children. We are not looking for — and indeed reject — dependency. We don’t need or want (nor would we accept) foreign troops to defeat the insurgency, and we seek trade more than aid from you in the future. It is an economically viable and socially robust democratic Pakistan that will be the most effective long-term weapon against terrorism, extremism and fanaticism.

MFAN Lauds Secretary of State Clinton for Commitment to Development

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
Bookmark and Share

Sec. Clinton Tribute

Last night before an audience of more than 1,000 guests, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition – an MFAN partner composed of 400 public- and private-sector leaders and organizations – honored Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her lifelong commitment to public service and her efforts to elevate America’s smart power tools of development and diplomacy.

Upon receiving the award, Secretary Clinton gave remarks that highlighted her commitment to elevating development and diplomacy in a “smart power” approach to U.S. foreign policy:

“We know that too often our efforts have been undermined by a lack of coordination, too little transparency, haphazard monitoring and evaluation, an over-reliance on contractors who work with too little oversight, and by relationships with recipient countries based more on patronage than partnership.  We know that development works best when it is based not in aid, but in investment.”

(L) MFAN Principals Nancy Lindborg of Mercy Corps and Bill Lane of Caterpillar, Inc.

(L) MFAN Principals Nancy Lindborg of Mercy Corps and Bill Lane of Caterpillar, Inc.

Sec. Clinton also acknowledged the new faces of the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Mr. Daniel Yohannes and Dr. Rajiv Shah, respectively.

“Development is and must remain the key. And I am delighted that with me tonight are two of our new leaders. I hope you’ll get to meet Daniel Yohannes, who is sitting right here, who is the new president of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Daniel came to this country from Ethiopia as a young, young man, took advantage of the extraordinary opportunities available in America, pursued his dreams, fulfilled them, became very successful, and now is giving back.

“And I am also proud to have a gifted partner and champion who will soon be at the helm of the U.S. Agency for International Development. It took us time to find the right person, but Raj Shah was worth the wait. And Raj will be reporting directly to me. He will always have a seat at the table as we formulate policy and chart our next steps. Together, we will ensure that USAID is once again the premier development agency in the world.”

MFAN Co-Chair David Beckmann applauded the evening’s guest of honor, saying, “In a short period of time, Secretary Clinton has already done a great deal to elevate the importance of U.S. efforts to help poor people around the world.  I am especially excited that we will soon have a strong leader in place at USAID – Raj Shah – to support Secretary Clinton by providing the dedicated leadership and voice we need on development issues as well as by reinvigorating the Agency in carrying out our development work.”

Click here for more photos of the event.

Yohannes’ Testimony at Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009
Bookmark and Share

Following President Obama’s nomination in September, today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a  hearing that included Daniel W. Yohannes, nominee as CEO for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).  Yohannes brings over thirty years of experience in managing businesses and ensuring positive results that directly benefit the developing world.   In his testimony, Yohannes notes how this past experience has made him believe in the promise and opportunity offered through U.S. assistance and aid programs.  Still, he recognizes the need for reform:

“We have a lot to accomplish in order to advance our government’s vision to reduce global poverty.  It is challenging to replace patronage with partnership, to deliver smart aid that matters.  By encouraging sound policies, country-led development, and sustainable results, MCC offers some important lessons on where to start. MCC lays an innovative foundation to address the complex problem of global poverty.  If confirmed, I want to transfer my skills—in management, negotiations, problem-solving, and consensus-building—to promote economic growth in such an accountable, transparent, and sustainable way.   Smart development assistance that delivers results must be the foundation of effective U.S. global engagement.”

Below is Yohannes’ complete testimony from today’s hearing:

Remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Daniel W. Yohannes

November 4, 2009

Thank you, Chairman Menendez, and other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for your gracious welcome.

It is a privilege to be here as President Obama’s nominee to serve as the next Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, dedicated to fighting global poverty.  I appreciate the confidence of the President and Secretary of State in my abilities.  And, I am grateful for your consideration of my nomination.

Americans can be very proud of this country’s exceptional work to lift the burden of deep-seated poverty that stifles opportunity for millions around the planet.  I’ve helped deliver assistance to those in need.  I know the meaningful and measurable impact every dollar—every container of food or medical supplies—can have on their lives.

I believe in opportunity.  I come from one of the poorest countries on Earth.  Ethiopia has experienced its share of devastation and instability.  It knows all too well the pain of entrenched poverty.  I grew up with poor neighbors who wondered if they would eat that day or if they could afford immunizations. I came to the United States at the age of 17, determined to persevere against all challenges.  If confirmed, I would be proud to give back to the country that has given me so much by doing my part to expand opportunities for the world’s poorest.  It would be an honor to serve America, the country I love very dearly, by partnering with those countries around the world that need our help the most.

We can only have a serious conversation about reducing poverty and fostering sustainable economic growth if we are seriously committed to promoting a global culture of opportunity.  This allows individuals, families, and whole communities to chart a more hopeful future.

With 30 years of professional experience managing complex projects and complex businesses, I believe opportunities need to deliver results, not just promises.  I worked in an industry that gave individuals the means to start a business, or send their children to college, or buy a place to call home.

My work with entrepreneurs supported their ideas, fostering growth in their communities.   I have seen firsthand how giving people a credible opportunity can generate sustainable, self-generating growth that improves their lives and their communities.  If confirmed, I welcome the challenge—and the enormous opportunity—to do so on behalf of the U.S. Government through MCC’s work.

We have a lot to accomplish in order to advance our government’s vision to reduce global poverty.  It is challenging to replace patronage with partnership, to deliver smart aid that matters.  By encouraging sound policies, country-led development, and sustainable results, MCC offers some important lessons on where to start. MCC lays an innovative foundation to address the complex problem of global poverty.  If confirmed, I want to transfer my skills—in management, negotiations, problem-solving, and consensus-building—to promote economic growth in such an accountable, transparent, and sustainable way.   Smart development assistance that delivers results must be the foundation of effective U.S. global engagement.

The opportunity to lead MCC as part of this effort is one I welcome.  It is one I would fulfill with passion and humility.  Should I be confirmed, I will work as a good emissary for MCC to partners around the world, to the U.S. Congress, and to stakeholders.

With the input of MCC’s professionals, the board of directors, the development community, partner countries, the private sector as a growth multiplier, and Members of this Committee and Congress as a whole, I am confident that MCC’s anti-poverty partnerships worldwide will generate sustainable economic growth and opportunity.

And, this is fundamental to enhancing our collective security and common humanity for a more prosperous, peaceful world.

Thank you for your consideration of my nomination, and I would be happy to answer your questions.

MFAN: Yohannes a Capable Leader for MCC, but Development Leadership Still Lacking

Monday, September 21st, 2009
Bookmark and Share

Daniel Y ohannes

On Friday, President Obama nominated Daniel W. Yohannes as CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.  He currently serves as the CEO of M&R Investments, LLC, a private investment firm focusing on real estate, finance, and green energy.  His previous experience includes Vice Chairman of U.S. Bank for the Commercial Banking Group, head of Integration for Community and Public Affairs, and President and CEO of U.S. Bank.  Yohannes’ strong financial services background will ensure he is focused on gaining good returns on U.S. development investments through the MCC.  His wealth of leadership experience positions him to be an effective manager of this critical development institution.

While Yohannes’ nomination is certainly a step forward, it nonetheless highlights the fact that we are still without a USAID Administrator.  Despite pledges to elevate development as a pillar of U.S. foreign policy, made by both the President and Secretary Clinton, there is still no leader in place nine months into the new administration.  And momentum from other branches of government indicates that the time to act is now.  With the QDDR process in State, the recently announced PSD in the White House, and draft legislation in the House (H.R. 2139) and Senate (S. 1524) we are more positioned than ever before to make foreign assistance reform happen.  To facilitate this reform, and prevent more fragmentation of U.S. development, we need a USAID Administrator.