Millennium Challenge Corporation
MCC Threshold Programs: Improving Capacity, Reducing Corruption
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an innovative and independent U.S. foreign aid agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty. Created by the U.S. Congress in 2004 with strong bipartisan support, MCC is changing the conversation on how best to deliver smart U.S. foreign aid by focusing on good policies, country ownership and results.
The MCC Threshold Program is designed to assist countries that are not yet eligible for MCC compacts but have demonstrated a significant commitment to improving policy performance on MCC's selection criteria for compact grants. MCC works with Threshold Program countries to enact targeted policy and institutional reforms focusing on the policy areas underlying MCC's eligibility indicators: ruling justly, investing in people and economic freedom. To date, MCC has signed Threshold Program agreements with 21 countries totaling over $495 million.
Burkina Faso's $12.9 million Threshold Program focused on increasing the number of girls completing primary education. The program included the construction of "girl-friendly" schools, teacher training, take-home dry rations to girls who maintain a 90 percent school attendance rate, and a literacy training center for mothers. Burkina Faso completed its Threshold Program; it signed an MCC compact in July 2008.
Kenya's $12.7 million Threshold Program focused on reducing opportunities for corruption in public governance. The Threshold Program targeted corruption in public procurement, the delivery of health care, and the monitoring and evaluation of reforms. The Kenya Threshold Program is completed.
Liberia's three-year, $15 million MCC Threshold Program is promoting equal access to land and increased land security through better understanding of property rights issues and improved land administration. The program also focuses on improving girls' primary education enrollment and retention, and supports efforts to improve trade policy and practices, specifically in harmonizing tariffs, engaging regional and global bodies, and strengthening the regulatory environment. The Liberia Threshold Program is expected to be completed in September 2013. In December 2012, the MCC Board of Directors voted to make Liberia eligible to begin development of a compact proposal.
Malawi's $20.9 million Threshold Program focused on combating corruption, enhancing oversight functions, and building enforcement and deterrence capacity. The program strived to create more effective legislative and judicial branches of government, provide support for anti-corruption agencies, strengthen independent media coverage, and expand the work of civil society organizations. Malawi completed its Threshold Program; it signed an MCC compact in April 2011.
Niger's $23 million Threshold program has been focused on reducing public corruption within the health and education sectors; streamlining the process of starting a business; reducing the time and costs associated with land ownership transfer, land valuation, building permitting and notarization; and bolstering girls' education. In December 2009, MCC's Board of Directors voted to suspend the program based on Government of Niger actions inconsistent with MCC policies.
Niger's eligibility for Threshold assistance was reinstated, however, in June 2011 in recognition of Niger's return to democratic rule after a constitutional referendum and free and fair local, parliamentary and presidential elections. The new program, which follows on MCC's earlier $17 million investment that built 63 school complexes in Niger, was being designed to support school-based strategies to improve academic performance and to increase girls' enrollment, retention and completion. In December 2012, the MCC Board of Directors voted to make Niger eligible to begin development of a compact proposal instead.
Rwanda's $24.7 million Threshold Program focused on strengthening civic participation and promoting civil liberties by providing training, technical support and grants to local and national civil society organizations, and supporting independent community radio stations to enhance citizen engagement.
The program also reinforced Rwanda's efforts to support judicial capacity building, legislative reforms and improve overall public administration. The Rwanda Threshold Program is completed.
Saõ Tomé and Principe
Saõ Tomé and Principe's $8.66 million Threshold Program sought to increase revenue as a result of improved tax administration and enforcement. The program also modernized Saõ Tomé and Principe's Customs Service to increase efficiency and reduce the time and cost of starting a business. The Saõ Tomé and Principe Threshold Program is completed.
Tanzania's $11.1 million Threshold Program focused on four specific anti-corruption initiatives, including building the nongovernmental sectors' monitoring capacity; strengthening the rule of law for good governance; establishing a Financial Intelligence Unit; and curbing corruption in public procurement. Tanzania completed its Threshold Program; it signed an MCC compact in February 2008.
Uganda's $10.4 million Threshold Program focused on reducing corruption by improving public procurement and financial management practices, strengthening the role of civil society, and building capacity to facilitate more effective follow-up of reported malpractices. The Uganda Threshold Program is completed.
Zambia's $24.3 million Threshold Program focused on reducing corruption and improving government effectiveness. The program funded three components aimed at increasing control of corruption within the public sector, improving public service delivery to the private sector and strengthening border management of trade. Zambia completed its Threshold Program; it signed an MCC compact in May 2012.
The original version of this report can be found here.