Millennium Aid Funding Achieving Results, Official Says

By Kathryn McConnell
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funds are achieving development results by focusing on such country-identified priorities as infrastructure improvements that make access to markets, clinics and schools possible, and support projects that secure land tenure for farmers, says John Danilovich, MCC's executive director.

Testifying March 13 before a House Appropriations subcommittee, Danilovich said MCC funding also increasingly is being channeled toward such country priorities as improvements to sanitation and irrigation systems, and providing microloans to women entrepreneurs.

The investments eventually will lead to higher household incomes, which will enhance poor people’s resources for better food, housing, education and health care, Danilovich said.

More than 22 million people in 11 partner countries already are benefiting from MCC-funded projects, he said.

In Nicaragua, MCC's $175 million multiyear agreement aimed at rural business development has helped build a rural milk-collection facility and has attracted foreign investment in a textile manufacturing company expected to create 1,500 jobs.

In Georgia, which has a $295 million agreement, MCC funding is being used to rehabilitate water supplies in two cities serving 230,000 people. The project is expected to generate almost $60 million in economic benefits to the two cities over the life of the compact, Danilovich said.

He urged congressional approval of the full $3 billion the Bush administration is requesting for the MCC for fiscal year 2008.

The MCC expects to sign funding agreements, called compacts, with four additional countries in the current fiscal year, fiscal year 2007 and up to eight countries in fiscal year 2008, Danilovich said. The average size of a new compact will be between $400 million and $500 million, he said.

Ten percent of MCC funding is directed to its "threshold" agreements that focus primarily on strengthening governance, especially fighting corruption, improving child immunization rates and improving elementary completion rates for girls, Danilovich said.

For example, Burkina Faso's $12.9 million threshold funding is being used to build new schools throughout the country that will encourage more girls to attend. Some include day care centers so girls can be near younger siblings for whom they are responsible, and separate restrooms for girls and boys.

These schools also provide take-home food rations for families with girls who attend school at least 90 percent of the time school is in session.

The full text of Danilovich’s prepared testimony is available on the MCC Web site.

For more information on U.S. policies, see Millennium Challenge Account.