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Sarah Rose is a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. Her work, as part of the Center’s US Development Policy Initiative, focuses on US government aid effectiveness. Areas of research and analysis include US development policy in fragile states, the use of evaluation and evidence to inform programming and policy, the implementation of country ownership principles, the policies and operation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and aid transition processes. Previously, Rose worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Mozambique as a specialist in strategic information and monitoring and evaluation. She also worked at MCC, focusing on the agency’s country selection and eligibility processes. She holds a Masters degree in public policy and a BS in foreign service, both from Georgetown University.
The US Department of Defense (DOD) is not a development agency, but it does manage millions of dollars of development assistance. In the early 2000s, DOD took on a significantly expanded development role, prompting a number of concerns and creating a lingering perception of intensive US military involvement in development activities. In fact, lessons learned from this era drove a reconceptualization of the Pentagon’s role in development.
The world, as they say, is moving “beyond aid.” As true as that may be in aggregate, however, the trend doesn’t apply evenly across groups of countries. While fairly significant data gaps prevent a complete and unbiased picture, the available data show that ODA remains a comparatively prominent source of external financing for fragile states.
Over the last decade, the US government has repeatedly expressed its commitment to incorporating “country ownership” into the way it designs and delivers foreign assistance. This paper draws upon perception-based data from government officials and donor staff in 126 developing countries to explore how development policymakers and practitioners evaluate US government efforts that promote (or hinder) country ownership and the extent to which these efforts are perceived as useful. While the US government does pursue some approaches considered favorable for country ownership, practices that put countries more firmly in the driver’s seat are underutilized compared to their perceived utility.
When MCC was founded, there was widespread skepticism about the effectiveness of foreign assistance. Many observers, both external and internal to development institutions, agreed that too much aid was being spent on poor projects in service of poorly defined objectives with correspondingly little understanding of what these funds were achieving.
CGD and the Brookings Institution recently released the third edition of the Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA), a joint venture that measures donor performance across a series of aid quality indicators to encourage governments, institutions, and agencies to disburse more effective, transparent, and efficient assistance.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) was established to provide large-scale grant funding to poor, well-governed countries to support their efforts to reduce poverty and generate economic growth. However, the statutory definition of which countries are “poor” for the purposes of MCC candidacy is inadequate. Based solely on GNI per capita with a rigid graduation threshold, it does not portray a clear picture of broad-based well-being in a country. Using a new, comprehensive country-level dataset of median consumption/income, the authors explore the merits and limitations of such a measure and suggest how it might be applied as an additional determinant of MCC candidacy.