This is one of seven MCC at Ten papers and briefs.

Summary

One of the key pillars of MCC’s model is that country ownership matters for results. In broad terms, the idea of country ownership is that donors’ engagement with developing countries should reflect the understanding that partner country governments, in consultation with key stakeholders, should lead the development and implementation of their own national strategies and that foreign aid should largely serve to strengthen recipients’ capacity to exercise this role. This concept was a key element of the international aid effectiveness agenda emerging at the time of MCC’s founding and remains a priority throughout the foreign assistance community. Although the concept of country ownership has been recognized by some within the international development community since the late 1980s, it was formally embraced as an element of best practice by the donor community in the Paris Declaration (2005), again in the Accra Agenda for Action (2008), and then again in the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan (2011).

Country ownership is a significant factor shaping four main elements of MCC’s approach to country engagement:

  • Project identification
  • Compact implementation
  • Policy conditionality
  • Accountability

This paper looks at how MCC incorporates country ownership into each of these elements, how MCC’s approach to country ownership has evolved over time, and the circumstances in which MCC has had to balance country ownership with other operational mandates (e.g., the need for expedient implementation and the need to manage fiduciary risk) and other key pillars of its model (especially the focus on results). It explores how MCC remains different from other US foreign aid thinking and practice around country ownership and offers recommendations for how MCC should strengthen its approach in this area in the future.

Related: Focus on Country Ownership: MCC’s Model in Practice (brief)