New MCC-PEPFAR Partnership Aims to Boost Ownership

See below for a guest post from Sylvain Browa, Director of Aid Effectiveness at Save the Children. Browa writes about a new partnership between MCC and PEPFAR to promote country ownership.

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The 2010 QDDR called for the U.S. Government to change the way it does business, particularly, “work smarter to deliver results.” A new memorandum of agreement (MOA) between PEPFAR and MCC announced last week could do just that. Over the next three years, MCC will help PEPFAR increase host-country responsibility and ownership of HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB) programming in select countries.

This agreement is an important demonstration of PEPFAR’s commitment to doing business differently, and demonstrates how an already successful multi-billion dollar initiative can recognize the need to improve and act on it.

Putting host countries in the driver’s seat in the fight against HIV/AIDS and TB is not just the right thing to do, but has the potential to effectively help sustain the massive gains achieved by PEPFAR over the years. In this new approach, countries will own and (where necessary, learn to) implement PEPFAR priorities. As drivers, these countries will also bring something for the trip – if not the car, at least gas money and a deep knowledge of the road ahead. Greater host country responsibility and ownership of PEPFAR activities puts countries in the position to coordinate investments from other donors to strengthen their national fight against HIV/AIDS and TB.

This new agreement tells us that, in order to reap the full benefit of this mid-course correction, PEPFAR understands the need to get the partnership with host countries right. And they have reached out to a sister agency (MCC) with the comparative advantage and experience to help frame, structure, and set up these partnerships. MCC remains the guru among U.S. aid agencies on how to structure trustworthy partnerships where partner countries are accountable (and rewarded) for formulating their own priorities, implementing them, and delivering results for their people.

From my perspective, this agreement with MCC will work if PEPFAR can objectively commit to:

  • Amending its country operational plan (COP) process to allow partner countries to bring their own priorities forward for meaningful negotiation.
  • Aligning PEPFAR’s often uncoordinated multi-agency interventions in country behind a single entry point of engagement with partner countries like in MCC’s partner government-led MCA teams.
  • Being transparent with partner countries about all PEPFAR programs related information, including budgets, and even policy constraints at home.

In addition to being paid for its services, MCC could learn from PEPFAR’s increasing efforts to value and integrate domestic resources with U.S. funding at the country level and position our financial support (direct support to the public and private sector) as a fundamental element of the country’s available domestic and external resources to fight HIV/AIDS and TB.

This is an interagency collaboration worth following closely. And we will.

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