MLI Newsletter - January 25, 2012

January 25, 2012 - February 25, 2012

Lire l'ILM Voices en français.

MLI event draws leaders, explores country ownership

At the opening keynote of the "Advancing Country Ownership for Greater Results" roundtable, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said it was no surprise that the event drew several senior US government officials: "We are here in force today because we want to learn about country ownership in order to shift the way we work to adopt these principles, and take on that task and challenge." But putting country ownership into practice is a challenge, said several of the participants. "It's very easy [for donors] to say the government should be in the driver's seat. But sometimes the donors still have the remote control," said Dr. Salif Samake, Director of the Planning and Statistics Unit for the Ministries of Health, Social Development, and Women's Affairs in Mali.

In recent years, this debate on country ownership has been central in the push toward improving international aid effectiveness. MLI organized the roundtable to share its lessons in working with health ministries and also to give leaders representing donors, developing countries and development partners a platform to air the most pressing issues facing them today. The discussion delved deeply into the structural and political challenges involved in trying to advance country ownership, as well as what it will take operationally to move beyond the rhetoric of country ownership to action.

The roundtable event was chaired by Honorable Mary Robinson and Dr. Francis Omaswa. Listen to audio of the event online.

New release: The MLI Model for Advancing Country Ownership

The MLI Model for Advancing Country Ownership describes how development partners and donors can strengthen country ownership by working with government bodies, mainly ministries of health. MLI has developed and implemented an approach that translates the concept of country ownership into reality. At the "Advancing Country Ownership for Greater Results" roundtable, MLI released its Model, a legacy document which describes the experience and lessons learned from working for nearly five years with ministry leaders in its five partner countries—Ethiopia, Mali, Nepal, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. The MLI Model outlines the four strategies that make MLI distinctive and successful:

  • Country-led planning
  • Demand-driven technical assistance
  • South-South exchange
  • Strategic communications

These four strategies can help ministries of health to identify and act on their government priorities, build upon existing political will to advance those priorities, and mobilize national government and donor support to carry out their work. While MLI specifically focused on the areas of health financing for equity, health systems strengthening, and reproductive health, the MLI Model can be applied to any area of development practice.

Voices on Ownership: MLI blog highlights all sides of the story

In a four-part blog series following the MLI roundtable, multiple perspectives on country ownership were highlighted:

Voices on Ownership: Administrator Rajiv Shah- Administrator Shah emphasized that change in countries can only happen "…with country ownership, leadership, and commitment."

Voices on Ownership: Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus- Ethiopia's Minister of Health shared his country ownership approach: one vision, one set of priorities, and one group -- donors, partners and countries – working together.

Voices on Ownership: Development leaders- Pape Gaye, President and CEO of IntraHealth and one of the many development leaders featured in this blog, said that country ownership for international NGOs means "we have to reinvent ourselves in this new vision."

Voices on Ownership: US government officials- Amie Batson, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health for USAID, commented on some of the challenges, "At the top levels of the US government we are committed to change. Then it comes to reality, changing bureaucracy, systems, and what you do on Monday morning. We are sitting between all these different and opposing voices."

MLI Director Rosann Wisman offered her thoughts on country ownership in her blog Wisman on MLI: Skepticism faded, trust grew, "In our experience with MLI, we have learned that developing country governments, through their ministries of health, can lead the way." 

More on "Advancing Country Ownership for Great Results" can be found on MLI's website and on the Global Post.

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