What is Innovative Development Finance? Depends on Who You Ask.

Twitter photo

Andrew Wainer

Director of Policy Research in the Public Policy and Advocacy Department 

Washington, DC

May 27, 2015

Financing is currently at the center of global development discussions and will be center stage in July at the Financing for Development (FFD) conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Thousands of finance experts and policymakers will descend on Addis to advance their vision on funding for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will be approved in September at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

The SDGs are extremely ambitious – ending extreme poverty and child deaths are just two of its global goals – and achieving them will require a new development financing paradigm.

A clear and meaningful conversation on FFD is not an academic exercise. If we don’t get development finance right, the SDGs won’t be realized.  So it’s important to have well-defined terms as a foundation for action.

One of the most-discussed among the multitude of development financing tools is innovative finance. Before diving into definitional issues, there are several things to know about innovative finance:

  • It’s viewed as a solution to declining levels of traditional official development assistance (ODA). As national budgets in wealthy nations are squeezed, ODA decreases, and policymakers and analysts are shifting their focus to innovative finance to fill the gap. 
  • The term was coined at a previous financing for development discussion in 2002 in Monterrey, Mexico where the Monterrey Consensus emphasized, “The value of exploring innovative sources of finances.”
  • Everybody is interested in innovative finance. USAID, the UN, McKinsey and Company, and many, many others view innovative finance as a key component to meet the SDG financing needs and the lack of funding currently available.

But there’s one problem: There’s no common definition of innovative finance. In fact, some definitions are diametrically opposed.

Words matter. To analyze and envision development finance effectively at Addis – and then implement that vision – we need to have a (at least somewhat) common understanding of what we are talking about.

Currently, agencies are talking past each other when discussing innovative finance:

  • The UN often discusses it in terms of taxation. In its draft of the Addis Ababa Accord innovative finance includes, “Financial transaction tax, carbon taxes… taxes on fuels used in international aviation and maritime activities, or additional tobacco taxes.”

One major example of this type of innovative development  is UNITAID. UNITAID was established in 2006 to increase funding for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis treatments in low-income countries. 

About half of UNITAID’s $2.4 billion funding comes from an airline ticket tax. Through this $1-2 “solidarity tax, levied in nations as diverse as Chile, Congo, France, Madagascar, the Republic of Korea, UNITAID is able to fund much of its operations.

Is this innovative finance? According to some U.S. foreign assistance agencies, innovative finance has almost the opposite connotation.

One classic example of innovative financing that engages the private sector is the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).  GAVI pools the demand from developing countries for new vaccines and provides long-term, predictable financing to attract new (private) vaccine manufacturers who otherwise would not work on the issue because it wouldn’t be profitable.

It’s a great example of government donors shaping a market so that it’s profitable for the private sector. It’s also been great for children in poor nations immunizing 370 million children worldwide.

The main agreement on innovative finance across many organizations is that there is no common definition. On this point there is almost word-for-word consistency.

  • International development consulting company Dalberg states, “Innovative finance means different things to different people.”

Development organizations around the world including Save the Children are looking at the July Addis Ababa meeting and the September New York UN meeting to imprint a new vision of global development.

That vision will be conveyed through words.

Without a better understanding of innovative financing and other SDG finance models, acting on the vision that comes out of Addis Ababa and New York City will make a challenging goal even more difficult.

In the short term, crafting a more inclusive – yet cogent – definition of innovative finance in the Addis Ababa Accord would be an ideal platform for a more meaningful – and actionable – understanding of the term.

However defined, innovative finance should adhere to the core principles of effective development finance: It should be transparent, accountable, and aligned with developing nations’ priorities.

Over the long-term, models should be tested, evaluated, and results should be disseminated and shared among the vast array of organizations working on innovative finance.

Only by first defining the term and then learning – and sharing – what works, will innovative finance live up to its promise to revolutionize international development.

 

 

Building government health systems in Bangladesh

Areba Panni

Areba Panni, Advisor-Strategic Communications,
MCHIP/Save the Children

Dhaka, Bangladesh

March 28, 2013


Bangladesh is a low-income nation in South Asia and one of
the most densely populated countries in the world.  Despite this, maternal mortality rates have decreased
by 40 percent since 2001 and the country is on track to achieve the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs)
on reducing maternal and child deaths by 2015. In fact, only eight other countries out of
the 74 that account for most of the maternal and child deaths can claim this
achievement. Maternal deaths remain concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and
South Asia, an indication of global disparities in women’s access to much
needed care during pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period as well as
family planning services.  Bangladesh’s
astonishing progress in the health sector can be credited in part to the
government and communities working together at the district level to deliver
lifesaving assistance to mothers and babies in need.

An innovative safe motherhood project “MaMoni,” meaning
“mother-child,” has been supporting health systems coordination and service
delivery in fifteen sub-districts of rural Bangladesh since 2009.  Funded by the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID)
, the MaMoni project is run by Save the Children in
Bangladesh and two local NGOs, Shimantik and FIVDB, in partnership with Bangladesh’s
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The project aims to integrate household, community, and governmental
efforts to achieve improved health outcomes from the district level down to the
grassroots.  

As part of its reform agenda called “USAID Forward,” USAID is
focused on delivering results in an efficient and sustainable way, by building
the capacity of country governments and by providing more funds to country
governments directly. In Bangladesh, USAID
is boosting the capacity of the government to deliver health services to rural
areas. The agency has aligned its approach
with the government’s health sector strategy and for the first time is
investing $40 million over five years in the Bangladesh government through the
World Bank’s “Single Donor Trust Fund” to support health care and other
sectors. 

AidReform_Mariam BegumThe investment by the
United States and other donors to improve the government’s health service
delivery systems is making a big difference for women facing birth
emergencies. Last year, Mariam Begum,
who was living in a small village, was experiencing pain and heavy bleeding
following the birth of her child. A
local community volunteer, trained by MaMoni staff to recognize severe
conditions like Mariam’s, helped arrange her transport by a water ambulance to the
nearest government-owned health center where she was further evaluated. When the health center was unable to deal
with the severity of her condition, she was transferred to the district
hospital.  Mariam’s life was saved due to
the quick assessment of her condition by a community volunteer and the linkages
between the community and government health workers. 

In addition to facilitating
delivery of emergency services, MaMoni focuses on institution building and
community engagement and will assist the management of 11,000 community clinics
set up by the government in the country to roll out trainings for community
health care providers. MaMoni trains
government health workers to offer women pre- and post- pregnancy counseling,
birth assistance, vaccinations, and counseling on exclusive breastfeeding.

A network of more than 13,000 community volunteers set up and
trained by MaMoni respond to the needs of mothers and newborns, spot cases that
require treatment in health facilities, and help organize local health planning
meetings. The community volunteers collect health information from the
community and meet with frontline government health workers at the end of every
month to update registers. Large wall charts in the government’s family welfare
centers track where pregnant women live, their due dates, and whether they are
experiencing complications that should be monitored.   MaMoni staff are in regular dialogue with
the government to help improve their information systems and service delivery.

Based on these best practices from MaMoni, USAID is working
with other districts to introduce health systems strengthening projects. USAID’s ultimate goal is to demonstrate a
successful model and enable the government of Bangladesh to take it to scale throughout
the country.

USAID’s investments in
government capacity building help to ensure the long-term sustainability of
health programming in Bangladesh beyond the life of MaMoni and other
projects.   With these investments, survival
rates of at-risk mothers like Mariam increase and the coordination between
communities and the government improves the quality of and the access to women’s
health services throughout Bangladesh.

 

Liberia’s Government Takes the Helm to Protect Vulnerable Children


Geoffrey OyatGeoffrey
Oyat, Child Protection Manager

Monrovia, Liberia

February 28, 2013


Mr. Mulbah, a farmer in Gleegbar Town in northwest Liberia,
was persuaded by a distant family member to send his four older children to a
boarding school in Monrovia in 2007. 
This school, Aunt Musu said, would provide a better life for his two sons
and two daughters since there was no good school in Gleegbar Town. Four years later, Mr. Mulbah was notified
that his children were living in an orphanage, where they had been beaten,
starved, and forced to beg for money on the streets. Mr. Mulbah’s children were
returned to him in July 2011 and he is now caring for a family of nine and
sending all his children to the local school in Gleegbar Town. Although Mr. Mulbah is now reunited with his
children, many other parents in the region still face uncertainty about their
kids’ whereabouts.

Poor services and poverty in rural areas compel parents to
send their children to the capital city Monrovia with hopes for a better life
for their children. Parents enroll their kids in orphanages with false promises
of funding for their education. An
assessment done by Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in 2008
found that a majority of the 5,000 children living in orphanages in Liberia are
not orphaned but wrongly placed.    

The Government of Liberia is faced with the daunting task of supervising
orphanages and ensuring the protection of Liberia’s two million children. Moreover, the country is still recovering
from a 16-year civil war and its institutional capacity remains weak.

AidreformLIBOver the past decade, Save the Children has been assisting
Liberia’s Department of Social Welfare, the government ministry
responsible for child protection on measures and structures to prevent and
respond to abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence affecting children. 

With funding from the United States
Agency for International Development (USAID)
’s Displaced Children and Orphan’s
Fund, and administered by World Learning, Save the Children Liberia has been removing
children from the streets, unsafe orphanages, and other risky circumstances,
and reintegrating them with their parents when possible. We have also helped parents to improve their skills
and economic opportunities to prevent family separations in the first place.  

With its latest package of reforms called “USAID Forward”,
USAID is investing more resources in building the capacity of Liberia’s institutions
to take over essential functions such as child protection and health services
that were primarily led by international NGOs and private contractors in the
years immediately following the war. By
shifting these responsibilities –from US entities to the Liberian public sector
– USAID is fostering sustainable development and reducing the need for U.S.
development assistance over time.

Over the past several years, Save the Children's role
has expanded beyond providing child protection services alongside Liberia’s
Department of Social Welfare. We are now
working to help improve the government’s tracking and protection system for
vulnerable children. In the USAID-funded
project called, “Educating and
Protecting Vulnerable Children in Family Settings” project, we are setting up a
case management system for the Department of Social Welfare, in partnership with World Learning, to enhance
the government’s ability to prevent vulnerable children from being separated
from their families and reintegrate those that have been separated. World
Learning has also been working to build the capacity of the Department of Social Welfare in child
protection and other priority areas. Since
the project began, we have prevented 457 separations and returned 221 children,
ages 4 to 18, to safe homes.

Once the project is over in 2014, the Department of Social
Welfare will take leadership over the protection and unification of children in
Liberia. They will have quality baseline
information on vulnerable families in six counties and an active county-level
database of families linked to the national record. Moreover, members of Liberia’s judiciary
and police will be able to work with 36 community groups and local leaders trained
by Save the Children to identify child protection risks, relevant laws, and local
services provided by the Department of Social Welfare.   

Building stronger and more responsive government institutions
is a challenging task, particularly in a country like Liberia that has been so
deeply impacted by war. Efforts by Save
the Children, however, help to ensure that U.S. development assistance not only
improves the lives of vulnerable children in Liberia now but also strengthens the
country’s public institutions to lead and drive effective service delivery for
at-risk kids in Liberia in the future.  

Public, Private, and Civil Society Partnerships in Action


Yasmina padillaYasmina Padilla, Food Security Project Coordinator

Managua, Nicaragua

January 11, 2013


We like to think of development as a team
sport requiring all players to work together toward the same goal. The game gets particularly exciting when you
add new players to the team at half time. 

Save the Children has served children and
families in Nicaragua for almost 80 years. Three years ago, we began partnering
with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (GMCR), based in Vermont, on a
project to increasethe income and food security for families of workers on
coffee farms. By helping families to diversify
their crops, improve storage techniques, and bring crops to market, they can
better withstand periods of food scarcity during the months between coffee
harvests.

The United States Agency for International
Development
(USAID) joined the partnership two years ago, adding an ambitious
health component through their regional “4th Sector Health” project. Implemented by Abt Associates, 4th
Sector Health develops public-private partnerships and supports exchanges
between countries to advance development through health in Latin America and
the Caribbean. In Nicaragua, 4th
Sector Health is working with Save the Children and GMCR, along with local civil
society partners, to boost maternal and child health and nutrition for the same
coffee-growing communities.

USAID’s 4th Sector Health also
recently funded an experience sharing trip for Save the Children staff from five
Latin American countries, who were involved in implementing GMCR-funded
projects. The participants learned from each other’s experiences and are
replicating best practices in their own programs, serving to increase their
impact and sustainability.

The alliance between USAID, Save the Children,
and GMCR is intended to maximize the use of resources and help identify new
solutions to challenges affecting these communities. Sometimes the alliance
organizations face challenges of their own — coordinating work plans, reporting
on technical outcomes, and carrying out their separate missions. 

Public-private partnerships, otherwise known
as the “Golden Triangle,”are a hot topic in the field of international
development. Donors like USAID have
invested millions of dollars in partnerships with the private sector, yet some
development experts have questioned the development impact of such partnerships in
achieving real benefits for the poor and marginalized in developing countries.

As part of its recent reform efforts, USAID has
put more attention towards improving its public-private
partnership model. For one, USAID is including technical experts
in health and nutrition such as Save the Children in some partnerships,
recognizing that U.S. civil society groups lend valuable expertise in
maternal-child health and other technical areas. Moreover, USAID is steering the private sector
towards achievement of concrete development targets through their partnerships,
as well as ensuring that companies are held to certain standards, such as
respect for workers and environmental stewardship.

From my perspective, this alliance between Save the Children
Nicaragua, USAID, and GMCR, is having a transformative impact on the
communities in which it operates.

Photo Credit: Gerardo Aráuz

Photo Credit: Gerardo Aráuz

Martha Lorena Diaz is one of many
enterprising women working with us,whose partner, Jose Manuel Benavidez, is a
coffee farmer on a cooperative that sells to GMCR. Martha was initially given five
hens and now keeps 40 in her small business, earning about one dollar a day
from selling the eggs and chickens. Save
the Children project training sessions have helped Martha to identify nutritious
sources of food for her three children, particularly during the lean months when
she struggles to provide enough food for them. Martha now makes a corn flour drink to boost
her childrens’ daily vitamin intake. Moreover, health promoters, trained by
Save the Children, visit her neighborhood and others to monitor child health
and nutrition and treat sick children in their communities, which are often far
from the closest health center.

Successful partnerships, such as the one
between USAID, GMCR, and Save the Children Nicaragua, are critical to achieving
lasting results in the communities that we all serve. With an increase in
USAID’s partnerships with private sector and NGO players, who are committed to
making a real difference in the lives of families in Nicaragua and elsewhere, I
believe our team will prevail.

Building resilience in the Horn of Africa

Abomsa KebedeAbomsa
Kebede, Technical Advisor, Save the Children Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

December 3, 2012


Two-year-old Lokko
Godana drinks cow’s milk every
morning. The milk is rich in proteins
and vitamins, providing Lokko the nutrition she needs to supplement a daily diet
of maize porridge. Lack of access to
animal milk was the primary cause of her malnutrition last year when the
drought slowed cow milk production in the southern pastoral areas of Ethiopia. With supplementary
feeding for the cattle, milk production increased and Lokko’s health improved.  

AidreformScreenCapMalnutrition accounts for 53 percent of infant and child
deaths in Ethiopia and children in pastoralist communities are among the most
nutritionally vulnerable in the country due to recurrent and prolonged periods
of drought. The lack of rainfall
devastates fodder and water sources for cattle and other animals, decreasing milk
production and putting children under five at risk of severe malnutrition.  

For decades, Save the Children Ethiopia has been working with
pastoralist families in Ethiopia to help them plan for, manage, and recover
from drought emergencies. While we cannot stop droughts, there are
successful strategies to lessen their impact.

One significant challenge in responding early to a severe
drought is getting needed resources to communities fast. Speed is critical to preventing malnutrition. In the past, to receive disaster-related
funding, Save the Children and other groups had to make new applications for
funding to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other
donors, which often takes weeks or even months to process. This has been necessary because USAID and
other donors historically have run emergency and development programs on
separate tracks with separate funding sources, application processes, and
program objectives. This has meant that
even when we see a drought coming, we don’t typically have the flexibility to
reprogram resources or receive new resources quickly in order to avert severe
hunger and lack of nourishment, despite having existing relationships and
funding mechanisms in place.

USAID is changing
this way of working. Today USAID will
unveil a new resilience strategy to support chronically risk-prone communities
in between, before and after the repeat cycles of disaster. Furthermore, the agency will begin to broadly
apply instruments, such as the “crisis modifier”, to quicken the pace of
disaster response in the Horn of Africa and in other regions. The crisis modifier is a program
component written into a cooperative agreement targeting drought-prone areas. USAID has integrated this option into
development programs to reduce the processing and approval for emergency
funding, even before a disaster strikes.

USAID already has implemented the crisis modifier successfully
in my country for years. For example, in
a project that I help manage, called “Pastoral Livelihoods Initiative,” or PLI,
funded by USAID, the crisis modifier can make the difference between life and
death for livestock – and malnutrition for kids. When
the drought hits, the crisis modifier allows emergency programs to begin
immediately by adding funds provided by USAID’s “Office of U.S. Foreign
Disaster Assistance” (OFDA), to our existing PLI grant enabling Save the
Children and our project partners to address the crisis early and limit its
effects. The emergency funds help to
prevent livestock loss through activities such as supplementary livestock feeding and
commercial destocking to help families sell livestock ahead of a drought and
then replace them after the drought. In response to the emergency in 2011, USAID programmed
approximately $1.6 million through the crisis modifier to the consortium led by
Save the Children under the second phase of the PLI project. As a result, this project was able to lessen
the impact of the drought for more than 180,000 people. 

USAID is not planning to create a new bureau to implement
their resilience agenda, but instead will bring all bureaus together- OFDA,
Food for Peace, Global Health, Food Security, Climate Change and others — to do
more joint problem solving and planning. Instead of sending multiple teams out to target countries to complete
separate analyses and action plans, USAID has launched “joint planning cells” from
these bureaus to connect staff in the field and in Washington. These joint planning cells set objectives, design
projects, and develop procurements around the same problems of community
vulnerability, looking at both immediate and long term needs. This
joint approach appears to be paying dividends.

While recognizing that the resilience approach, crisis
modifier, and joint planning cells are not yet standard practice across USAID
programs, I believe they show good progress in the right direction. While developed initially for the case of Ethiopia,
USAID is looking for ways to introduce the crisis modifier to other
disaster-prone countries around the world. Just in the Horn of
Africa, USAID is seeking to directly benefit 10 million people and reduce the
numbers of people that need emergency assistance by one million over five years
through resilience-focused programming.

We as Ethiopians feel that our government and local
institutions should increasingly lead, manage, and apply these disaster risk
management techniques in a way that is most appropriate for our communities. Moreover, we need to create early warning
systems for livestock crises and community-based resilience funds that are
coordinated with the Ethiopian government’s emergency response. Already the Ethiopian government has adopted
some PLI best practices in its national emergency livestock guidelines.  

USAID must play a strong leadership role with the Ethiopian
government and other donors to ensure that resilience is not just another fad
but a meaningful and sustainable step forward in changing how all national and global
institutions address recurrent crises. Kids like Lokko are counting on it. 

Fighting global poverty with locally led strategies


Matthew Pickard_Malawi (2)Mathew Pickard, Malawi
 Country Director 

September 25, 2012

Lilongwe, Malawi


In
2008 Malita Chimwemwe was six-years-old living in the remote village of
Mayaka. Her family was hit by chronic poverty and HIV/AIDs. Malita
was in first grade at the local primary school but was speech-impaired. She was
lucky; her village was part of Save the Children’s early childhood development
(ECD) sponsorship program and through this program, Malita attended a
community-based center where she was given speech training. Government-supported
community health workers provided Malita’s family with medical
assistance.  

JennrusseulBLOGIn Malawi needs such as Malita’s are widespread.  One
child in eight dies before reaching five years due to poor health or
nutrition. Most Malawian mothers have to carry their children on
their backs for long distances to seek health care. Free primary
education is offered in Malawi but face declining standards and high drop-out
rates. Malawi’s government needs and welcomes donor support, but U.S.
government-funded programs, including those aimed at reducing poverty, have not
always aligned with Malawi’s needs at the community level.

Requirements set in Washington– such as congressional earmarks
and global targets –have at times constrained the ability of the U.S.
government, the national government and partners in country to address Malawi’s
community health and education needs. Over 80 percent of U.S.
foreign assistance funds are directed to specific programs before they hit the
country level. Pre-determined funding allocations often undermine
the ability of the U.S. government and partners to provide assistance when,
where and how it is most needed.

Save
the Children Malawi has been involved in a new USAID initiative that is trying
to change this and better connect U.S. foreign aid decisions to local needs and
priorities. As part of its “Forward Initiative,”
the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is creating a five-year
Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) in Malawi to increase
country-driven programming. Working closely with host country
governments and citizens, civil society organizations, other donors and U.S.
government agencies, CDCSs are being developed at the majority of USAID’s
country and regional missions worldwide. A goal of the CDCS process
is to actively take into account the rights and interests of the country’s
citizens.  In Malawi, this means a
greater sensitivity to the development needs of citizens at the community level,
positively impacting more vulnerable children like Malita.  Seventeen CDCSs have been approved so far,
with a total of 73 expected to be completed by the end of 2013.  

Community consultation is not new to
USAID, but what’s different about the CDCS process in Malawi has been the depth
and reach of these consultations. For example, earlier this year,
USAID partnered with the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College to convene
citizen groups across the country at the national, district, and village level,
in order to capture the voices of a wide range of people.
This process is also expected to inform the government of Malawi’s own
programs, policies and services, leading to better country-led development over
the long-term.

The CDCS process in
Malawi is still underway. If
the initiative moves ahead as planned, and the people’s voices are listened
to, U.S. development budgets and resource allocations in Malawi will be
driven more by localized strategies and plans developed by Malawi’s
citizens than by a top-down approach out of Washington. This is not just a matter of principle, but of impact. When local communities and governments have a
sense of ownership over development, they invest their own energy and resources
to make it successful.

For
the CDCS process to accomplish its purpose, CDCS consultations should be broad
and deep in all countries and involve communities, government, and other
development stakeholders. USAID missions in the other countries must create
opportunities for genuine engagement at the community level and potential for
influencing national government priorities – as in Malawi. 

Aligning the U.S.
government’s poverty reduction and community development efforts with the needs
and priorities of Malawi’s citizens will lead to better futures for not only
thousands of children like Malita, but for the nation as a whole. 

In
2008 a Malawi government official said, “If each country was given a chance to
really prioritize what it wants, then we could make a difference in
poverty”. With this new U.S. government strategic planning and
budgeting approach, Malita Chimwemwe and other citizens in Malawi may have a
greater voice in their fight against poverty. Today, as Malita moves
to grade four, she can look at her future with more hope
and confidence that her voice and that of her community will be heard.

Moving Local Organizations into the Driver’s Seat

Carlos CardenasCarlos Cardenas, Guatemala Country Director  

Guatemala City, Guatemala

July 18, 2012


Sometimes the best way to serve families over the long haul is to step back. A recent change to U.S. foreign assistance policy is putting more local organizations in the lead on development projects around the world.

X00228_9In Guatemala, chronic malnutrition keeps half the country’s children from developing properly. That fuels a vicious cycle of poverty that hurts children in rural, indigenous communities the most. U.S. investments to break this cycle have helped countless children and families, but new reforms mean Guatemalans will play a bigger, more sustainable role in fighting the worst rate of chronic malnutrition in the Western hemisphere.

Save the Children has worked in Guatemala for 14 years with a variety of public and private funding to help poor populations overcome the impact of poverty and three decades of civil conflict. As an international nonprofit humanitarian and development agency, we work alongside communities to implement integrated programs that improve health, nutrition, economic opportunities, disaster risk reduction, democracy and governance.

For the last five years, Save the Children was the prime recipient of funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to run a major food security project. In tandem, a local consortium created by Guatemala’s largest export corporations called AGEXPORT was running small scale projects with USAID funds opening up markets for poor rural farmers.  

As a result of USAID’s policy called Implementation and Procurement Reform, AGEXPORT is about to move into the driver’s seat. Under this policy, USAID aims to spend 30 percent of its resources on local institutions by 2015. In Guatemala, USAID has required that a local organization be the prime funding recipient in a new Feed the Future project called “Rural Value Chains.” AGEXPORT has been selected to take the lead and AGEXPORT has asked Save the Children to play a supportive role by providing key technical support and institutional capacity.

We know that improving farmers’ access to markets leads to greater, steadier income through the year and–critically for children–to improved nutrition for their own families. 

If the new project moves ahead as planned, AGEXPORT will bring its expertise with domestic market to the partnership, and Save the Children will bring our experience improving children’s nutrition and food security.

AGEXPORT’s selection as the prime grantee will also give the organization the opportunity to build capacity and institutional expertise to lead increasingly large-scale projects. 

That bodes well for the future.

In the next grant cycle, I suspect that AGEXPORT may not need Save the Children or any other international NGO to improve conditions for Guatemalan farmers and their children. And Save the Children can move on to another area where our technical expertise and services are still truly needed. 

Working ourselves out of a job is a development success.