- Created on Monday, 04 February 2013 16:15
Success for Latin America and the Caribbean means that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) must work itself out of a job. Our goal is to set the stage for people to prosper – economically, independently, and institutionally. We want to support governments and civil society to make this a reality. Maybe the biggest change in the LAC region in the last decade, is that we is much bigger than us, and our ability to help is therefore greater than ever.
In the era of scarce expertise and few resources, USAID may have worked alone. Today, with public and private resources flowing faster and farther in every direction, and governments in the region with broad evidence of success, USAID has adjusted what we mean by we. Now, it means everyone with a stake in the outcome and anyone with something to offer. After all, isn’t it better to learn from those who have succeeded through similar challenges?
Enter Chile, Colombia, and Brazil –trendsetters in the region in many respects. In terms of development progress, they have much to offer. Through trilateral cooperation, if a country has expertise that other countries in the region can benefit from, USAID is happy to be a connector, contributor, and facilitator in that process.
In recent years, Chile, in partnership with USAID, served as a trainer for counterparts at the Paraguayan customs agency, showcasing the Chilean experience as a model. The three countries worked together to strengthen the internal controls of the agency. Similarly, the three partnered to help Paraguay improve its export promotion agency: USAID supported the development of a registry of exporting firms; Chile shared its export promotion capability by providing training; and Paraguay implemented a web-enabled database for the export registry and data from Customs.
This year, Chile and the United States will improve livestock health and food safety in El Salvador. Similar arrangements in areas ranging from violence against women to agricultural technology are evolving with Brazil in Haiti and with Colombia in Guatemala.
USAID wants to exhaust the ability of every country in the Americas to learn from any country in the Americas. When we do that, and when people can thrive on their own, USAID programs can shut down. When this happens, we all have a reason to celebrate.
- Created on Thursday, 17 January 2013 15:26
Triangular cooperation fits naturally within the Chilean development process. We are a middle-income country that has gradually become a cooperating partner, but we receive cooperation in key strategic areas. Keeping this twofold relationship with traditional donors is a great asset, which allows our country to obtain concrete benefits in the development of triangular cooperation.
However, it is necessary to address the challenges the field experience has left us, in order to consolidate this form of cooperation between all stakeholders. In the following paragraphs I will address some key elements of a typical project cycle, to understand the opportunities and challenges of triangular cooperation on the ground, beyond the perspective of international relations and politics.
First of all, the negotiation and development of triangular projects is complex. Guidelines, objectives, timeline and project funding must be agreed between several parties, which usually involve more than one institution per country. The first lesson Chile has learned is that no partner works like another, therefore, the negotiation of each triangular project is different.
Therefore, the first attribute needed to be successful in generating triangular projects is to be flexible enough to adapt to the requirements that come both from traditional donors and recipient countries. At first glance this seems to be an imposition; but for Chile this is quite the opposite, as it is part of our learning process towards becoming an emerging donor, working as partners with others in project development.
In this context, negotiation is critical to the success of any triangular initiative. In this phase, the basic principles for project governance are agreed, a key aspect to ensure effective communication and efficient implementation. Since AGCI started developing triangular projects with different partners, project governance has been a major challenge, generating lessons that have allowed us to improve, particularly considering that today we are working with a greater number of partners who have limited experience in triangular cooperation. Also, following the principals of South-South cooperation, there is a direct dialogue between the parties, which -in some cases- interferes with the bilateral relations that traditional donors may have with the beneficiaries.
To address these and other challenges, it is necessary to decide among partners a basic framework for the negotiation and development of projects. This allows, from the beginning, the establishment of each other’s responsibilities, seeking to minimize the time spent by institutions to agree on deliverables. This framework should be simple, and basic principles must be agreed upon to allow a smooth communication, which considers the internal requirements of each parties, in order to identify in advance any problems and critical points in the project development process.
Once a triangular cooperation program or project is agreed upon, the next phase is implementation and monitoring. Now, the results of the previous phase will be reflected. While flexibility is the most important quality for the development of triangular cooperation, a solid governance structure is needed for successful implementation and should be reflected in a document that formalizes the agreements reached by the parties. This document should state the resources contributions, responsibilities of each actor and a work plan with activities to be undertaken.
Also, a project monitoring methodology that integrates the capabilities of the different partners and commitments made is critical. In most occasions, the methodology of the traditional donor is followed, but this does not necessarily ensure compliance with all internal requirements of all parties. Therefore, to avoid making adjustments during the implementation phase, these aspects should be incorporated into the negotiation phase previously addressed.
The monitoring process and its subsequent evaluation, is one of the most beneficial aspects of triangular cooperation for AGCI. But it also coincides with our greatest weakness. Triangular cooperation gives us the opportunity to learn from experienced donors regarding project management, data collection and analysis; it is essential to incorporate these lessons learned, which in the case of an emerging donor as Chile, are many. Our professionals have learned to become better trainers, but this must be accompanied by an internal structure that facilitates the development and implementation cooperation projects, to maximize sharing Chilean capacities that are requested by our friends.
In conclusion, triangular cooperation is full of opportunities. Our challenge is to develop solid structures that allow us to be successful in all project phases, so Chile becomes a leader in triangular cooperation and consolidates its self as an emerging donor.
- Created on Monday, 03 December 2012 11:28
AGCI’s Cooperation towards Haiti has strengthened and developed mainly those areas related to agriculture, education and Institutional strengthening. Over time, we noticed that our focus should be centered in the Pre School and Primary Education, key drivers for the development of any society.
During 2009 and 2010 we built two Centers for the development of Early Childhood, both located in the town of Aquin, at the south of the country, located 116 km from the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Since then, these schools have educated 180 children aged between 2 and 6 years, and the work of Chile, through its International Cooperation Agency, has forged concrete help hand in hand with national and international organizations, such as the Chilean National Kindergarten Board (JUNJI), América Solidaria, World Food Program (WFP) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
These concrete help is aimed to generate cognitive, emotional and social development in the children of Haiti, to encourage and to promote attitudes towards the environmental conservation, to implement a nutritional model, and to promote education, training, empowerment and workforce development in the monitors in charge of both centers.
We have built this learning path with the participation of donors and volunteers who, living in Haiti and learning its idiosyncrasies, have facilitated the coordination with BUGEP (Preschool Education Office of the Ministry of Education in Haiti). This has resulted in the construction of a benchmark Curriculum for Preschool Education - deadline January 2013 - contributing this way to the formulation of a qualitative Early Education Public Policy.
Thus, Chilean cooperation in Haiti has opted for education as the way to transfer strengths that point to assertive public policies that reflect a social legacy of value and significance, strengthening not only the Pre School Education, but also primary education.
Currently, AGCI is evaluating two school construction projects. The first is the reconstruction of the current Republic of Chile School, which has 555 students, and that after the January 2010 earthquake can only host - in a very precarious situation - only the 50% of its students, due to infrastructure damage. The construction of the second establishment will be held with the support of AMEXCID (Mexican Cooperation Agency) and will serve 600 students. These projects are the result of the synergy that comes from the partnership of AGCI with the Civil Society and the Private Sector, actors with a key role in the new model of international cooperation.
At Christmas time and inspired by the motto: "We are confident in building dreams through the smile of the future of Haiti, its children", AGCI drives an institutional awareness campaign called "Christmas for the children of the Early Childhood Centers of Aquin", to send gifts and sponsor Haitian boys and girls pertaining to these educational centers and keep alive the illusion of childhood itself, as one of many universal rights of children.
- Created on Monday, 25 June 2012 23:07
The current context of development cooperation is undergoing major changes. We are moving from a unipolar world, leaded by Northern countries, to a multipolar one, in which several Southern countries and regions have emerged as leaders and centers of economic prosperity, knowledge and political power.
- Created on Monday, 16 January 2012 13:04
I am pleased to introduce the new website of the Chilean International Cooperation Agency, AGCI, which serves as a source of information and reference point for the development cooperation that Chile both provides and receives.