Country ownership: concept review and building

Work-in-progress!

This is post was created as a commitment-device. It will support a paper (built on my thesis) I am working on. I will review existing literature (broadly defined) on the idea of country ownership. I will create a database of what I find, here.

A chronological launch pad will be the Accra Agenda for Aid Effectiveness, following on the 2005 Paris Declaration. In this 2008 update, the authors provide some–weak–parameters for country ownership, stating that it requires “countries [to] have more say over their development processes through wider participation in development policy formulation, stronger leadership on aid co-ordination and more use of country systems for aid delivery.”

One of the most compelling, quips I have seen on country ownership recently is this important reminder on Twitter: “Country ownership is not yours to ensure, and you certainly cannot confer it–countries are ultimately responsible for the health of their populations.”

I won’t be adjudicating between these two, though my sympathies are with the latter. My idea is to consider what country ownership means at multiple phases of the ‘classic’ policy process and to see what ‘the literature’ says about them. For example,, does a policy need to go through legislative processes to be owned? Etc. Some of the phases I have in mind (while recognizing these are not always linear or discrete) are:

  • Agenda-setting / prioritization
  • Design / formulation
  • Adoption / formalization
  • Implementation
  • Evidence-gathering & decision-making to continue, modify, scale-up, or terminate

Ultimately, I will be considering what happened at each of these stages in Ghana with regard to the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm) adoption and implementation. Adoption was a big game of “not it!” by Ghanaian stakeholders and I will unpack what we can learn from this about ownership. Implementation, however, was a different story. I think we’d be hard-pressed to say it wasn’t Ghana-led.