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Democracy and Governance

USAID has a long history of supporting democracy in Paraguay. Since the fall of the Stroessner dictatorship more than 20 years ago, USAID has partnered closely with the Government of Paraguay to strengthen key aspects of the rule of law, governance, and civil society. These efforts and the intensive, recently concluded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Threshold Programs have generated numerous improvements.

Despite these advances and reforms, democratic consolidation in Paraguay remains encumbered by the quality of government institutions.  This project will improve the Paraguayan government’s effectiveness by developing its human and institutional capacity and strengthening accountability mechanisms, paving a clear pathway towards improved responsiveness to citizen needs and demands, and a stronger foundation for democracy.

USAID seeks strengthened internal management and governance systems in select public institutions.  USAID is working to achieve the following sub-purposes:

a) Increased capacity of select public institutions
b) Strengthened accountability and anti-corruption efforts in select public institutions
c) Advanced legal and policy framework for effective governance in coordination with inter-agency counterparts and other international donors  

USAID's democracy project, implemented by local partner CEAMSO,  centers on developing the capacity of, and installing accountability mechanisms in, core public institutions necessary for a responsive democracy. This project focuses on key functions such as civil service, public financial management, and internal controls.  To strategically identify project interventions in each of the three sub-purposes contributing towards the project purpose, USAID/Paraguay prioritizes those with a high degree of visibility to generate a significant positive impact on the general public, and emphasize systems strengthening among institutions that provide key public services and/or goods to Paraguayans, such as the Ministries of Health, Education, Environment, Agriculture, and Public Works.

The project focuses primarily on central-level institutions that set the stage for the provision of public goods and services within the capital and extend into the most remote corners of Paraguay. Although local level institutions clearly have a fundamental role in identifying and responding to citizens’ needs and demands, their performance will be improved in a more sustainable manner after critical weaknesses and perverse practices are addressed at the higher level. By strengthening support institutions, such as the Civil Service Secretariat and the Ministry of Finance, to apply critical reforms within service-oriented institutions, such as Health and Education, the project seeks to have a positive trickle-down effect on the end recipients of public goods. Similarly, support for the Judiciary primarily addresses key deficiencies within the central-level judicial structure that will ultimately have an impact on quality of justice nationwide.

Embracing key aspects of USAID Forward reforms, the project integrates local capacity development and host country systems strengthening to drive sustainable reforms and institutional change in the Paraguayan public sector.  Designed to be implemented exclusively through local organizations, the project features an important organizational development component to maximize project success and foster sustainability beyond the life of the project. It actively promotes local ownership and alignment with host country priorities by focusing on demand-driven interventions, building on the success of country-led initiatives, and providing strategic government to government (G2G) assistance to a key public institution.  Importantly, the project also expands and capitalizes on key reform processes and interventions initiated under the USAID-managed MCC Threshold Programs. Lessons learned and best practices identified in these programs have been woven into the project design.

To achieve project objectives, USAID closely coordinates with inter-agency counterparts and other international donors.  Joining efforts with the Embassy, results achieved under this project will contribute directly towards Integrated Country Strategy Mission Objective 1.2 (Paraguay’s public sector is capable of providing more open, inclusive, and effective response to citizen demands).  Building on a solid history of collaboration in the democracy and governance sector, USAID works closely with other donors to amplify impact and reduce duplication of efforts in areas related to this project.  In particular, the project reinforces and complements many of the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) critical contributions towards furthering civil service reform, promoting judicial professionalism, and advancing best practices in public procurement.

Cross cutting project themes include promoting inclusion of women and people with disabilities and using science, innovation, and technology to further democracy objectives.  Since informal patronage networks typically favor men, the general project purpose will promote gender equality by helping the Government of Paraguay to formalize governance systems that grant all Paraguayans equal access and fair treatment. Strengthening the government entity responsible for improving support and services to People with Disabilities (PwD) will help expand and ensure the appropriateness of goods and services offered to this historically marginalized population.  USAID draws on the power of research and development, capitalizes on new models for innovation, and encourages the utilization of science and technology to identify and advance solutions to governance problems.

Last updated: November 20, 2014

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