A country compact is a negotiated agreement between a government and development partners. It sets out how they will work together more effectively to improve aid effectiveness and deliver priorities in the national health strategy or plan. It is commonly signed by government and external development partners but increasingly is also signed by other important local partners such as civil society or private sector organizations active in health. 

It is an instrument which can improve partner alignment with country systems; bring new partners into health sector coordination efforts; address the fragmentation and volatility of health aid, and reduce transaction costs. It can be used as a tool for mutual accountability, by introducing indicators for tracking progress against agreed commitments of government and of development partners.

guidance note can help country governments and their partners to better define the objectives they want to achieve with a country compact. It outlines the elements that are common to most compacts and identifies possible ways to develop and negotiate the agreement. It stresses that the most important aspect of the compact is the process of in-country development. An analysis of what it takes to develop a country compact, and what are the gains, is also available. 

Many countries now have, or are developing, some form of compact or equivalent partnership agreement. Some countries who have never had any form of partnership agreement are developing ‘pre-compacts’ as a first step.