It takes some Sachs to raise a villiage
October 21, 2011 1:07 PM   Subscribe

The Millennium Villages, launched in association with the Millennium Development Goals (wiki) adopted by the UN in 2000, recently received a grant of $72 million to continue its work. In a post on the always interesting Guardian Poverty Matters blog, a group of poverty researchers has recently summarized their findings that the project did not plan for a rigorous evaluation, and thus we will not know if they worked. Jeff Sachs, the scholar most strongly associated with the MDVs, disagrees. The blog Development Impact (which, in fairness, is basically all about randomized controlled trials in development) weighs in here and here.
posted by shothotbot (3 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
And what does William Easterly have to say?
posted by infini at 1:18 PM on October 21, 2011

"Our study shows that many changes observed at MVP sites were also taking place in the surrounding countries and regions, across vast areas untouched by the project. This suggests that some of what the MVP claim to be impacts of the project reflect larger-scale changes that have nothing to do with it."

Or, alternately, the "best known methods" that MVP sites and other humanitarian workers are bringing to Africa are spreading, even to those areas outside of their control, creating farreaching impacts on things such as malaria, public health, food production, water supply, etc.

The statements made in the criticism that it would be helpful to have comparisons are worth paying attention to, certainly... but the fact is, development efforts in Africa are widespread, and having a significant spillover impact, according to all the statistics.

So, yes... more data. But more money too, please. $72 million is a pittance, compared to the impact it is capable of making.
posted by markkraft at 2:19 PM on October 21, 2011

"But more money too, please. $72 million is a pittance, compared to the impact it is capable of making."

There's been a bit more than $72 million dollars though. The west gave more than $500 billion in aid to sub Saharan Africa between 1960 and 1997 while in the decade between 1981 and 1991, the World Bank put $20 billion into Africa's structural adjustment programs to drive better government. Meanwhile, a Oxford International Group study showed that Africans held between $700 billion and $800 billion (nearly 40% of Africa's wealth) in accounts in Europe, the USA and Japan in 2005. In today's catch phrase, this would be the wealth owned by Africa's "1%" - the despots, thugs and charlatans whose greed, corruption, brutality and mismanagement has kept a continent full of natural resources mired in poverty and want since the end of colonialism.
posted by joannemullen at 5:26 AM on October 22, 2011

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