Millennium Villages
March 8, 2010 7:42 PM   Subscribe

Shower of Aid Brings Flood of Progress - "An experiment that is bombarding a Kenyan town of 65,000 with health care, education, and job training seems to be achieving its goal of rapidly lifting people out of poverty, but can the results be magnified?"

[previously, viz. African poverty is falling (mr discussion - Is African poverty falling faster than we think?) cf. More good news about Africa - The African Growth Miracle]

and in other africa-related news...BONUS
-Development in Dangerous Places
-Paul Collier
-jsachs blogs [1,2]
-Sachs vs. Easterly vs. Collier [1,2,3]
-A new model for investing in "social"
posted by kliuless (6 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
So can we do this in Mississippi?

Oh right, once they made bank, they'd become Republicans and start complaining about being taxed to help all the losers who hadn't pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.

(But that's probably a human universal, to attribute to personal virtue, the luck that comes our way.)
posted by orthogonality at 8:27 PM on March 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

Interesting, I've read a few things about the millenium projects but would love to get my teeth into something a bit more substantive.

Also, I just have to say, I freaking loath AIDWATCH and all it stands for. Easterly uses his contrary platform to spout off just as much ignorance, generalisation and misinterpretation as he derides, and the smug tone of the commenters he enables makes me puking sick.

The very idea that you can take a generalised stand in any but the most simple of public policy issues is naive and irresponsible, imho, and it shows that Easterly and his cadre of market-jerk argonauts are more invested in their "iconoclastic" intellectual position than a sober consideration of the data and - more importantly - a genuine dedication to alleviating poverty and disease in the world.

Which is not to say Easterly's never right - stopped clocks are right twice a day - and that the Millenium villages are an unmitigated success, but his snide, one-dimensional commentary does nothing to further our knowledge in this field.

Sorry, rant over.
posted by smoke at 8:28 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

(But that's probably a human universal, to attribute to personal virtue, the luck that comes our way.)

Sounds related to the fundamental attribution error.

Mr. Easterly argues that the Millennium approach would not work on a bigger scale because if expanded, “it immediately runs into the problems we’ve all been talking about: corruption, bad leadership, ethnic politics.”

Yes, if you try to scale by conventional means (handing things off to a struggling nation state or growing another large hierarchical organization), you risk exactly those results. The problem I have with this kind of criticism is, for one thing, that it's delivered like it's some kind of blind spot among people who study and work in development when it almost never is. And, for another thing, not everything has to scale that way. This isn't a manufacturing business. Once you figure out the pattern, you don't have to expand organizational operations, you only have to spread the concept so it can be reproduced, one committed regional focused group at a time. You can argue that's still a challenge, particularly if we're talking about bringing the apparatus of western nations to bear on the issue, and I'll agree, but it's hardly an insurmountable problem to delegate partitioned power and focus out to sub-units. We do it all the time in the dance between the Feds and the States.
posted by weston at 10:49 PM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

It also isn't true that fighting corruption is a simple precursors to fighting poverty, it works both ways. In many subsaharan African countries most government officials are unable to live on their salaries. When you can't feed your child on your legal salary, of course you will be corrupt.
posted by atrazine at 11:04 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

The idea that if an idea doesn't work in every instance it must be abandoned in every instance is not the most appealing I've heard today.
posted by smartyboots at 1:31 AM on March 9, 2010

since all roads seem to lead to paul romer when it comes to development theory lately...
Which Parts of Globalization Matter for Catch-up Growth?
Economists devote too much attention to international flows of goods and services and not enough to international flows of ideas. Traditional trade flows are an imperfect substitute for flows of the underlying ideas. The simplest textbook trade model shows that a welfare-enhancing move toward freer flows of ideas should be associated with a reduction in conventional trade. The large quantitative effect from the flow of ideas is evident in the second half of the 20th century as the life expectancies in poor and rich countries began to converge. Another example comes from China, where authorities dramatically reduced accident rates by adopting rules of civil aviation that were developed in the United States. All economists, including trade economists, would be better equipped to talk about international flows of technologies and rules if they adopted a consistent vocabulary based on the concepts of nonrivalry and excludability. An analysis of the interaction between rules and technologies may help explain important puzzles such as why private firms have successfully diffused some technologies (mobile telephony) but not others (safe municipal water.)
also btw...
Jagdish Bhagwati on Development Aid
In reviewing Dambisa Moyo's Dead Aid in Foreign Affairs, Jagdish Bhagwati takes an interesting look at the history of development aid. He traces the changes in the way economists viewed aid as well as changes in the tactics used by aid advocates. He goes on to note that while many development debates are still aid-related, the most recent development success stories, such as those in India and China, have a very different relation to aid—almost none at all.
cf. Why the Industrial Revolution Was in Britain & The Enlightened Economy
posted by kliuless at 7:11 AM on March 10, 2010

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