It Takes a Millennium Development Village

A recent AFP report focuses on the village of Sauri near Lake Victoria in Kenya. Sauri is one of the first 12 Millennium Development Villages (MDVs) in Africa and has been making strides using an integrated development approach. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) focus broadly on improving income, food supply and education, enhancing women’s empowerment, improving health, reducing disease, protecting the environment and encouraging partnership in addressing all these issues. These goals are now being pursued by many nations, but are specifically being addressed in a total of 80 MDVs.

In Sauri both women and men are producing more on their farms after learning new techniques, are sending more of their children to school, and are able to feed themselves. These results are interrelated since improved farming improved diet and makes children more alert in school. School attendance and school performance ranking in the district have risen. To round out the development efforts a free clinic has opened and free ITNs have been distributed in the village. Villagers attribute better school attendance to reduced malaria burden in their children.

Villagers also raise the question about sustaining these achievements. They ask whether the government will maintain the improvements. Some talk of a slow weaning process of donor support for village improvements as a way to ensure the village can stand on its own. In the meantime more people are moving in as they see the benefits enjoyed by their neighbors.

Questions arise. Can we achieve MDGs one village at a time? Can economic improvements enable villagers themselves to maintain the improvements, e.g. through revolving funds to guarantee continued supplies of malaria drugs and nets? Can all the thousands of villages in Africa become MDVs?

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