In 2010, Stephen Radelet wrote Emerging Africa, a work that begins by discussing how Africans perceive their news – as good or bad. Radelet claims that most African people believe there is an imbalance of the two. The more frequently media brushes off the gains of certain countries in Africa, the more the people in Africa believe outside countries don’t think much of these gains either. Other countries, even those within Africa, have a bad habit of associating the entire continent of Africa with negative news that may come out of one individual African country. Radelet optimistically writes that people need to start realizing how many great things are happening in Africa and focus on their development (specifically in 17 countries he categorizes as “emerging”). He highlights five concepts as the main factors of good news in Africa:
- The rise of more democratic and accountable governments.
- The implementation of more sensible economic policies.
- The end of the decades-long debt crisis, and with it major changes in Africa’s relationship with the international community.
- The spread of new technologies that are creating new opportunities for business and political accountability.
- The emergence of a new generation of policymakers, activists, and business leaders.
These factors have allowed other prosperous countries to achieve success, and they are the reason for more good news coming out of these emerging African nations. Radelet is extremely optimistic about the future of these countries and others that work towards these five success factors. He concludes, “They provide the cornerstones for the emerging countries to sustain and build on their initial success, further deepen democracy, strengthen accountability and good governance, create more… economic opportunities, fight disease and illiteracy, and reduce poverty” (Radelet, 2010).
The Millennium Village Project was created to combat poverty and specifically address the MDGs in 15 rural African villages. The project was on par with the hopes and goals of Radelet. The idea behind the project was that the initiatives would be community-led (with the help of outside countries/international organizations) and at the end of 2015, the villages would be left with lasting resources and skills to sustain this development and growth.
The first and largest of the villages included in the Millennium Village Project is Sauri, Kenya. Because of the humidity in the area, it is an ideal spot for people to live and agriculture to grow. The village’s size (population of 70,000) and potential for plentiful harvests are likely the primary reasons it was initially targeted by the project leaders.
Similarly to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, one of the main issues Sauri battles is Malaria. However, since the help and support of the Millennium Village Project, Malaria prevalence has decreased from 50% to only 8%. This outstanding success is due to the collaboration of both local government workers and leaders of various international organizations – an idea which we discussed in class last week. In addition to the Malaria decrease, today, more than 97% of 1-year-old children in Sauri have been immunized against measles. Pregnant women are also have access to HIV testing and counseling resources as well. If these healthcare gains are not enough to speak to the success of this project in Sauri, even their local farming industry has improved thanks to newly implemented dairy systems, fish farms, and bee-keeping strategies.
In addition to these direct results of the Millennium Development Project, take a look at the overall gross domestic product increase since the project began in 2000. In the graph below, one can see the significant spike in GDP. The most recently recorded GDP for Kenya was in 2015 with an amount of $63.3 billion, compared to $12.7 billion in 2000.
Due to the statistics that have resulted from this long-winded project, I believe the efforts of the Millennium Village Project leaders and supporters were effective towards ending poverty, or at least moving swiftly in that direction. The growth that occurred in the village of Sauri alone speaks volumes to the effectiveness of this type of aid. I am quite curious what Steven Radelet would say about the success of the project because the goals and initiatives correlate with his classified factors of good news for Africa.
It is important to note that, in my opinion, the success of this entire project is credited to the collaborative efforts of national, local, and international leaders. Actions that involve people from different hierarchies, cultures, and backgrounds are those that seem to be the most powerful and lasting (see previous post!).
Radelet, S. (2010). Emerging Africa.