Understanding African Countries
- What are the factors that classify as good news in Africa according to Radelet? There are several factors that classify as good news in Africa. These include steady economic growth, more accountable and democratic governments, rising incomes, life expectancy increasing and infant morality rates decreasing, improved health and education, declining poverty, stronger leadership with less corruption, and new investment opportunities. Radelet points to 17 African countries who share this good news, we’ll use Ghana as an example. According to Radelet, Ghana’s economy has grown five percent over the past 15 years, the average income of a Ghanaian has increased by about 40 percent, investment and exports have doubled, enrollment has increased by one-third, and life expectancy is now 60 years. The people who live below the poverty line has gone down 20 percent and has a thriving democracy that calls for human rights and a free press. Ghana and the other 16 countries are “breaking away from the dismal histories of economic decline and political decay commonly associated with Africa” (Radelet, 2010). These countries are painting a new story and showing that not all of Africa is doing as terrible as everyone thinks.
- Explore the Millennium Villages and find retrospectives and critical views. The village I am assigned to is Gumulira, Malawi. This particular village was chosen for the Millennium Villages Project because it is one of the world’s poorest countries. According to Business Insider, it is the 3rd poorest country in the world (Tasch, 2016). Some of the goals for Gumulira is to finish the health center that is under construction within the village, continue to improve water supply, create greater access to seed, fertilizer and pesticides for agriculture, improve sanitation, create opportunities for greater education and lastly, find ways to support HIV/AIDS victims. The successes of this village are that they created a fertilizer subsidy program that has made it affordable for farmers to grow greater crops, which has increased crop yields and increased the village’s nutrition. Gumulira is working toward building a health center, access to improved water supply has doubled, and basic sanitation coverage increased from 12% to 85%. There have been new school blocks added to primary schools with classes such as hygiene. Lastly, there is an HIV support group that allows its 23 members to go on business ventures. In terms of failures though, the Millennium development goal report of 2014 stated four goals that were “unlikely to be met.” These categories include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equity and empower women, and improve maternal health (Gondwe, 2014).
According to the World Bank Group, Malawi’s GDP is 6.404 billion as of 2015. It’s GNP is is 340 as of 2015. Malawi’s poverty headcount ratio was 50.7 in 2010, life expectancy at birth is 62 years as of 2014, and population total is 17,215,232 people as of 2015. Malawi is considered a low income country and generally has lower numbers in these categories compared to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. Malawi’s HDI value for 2014 is 0.445— which put the country in the low human development category— positioning it at 173 out of 188 countries and territories (UNDP, 2015).
There are critics of the Millennium Village Project Jeffery Sachs launched. Some say that it is unquantifiable, its success can’t be measured to show if this project is actually helping to end poverty or not. “…the influential science journal scolded Sachs and his colleagues for unreliable analysis, Sachs and his team were forced to admit they had committed a basic error in an academic paper intended to prove their project’s effectiveness” (Starobin, 2013). Other economists disregard Sach’s project, saying that ending poverty is not as simple as Sachs makes it out to be. Instead, such economists believe we should be targeting highly specific small-scale changes for sustainable progress (Starobin, 2013). According to a 2011 study commissioned by the UK Department for International Development, they found little benefit from an £11.5-million ($18-million) expansion of the Millennium Villages project in northern Ghana (Tollefsen, 2015). It’s hard to say if the Millennium Villages is a viable project toward ending poverty because it’s such a hard thing to tackle and eradicate. It’s easy for outsiders to criticize the project and say they would do something totally different and “better,” when they’re not the ones actually actively executing a project. In this sense, it’s great that at least Sachs as at least tried to do something to end poverty. There’s honest effort in it. But, I do find it odd that Sachs never created a real way to track if the project was successful and if all the money donated was being put to good use. If he did, then we’d really know if it was a viable project or not.
Gondwe, G. (2014). The 2014 Millennium Development Report for Malawi. Retrieved from: http://www.undp.org/content/dam/malawi/docs/general/Malawi_MDG_Report_2014.pdf
Radelet, S. (2010). How 17 Countries are Leading the Way. Retrieved from: https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-3161794-dt-content-rid-31263441_1/courses/SP2017.GERMAN.4810.01/Emerging%20Africa%20Tip-Toc-Ch1.pdf
Starobin, P. (2014, June 24). Does it take a village? Retrieved from: http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/06/24/does-it-take-a-village/
Tasch, B. (2016, April 3). The 25 Poorest Countries in the World. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-25-poorest-countries-in-the-world-2016-4/#25-tanzania–gdp-per-capita-2054-1430-1
The World Bank Group. (2016). Malawi. Retrieved from: http://data.worldbank.org/country/malawi
Tollefsen, J. (2015, August 12). Millennium Villages Project launches retrospective analysis. Retrieved from: http://www.nature.com/news/millennium-villages-project-launches-retrospective-analysis-1.18157
UNDP. (2015). Human Development Index (HDI). Retrieved from: http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/human-development-index-hdi