Death rates among children under five at the Millennium Villages – set up in Africa to demonstrate what is possible if health, education, agriculture and other development needs are tackled simultaneously – have fallen by a third in three years compared with similar communities, according to the project’s first results.
The villages, the brainchild of the economist Jeffrey Sachs, were set up in 10 countries to see whether it is possible to make faster progress towards the millennium development goals (MDGs) through an integrated approach to aid and development. In October 2007, the Guardian launched the Katine project in rural northern Uganda, funded by readers, which was based on a similar approach.
There was much early criticism of the Millennium Villages by those who felt that country-wide programmes to keep girls in schools or immunise babies were fairer and more likely to deliver sustainable improvements. But the results from nine of the 10 sites in the first three years of the 10-year project are positive, demonstrating, Sachs believes, what can be done for a modest amount of money per head.
“They are very promising,” said Sachs. “This is only part of the way that we want to go and they don’t yet mean fulfilment of the MDGs in these villages, which is the endpoint, but they show that we can get a very good, quick start and reduce disease and mortality in these children.”
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