Millennium Villages: Their Life and Their Limits

An interesting article in the New York Times this week discusses the positive changes in Sauri, Kenya—one of the first of the Millennium Villages created by economist Jeffrey Sachs. In a nutshell, Millennium Villages offer an innovative model for helping rural African communities lift themselves out of extreme poverty through community-based projects related to health, education and sustainable agriculture.

What’s impressive about Sachs’s villages is that they are built upon the premise that one must take a multi-pronged approach to alleviating poverty. It is not about a single intervention but rather the interconnected impact of educating women, providing quality healthcare that focuses on maternal and child health, sustainable farming and building livelihoods. The biggest problem, however, is that these efforts are often pursued in a vacuum. In order for Sachs’s work to be sustainable, governments need to provide healthcare and education, ensure that there are jobs, and provide security to all people.  I imagine that if Sachs were to leave the village of Sauri, little to none of his efforts would continue. This is why the work that Sachs does should not exist in isolation, but should happen in conjunction with a push to have governments adopt a human rights framework and be accountable for the health and safety of the people within their borders.