Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Millennium Villages: an Evaluation

. Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Wilson Quarterly has an excellent piece in which Sam Rich recounts his visit to Sauri, Kenya, one of Sachs' Millennium Villages. He highlights the achievements and shortcomings of the effort, and I am struck by how the politics of development aid at the village level mimic the politics of development aid at the national level. Sachs never struck me as particularly atuned to politics, and I can't say I am surprised that parts of the MV project are falling prey to fairly predictable political dynamics.

I also found political dynamics of a different sort quite interesting. Rich could not get any of the UN staff or other "outsiders" involved with the MV project to speak about the project on the record. "Many UN officials I spoke to criticized the Sauri project, but none would speak openly. It was clear that dissenting voices were not welcomed, as an ­e-­mail I received from one made plain: “Unfortunately I’m already in a lot of trouble for talking about what every good scientist should be talking about. The current environment is one in which scientists can no longer speak openly and expect to keep their jobs.”

The two political dynamics are a sure recipe for failure--if the MVs are not working out, those who see this and know why must be encouraged to talk--not forced to be silent.


Millennium Villages: an Evaluation
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