Is the Millennium Villages Project working?

Mothers with their babies who live in a Millennium Village in Malawi. The Millennium Villages Project reduced mortality rates among children under 5, according to a new paper by Jeffrey Sachs. Photo by: Evan Schneider / UN

A new paper, with Jeffrey Sachs as one of the authors, says the Millennium Villages Project reduced mortality rates among children under 5.

The paper, published in The Lancet Tuesday (May 8), says deaths among children under 5 in nine of 10 villages under the project dropped 22 percent in just over three years. Child mortality in these villages is also 32 percent lower than in similar sites not under the project.

The achievement can be attributed to the project’s spending on health, which the report said is $25 per person a year. It, however, is likely to attract criticism — as in the past.

Michael Clemens, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, once wrote the project has not released “any data” on changes in income among people living in the villages. Clemens did say the project posts short-term improvements in areas such as clean water access and skilled birth attendance.

He also said the project costs $12,000 per household, which the project called a “distortion.” The figure, however, comes from the project’s own documents.

Clemens highlighted the need for an independent and transparent evaluation of the project. This is important to truly measure the project’s impact and see if it can be implemented in other areas.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.