Millennium Villages Project Overstates Achievements, Experts Say

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his wife visit a Millennium Village in Malawi. The Millennium Villages Project continues to "greatly overstate" the impacts of the experimental anti-poverty intervention villages it maintains across Africa. Photo by: Evan Schneider / UN

    The Millennium Villages Project continues to “greatly overstate” the impacts of the experimental anti-poverty intervention villages it maintains across Africa, two experts note.

    A post on the project’s blog has restated that the increase in mobile phone ownership at MVP sites in Kenya and Ghana was the result of the project, Michael Clemens and Gabriel Demombynes write in a guest post in the World Bank’s “Africa Can… End Poverty” blog maintained by World Bank Chief Economist for Africa Shanta Devarajan. The two say they have refuted this claim in a report they published in June.

    “This claim has little basis, because cell phone ownership has been expanding at about the same rate all around the MVP site in areas untouched by the project,” explain Clemens, a fellow at the Center for Global Development, and Demombynes, senior economist at the World Bank’s office in Nairobi.

    New York University professor William Easterly adds that, given all the evidence of impact overstatement, “it was with great weariness” that he heard of the U.K. Department for International Development’s plans to finance a new Millennium Village in Ghana.

    “I had hoped for something better from the new U.K. government, which had seemed like an improvement over the Blair and Brown (“We know the answers, just double aid”) team,” Easterly writes.

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    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.

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