The Millennium Villages Project was honored to have Senegal's Minister for Health, the Hon. Awa Marie Coll-Seck open its annual meeting today in Dakar, Senegal. Minister Coll-Seck, a renowned leader in the fight against AIDS and malaria and former Director of the Roll Back Malaria partnership opened by heralding her country's partnership with the project to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Millennium Village Project expressed his gratitude for Min. Coll-Seck’s global and national leadership, and committed the Millennium Village Project to support Senegal’s bold and impressive efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals under the leadership of President Macky Sall.
The Minister emphasized development gains that have been made in Potou, the Millennium Village in northern Senegal and noted how those gains have informed national policy planning.
“The MVP is an excellent initiative for attaining the MDGs,” said Min. Coll-Seck and under-scored her country's commitment to scale up the project.
Minister Coll-Seck highlighted some specific breakthroughs in the Potou Millennium Village site of 32,000 people in one of the poorest regions of the country. Specific achievements she made note of include:
- Improving access to health by the construction of five new health posts (where previously there was only one) and thereby enabling the rural community to meet the WHO standard of one health post per 5,000 inhabitants
- The breakthrough in onion production in the site which now accounts for a full 80 percent of Senegal's onion market, thereby reducing the annual amount of onion imports. Since 2006, when work in the village began, production has increased nearly three fold, from 16,000 tons in 2006 to 46,000 tons in 2011.
- The introduction of technologies to artificially inseminate cows that has resulted in total of 182 births and has thereby dramatically boosted the production of milk and meat in the cluster.
- The doubling of access to clean water throughout the project site through piped water supported by a geneous donation of pipes by the company JM Eagle.
- The construction of 58 new classrooms between 2007 and 2009, which has improved access to education and eliminated the need for the temporary shelters which were commonly used as classrooms prior to the project's initiation
- Construction of 18 km of feeder roads to improve the transportation network, facilitating market access and access to health facilities.
- The establishment of a community radio station and a multimedia center.
Later in the day, leaders of the Millennium Village Project met with Prime Minister Mbaye, Min. Coll-Seck, Minister of Culture Youssou N’Dour, and other government leaders to discuss national policy initiatives building on community empowerment, local management of basic social services and rising private-sector investment in local production.