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Ugandan Government Launches Scale-up of Millennium Villages Project

KAMPALA, July 1, 2013 – In a landmark ceremony in Kampala last week, the Government of Uganda launched the scale up of the Millennium Villages Project (MVP), supported by new funding from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) of $US 9.75 million. The announcement follows the success of Ruhiira Millennium Village in the south west of the country, which since 2006 has served as a proof of concept of the benefits of an integrated, holistic approach to rural development pioneered by the MVP.

Speaking at the event on Thursday, June 27, Honorable Adolf Mwesigye, Minister for Local Government announced that the funding will be used to reduce poverty in line with the objectives of Uganda’s national development plans.

“Ruhiira since 2006 has demonstrated the success of an integrated approach to sustainable rural development. The key virtues of this project are a holistic approach to tackling poverty. The evaluation of the project in phase one showed landmark achievements whilst demonstrating growth in target locations, for example in the elimination of hunger, improved livelihoods, and full attendance at primary schools.”

“The IDB has commenced support to the Ministry of Local Government under two unique and interrelated programs – the MVP scale-up project, and the Community Agricultural Improvement Project. The objective is to increase national competitiveness and improve agriculture and infrastructure for the benefit of rural house.”

The MVP scale-up funding will support the Government’s provision of social services and business development in Ruhiira and will expand project activities within the region where Ruhiira is located.

“The first Millennium Village Project was in one location only. Now, the project will move to cover the entire district, as well as Gomba, Nakaseke, Bukedea, Oyam, and Amuria districts,” said David Siriri, team leader of Ruhiira village during the event.

The total package of interventions will be worth approximately $US 11.5 million, including other contributions from the Government, NGO’s and the communities themselves.

“Our partnership with the Government and the IDB provides a solid foundation for sustaining and spreading the gains achieved in Ruhiira beyond the life of the MDGs in 2015,” said Siriri. “We are aligned with national development priorities which focus on house hold income and the promotion of equity, access to social services, and the promotion of science, technology, and innovation.”

Community ownership of the project is equally important to ensuring sustainability.

“Even though these communities are classed as poor, you will surprised by how much they can now bring to the table,” said Siriri. “Working with people from the beginning to define their needs and to develop and run projects that meet these needs is they key to long term success.”

In Ruhiira, community involvement has been spurred by business development and training initiatives that provide people with the means to generate independent incomes.

“In Ruhiira, people are increasingly able to invest in social goods such as household costs of health and education, insurance, and household sanitation thanks to project interventions aimed particularly at agribusiness marketing and entrepreneurship. These lessons will form the bedrock of the MVP scale-up program.”

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The Millennium Villages Project is an initiative of The Earth Institute and Millennium Promise, working in close partnership with the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and many partners in government, business, and civil society. The MVP collaborates with impoverished rural communities, African governments, and a global network of scientific, corporate, and non-governmental partners to apply evidence-based policies and interventions recommended by the UN Millennium Project, combined with local on-the-ground knowledge. Approximately 500,000 people live in the 14 Millennium Villages, all of which are located in “hunger hotspots” and characteristic of major farming systems across ten sub-Saharan African countries. The Project is demonstrating that the MDGs are achievable through a targeted, holistic, and cost-effective approach to community- and national- level investments.