Millennium Villages Project

Our vision becomes action through the Millennium Villages Project. Offering an innovative integrated approach to rural development, the MVP simultaneously addresses the challenges of extreme poverty in many overlapping areas: agriculture, education, health, infrastructure, gender equality, and business development.

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Farmers in a field.

Africa has the greatest proportion of people living in extreme poverty — more than 32 percent or roughly 300 million people living on less than $1 a day. The continent’s environmental, epidemiological and geographical challenges — including low-productivity agriculture, a high disease burden, and high transport costs render African countries most vulnerable to persistent extreme poverty. This means that to collect safe drinking water and firewood for cooking, people must walk several miles every day. It means that a child in sub-Saharan Africa dies of malaria every 30 seconds , and that 1 in 16 women die in childbirth. With these rural communities stuck in a poverty trap, they are unable to make the investments in human capital and infrastructure required to achieve self-sustaining economic growth.

Click the icons in the map below to learn about the villages and
other countries implementing MV-like programs.

New MVP Site
Existing MVP Site
Sustainable Villages Program
Multiple Projects

The Millennium Villages are proving that by fighting poverty at the village level through community-led development, rural Africa can achieve the Millennium Development Goals — global targets for reducing extreme poverty and hunger by half and improving education, health, gender equality and environmental sustainability — by 2015, and escape the extreme poverty that traps hundreds of millions of people throughout the continent.

Simple solutions like providing high-yield seeds, fertilizers, medicines, drinking wells, and materials to build school rooms and clinics are effectively combating extreme poverty and nourishing communities into a new age of health and opportunity. Improved science and technology such as agroforestry, insecticide-treated bed nets, antiretroviral drugs, the Internet, remote sensing, and geographic information systems enriches this progress. Over a 10-year period spanning two five-year phases, community committees an d local governments build capacity to continue these initiatives and develop a solid foundation for sustainable growth.

Currently 500,000 people in 14 different sites in 10 countries are part of the project. Each cluster site is located in a distinctagro-ecological zone which together, represent the farming systems used by 90% of the agricultural population of sub-Saharan Africa.

Sustainability and Cost

The Millennium Village financing model is built on the premise that, with modest support, rural economies can transition from subsistence farming to self-sustaining commercial activity.

Funding and implementing a Millennium Village is a shared effort among the Millennium Villages project, donors, NGOs, local and national governments, and the village community itself. Each Millennium Village budgets an investment of $120 per person per year. Half of this is mobilized directly through the MVP initiative, and the other half comes from partners, including the community itself ($10), the national government ($30), and NGO partners ($20).

The guiding principle of the MVP budget framework does not imply a top-down set of fixed interventions across every community. Instead, it implies a basic approach to multi-sector budgeting that ensures communities have access to a minimum set of basic goods and services, including agricultural inputs, primary health services, functioning schools with school meals, clean drinking water, sanitation, and simple infrastructure.

The interventions of the project can be taken to broad scale since the financing needs for the Millennium Villages are fully in line with the commitments made by rich countries to increase their official development assistance (ODA) to 0.7% of GNI.

The MVP aims to spur broad scaling up of integrated rural investments for the MDGs. This scale-up is only possible if the ODA promises come true. The MVP will be successful if it: (1) demonstrates the feasibility of integrated investments to achieve the MDGs in impoverished rural Africa; (2) helps to create new models for community-based delivery, monitoring, and measurement; (3) plays a constructive role in helping the global aid commitments come to pass by making the MVP lessons widely known within Africa and internationally; and (4) helps to encourage increased global public financial flows towards more practical and effective ground-level investments rather than to low quality aid.

Local Ownership

Critical to the sustainability of the Millennium Villages is the need to empower the entire community, including women and vulnerable groups, by building local technical, administrative, and entrepreneurial capacity. In conjunction with improved health and education, this transformation encourages women and men to establish their own businesses, to take advantage of microfinance and micro-enterprise opportunities and to explore income-earning possibilities beyond farming.

Participatory, community-led decision-making is central to the way Millennium Villages work and is also fundamental to sustainability. Establishing community agreement to become one of the Millennium Villages sites takes place through a series of discussions with elected and appointed officials, community committees, and open forums at the local level.

Once agreement is established, specific committees and community members begin the process of identifying and evaluating project possibilities with the support of a scientific team and local partners. Together they create a package of village-specific project initiatives that are deemed most appropriate and cost effective. They also produce a community action plan for implementing and managing these projects. All along, Millennium Villages fosters and empowers democratic practices, and actively promotes gender equality in decision-making and allocation of resources.

National government participation is also key to the success of Millennium Villages. Villages are initiated only in countries where national leadership supports and engages with the program. Agreeing on cost sharing from the outset and making sure the program is consistent with broader national development plans ensures that governments are full partners in the project in both the short- and long-term.

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