Millennium Development Villages and Social Change

Even as it demonstrates success , a Millennium Development Village model project draws criticism. Sauri, Kenya is improving health care, creating income, saving lives, educating children and achieving other positive outcomes. But critics contend it isn’t scalable and isn’t measuring outcomes effectively. Apparently, it’s just working.

The program tests the idea that focusing multiple development inputs on a specific village can lift people out of poverty and improve their lives quickly. It appears to be accomplishing that result.

But critics say it doesn’t address scalability—the idea that methods can be replicated nationally or regionally across a broad area and applied to many other villages. It doesn’t address corrupt governance at the national level. And it doesn’t establish “control” villages without inputs so that changes in Sauri can be measured against them. Therefore, its successes are minimized and the methodology is being critiqued.

In fact, it may be exactly what is needed and replicable. It may also demonstrate that traditional measurement practices need updating as well.

I think the success of Sauri and the criticism reveal something more helpful about development and change than the critics recognize. And I think the criticism itself turns the spotlight on development practices and change measurement that we can learn from.

In the next few posts I’ll comment on these thoughts and ask what you think.

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