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Congratulations Mr. Sachs

March 12, 2010

Hey something positive in the news, and it is about a project that I worked on last year! A recent article in the NY Times highlights one of the villages taking part in the Millennium Villages Project (MVP). Sauri, Kenya, is one of many villages throughout Africa chosen for the MVP’s holistic approach based on an understanding of societies’ interdependencies and implementing proven interventions. Health, agriculture, education and infrastructure are addressed simultaneously with regard to their synergies and cross-sectoral issues such as gender disparities, environmental concerns and community development. The MVPs midterm reports are currently being produced and from what I know they should be encouraging. Of course with the good news there has to be a “Debbie Downer”. In this case it was Bill Easterly who was quoted in the article. Yes, the politics of development are never far off whether discussing a failure or success. His assertion is that scalability is not possible. Scalability is most certainly a concern for all involved, but to categorically write off the progress the project made to this point without an attempt to reproduce the results on a large scale is just ideological grandstanding. His legitimacy as an author and aid critic would be tarnished if the MVP actually proved successful in scaling-up regionally or nationally. He has a vested interest in seeing it not prosper. This is the dark secret shame of all who ascend in their respective fields by aiding in its polarization and politicizing its different approaches: you will allow your field to fail as a whole rather than help your rival succeed. Otherwise why wouldn’t Easterly come up with an ingenious way to incentivize governments to act in the people’s best interest if this project were to scale-up?

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