Jeffrey Sachs wrote this great oped in yesterday’s Ottawa Citizen. In his piece he talks about the Millennium Villages which I think are just about the coolest thing to happen in development aid in a long, long, time. As the website describes:
“The Millennium Villages seek to end extreme poverty by working with the poorest of the poor, village by village throughout Africa, in partnership with governments and other committed stakeholders, providing affordable and science-based solutions to help people lift themselves out of extreme poverty.”
In short, Millennium Villages are test labs. Rather then start big, projects start small, see what works and then scale up. It’s a simple concept, which is, in part, why it is so smart.
Sadly, I’m not sure I have any useful skills to help the Millennium Village project directly. So I got online and donated $100 and dedicated it to my dad for Father’s Day (which, until Chiara B. reminded me, is this Sunday). Why $100? Because, as Sachs pointed out with an Economist quote:
“With an annual budget amounting to $50 a head administered by a UN team consisting mainly of bright young Kenyans, the Sauri villagers have apparently seen their rate of malaria go down from 43 per cent to 11 per cent (due to the provision of bed nets), while school results have leapt (due partly to proper lunches). Maize production has soared five-fold (due mainly to fertilizers) and receipts for crop sales have steadied thanks to a cereal bank.”
I liked the notion of donating in a $50 increments – it means you can measure ‘lives impacted.’ So is my dad saving the world? No. But he’s made the lives of two villagers in Mbola, Tanzania a whole lot better. And that’s a start. More importantly, the work he’s supporting is making it possible to assess how to help still more people more effectively. I know the scientist and the business man in him will be pleased.
So… if you have a dad – and I’m pretty sure at one point we all did(!) – here’s one good choice for a father’s day gift…
You can get to the donation page by clicking here.