Criticisms and Responses

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					Criticisms and Resolutions
STEEP resources: January 30th 2008




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1. Six dollars
2. Tuition fees are too high
3. We should focus on structural issues if we want to help
4. This won’t solve all the village’s problems
5. We should help people here instead
6. Criticisms of Sachs
7. Should be bottom up
8. Corruption
9. Monsanto
10. It is charity, I get nothing from it
11. Where does the money go
12. Why students/ The government should be doing this
13. How do they become sustainable
14. What if they don’t meet the Millennium Development Goals
15. Culturally imperialist/imposing values
16. This has been done before, big push of the 50s
17. I already give to charity
18. Why Africa
19. How do we stand out
20. It’s just another charity
21. GMOs
22. William Easterly
23. You’re not expected to be an expert
24. Letters




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This is not a comprehensive list of all the lines of argument or criticisms or
resolutions. This is just an introduction to different ways to clear up
misunderstandings about what we’re doing, and what we’re all about. Some of it
was written during more passionate moments, so if anything comes across as
disrespectful to anyone in anyway it is totally unintentional, I know there’s some
things in there that should probably be changed for a variety of reasons, I’m just
very busy right now, this is only a rough outline. If you have any questions,
comments, suggestions, or criticisms they’re all welcome, thanks, Bryan.
endextremepovertycarleton@gmail.com




1. Six dollars

When people say they don’t want to pay six dollars that is understandable, it
could be for a variety of reasons, usually though, it’s just because they don’t have
a deep enough understanding of the idea. There are numerous options to deal
with this one.

1.a. It’s not that much money.

Whether it is 7 boxes of no name craft dinner, a drink at a bar, a couple cups of
coffee, or whatever, six dollars is not that much. Especially given that it has the
potential to help 5,000 people who would otherwise be dead. Look at it broken
down. That’s $3 per semester, or 60 cents per class. Spread out over the 12
three hour lectures in each class that’s 5cents per class when you’re paying over
$50.00 for them anyhow. Put differently, $6 annually is 50 cents a month. We’re
talking about a penny and a half a day to keep 5,000 people alive and help them
develop on their own terms.


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1.b. That much money is spent all the time for a bunch of other causes through
student fees.

Hesitancy to pay $6 is understandable, but usually people don’t think about how
their student fees are spent to begin with. We can take this in several directions.
First, I don’t particularly enjoy paying $72 a semester for my mandatory gym
membership included in student fees, and there’s no way to get out of that. Why
is this being held to a higher standard when the benefits are so much more
important? Why not get gym membership fees back. Why not start a campaign
to get funds for cancelled classes refunded, each 3 hour lecture costs about $50,
why don’t they do something about that? Did you know buying your textbooks
from the used book store can save you well over 20%, that’s some big cash, do
they do that? Then why are they complaining about this. Using your campus
card when buying textbooks saves you 10%, I saved almost $50 this term, did
they do that, if they care so much about money then why not. Again, a good
focus here is on how they are holding this to a higher standard, and how that
doesn’t make logical sense.

1.c. There are lots of benefits for students that far outnumber other things with
similar costs.

        Aside from the obvious benefits of helping 5,000 people help themselves
out of extreme poverty, student life will be enriched enormously by this. There
may be the opportunity for internships to the villages. We will consequently have
access to a huge amount of data on the villages from this. There is a strong
possibility there will be classes taught about this in the near future. This is
creating a partnership between Carleton, OttawaU and the leading research
institution in the world, the Earth Institute at Columbia. It will facilitate the
creation a solutions based group at the university that will allow anyone
interested to be involved in some of the most cutting edge work on development
done in the world.

For OttawaU. You don’t want to pay $6. Guerre des Tuques costs over
$150,000.00 annually, less than 20 people participate, do something about that.
That thing with the wakeboarding, the pool that was set up and the boat cost
almost $50,000.00 to get people to try and vote, why not do something about
that? Why not do something about the countless upscale dinners that you as
students pay for, choclate fountains? Really? Another point, I went to a
conference last year on transatlantic security, had room for roughly 100 people,
they flew in speakers from all over the world, nothing substantive happened. Not

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that that is a problem, but more than half the seats were empty, it was a three
day conference, all things considered, it easily cost more than $1,000.00 per
person. Who do you think paid for that, students. If people want to be that stingy
they can’t pick and choose their subjects, well they can, but then we can just
point out the human equality argument, see below.

2. Tuition fees are too high

Tuition fees are high because in the last 20 years the government has slashed
billions from funding for post secondary education and the universities in return
have tripled their university fees – not because we are trying to get a $6 levy put
on student fees. Some info below from the Canadian Federation of Students
website.


In the past fifteen years, tuition fees in Canada have grown to become the single
largest expense for most university and college students.
The dramatic tuition fee increases during this period were the direct result of cuts
to public funding for post-secondary education by the federal government and, to
a somewhat lesser extent, provincial governments.
Between the early 1980s and the early 1990s, average tuition fees at Canadian
universities more than doubled. Average tuition fees at colleges, excluding those
in Québec, more than tripled.
In 1995, the federal Liberal government announced a further cut of $7 billion in
public funding to provincial programs, including post-secondary education,
health-care, housing, and social assistance. These post-secondary education
cuts were directly passed on to students, resulting in the largest tuition fee
increases in Canadian history.
At the beginning of the 1990s, average undergraduate tuition fees in Canada
were $1,464. Today, average fees are $4,524 for undergraduate arts and
science, an increase approximately four times the rate of inflation.

3. We should focus on structural issues

First off, yes!! We should! The reasons for Africa's problems are varied and
complex; geography, flora and fauna available for domestication, slavery,
colonialism, governance, wars, structural adjustment programs, the international
trading system, the debt burden, the disproportionate disease burden…


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However there are numerous practical steps that can be taken that yield concrete
results by way of millions of lives saved.


The international trading system denies poor countries of $700 billion dollars
every year. If the Doha Round of the WTO goes through net savings to Africa
will be $1 billion. In other words, we need big change in international trade and
it’s not going to happen overnight. Slavery and colonialism will have legacies
that will last for centuries if something is not done to stop the bleeding. The
draconian budget policies, including but not limited to Structural Adjustment
Programs, of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund forced upon
‘developing’ countries caused countless lives lost as well as trillions of dollars.
Most ‘developing’ countries pay more in debt repayments than they get in ‘aid’.
Of course these things should be dealt with! But, that being said, 6 diseases kill
8 million people annually, each with a low cost existing health solution. We don’t
need structural reform to end those 8 million annual disease deaths.

Eighteen million people will die this year of poverty, ending all poverty, achieving
perfect equity, creating perfectly equal opportunities for all, and addressing all the
structural and historical factors that gave rise to it in the first place would require
massive structural reform and unfortunately will not happen overnight. Especially
given current levels of involvement in structural issues. However, six diseases
kill eight million people annually, each with a low cost existing health solution,
few requiring hospitals, and none requiring structural reform. To be clear, we live
in a world where we are knowingly leavings millions to die, ignoring the concrete,
tangible steps that can be taken right now to mitigate some of the worst effects of
extreme poverty.

If you asked fifty different experts about where the billion plus people living in
extreme poverty should be in fifty years you would get as many answers and as
many different ideas about how to get there. Development is hard. Stopping
people from dying from stupid things, like diarrhea which killed two million people
this year alone and could have been treated with a ten cent oral rehydration kit, is
not. Many of these solutions did not exist a decade ago and now past
development failures are being used to justify shortfalls in attempting to deal with
extreme poverty when the landscape of possibilities has completely shifted. We
needn’t await ideological consensus on the future of the world’s most vulnerable
and marginalized to end deaths from the major disease killers, to facilitate Africa
having a green revolution, or achieve universal primary education. Measles
deaths have actually come down by over 90% in Africa in the last 8 years; that is

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360,000 people annually that would otherwise be dead. Results like these are
the rule instead of the exception, when, rather than being a glib throwaway
statement, commitments are made and followed through upon. Solutions exist
and they can happen but we have to start somewhere.

That is what STEEP is all about! This is not going to solve all the world’s
problems, but it is going to solve a world of problems for a community of 5,000
people. This has never been done before. This is OttawaU and Carleton’s
opportunity to take global student leadership on the issue of extreme poverty and
show that we believe that we are all equal. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said “If
everyone who wants to see an end to poverty, hunger and suffering speaks out
at the same time the noise will be deafening. Politicians will have to listen.”

4. This won’t solve the problems in the village

Again, development is hard, stopping people from dying from stupid things is not.
This is about providing people with the basic tools they need to lift themselves
out of extreme poverty. This may not solve all the problems in the villages, their
governments may still be corrupt, they might still lack many things, this definitely
isn’t going to allow people to have the same luxuries as we do here. But it will
greatly reduce the number that are suffering needlessly and help get them on the
path to sustainable development. People can’t solve their own problems unless
they have the means to do so.

5. We should help people here instead

If you believe that we are all equal, taking into consideration that 800 million
people live in the 'developed' world, and nearly twice that are right now struggling
for survival (1.4 billion living in extreme poverty) the logic for helping the already
incredibly privileged in the first world over others when it incurs no extra burden
on ourselves (ie $6 through student fees) is lacking. If they’re involved local
poverty related initiatives their efforts are to be commended, that’s great. They’re
doing a wonderful thing for people in need. But by comparison, people here are
not struggling for survival, $60 per year per impoverished person here would not
make a world of difference, that’s shelter for a couple nights at best. In the
Millennium Villages, it’s the difference between life and death. We are talking
about the poorest most destitute regions in Sub-Saharan Africa here.
Also, it’s not an either or situation. There is no reason why we need to choose
between helping people here, within the arbitrarily defined boundaries we call


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boarders, and those outside of them, especially when we’re talking about $6 in
tuition fees.

6. Criticisms of Sachs

6.a. Mistaken equation of Sachs with policies advocated for by the WB and IMF.

It’s not polite to tell people they don’t know what they’re talking about, so don’t do
that. But if this is a criticism they have, they don’t know what they’re talking
about. Most likely they’re talking about one size fits all economic solutions. This
is the furthest thing from what Sachs is about, he’s one of the pioneers of
differential analyses. That is the opposite of one size fits all solutions. Also,
Sachs himself has been one of the most vocal critics of the WB and IMF
alongside with Joseph Stiglitz who was forced out of the WB a couple years ago
and now works alongside Sachs at Columbia.

6.b. Criticisms of Sachs regarding Poland, Russia and others.

Most are spurious correlations. One thing does not necessarily give rise to the
other. In Russia’s instance, when Sachs was an economic advisor to them,
Cheney and Rumsfeld undermined him because they viewed Russia as a threat
and didn’t want them to increase in power, economic or otherwise. Because of
this, the funding for the work was pulled, and Russia was left in an even worse
predicament. It was not because of Sachs.
Most importantly though, we’re not talking about Sachs as a macroeconomist.
We’re not even talking about Sachs as a developmental economist. We’re
talking about a holistic community led development strategy that incorporates
information from the 4 year long UN Millennium Project which brought together
nearly 300 global experts in poverty, hunger, gender equality, education,
agriculture, health, environmental sustainability, and the like. This is not just a
Sachs project. More in the grassroots criticism.

7. Should be bottom up grassroots approach

Again, if anyone says this, they essentially haven’t done their research into the
project. Over simplistically, when a ‘millennium village’ starts, there is a big
meeting with the villagers where they ask if they want some help. If they do, the
community assembles themselves into a bunch of different committees dealing
with different issues, agriculture, health, environmental sustainability, education,
etc. Lots of the issues are inevitably the same, clean water, food, education…

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They get ‘help’ by way of resources, seeds and fertilizer so they can grow more
food, materials so they can do small scale water management so that they don’t
have to walk for hours to collect dirty contaminated water that they have to drink,
materials so they can build a school, resources so that they can get the training
needed to be community health workers, the list is long. The basic point is that
the community does all the work themselves, the project facilitates it through
resources and technical expertise when necessary.

8. Corruption

First off, blanket statements are dangerous. There are over 50 countries in
Africa, corruption cannot be cited as a monocausal excuse for inaction.
Secondly, again, development is hard, stopping people from dying from stupid
things is not. Third, the places where the villages are located are so remote and
removed from other happenings that the direct effect is not that high. Corruption
may be a partial cause of them lacking resources themselves but it is not
sufficient to cite it as a barrier to success in stopping people from dying from
stupid things. I’m pasting something below I wrote in a response to another letter
on how corruption is the reason for Africa’s problems. It’s kind of long but has
several other responses to criticisms in there too.

To be clear, we are not talking about ending all the worlds problems here. We
are talking about arming several countries in rural sub-Saharan Africa with the
basic necessities required for a dignified survival so that they can then develop
on their own terms. At that, we are talking about countries with relatively good
governance, so you cannot just scream corruption, or generalize referring to one
example to explain the situation for an entire continent. Corruption alone cannot
account for Africa’s situation, even when corruption is controlled for, Africa still
grows 3% per annum slower than the rest of the world.

In any case we are not even doing anything to help the countries with good
governance so to time and again raise corruption misses the point, as well as
views the problem ahistorically. Africa never became independent. After being
ravaged by slavery, and then even worse still colonialism, after being “granted”
“independence” the new “leaders” many of whom were warlords and dictators
that we (the west, or global north) propped up, most of Africa was left in a dire
predicament. The same military rulers we were supporting, were left to continue
oppressing their people on their own. There was no money, no reparations, no
attempt to mitigate the effect of centuries of injustices, we essentially just left and
said, sorry about your corrupt rulers, good luck, only to come back a couple

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decades later screaming corruption, corruption, after SAPs had even further run
the continent into the ground. Now, we withhold aid on the basis of poor
governance. Is this a joke?! It took the west several thousand years to come to
this point, and after we imposed arbitrary boundaries forcing many groups
together which is still a key feature of politics in Africa today, after we promoted
conflict amongst different groups forced together to ensure our colonial rule was
continued, after Africa was left bereft of any infrastructure by colonialism and
SAPs, infrastructure that is desperately needed for the very institutions that
would promote good governance we can with a straight face claim that corruption
in countries is a reasonable reason to leave millions of people to die?

All these things, they do not just stop because we do not actively participate in
them overtly anymore; colonialism will have legacies that run at least decades
deep to come if not for centuries; structural adjustment policies will have legacies
that will never heal unless something is done to stop the bleeding. To even refer
to it as aid is insulting, it should be called mandatory retroactive retribution. Was
anyone ever held to account or made to make real reparations for the millions of
people that died as a result of the draconian budget policies of SAPs?! Was
anyone ever held to account or made to make some reasonable, more than just
a official gesture, attempts to heal the wounds of half a millennia of exploitation
and murder in the name of slavery and colonialism? It is pathetic and infuriating
that we are so indifferent now, ignoring history, sometimes not even looking back
a couple decades to see that, in large part, we caused this. And now, the global
terms of trade are so distorted to favor the global north at the expense of the
global south that we have and are effectively destroying any type of chance
these people have to develop on their own terms and escape extreme poverty.
This is why mandatory retroactive retribution is necessary. If the terms of trade
were fair and all governments good in Africa, there would be no need for aid.
The terms of trade are not fair, robbing poor countries governments of funds
desperately needed to provide the normal things that governments should offer,
this is our (global north) fault. If all governance were good then the funds coming
into the country one way or another would be distributed, at least, somewhat
equitably so that the most vulnerable would not be left to die; again this is our
fault. In a perfect world where the problems of trade and governance, problems
that we created, were not issues then Africa would not need aid, but too many
people are dying to only try to reform the institutions while leaving millions to go
helplessly to their graves. Aid, when spent effectively, will lessen the
vulnerability of the world’s poorest allowing them to push against their own
government to become more accountable. To claim now that aid is irrelevant
and we should focus solely on structural issues is to ignore the human

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apocalypse faced by the worlds poorest. The terms of trade must be reformed,
corruption must be dealt with in developing countries, but too many people are
dying to allow ourselves to be persuaded by half arguments about corruption;
which confuses an entire continent for a country and looks at the problems
ahistorically as if we did not create them or profit from them. It is shamefully
ignorant, and measured in millions of lives, to justify inaction on aid simply
because of structural problems.

9. Monsanto

Ok, let’s be clear, personally, I think Monsanto is evil. Their buying up of all the
seed patents, their introduction of terminator seeds (that are now no longer
available), their creation of Agent Orange, a deforestation chemical cocktail used
in Vietnam that created a cancer epidemic, is hideously evil. They have a
nefarious past and it sucks. Honestly, this is probably little more than a public
relations stunt for them. But, when a company does good, as surely as it should
be condemned and punished when it does evil, it should be rewarded however
duly. They’re getting a pat on the back for their help, this does not undo their
past atrocities, if they really cared they would change the entire way they do
business. Supporting the MVP does not mean people support Monsanto.
Supporting us does not mean people support Monsanto. It is a step in the right
direction, but certainly not enough for Monsanto. The key point is that just
because a company has some nominal recognition in the project because it
donated this or that, in my opinion, is not enough to say that we should therefore
not support our initiative. Aside from the publicity, they get nothing else out of
this, no guarantee of any sorts, no rights, privileges, anything.

10. It is charity, I get nothing from it

We will get numerous benefits from this. We will have an opportunity to do an
exchange in the villages, several positions a semester it looks like, to learn about
solutions based holistic community led development approaches first hand. This
is creating a whole new dialogue around the way development happens, there is
talk of courses and incorporating it into a global community services center (at
OttawaU). It is a platform for engagement in these issues that exists no where
else. This will greatly enhance the learning experience for anyone interested in
cross cultural perspectives on sustainable development, and chemistry, biology,
agroforestry, a battery of sciences, development, political science, sociology,
anthropology, environmental studies and sciences, policy administration,
engineering, economics, and probably a whole bunch more I can’t think of right

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now. We will be one of the first, if not the first university in the world to do
anything like this. This has already, and will continue to, generate a world of
opportunities for students in myriad ways. On top of the internships, we already
know that John McArthur
(cochair of the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Developm
ent Practice and Deputy Director and Manager of the UN Millennium Project.) is
coming to Ottawa to give a free lecture to us. He is a world leader, it usually
costs over $20,000 plus two first class tickets for him to speak. There would
most likely be many others. This would also thrust both schools into the
international academic limelight leading to countless unforeseen opportunities.

11. Where does the money go

The Millennium Villages are a joint project between the Earth Institute at
Columbia, the United Nations Development Program, and a Non Governmental
Organization called Millennium Promise. If this goes through we send the money
to Millennium Promise who in turns deals with administering the funds. We will
get a detailed list breaking down where every penny is spent. Every cent is
auditable with 100% transparency. Because every village has unique needs and
has differences, there is no one size fits all model that details where everything
goes before it actually gets going.

12. Why students/ The government should be doing this

The government should be doing this. We are doing this not only because of the
countless benefits for us, but also to show that solutions exist, and when ‘aid’ is
delivered in a responsible, transparent, accountable manner big progress can
happen. Hopefully, this will engage more students, raise awareness, get media
attention, be a catalyst for civil society action and help get the government to do
more. As it stands though, the government is failing dismally and we live in a
world where we are knowingly leaving millions to die. I don’t want to need to
defend that to my grandchildren.

13. How do they become sustainable

Essentially, these communities, and large parts of those living in extreme
poverty, are stuck in a poverty trap. That means sub-subsistence living leaves
no room for savings and investment. In other words, when people do not have
enough food to eat, safe water to drink, or basic medicines to keep them alive,
they have literally no way to better their own situation. By being able to grow

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more food, by having safe water, by having opportunities for education, and by
having basic medicines people can lift themselves out of sub-subsistence
(extreme poverty, struggling for survival) and start providing for themselves and
‘developing’ on their own terms.


14. What if they don’t meet the Millennium Development Goals

Whether or not the villages achieve the MDGs is not that important. Other
‘developing’ countries were to do it in 15 years, doing it in 5 would be an
incredible achievement, and it might happen, it’s still too soon to tell. These are
also the most difficult places in the world to do this, by showing how
impoverished communities can lift themselves out of extreme poverty in these
areas, it is being proven that it can be happening everywhere. On top of that,
whether or not the MDGs are met misses the point. These are people that would
otherwise be dead. Their lives have been made incalculably better by having
enough food to eat, safe water to drink, basic medicines so no one has to watch
their child die from malaria, diarrhea or tuberculosis, and after 5 years they will
be able to provide these things for themselves. Their lives will still be enriched
by the school they built and can now run and maintain, the clinic as well, and
countless other benefits. Whether or not they meet the goals in 5 years of 10
years doesn’t matter (of course it would be nice if it worked out, and it might)
many of these people would otherwise have been dead.

15. Culturally imperialist/imposing values

If you get this criticism, again, it is based on misinformation. There is nothing
inherently culturally imperialist about helping others help themselves. Everything
is done with the utmost sensitivity to the communities cultural values. Everything
is community led. Many other so called development projects have imposed
values on the people they are ‘helping’, the millennium villages are the opposite
of that.

16. This has been done before

I’ve heard quite a few development students, and some profs, say this is just
another big push strategy and that it was tried before in the 50s and didn’t work.
Simply put, this is demonstrably wrong. Rather than get into technical
specificities on this (there’s lots) this can be defeated in broad terms.


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16.a. First, you cannot hold money given for non development purposes to
development outcomes. Most of the money was given for political reasons,
many of which had nothing to do with development.

16.b. Second, aid has and continues to be spent in terribly inefficient ways. For
example, when the US gives food aid, it is food produced in the US, shipped
using US companies, and distributed using US workers, it costs around $600/ton.
When that same food is purchased locally in Africa it costs an average of
$225/ton. When seeds are fertilizer are purchased so that a farmer can produce
a ton of food it costs $20. That is a matter of inefficiency of 30 to 1!!!! And that is
typical of aid agencies. That is what people are talking about when they talk
about tied aid, and making aid transparent. Examples like that characterize how
the money was spent in the ‘Big Push’ in the 50s.

16.c. Third, many of these solutions did not exist a couple years ago, the
landscape of possibilities has completely shifted.

16.d. Fourth, the so called ‘big push’ was still a fraction of what was given for the
Marshall Plan, and that was for countries that were already developed and had to
repair and restructure, not countries with nearly no infrastructure.

16.e. Finally, the terminology of ‘big push’ is seriously flawed, if I was dying, and
it cost $60 for me to not die, I hope paying $60 a year to keep me alive wouldn’t
be categorized as a big push to help, so why should it when we’re talking about
Africa. If we actually did it, looking at it over a 20 year period, then it would
actually be cheaper than doing nothing.

17. I already give to charity

Alright. If people really give to charity, chances are $6 for something like this is
something they would be excited about, not objectionable too. Don’t call them a
liar. There are a couple ways to deal with this. If you’re having a bad day, might
I suggest outright confrontation. Which charity? Oh ya? How much? Why? Oh
to help people, then what’s the difference. A better idea might be to explain how
this isn’t just charity, the manifold benefits to us as students. All this gets back to
#10 it’s a charity I get nothing from it. If that’s still a problem, go with one of the
angels on how $6 is nothing, especially if they already give to charity.
Also, the average charitable contribution from different households is well over
$2,000.00 annually. Yes that means some don’t give at all, but if they’re one of
the ones that gives, they probably give way more than that. If someone really

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gives to charity that means they care. Then it’s just about letting them know
about what we are doing.

18. Why Africa

A generation ago one out of every ten people living in extreme poverty lived in
Africa, now it's one in three, and it's on track to be one in two by 2015. Ending
extreme poverty is increasingly becoming the challenge of ending extreme
poverty in Africa. Africa is the only continent that is not making progress, and
where the situation is getting worse. There are roughly 500 million people living
in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, over 40% live in extreme poverty, around a third are
chronically undernourished. There is no where else that on a whole needs help
as badly. Africa is disproportionately affected by extreme poverty, continent wide
life expectancy is under 50. This also makes it the place where little efforts on
our part can have the largest impact. If we truly believe that we are all inherently
equal in dignity and rights then how are people not doing something for Africa.

19. How do we stand out

Students To End Extreme Poverty seeks to be an agent of structural change
functioning on the premise that extreme poverty can be ended in our lifetime.
Thereby we are advocates for more and better Official Development Assistance,
fair trade and debt cancellation to create the conditions necessary for the
eradication of extreme poverty. Although structural change offers the most
effective opportunities for ending poverty, STEEP is also committed to taking
steps towards on the ground poverty alleviation. Thereby we are committed to
projects that contribute to ending poverty at the grassroots level especially those
that embrace a holistic approach to development demonstrating financial
feasibility within the globally endorsed 0.7% in ODA. Through partnerships and
coalition building, STEEP as well aims to provide an institutional platform for
facilitating engagement on structural issues and on the ground solutions to
ending poverty. STEEP, while working to end global extreme poverty, is
particularly focused on sub-Saharan Africa, as it is the area most
disproportionately affected by extreme poverty.

STEEP was born out of the simple insight that there exist no cross Canadian
student organizations aimed directly at eradicating poverty focusing on both
structural and practical approaches. As such, we hope to be involved in the
creation and coordination of a multisectoral coalition, spreading across Canada,


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that may pursue individual poverty alleviation initiatives, but functions in unison
when lobbying for structural change.

20. It’s just another charity

It’s not. The Millennium Village Project builds on the past successes of
development. It is a holistic approach to development, focusing on the synergies
of addressing all the problems at once. Free the Children, for example, while an
organization founded on what were undoubtedly the best of intentions, when
aiding, goes and builds schools. It costs $30,000, they do the labor, not the
people their helping. When the MVP builds a school, it costs $3,000. The
people in the community do the labor so that they can fix it and repair it as
needed. Also, if you build a school, and the students don’t have enough clean
water to drink and are dying or sick from it, what good is it doing. If it is so far
removed that no one will go there to teach, what good will it do. My prof for
development in Africa told me about a school he built for his community back
home, he said the biggest problem they were having was enough safe water,
people didn’t have time for school. If you address one of the problems, without
looking at the contributing factors then the ‘success’ of whatever is being done is
greatly diminished. This has never been done before. At the very bottom of this
document is the FAQ from the Millennium Villages website,
www.millenniumvillages.org it probably does a better job than me explaining why
the MVP is great.

21. GMOs

Alright. First, this is not me saying yay GMOs, just that they’re not used that
much, and while they’re not my first choice, they’re not theirs either. Supporting
the MVP or STEEP does not mean we support GMOs! When this is being used
as an argument couple key points.
    1. GMOs are not the standard, they’re used but they’re not the first choice,
        many villages don’t use them at all
    2. REFRAME THE ARGUMENT. This is what it is all about. We have the
        best idea going on how to help people help themselves. The critics are
        proposing no solutions, if they are certainly not as effective as these.

1.a. First off, GMOs are not the standard. They’re not used across the board.
They’re not the first choice when they are used. Local seeds are always
unquestionably the preference. Many villages don’t use GMOs at all. The
villages are located in some of the toughest growing areas in the entire world,

                                                                                 16
every effort is made so that every single possible thing is local, but it’s not always
possible, these are some of the most barren destitute impoverished lands in the
world.

2.a. 80% of the countries in the world use GMO’s, as well as Canada! I don’t
like it either, I’m not pro GMO, but when we have the opportunity to help 5,000
people out of extreme poverty, does it really make sense to not support this
because GMOs are used essentially as a last resort in certain cases. This is one
instance where if we want to do something about GMOs we should start here,
lobby our government to see changes, they’ve been stalling on this subject for
years. Look at Seeds of Change, look at the Future of Food, there are plenty of
places we can start changing things right now. This should not be a barrier to
support for this initiative when GMOs may not even be used in this village.

2.b. The GMO argument misses the point. We’re not talking about policy for
the developing world, nor should we be dictating how others live. If GMOs are
used it’s not like the entire country will subsequently use them. It’s not like it’s
going to last forever, it’s a temporary solution used as a last resort while
searching for feasible sustainable alternatives. It’s hard to get people to share
seed when their communities are hundreds of kilometers away.

2.c. Why is this being held to a higher standard than other projects. Quite
frankly, when people are criticizing this for supporting GMOs, first they’re wrong,
it doesn’t, and secondly, if they applied the same rigorous criteria to whatever
other projects they are involved with they, almost for sure, would be found
wanting. If you use this line of argument it can go two ways. If they don’t support
any organization working for Africa, then in essence their solution is leaving
people to die, then you can just pull the human equality argument. If they do
support something then you can rigorously question it, attack it for not dealing
with all the worlds problems at the same time. In which case it will most likely
shift back to why what STEEP through the MV Initiative is doing is better for
practical and structural issues.

 2.d. If they disagree with GMOs so much does that mean that we should also
not support emergency food aid? Because unfortunately, roughly 80% of the
countries in the world use GMOs, meaning, not only does food aid in most
instances cost over ten times what seeds and fertilizer would, but by depending
on food aid, people who are starving are eating way more GMOs than they would
if they had what they needed to grow more crops. If someone is still disagreeing
about using GMOs occasionally when other alternatives are bleak, point out the

                                                                                  17
ridiculousness of the stance that because of their ideological dogma they are
imposing their values on others to the point of leaving them to die, while GMOs
are the norm here in Canada and the US.

22. William Easterly

22.a William Easterly is an economics prof at NYU, he makes his living playing to the
right wing, and giving them excuses not to aid those in need. Two things, first, he’s an
attention seeker. He criticizes the millennium villages, yet if he’s not lying through his
teeth, he fundamentally misunderstands the project. Easterly himself says, as Sachs points
out in Commonwealth, “Put the focus back where it belong: get the poorest people in the
world such obvious goods as the vaccines, the antibiotics, the food supplements, the
improved seeds, the fertilizer, the roads, the boreholes, the water pipes, the textbooks,
and the nurses. This is not making the poor dependent on handouts; it is giving the
poorest people the health, nutrition, education, and other inputs that raise the
payoff to their own efforts to better their lives.” That is exactly what the millennium
village project aims to do, not to give people aid, but to arm them with the basic tools
needed for a decent survival, to reduce their time burdens and empower communities to
escape their poverty traps. Easterly rightfully criticizes many aid policies of the
past but fails to see that the millennium villages are not based on the
shortfalls of past aid programs.

22.b. Another thing you might here people repeating from Easterly, is that a massive
sum of 2.3 trillion has been wasted on aid. That is all aid, to all countries, over a 50 year
period. Lots of it was wasted, but that also works out to $15 per person per year. That is
not a ‘huge’ amount. See 16, this has already been done before for more arguments about
why this is different.

23. You’re not expected to be an expert on all this

Knowing all the intricacies about development and all this stuff would be an
incredible amount of work and time and it would have to be your field. You don’t
have to be an expert on this. Be honest with people, they’re understanding
(usually). You can reframe the argument, to how, in my opinion, it should be.
Look, I don’t have all the answers, but if we believe that we are all equal in
inherent dignity and rights, then you should be the one that needs to prove that it
doesn’t work. Cause as it stands, you’re saying no to six dollars! When it could
make a world of difference for a community in Africa, and you’re just not taking
the time to look into it. I don’t know, something like that. Writing down questions,
taking their email, getting them to email us, these are all good. We want to know

                                                                                        18
about all the different criticisms that people have, because most of the time, they
can be resolved.


24. A couple letters

I know this is long, this has taken me like 6 hours. I’m including two letters
because it shows the responses in ‘action’ worked into conversation. The first is
from a group at OttawaU that was clearly misinformed.


Hi Nadine,
Thank you for your message. However, the members of $%$% have some
very serious concerns with the Millennium Villages Project (MVP). As
fourth year development students, $%$%$%$ and I have studied various
development discourses and we have to say that after reading some of
Jeffrey Sachs' works, including the End of Poverty, we are very much
opposed to his approach to development, which is inherent within the
MVP. He is applying macro-economic approaches to a micro-level, which
has proven to be an extremely ineffective approach to development,
steaming from the perspective that 'one size fits all'.

The MVP are not based in the grassroots. They are not a program
initiated 'by the people, for the people', but is a top-down approach
to development. Resources are spent on technocrats and bureaucrats to
administer projects. Although the MVP claims to include some level of
community consultation, the bottom line is that Millennium Villages
are not structured around the will of the community. Resources are
spent according to the framework proposed by Jeffrey Sachs and the
West. There are many risks involved here. Criticisms of the MVP argue
that the structure used to determine resource distribution within the
communities is also controlled by the village elite, as structures of
oppression within the society are often reinforced.

 We believe that the MVP cannot claim to be sustainable, due to the
heavy reliance on foreign aid. It is incredibly unrealistic to expect
that five years of flooding a market with foreign aid, reflective of
the goals of the donors, will stimulate grassroots sustainability. The
idea of investing vast sums of money to close the poverty gap in
Africa was tried in the 1950s and '60s, and failed.

                                                                               19
Having conducted case studies on Malawi in the past, I can say that
the primary reason there exists a food crisis there is because of
government corruption, and because of Malawi's susceptibility to
drought. In countries that are corrupt, working with government
partners could undermine development goals. These are the same
governments the MVP state they are determined to work with. In the
example given of Malawi, the country is around 90% rural-based. This
explains why such high levels of agricultural output are possible.
However, it's been well-established in development discourse that food
accessibility and distribution, rather than production, is the primary
cause of hunger and hunger-related issues.

The goals of the MVP exist in coherence with the widely criticized
policies of the World Bank and IMF, which aim to integrate poorer
countries into the global market through creating cash-crop economies.
 These types of economic policies have had devastating effects
throughout the 80s, where more developed nations control global crop
prices, having often unforeseen consequences for the small-scale
farmer, who now must compete with other competitors.

The MVP are still in the pilot phases. Investing this kind of
student's money into the projects without an understanding of the
long-term effects is problematic. As a development student strongly
opposed to the harmful development policies known as 'Jeffrey Sachs
development,' I would have a huge issue with being forced to pay into
the MVP from my student fees. Instead we should focus on supporting
our local community, such as the U of O food bank.

We believe that global poverty needs to be eradicated, but poverty is
a structural issue that cannot be solved through macro-oriented
development policies that don't challenge but affirm the structural
repression within the global economy. The MVP includes elements of
business development and integration. This has benefits for some at
the expense of others. We cannot solve global poverty through
collective acts of charity. Nations are poor because others nations
developed at the expense of the majority world, through creating a
relationship of dependency, and through profiting off the exploitation
of others. This program will uphold a relationship of aid dependency
(see dependency theory, Andre Gunder Frank).

                                                                         20
We would love to meet with you to further discuss the issues we have
with the Millenium Villages Project.
We discourage you from going forward with this campaign, but would
love to share other ideas on alternative approaches to eliminate
poverty. Having worked for a Development Consultant for the Canadian
International Development Agency (CIDA), whereby together we were
responsible for the evaluation of development projects for CIDA, I
have learned of types of development that are deeply flawed, and those
that are more effective. $%$%$% has witnessed first-hand, and worked on
development projects in all their stages in countries within
Sub-Saharan Africa. We hope that our experiences can provide a better
context for the views we have expressed in this email.

Thank You for your time

To which I replied

Hello,
My name is Bryan Turner, I'm with STEEP at Carleton, as a note, I've been
active in the antiwar movement since 2004. I'm writing because I was somewhat
concerned by your response. I am going to speak bluntly, and in no way is it
meant to be disrespectful, but I feel open honest dialogue is very important about
these issues because they are very important.

I'm somewhat skeptical of your claim to be familiar with Sachs' work, as in no
way shape or form does he endorse a one size fits all economic solutions.
Actually, in many instances he has offered scathing rebukes of the World Bank
and IMFs one size fits all solutions. Might I point out his support of differential
analysis, which, contrary to your assertions, is directly in contrast with one size
fits all solutions.

While saying he's applying macro solutions to micro problems, while a catchy
criticism, in all honesty, reflects a lack of understanding about the project. Simply
put, that assertion does does not withstand practical scruitiny, although there are
plenty at the WB, as well as other attention seekers, for example the right wing
economist William Easterly, who, relying on uninformed audiences make similar
assertions.



                                                                                 21
The MVP are not based in the grassroots. I'm not sure what you're basing this
on, but everything about the project, how it is run, the logistics, it is lead by the
people. 10% of admin costs are spent on top down 'technocrats' . That is very
low, and most of it is for research purposes. I am friends with Tendo Nkuhee,
whose father was a former MP of Uganda, was on the Hunger Task Force for the
UN Millennium Project, and is now the director of the Millennium Village Project
Uganda, helping 55,000 people who would otherwise be dead. If I was not
concerned about wasting his time, I would forward this email to him, and I
guarentee, he would be appalled at the level of assumption in this email, as well
as the obvious priviliged postions of the authors, who obviously, have not done
research into the project.

Reinforces village elite. The villages assemble themselves into committees to
deal with different issues, health, education, gender equality, infrastructure,
agriculture, etc. Would the marginal representation technique be better?
Perhaps. This however is how the villagers want to organize themselves, on the
one had you say imposing values, and on the other you argue that they are
imposing values, when evidence shows they are clearly not. There is an obvious
misunderstanding here. Plus, I'm not sure in what capacity you believe it is ok to
'play god' and dictate how people should live.

As development students, I would hope you are familar with a poverty trap. Sub-
subsistence living, spending all your time struggling to stay alive, walking 6 hours
to collect dirty water that you have to drink because you have no other choice,
farming on plots where the soils are so depleted of nutrients that yields are
literally one tenth of what they could be, means they have no possible way to
better their situation. Or in other words, sub-subsistence living leaves no margin
for savings and investment, meaning, people are left struggling for survival and it
is a vicious circle that, without external assistance, leaves people with no means
to get out of it. The basic idea is that after the people in these villages are no
longer in sub-subsistence conditions they can start providing for themselves (as
is demonstrable by the empirical data on the 500,000 or so people living in the
Millennium Villages) and then, in due course, 'develop' on their own terms. What
you called incredibly unrealistic, is in fact happening, and again reflects a lack of
looking into the matter.

Corruption is an issue. Malawi now however is a food donor. To be clear, we
are not talking about ending all the worlds problems here. We are talking about
arming several countries in rural sub-Saharan Africa with the basic necessities
required for a dignified survival so that they can then develop on their own terms.

                                                                                 22
At that, we are talking about countries with relatively good governance, so you
cannot just scream corruption, or generalize referring to one example to explain
the situation for an entire continent. Corruption alone cannot account for Africa's
situation, even when corruption is controlled for, Africa still grows 3% per annum
slower than the rest of the world. In any case we are not even doing anything to
help the countries with good governance so to time and again raise corruption
misses the point, as well as views the problem ahistorically. Africa never
became independent. After being ravaged by slavery, and then even worse still
colonialism, after being "granted" "independence" the new "leaders" many of
whom were warlords and dictators that we (the west, or global north) propped up,
most of Africa was left in a dire predicament. The same military rulers we were
supporting, were left to continue oppressing their people on their own. There
was no money, no reparations, no attempt to mitigate the effect of centuries of
injustices, we essentially just left and said, sorry about your corrupt rulers, good
luck, only to come back a couple decades later screaming corruption, corruption,
after SAPs had even further run the continent into the ground.

Now, we withhold aid on the basis of poor governance. Is this a joke?! It took
the west several thousand years to come to this point, and after we imposed
arbitrary boundaries forcing many groups together which is still a key feature of
politics in Africa today, after we promoted conflict amongst different groups
forced together to ensure our colonial rule was continued, after Africa
was left bereft of any infrastructure by colonialism and SAPs, infrastructure that is
desperately needed for the very institutions that would promote good governance
we can with a straight face claim that corruption in countries is a reasonable
reason to leave millions of people to die? All these things, they do not just stop
because we do not actively participate in them overtly anymore; colonialism will
have legacies that run at least decades deep to come if not for centuries;
structural adjustment policies will have legacies that will never heal unless
something is done to stop the bleeding.

To even refer to it as aid is insulting, it should be called mandatory retroactive
retribution. Was anyone ever held to account or made to make real reparations
for the millions of people that died as a result of the draconian budget policies of
SAPs?! Was anyone ever held to account or made to make some reasonable,
more than just a official gesture, attempts to heal the wounds of half a millennia
of exploitation and murder in the name of slavery and colonialism? It is pathetic
and infuriating that we are so indifferent now, ignoring history, sometimes not
even looking back a couple decades to see that, in large part, we caused this.
And now, the global terms of trade are so distorted to favor the global north at the

                                                                                23
expense of the global south that we have and are effectively destroying any type
of chance these people have to develop on their own terms and escape extreme
poverty. This is why mandatory retroactive retribution is necessary. If the terms
of trade were fair and all governments good in Africa, there would be no need for
aid. The terms of trade are not fair, robbing poor countries governments of funds
desperately needed to provide the normal things that governments should offer,
this is our (global north) fault. If all governance were good then the funds coming
into the country one way or another would be distributed, at least, somewhat
equitably so that the most vulnerable would not be left to die; again this is our
fault. In a perfect world where the problems of trade and governance, problems
that we created, were not issues then Africa would not need aid, but too many
people are dying to only try to reform the institutions while leaving millions to go
helplessly to their graves. Aid, when spent effectively, will lessen the
vulnerability of the world's poorest allowing them to push against their own
government to become more accountable.

To claim now that aid is irrelevant and we should focus soley on structural issues
is to ignore the human apocalypse faced by the worlds poorest. The terms of
trade must be reformed, corruption must be dealt with in developing countries,
but too many people are dying to allow ourselves to be persuaded by half
arguments about corruption; which confuses an entire continent for a country and
looks at the problems ahistorically as if we did not create them or profit from
them. It is shamefully ignorant, and measured in millions of lives, to justify
inaction on aid simply because of structural problems

This is not meant to be condescending but just because you heard there was a
big push strategy in the 50s and 60s and that is what is being advocated for now
does not make it so. First, you cannot hold money given for non development
purposes to development outcomes. Second, most of that money was given to
secure geopolitical interests. Third, many of the solutions that exist today did not
exist 50 years ago, let alone 10. Case in point, oral rehydration kits that cost
10cents and would save 2 million children a year from dying from diarrea.

Again, your equivocation of the MVP and the hyper liberal strategies imposed by
the WB and IMF in the 80s and 90s is way off base. It is supported by no
emperical evidence whatsoever.

Your criticsm of it being a food distribution problem is based on a rich world bias.
Yes, that may be the problem in many areas, but roughly 80 of rural Africans
depend on small stake holder agriculture, in other words, they can't produce

                                                                                24
enough food. Yes, food redistribution could work, but Africa desperately lacks
the infrastructure to make it happen, and it would not address the root of the
problem to begin with, why the people are not able to grow enough food.

This is not just a 'jeff sachs' approach, again, I think if you did more research into
this you would be very impressed.

We should focus on the Ottawa Food Bank. Ummm, if you believe that we are all
equal, taking into consideration that 800 million people live in the 'developed'
world, and nearly twice that are right now struggling for survival, I don't follow
your logic for helping the already incredibly privileged in the first world. If you're
involved with the food bank, I applaud your efforts, but our focus is on extreme
poverty, not local hardships.

The reasons for Africa's problems are varied and complex; geography, flora and
fauna available for domestication, slavery, colonialism, governance, wars,
structural adjustment programs, the debt burden, the international trading
system… However there are numerous practical steps that can be taken that
yield concrete results by way of millions of lives saved. Structural reform, of
which I am a very big fan, will not happen over night, and to say that nothing
should be done because of a lack of understanding of issues, is in essence,
condemning millions of people to die needlessly. Dependency theory, while
having valid points, probably the theory to which I personally most closely
associate, is at an undergrad level, presented in grossly simplistic terms. That is
not to say it is wrong, but you can't just say Andre Gunder Frank, and present
that as an argument. Malaria can be ended. Africa can have a green revolution.
No one needs to die from diarrea. 6 diseases kill 8 million people annually, it
doesn't require structural reform for this to change.

Thank you for your time. Please do not take this email with anything but the
warmest intentions, if it seemed 'harsh' at points, it is just because views like
some of which you put forth in the email, would have some of my African friends,
as I was, outraged. And, more people will die this year from poverty than from
slavery, and all anyone wants to do is talk about the reasons why we can't do
anything, missing the point that there exist concrete solutions that we can take
right now to mitigate the worse effects of large parts of the problem.

Nadine and I would love to chat with you further about this, although we are very
busy we would be able to make time to chat at your convenience. Regards,
Bryan Turner

                                                                                  25
The other is one I got some time ago.

Thank you for such an informative letter, however I must say that extreme
poverty doesn't only exist in Africa. It also exists in other parts of the world
including (yes! imagine that!) Canada.

It is a misconception to think that by sending some money across the ocean it will
stop poverty. I must add that it is the policy of developed countries like the USA
and Canada that has actually forced lot's of countries into poverty. So my advice:
if you really want to help someone, start with yourself, with your own country,
your own nation and stop fooling people. Instead of forcing your opinion on
communities around the world - rather ask them what they really need, and you
probably will be surprised to hear from those communities that they would simply
want the Western world to leave them alone.

If you would want to continue this dialogue, I am open to your comments,
questions or suggestions.

Sincerely,

To which I replied,

Hello,
Thanks for your reply. I agree that poverty does exist in many parts of the world,
even in Canada, indeed less than 1 billion people live in the "developed" world.
However, extreme poverty does not exist in Canada, exteme poverty is a
euphamism for struggling for survival, it is measured (somewhat arbitrarily) by
living off of less than a dollar a day, and there are over 1 billion people Poverty
in Canada is on an entirely different level than poverty in the third world, and as
such, my reason for focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa is that there people are
dying because they lack a 12 cent dose of medicine, poverty here means people
have a harder time getting by without the same luxuries as the middle class
have, they don't die. Also, there are worlds of people trying to deal with the
problem of poverty within our national borders and by comparison very few
dealing with the much more pressing issue of extreme poverty, a euphemism for
struggling for survival. Followed to it's logical root, the argument is that we
should afford more moral consideration to those within our boundaries than those
outside of them and I do not find that argument persuasive. Although, I fully


                                                                                   26
respect the work of those that endeavor to help those less fortunate within our
national borders
The goal of the group is not to send money. It is to arm people with the basic
tools needed for a decent survival needed to lift themselves out of the poverty
trap that they are currently caught in so that they will not need aid. I think if you
look at either www.millenniumvillages.org or www.unmillenniumproject.org you
will be pleasantly surprised.

rather ask them what they really need, and you probably will be surprised to hear
from those communities that they would simply want the Western world to leave
them alone.

Actually, the group is community lead, and based entirely on what the community
wants. Again if you looked at the websites I think you would be pleasantly
surprised. While I agree that western imperialism has played a large part in the
problem, it is only one part of it, the reasons for Africa's problems are; flora and
fauna available for domestication, geography (rains pushing the population
inland, lack of large navigable rivers inland), slavery, colonialism, structural
adjustment programs, governance, the international trading system and others.
Also, there is nothing about helping people save their own lives that could be
considered westernization or cultural imperialism.

If you'd like I'd be more than happy to provide you with more information, or let
you know where to get it. Thank you again for your email, I hope this finds you
well, Bryan



Funny, whenever they say, I’d love to continue this dialogue and then you send
them letters like that back they don’t usually follow up. Anyhow… MVP FAQ
below, if you’re still reading you totally rule


1. What are the Millennium Villages? Where are they located?

Millennium Villages are designed to demonstrate how the eight Millennium
Development Goals can be met in rural Africa within five years through
community-led development.



                                                                                  27
By working in 12 sites located in 10 African countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya,
Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda) , the
Millennium Village initiative works directly with the respective communities, non-
governmental organizations and national governments to show how rural African
communities can lift themselves out of poverty and achieve the Goals if they
have access to proven and powerful technologies that can enhance their farm
productivity, health, education, and access to markets — while operating within
the budget constraints established by international agreements for official
development assistance.

Each of the 12 clusters of villages is located in a distinct agro-ecological zone —
arid or humid, highland or lowland, grain producing or pastoral — to reflect the
range of farming, water, and disease challenges facing the continent and to show
how tailored strategies can overcome each one of them.

Millennium Villages are located in:

hunger “hotspots” where chronic hunger is widespread, often accompanied by a
high prevalence of disease, lack of access to medical care, and a severe lack of
infrastructure;
countries where the governments are committed to achieving the MDGs; and
one of 12 distinct agro-ecological zones in Africa.



2. What makes Millennium Villages unique? Hasn't this already been done
before?

Millennium Villages offer a scalable model for fighting poverty at the village level
and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The approach can be
expanded from the village to district level and eventually to countries across
Africa.

Importantly, the Millennium Villages approach differs from integrated rural
development programs of the 1970s and 1980s or traditional “model villages” in
several ways:

The Millennium Village effort is explicitly linked to achieving the Millennium
Development Goals and addresses an integrated and scaled-up set of
interventions covering food production, nutrition, education, health services,

                                                                                 28
roads, energy, communications, water, sanitation, enterprise diversification and
environmental management. This has never been done before.
It focuses on participatory community decision-making. For example, at each
village, specific committees and community members identify and evaluate
possible interventions supported by a scientific team and local partners. Together
they create a package of village-specific interventions that are deemed most
appropriate and cost effective, as well as produce a community action plan for
implementing and managing these interventions.
The initiative uses improved science-based technologies and techniques that
have only recently become available, such as agroforestry, insecticide-treated
malaria bed nets, antiretroviral drugs, the Internet, remote sensing, and
geographic information systems.
The Millennium Villages initiative is linked to national–level processes to ensure
that the success can be scaled up by governments.

Finally, the initiative can be taken to broad scale since the financing needs for the
Millennium Villages are fully in line with global commitments to increased official
development assistance (ODA). The per capita support to each village is fully
consistent with the international target of 0.7% of rich countries’ GNI in official
development assistance. This target was agreed at the 2002 Monterrey
Conference on Financing for Development and has been reaffirmed at the 2005
World Summit. The EU-15 countries have all committed themselves to achieving
the 0.7% target by no later than 2015. Moreover, the G8 countries committed at
their 2005 Gleneagles Summit to provide $50 billion per year in ODA to Africa by
2010, which is equivalent to roughly $70 per African per year and again entirely
consistent with the budget framework for the Millennium Villages.



3. Will the Millennium Villages be sustainable?

The Millennium Villages aim to establish the ground-level evidence showing that
the UN Millennium Project’s recommended interventions for rural Africa can lift
villages out of the poverty trap and achieve economic viability through community
empowerment backed up with adequate resources. By raising productivity,
diversifying into higher value crops, and promoting off-farm employment,
incomes will rise in the villages. Higher incomes will also raise household
savings thus accelerating economic diversification and household investments in
human capital. The resulting economic growth in the villages will reduce income-
and non-income poverty, and enable the communities to finance a growing share

                                                                                29
of investments to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Over time these
communities will end their dependency on outside assistance thereby ensuring
sustainability.

A central proposition underpinning the Millennium Villages concept therefore is
that operational sustainability can be achieved in each village before the 2015
MDG deadline, although many villages will still require ongoing but generally
declining financial support beyond then. For these villages, it will be crucial that
existing ODA commitments for 2010 and 2015 are met and maintained until the
respective developing countries graduate from the need for external support.

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. As outlined below, the
Millennium Villages empower local groups to identify the pressing problems of
most community members, their responsibilities for developing workable and cost
effective solutions, and their central role in identifying, communicating and
designing the project so that the initiative can be locally managed.



4. How are national and local governments involved?

Multiple levels of government are providing major in-kind contributions and
playing a key role in the implementation of the Millennium Villages and the
identification and application of lessons learnt. Millennium Villages were selected
in close consultation with national governments. To ensure that the Millennium
Villages are part of national discussion and policy formulation, new villages will
only be initiated in countries where national leadership supports and engages in
the Millennium Villages and is committed to investing additional government
resources.

Ensuring that the Millennium Villages can be scaled up as part of national
development strategies and agreeing on cost-sharing from the outset ensures
that governments are full partners in the project, and also guarantees long-term
operational sustainability. The Millennium Villages rely on existing government
implementation mechanisms, such as agricultural extension workers and other
government staff who are already working in the villages.



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5. Who are the key actors involved in the Millennium Villages?

The Millennium Villages project is lead by The Earth Institute at Columbia
University, Millennium Promise, and the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP). Initiatives are based on the findings of the UN Millennium
Project and are implemented by the communities themselves.

The communities
Critical to the success of the Millennium Villages is the principle that communities
must be empowered to lead in their own development. To ensure success they
must give substantially of their time, skills, and resources. Because Millennium
Villages are an investment toward a sustainable end to extreme poverty,
Millennium Village communities strengthen their local governments and
institutions and certify the preparation and implementation of the interventions in
their community. This is necessary to ensure that their development will become
sustainable and self-sufficient.




The Earth Institute at Columbia University | visit website +
The Earth Institute at Columbia University leads the research and development
of cutting-edge science-based solutions, based on the UN Millennium Project
findings, for the Millennium Villages. The Earth Institute’s integrated scientific
expertise supports all of the interventions in the Villages and cuts across a broad
range of disciplines including public health, nutrition, engineering, education,
hydrology, ecology, and agronomy. Earth Institute scientists work closely with
communities to understand particular challenges, adapt appropriate solutions,
and ensure rigorous monitoring and evaluation.



Millennium Promise | visit website +
Millennium Promise is a U.S.-based non-profit organization working to achieve
the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. Millennium Promise was created in
part to engage the public and donors in support for the Millennium Villages
project. Core activities include raising funds from the private sector, working with
partner organizations to support the project and engaging the private sector in
the development of markets around the Villages.

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UNDP | visit website +
As the lead implementing partner of the Millennium Villages project, UNDP
coordinates village- and national-level activities and supports the scaling up of
the project to the national level. UNDP’s work involves coordinating the UN
Country Teams, providing operational support to the Millennium Village teams,
formulating policies at headquarters level, and supporting the preparation and
implementation of national development strategies that are bold enough to
achieve the Millennium Development Goals.



6. What are some examples of interventions within the Millennium Villages?

The needs of each village—while unique—can be met by implementing solutions
that are both practical and affordable. For example:

Agricultural and agro-forestry techniques dramatically increase farm
production while enhancing the environment.
Vitamin and mineral supplements tackle malnutrition and make children
stronger.
Essential health services provide critical, life-saving medicines and raise
productivity.
Targeted investments relieve burdens on women: improved access to water
and fuel wood, accessible clinics, mills for grain, and trucking and ambulance
services.
School lunches using locally produced food support children’s nutrition,
learning capacity, and school attendance while at the same time increase
demand for locally produced food.
Access to anti-retroviral medicines keeps people with HIV/AIDS alive in poor
countries just as they do in rich ones.
Sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net prevents children from getting
malaria, and immunizations lower the incidence of common diseases, such as
measles.
Innovative off-grid energy, water, and information technologies bring not
only safe water and energy, but save many hours spent each day collecting
firewood and water.

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How will this effort be expanded? 79 villages alone won’t prove that
poverty can be ended, will they?

The Government of Japan (through its Human Security Trust Fund) and private
philanthropic donors (through the Earth Institute at Columbia University) provided
the financing the first set of Millennium Villages, reaching some 60,000 people.
Millennium Promise, a nonprofit organization formed in 2005 to support the
achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, is partnering with UNDP and
the Earth Institute to scale up the Millennium Villages to reach another 330,000
people clustered around 10 of the initial villages, bringing the total number of
Millennium Villages to 79 as of July 2007. It is important to note that each village
has guaranteed funding for five years. The clustering of villages enables
participating communities to benefit from economies of scale in roads, district
hospitals, electricity grids, water and expanding local markets. Through the
concentric build-out of village programs, costs can be lowered, investments
shared, and knowledge distributed.

In addition, Millennium Villages strive to establish a “proof of concept” for broad-
based, community-led rural development strategies. The initiative aims to show
that extreme poverty can be ended in rural Africa. The core elements of rural
development strategies are known today. However, the full range of needed
interventions has so far not been applied at scale as part of a broad-scale
community-led development initiative while subject to a realistic budget constraint
as well as careful scientific monitoring. Millennium Villages are designed to fill
these gaps.



8. How much money does it take to fund a Millennium Village?

A core aspect of the Millennium Villages is that the poverty-ending investments in
agriculture, health, education, and infrastructure can be financed by donors at an
incremental cost of just $50 per villager per year—$250,000 per village per year.
The overhead costs of managing the project in each village are also low, $50,000
per year, since the project draws upon skilled local managers who comprise the
Village team. This modest investment offers the realistic prospect that a
community of 5,000 men, women, and children can achieve the Millennium


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Development Goals and embark on a path of self-sustaining economic
development.

On a per person basis, the total village cost of $110 per person is comprised of:

$50 Donor funding through the Millennium Village program
$30 Local and national governments (this is most likely to include funding for
interventions themselves and the provision of agricultural and health extension
workers in the villages)
$20 Partner organizations (e.g., existing programs supported by official bilateral
donors) and in-kind corporate giving (for example, Sumitomo Chemical
Corporation recently agreed to donate insecticide-treated bednets for the
Millennium Villages)
$10 Village members, typically through in-kind contributions of their time and
expertise

Critically, the external financing needs of $70 per capita are in line with the
financial commitments made by the leaders of industrialized countries at the
2005 G8 Summit in Gleneagles. G8 countries promised to raise their
development assistance to Africa to the equivalent of $70 per capita by 2010..



9. Isn't corruption a concern within some of the countries in which you are
working?

Corruption is a concern in many developing countries, including some where the
Millennium Villages are located. Sometimes, high perceptions of corruption are
used to argue that these countries should not receive any support until corruption
has been eliminated. Unfortunately, such an approach would be doomed to fail,
since fighting corruption is a long-term process that requires high-level political
commitment and sustained support from the international community. Only if
countries can pay their policemen adequate salaries, establish computer-based
expenditure monitoring systems, and have a strong independent media, can
corruption be successfully fought. Poor countries require more support to
implement these practical measures against corruption.

The governments of the ten African countries where Millennium Villages are
located are fighting corruption and are committed to development. Still, the
Millennium Villages initiative places paramount emphasis on the transparent and

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accountable use of its resources. To this end, extensive safeguards are in place
to trace the flow of funds in each country and to ensure that the funding reaches
the intended beneficiaries.



10. How do you manage villages in countries experiencing social unrest
and turmoil?

The countries where the villages are located are among the poorest in the world
and therefore politically and economically fragile. A core objective of the
Millennium Villages is to support development in these countries to reduce their
fragility. While this does not rule out political risks, investments in development
will help reduce these risks over time.




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