Post Two: Good News for Africa and Sauri, Kenya

According to Radelet, Africa has many reasons to be celebrating good news. Radelet singles out five fundamental changes in Africa: the rise of more democratic and accountable governments, the implementation of more sensible economic policies, the end of the decades-long debt crisis, and with it major changes in Africa’s relationship with the international community, the spread of new technologies that are creating new opportunities for business and political accountability, and lastly, the emergence of a new generation of policymakers, activists, and business leaders. The first reason is the fall of dictatorship and the rise of democracy. Strong leadership has, more often than not, been lacking across Africa. Today, 20 countries in Africa are currently meeting the basic needs of a democracy. Democracy is increasing vastly across Africa and creating a more just place to live for citizens in these countries. The second is steady economic growth, which is a huge success for the many growing nations. In Ghana alone, the economy continues to grow at a rate of 5% per year. The GDP has steadily grown by 7.5% per year in Mozambique, which is one of the fastest growth rates in the world. Mali, Tanzania, and Cape Verde are more shinning examples of the economic growth in Africa. To an otherwise poor continent, economic growth is a strong indicator of Africa taking a leap in the right direction and is most definitely good news for the region. Third, debt burden in many African countries has significantly decreased. Because of this, relationships with countries, as well as donors, have improved and almost blossomed. Fourth, technology is increasing, and cellphones are becoming a norm for many citizens in Africa. Cellphones open an infinite amount of doors for the both the nations and citizens and create a strong connection to the world. Lastly, governments and businesses are slowly becoming full of competent, educated, smart individuals, which is greatly improving Africa’s position in foreign affairs and economic successes. There are a few other instances of good news in Africa. As it often does, the media portrays continents as one unit, often considering the entire continent in turmoil when it is just one city or country. Because of this, Africa may seem like a troubled region, yet very few of its nations are wrapped in conflict. In addition, poverty rates have dropped by 10%. Trade and investments have doubled. Education and literacy rates have continuously grown. Health in Africa has increased substantially, and child mortality has decreased by 32 deaths per year. Lastly, population growths and fertility have both decreased.  All of these chalked down as huge successes for Africa, and all are considered good news for the continent and nations that reside in it. With all of these programs and organizations helping Africa make great strides, why are most African countries still in extreme poverty?

09kenya_ca2-articleinline http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/world/africa/09kenya.html

The city I chose to investigate is Sauri, Kenya. Sauri is located on the western border of Kenya and has a population of about 70,000. It has a wet, humid climate, and therefore supports agriculture, which explains its higher population. The main crops include maize and beans. Prior to Millennial Village Projects, Malaria was prevalent up to 50% across the population, agriculture was failing, 80% of the population earned less than $1 per day, and more than half the children were malnourished. Sauri was chosen for its great agricultural and economic potential, as well as malaria prevalence and vast malnutrition. The project promised to lift the village out of poverty and spark self-sustaining economic growth. The MVP has recorded many successes in Sauri. Maize harvest increased from 1.9 to 5.0 tons per hectare. Sauri now has a community central bank. They established bee keeping and fish farms and are now pasteurizing over 600 liters of milk per day. 21,000 children are provided a daily meal during school. 97% of one-year-olds have been immunized against measles. Almost all pregnant women have an option to get tested for HIV and are also offered counseling. Lastly, the water supplies have doubled and families have improved access to power. Overall, the GDP of Sauri has an annual growth rate of 5.43% from 2004-2016. The MVP addressed health, poverty, and economic issues associated with most countries in Africa. In one independent study done by Kenyan economist Bernadette Wanjala, she found that the project had no significant impact on household incomes. Because of the large agricultural focus of the project, it decreased economic activity of profitable, non-farming employment. The MVP also exaggerated its success in its reports. The independent study found that the success was not quite as MVP stated. Their way of measuring crop yields is adjusted to produce larger success by focusing on plots that were given intervention, fully cooperated, and implemented the intervention (http://www.cgdev.org/blog/kenyan-economist-offers-first-independent-evaluation-millennium-villages-project). Sauri, Kenya has clearly benefited from the MVP intervention, yet the MVP is failing to fully provide assistance to this small African city. I believe this project is viable to ending poverty, but they need to focus on other profitable sectors in addition to agriculture. If the MVP has increased crop yields and increased income, why did the MVP exaggerate the statistics? Do they feel they should be doing better and instead of increasing help they are just lying on paper?

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