New Beginnings for Dertu

In this week’s readings, Radelet states there is some semblance of “good news” coming from Africa, a continent which is known for its bad news. The news in question is of 17 countries which are making fairly big waves on their continent in terms of bettering their societal situations. Though this is fairly positive news for this area of the world, the actual “goodness” perceived takes form in different areas of growth for the countries involved. The “good” from the news comes from these countries’ break from the past; their acute defiance of repeating their negative histories.

These breaks from the track come in the forms of economic growth, with each of the 17 countries providing an overall GDP growth of 5% per year. Also, there was a drop in poverty for each country, from 59 to 48% of people living below the poverty line, all done within 12 years. Trade and investment doubled; school enrollment and completion increased, and literacy rates are on the rise; and finally child mortality is at a decline, with general health rising among the population.

In the country of Kenya, there are villages connected to this main “good” growth such as Dertu, a small village which has been in high poverty throughout its existence. They operate under the assistance of the Millennium Villages Project, and were likely chosen for the project for their inability to grow substantial food-sources, and equal problems with disease and the overall environment they live in. The MVP specializes in providing equipment, such as items for farming and pest prevention, that can significantly contribute to a village’s social and economic prosperity. The area must also be able to sustain themselves through and after the MVP’s assistance, and Dertu has so far retained the ability to do so.

As far as assistance from the MVP goes, the main goal for this village is for it to be able to provide food for itself. Historically, Dertu has not had the resources necessary to rely on themselves for food. The land is difficult for farming and inconsistent weather is a plague on any crops they might have. The MVP has helped to resolve all of these problems in some small way by providing new and innovative techniques that the Kenyans can use. One fix for their problems was to find additional sources for water, of which Dertu has a limited amount, and accompanied with the water are mobile clinics which assist in overall water health issues. To address problems with farming, the MVP has helped the Kenyans to build food store shelters to protect hay and livestock fodder from spoiling or being affected by drought. New techniques in farming and irrigation were also implemented to save crops and protect them from both drought and flooding that can occur.

Dertu has been improving significantly in other areas though as well, and as a result has been a part of a rising trend of Kenya’s improving social and economic status. Currently, Kenya’s GDP and GNI have been increasing steadily over the past 10 years, according to the World Bank statistics on Kenya, with large amounts of money being allocated to support projects and operations in those years. On a national scale, Dertu has been recognized throughout the past few years for its new and rising education opportunities for girls. Though this education is in a small stage currently, it has made a very significant impact on the community involved, and some critics say that with more funding from stakeholders, it could grow into something even bigger and more socially defining for Dertu.

The “good” news has indeed been impacting Kenya in a positive way. This can be in part due to the MVP’s help, but there is no formal data to support this claim. However, it can be said that the people of Dertu have been leading better lives because of the nudge the MVP has given them in the direction of self-sustainable living. The efforts have in this way been quite positive for this small sector of the world, and I believe that it has so far been a positive step in removing poverty from the area.


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