Image courtesy of Millennium Villages
- What are the factors that classify as good news in Africa to Radelet?
Five major changes that signal significant and positive change for the country of Africa.
- “The rise of more democratic and accountable governments” (p. 16). Many authoritarian governments and violent leaders lost accountability after economic disasters that led to protests and calls for change. Democratic governments finally gained traction towards the end of the Cold War and apartheid. Radelet recognizes that the movement towards democracy also has signaled a move towards acknowledging the basic rights of humans, both political and civil. Though this transformation is far from complete, the author categorizes as it as the fundamental base for change.
- “The implementation of more sensible economic policies” (p. 16). The emerging countries in Africa began to implement economic changes in the 1980s, and, as the newly established democracies stabilized, those changes took hold and spread. Radelet says this change is so critical because it allows for sustainable growth and development for the future. Political and economic changes went hand-in-hand, with transformative economic policies brought on by democracies. Corrupt governments and systems had long impeded economic success for African countries, but Radelet says that economic policy has made big strides in the right direction compared to 20 years ago.
- “The end of the decades-long debt crisis, and with it major changes in Africa’s relationship with the international community,” (p. 18). After the debt crisis of the 1980s, Radelet identifies how the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank became much more active in implementing programs designed to stabilize and structurally adjust economic policy in Africa. However, once African debt was reduced, so was the heavy influence of the IMF and World Bank. Emerging African countries were better able to cultivate and foster better relationships with donor countries, which in turn has enhanced donor support.
- “The spread of new technologies that are creating new opportunities for business and political accountability” (p. 20). Africa is finally catching up with the rest of the world in terms of technology, as Radelet points out that cell phone use is becoming basically widespread, with access to the internet not far behind. The significance of this finding lies in the fact that it facilitates the spread of information and connects various business and other services across the continent. The speed and convenience of these technologies has helped to create new jobs and economic opportunities for the countries and people of Africa. The internet also helps with the spread of information, which is a tool that can be used by the African people to help keep the governments in check.
- “The emergence of a new generation of policymakers, activists, and business leaders,” (p. 20). Radelet ends his definitive list of the most significant positive factors for Africa by identifying that Africa is experiencing a new wave of idealists and leaders. Whether it be in the sector of governments, businesses, or NGOs, this “new generation,” as Radelet refers to them, is going to make a real impact on Africa.
- Explore Millennium Villages and find retrospectives and critical views.
I decided to focus my attention on the village of Mayange, Rwanda. The country of Rwanda caught my attention immediately when I saw it on the list, because I recalled hearing stories about the horrific mass genocide that took place there in 1994. I was interested to learn more about the state this village was in. A startling statistic I found was that Nyamata Church has two mass graves holding the remains of 40,000 genocide victims; a somber reminder of the country’s violent and tragic past. Mayange appears to have been an obvious choice for a Millennium Village, as it has tried to rebuild itself after the genocide, and faced obstacles like having only one health center without running water or electricity, overcrowded schools, and nearly one in five children dying before the age of five (Millennium Villages). Notable improvements to the village have already been made though. The Millennium Village website notes that access to better drinking water has tripled, immunization coverage has increased to 90%, and three computer labs along with two libraries were established. I think the goal for Mayange as an MVP was to increase life expectancy, as well as to increase and encourage education and literacy, working to create more economic opportunity in the region. However, the geography of the region itself contributes to its “endemic poverty, illness, and lack of economic opportunity,” as it has inconsistent rainfall and low soil fertility. In the article, “Does it Take a Village?” author Paul Starobin identifies that Jeffrey Sachs defends his MVP initiative, and that governments in countries like Rwanda have requested to have “MVP lessons” on a regional and national scale. I think the Millennium Village in Mayange is a positive initiative, no doubt. However, I am still not convinced that it will or will not eradicate poverty. I think that teaching a village is a more sustainable and impactful way to try and change the lives of people in a region, but only time and adequate resources will tell if it truly can make a change.