UN Secretary-General Makes First Trip to Millennium Village

Key Data Toward Achieving Millennium Development Goals Released


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with pupils of Dindi School, Mwandama Millennium Village in Malawi.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with pupils of Dindi School, Mwandama Millennium Village in Malawi.

ZOMBA, Malawi, May 30 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the Millennium Village of Mwandama in Malawi today to witness the significant progress that the country and local communities are making toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Though many countries in Africa continue to lag behind, he expressed optimism that the Millennium Development Goals could still be attained through practical initiatives backed by stronger international cooperation. The Secretary-General was joined by Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, his Special Advisor on the MDGs.

Mr. Ban's visit, the first by a sitting UN Secretary-General to a Millennium Village, coincides with the publication of “Harvests of Development in Africa: The Millennium Villages After Three Years,” the first in a series of reports presenting early data on the significant progress toward the MDGs achieved in rural Millennium Village sites throughout Africa. The data, collected from sample sites, capture results after three years of integrated activities spanning agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, and business development. According to the report, the five sites have averaged well over a doubling in staple crop yields, a drop in average malaria prevalence from 24 to 10 percent; average declines in chronic malnutrition from 50 to 35 percent of local infants; and major increases in access to improved drinking water, jumping on average from 20 to 72 percent of local populations.

"The results show the impact that an integrated set of scientific, low-cost interventions can have in a community-led effort to achieve the MDGs," said Professor Sachs. "Significant gains have been made in food production, disease control, income generation, and access to basic infrastructure. We're encouraged by these early results and look forward to seeing these communities make further progress in years ahead."

The Millennium Villages Project is an initiative of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, Millennium Promise, and the UN Development Programme. It is working with impoverished rural communities, African governments and a global network of scientific, corporate and non-governmental partners to apply evidence-based policies and interventions recommended by the UN Millennium Project, combined with local on-the-ground knowledge and experience. Approximately 500,000 people now live in 80 Millennium Villages, all of which are located in “hunger hotspots” reflective of major farming systems across ten sub-Saharan African countries.  The project is demonstrating that the Millennium Development Goals are achievable through a targeted, holistic approach to community- and national- level investments.

“The core idea of the Millennium Villages Project is to demonstrate that working with communities to implement integrated, practical interventions – such as improved seed and fertilizers to raise farm productivity and support school meals, or long lasting insecticide treated bed nets to reduce malaria, clinics to dispense effective treatment and care, and safe drinking water – can be transformative," said Belay Begashaw, Director of the MDG Centre East Africa and former Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture. "We are convinced that the Millennium Villages are a scalable and sustainable approach for many of the poorest nations in Africa.”

"This year will be critical", said Professor Sachs, "as the MDGs will be center stage in several global meetings, including the G8/G20 meetings this summer and fall, and at the MDG Summit in New York in September. We believe that the achievements of the Millennium Villages will enhance the global deliberations on how best to achieve the MDGs.”

The Millennium Villages are underpinned by a robust monitoring and evaluation platform.  This includes detailed crop yield data, socio-economic and health surveys including biological and anthropometric measurements, and tracking of comparison villages. For the first five-year phase of the project, surveys are repeated after three and five years of program exposure.  An economic costing measures the contributions of Project partners to all cluster-level activities. Qualitative process evaluations systematically document the experience of implementers, Project partners, and beneficiaries.

The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Earth Institute

The Earth Institute is the world’s leading academic center confronting the practical challenges of sustainable development. Our core activities include educating and training the next generation of global leaders, advancing scientific research, and implementing practical solutions to create a more sustainable world. For more information, visit

Millennium Promise

Millennium Promise

The mission of Millennium Promise is to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals-eight globally endorsed objectives addressing the multiple dimensions of extreme poverty-in Africa by 2015. To that end, Millennium Promise uses a holistic approach to work with impoverished communities, national and local governments and partner organizations to implement high-impact programs aimed at stopping the cycle of poverty. Our work is premised on the belief that, for the first time in history, our generation has the opportunity to end extreme poverty, hunger and preventable disease. For more information, visit

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

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.

Erin Trowbridge: