Madagascar town tries Millenium model
An international development project has raised living standards in one Madagascar village. But will the advances last after donor funding stops?
After five years of UN funding, the Millennium Village of Sambaina in Madagascar has recently become a self-funding project.
The project was started in 2004 by the Earth Institute at Colombia University in the US, the UN Development Programme and the NGO Millennium Promise.
The aim was for the village to achieve eight of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 through targeted donor funding.
The project has raised the living standards in the village. It remains to be seen if those standards can be maintained without donor funding.
Sambaina lies 45 kilometres away from the capital Antananarivo and is set between rice plantations and green fields.
The Millennium Village is home to some 7,000 residents.
Seventy per cent of the farmers now use the system of rice intensification that increased the production of this staple of the Malagasy diet.
Food security is now ensured for 11 months of the year.
And one major change is the access to clean drinking water.
Angéline Razanatsoa, a leader of one of the 15 neighbourhoods that make up Sambaina, explains how water was collected prior to the Millennium Project.
“Before the implementation of the Millennium programme, part of the population would get water from wells and the rest would fetch water from rice fields,” she says.
The installation of electricity in Sambaina has also made a profound difference on the lives of villagers living in seven of the 15 neighbourhoods.
"First, the biggest improvement is clean drinking water," Angéline Razanatsoa explains. "Then it’s education and health. But we also have to say that electricity is a great change because the population has needed this for a long time.”
It's now up to the villagers themselves to find a way to install electricity in the remaining eight neighbourhoods.
Sambaina's mayor, Arsène Randriamiarana, says it is necessary to partner with government ministries and NGOs to ensure that the improvements in the village are sustainable.
He is confident about the future.
“If we pursue our efforts and if the population uses the experience gained from the programme, and if the support from ministries and NGOs continues, I believe we can reach the Millennium goals,” he predicts.
Village elder Roger Randriamindriana hopes the Millennium model will spread to other areas in the country but admits there are issues that could prevent such development.
"If we take agriculture for example, climate might be an issue regarding the modern techniques we adopted," he points out. "On the other hand, politics could also be a sticking point.”
Sambaina's success story also highlights the extreme poverty that exists in much of Madagascar.
The country has no hope of achieving the Millennium goals by 2015.
And with foreign aid still largely frozen following a 2009 coup, there is little chance the population will see positive changes in the near future.