Millennium Villages Project Research Yields Positive Results, But Some Researchers Question Methods Used
“Death rates among children under five at the [Millennium Villages Project (MVP)] — set up in Africa to demonstrate what is possible if health, education, agriculture, and other development needs are tackled simultaneously — have fallen by a third in three years compared with similar communities, according to the project’s first results,” published in the Lancet on Tuesday, the Guardian reports (Boseley, 5/8). The study “offers quantitative evidence of the success of the MVP model at nine Millennium Village sites in sub-Saharan Africa,” Nature News writes, adding, “Between 2006 and 2009, mortality in under-fives fell by an average of 22 percent, reaching a level roughly two-thirds of that in control villages not involved with the project, where child mortality seemed to rise.”
“But some researchers have questioned the methods used to quantify the benefits of the project, and demanded that the MVP release its underlying data,” the news service notes. Michael Clemens, a migration and development researcher at the Center for Global Development, “says that these headline figures are misleading for a number of reasons,” and notes “the control-village data include retrospectively estimated figures that are probably too high”; “nationwide improvements in child mortality over the three years of the study were almost as good as in the Millennium Villages”; and “deriving trends from children monitored in a few villages for just three years introduces significant statistical uncertainty” (Gilbert, 5/8).