The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) grew out of a United Nations summit conference in 2000 where nearly 200 nations agreed on eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) &ndash including reducing child mortality promoting gender equality fighting HIV/AIDS achieving universal primary education improving maternal health and reducing extreme poverty and hunger. Jeffrey Sachs a Harvard-educated economist who helped liberalize the economies of the former Eastern Bloc countries in the early 1990s next turned his energies to poverty alleviation and development. From 2000 onward he served as a key advisor to the UN Secretary-General and many UN agencies on the MDGs. Sach's concept for the MVP was both ambitious and disarmingly simple. Instead of undertaking the small-bore projects &ndash digging a well repainting a school &ndash that typified much local development work Sachs' team at the Earth Institute at Columbia University would aim to help rural communities achieve all eight MDGs. To demonstrate the approach Sachs and his team selected ten main clusters of villages across sub-Saharan Africa.
MVP aimed to create synergies and a sustainable model of development sufficient to achieve the MDGs. The hope was that "a good sense of priorities engineering and financing " says Sachs would enable the communities to break out of the "poverty trap."
In 2015 the MVP ten-year experiment came to a close as planned alongside the end-date of the UN's MDGs. Experts at the Earth Institute are collating data and trying to determine whether a decade of targeted development programs has brought the project's sites close to the Millennium Development Goals established in 2000. The statistical results will be presented to the public in early 2017.
Four photographers from VII Agency &ndash Ed Kashi Gary Knight Danny Wilcox Frazier and Ron Haviv-documented MVP sites in Ghana Rwanda Senegal and Ethiopia. These photographs explore the challenges endemic to the area and success stories of obstacles overcome by individuals and communities. As Bono says at the end of his essay: "While I love statistics what calls to us all are great stories and pictures like these in this book which paint a billion words."
Note: The Blue Chip Foundation will donate all proceeds from the sale of the book to Community Health Care workers in Ghana and Girls scholarships through the Connect to Learn Program
Ed Kashi is a photojournalist filmmaker and educator. A sensitive eye and an intimate relationship to his subjects are signatures of his work. As a member of the VII Agency and a long time contributor to National Geographic Kashi has been recognized for his complex imagery and its compelling rendering of the human condition. His images have been published and exhibited worldwide and his work has generated seven books. He is the recipient of numerous awards including World Press Photo and UNICEF Photo of the Year. As an educator Kashi instructs and mentors students of photography and participates in forums and lectures on photojournalism documentary photography and multimedia storytelling.
"While I love statistics what calls to us all are great stories and pictures like these in this book which paint a billion words." - Bono Lead Singer U2. He is the co-founder of ONE a global advocacy campaign with members around the world to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease and of (RED) which partners with iconic brands to raise awareness and resources to fight HIV/AIDS.