Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye of Senegal said Saturday he is convinced that the Millennium Villages integrated rural development model is the right one for scale-up across Senegal. (Pictured above, in light blue, visiting the maternity section of the Leona Health Post.)
“This model must be extended in other rural communities to boost Senegal’s economy,” he said during a visit to the Millennium Villages of Potou near Leona, Senegal, adding that the model is in line with the vision of grassroots development advocated by President Macky Sall.
The Millennium Villages Project was launched in 2006 to help fight extreme poverty and create a pathway to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in the poorest regions of rural Africa. The project’s ongoing goals include expanding the integrated approach of the Millennium Villages to national scale.
“We have found the right model. Now we should think about extending it to other rural communities in Senegal,” Mr. Mbaye said.
Prime Minister Mbaye noted that a key element of the project’s success are the partnerships among multiple stakeholders, including a strong involvement of government at all levels, the local communities, and many non-governmental organizations.
Using some of the latest advances in science and technology, Millennium Villages Project personnel work with local communities to improve agricultural output; provide improved local infrastructure for energy and clean water; build community health care systems and fight disease; and boost local education and business development.
The core sites of the project cover nearly 500,000 people in 10 African countries -- Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda. Indirectly, the project is reaching many millions each year as host governments implement various strategies and tools of the project.
“Senegal’s new President Macky Sall has called for increased local participation in development, and has requested a strong partnership of the Government and the Millennium Villages Project,” said Amadou Ibra Niang, Director of the MDG Centre for West and Central Africa, which oversees Millennium Villages Project sites throughout the region. “Because of the strong, committed leadership of the Government of Senegal, we are confident that important lessons from the Millennium Villages can help Senegal nationally to fight poverty, hunger, and disease. We are very honored to be working with this outstanding and committed government.”
In the course of the Saturday morning tour, Prime Minister Mbaye visited a new health post, an elementary school, a shop selling livestock feed, a dairy business, the community radio station, and market gardens using modern irrigation methods, including an onion production operation managed entirely by women. The onion fields, which use drip irrigation promoted by the project, are producing up to 70 tons of onions per hectare.
Mr. Mbaye also visited the villages of Gabane, Ndialakhar, Gabar, and Niayam, gave an interview to the community radio station, Leona FM, and saw a demonstration of ChildCount+, part of the Millennium Villages Project’s health information system.
The prime minister’s delegation included Aminata Mbèngue Ndiaye, Minister of Livestock, as well as local government representatives and members of the Louga-based Millennium Villages project staff.
“A combination of energy and skills have been implemented to enable the results we've seen,” he said. “I have no doubt that by 2015 the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be achieved, even if there is some distance to go.”