MVP. The Millennium Villages Project
Funded by The Blue Chip Foundation
Blue Chip Foundation, founded in 2015 by Jennifer Gross, focuses on alleviating extreme poverty in the developing world by empowering the global community and strengthening economies through sustainable development initiatives.
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The MVP Book can be bought on Amazon here
VII Association photographers and filmmakers documented life on the ground in sub-Saharan Africa’s most impoverished villages, at the close of a decade of targeted poverty reduction interventions. Ron Haviv, Ed Kashi, Gary Knight, Danny Wilcox Frazier, and Fiona Turner bring to life the realities of villagers in Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, and Senegal, capturing the big picture through small, intimate details and moments that personalize the experience of this vast economic development project.
The Millennium Villages Project, a brainchild of Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, set out to improve the quality of life for villagers living in some of Africa’s poorest locales. Ambitiously targeting multiple sectors of daily life, such as health, education, and infrastructure, the project operated on a ten-year timeline, which came to a close at the end of 2015.
The initial analyses of the ten-year-long project suggest wide successes. As Joshua Hammer, award-winning international correspondent, writes in his introduction to the MVP book: “New roads…allowed farmers to bring their crops to markets in nearby towns, building a monetized economy. In some villages, cash went to pay for solar-generated power, helping to create a sustainable electrical grid.” Of successes with girls’ education, he adds, it’s “a phenomenon that would have been unimaginable a mere decade ago.”
Through the documentation produced by the VII visual storytellers such reports come to life. Their work includes four photo essays, accompanying films, a book, and an exhibition. The statistics from Sachs’ Earth Institute at Columbia University become more than merely numbers; this visual work gives dynamism and feeling to the people impacted by the interventions. As Bono himself writes in the foreword to the book: “While I love statistics, what calls us all are great stories and pictures like these in this book, which paint a billion words. Read them. Then take action. For there’s no time to lose.”
The films will be broadcast later this year alongside the book release in February 2017. The premiere exhibition was presented at the United Nations in New York.
MVP Ethiopia. Photography by Ron Haviv
MVP Ghana. Photography by Ed Kashi
Mayange Village, Rwanda. Photography by Gary Knight