Millennium Villages Comments, We Respond

We received the following comment this morning from the Director of Communications at the Earth Institute, regarding the Aid Watch blog published yesterday, Do Millennium Villages Work? We May Never Know. My response is below.----- It’s unfortunate that the author of this post chose to publish such an uninformed blog on the Millennium Village Project’s monitoring and evaluation activities. She and William Easterly at Aid Watch were invited to meet with our scientists and discuss the science and research behind the Villages and the details of the MVP monitoring and evaluation process before publishing any commentaries. Instead the author hastily chose to publish without talking with MVP researchers. The inaccuracy of the blogpost is a reflection of the lack of rigor and objectivity with which the Aid Watch authors approach this subject time and again.

For readers interested in reading factually accurate information about the Millennium Villages project and its monitoring and evaluation strategy, please see:

Erin Trowbridge Director of Communications The Earth Institute

----- Dear Erin,

I had hoped for a different kind of response, one that addressed the specific points made by the piece. Your only comment on content is to say the piece was "uninformed." It would be helpful if you would clarify exactly what you think the piece got wrong, and offer what you view as the correct information to replace it. I would be happy to post such a response on Aid Watch.

Your comment is in any case an inaccurate characterization of our interaction over the past two months. I sent seven separate emails to you and one to CEO John McArthur beginning in mid-August, asking for information on the overall MV evaluation strategy, and eventually asking specifically for an explanation of how the thinking of the team had evolved from 2006 (when Jeff Sachs said there were no controls) to 2009 (when we were informed that there are comparison villages for 10 MV sites). Your responses were represented fairly in the blog post that Aid Watch published yesterday. We expressed willingness to meet with the research scientists after you offered this; it is unfortunate that we were unable to find a mutually convenient time to meet before our publication deadline, which we had already postponed several times.

Thank you for sharing further details of the MVP evaluation process with the information that has now appeared on the link you provided. Interested readers can now independently judge for themselves the merits and demerits of the ongoing MVP evaluation.

Frequent readers here may tire of hearing it, but it is our belief that greater transparency and a greater willingness on the part of donors and aid practitioners to share information with supporters and skeptics alike will make aid better.


Laura Freschi Associate Director Development Research Institute