Impact Evaluation of MVP-SADA Northern Ghana Millennium Village

The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) was designed to demonstrate how an integrated approach to community-led development can translate the international Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) into results. The MVP approach was piloted in Kenya and Ethiopia and in 2006, reached nearly half a million people across 10 countries in sub-Sahara Africa. In 2011 the UK Department for International Development (DFID) agreed to provide a grant of £11.5 million to implement a new Millennium Village in Northern Ghana. The new MVP will run for five years from 2012 to 2016 with interventions targeting a total population of around 30,000 people.

Approach

The impact evaluation in Northern Ghana is the first independent evaluation of the MVP approach. This approach is based on the ‘poverty trap’ theory presented by Professor Jeffrey Sachs and collaborators. The poverty trap theory states that, amongst other factors, high transport costs, poor agricultural productivity and the burden of disease locks poor countries in a cycle of poverty. It argues that small investments are unlikely to yield significant benefits in the long term and what is needed is a ‘big push’ to lift poor rural communities out of poverty. A set of interventions is recommended to facilitate this ‘big push’ such as stimulating improved agricultural productivity and market development, enabling people in rural areas to save and accumulate wealth, and investing in health and family planning.

The MVP approach  has been the subject of considerable debate and received much press coverage and online interest. This scrutiny demonstrates the need for a robust, methodologically rigorous, and independent impact evaluation to analyse how the approach delivers against the MDGs. In collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies, LSHTM and PDA Ghana, we assembled an expert team with skills in impact assessment, quantitative and qualitative research methods, including participatory research and the ‘reality check’ approach.

The evaluation uses a quasi-experimental approach, with difference-in-difference (DD) to compare the change in outcomes in MVP with the same outcomes in areas not covered by the project. A number of baseline, annual and end-line surveys are conducted including: household surveys (sampling over 2,000 households), adult (male/ female) surveys, facilities surveys, village surveys, blood tests, anthropometric measurements, cognitive tests and time preference/ expectation surveys. Qualitative methods are also used to explain the impacts and particularly differential impacts on specific groups. The methods include wealth and well-being assessments, institutional assessments and mini-anthropological studies (the ‘reality checks’). The impact evaluation will also conduct a cost-effectiveness assessment.

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Key contact

Director, Technical Excellence
+44 (0)1273 915625