‘Castle in the sky’:The anomaly of the millennium villages project fixing food and markets in Sauri, western Kenya

Hellen Kimanthi, Paul Hebinck*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Millennium Villages Project (MVP) was implemented in various villages across sub-Saharan African countries to catalyse the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and provide evidence of step-wise societal transformation by 2015. This paper critically analyses from an assemblage perspective the MVP's ‘quick win’ strategy to achieve the MDGs with a focus on the implementation of agricultural interventions and their impacts on the socio-technical fabric in Sauri Millennium Village (SMV) in western Kenya. Our anatomy of MVP highlights that MVP is a continuation of a decades-long of development approaches that sets out to fix development. Analysis of our qualitatively collected longitudinal data show that the SMV was blind to individual and collective forms of agency and heterogeneity among the social actors; hence grassroots corruption, elite capture of agricultural inputs, injury of social relations and exacerbation of the existing inequalities within the community. It spawned tensions and suspicions within the community. The farmers reworked the introduced ideas and technologies to fit to their needs and actively engaged with their own locally produced and exchanged resources. Typical for SMV was also an extremely questionable style of reporting that hid its achievements and failures from the general public. The “Big Promise” that MVP would deliver did not materialise; it simply failed to achieve its objectives and was unable to learn from previous interventionist strategies, it fractured communities and faded into oblivion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-170
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

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