August 06, 2003
Mieux Vivre aux Village
Mieux Vivre au Village (MVV, translates as Better Living in the Village) works to improve the standard of living for rural communities in Benin. Gabriel Agbede, one of the officers of MVV, has put his technical veterinary and agricultural knowledge to good use to create, organize, and secure loans for animal husbandry cooperatives. Since 2000, MVV has launched honey production, women’s gardening, pig husbandry, and fishing projects. MVV also works with AIDS education, children's nutrition and exploring microbusiness opportunities like sunflower seed cultivation and processing.
The founders of MVV work closely with an elected local board of officers. The local officers receive business trainings and capacity-strengthening workshops and support. Gabriel and the rest of MVV’s founders spend much of their time lobbying, negotiating with government ministries, and searching for grants on behalf of their community.
Here's a picture of the MVV directors and friends, taking a break on the flanks of Ota, the huge hill overlooking Kemon. From left to right, that's Gabriel Agbede, an unidentified little girl, Arcadius Oyeniran Chabi, Peace Corps volunteer Elizabeth Eckel, Salomon Chabi, Elizabeth Bruce and Michel Ognin.
I met Gabriel Agbede through the Bridgebuilders Workshop at Harvard in February. I talked him into speaking at the first meeting of the Spring 2003 DtM course at the MIT Media Lab, and end-of-semester student feedback was that his heartfelt summary of Kemon's community needs was the best seminar of the course.
Meeting MVV was an opportunity for us to learn about the needs of a small, local NGO, and explore opportunities for a working relationship. For example, Gabriel has been working on sunflower cultivation, and he needs help building an oil press for the seeds. There is a precedent for this kind of technology (at ApproTEC and other places); figuring out how to adapt it to conditions in Benin will be an excellent DtM design challenge.Posted by Timothy Prestero at August 6, 2003 03:43 PM