March 2010

Do the MDGs influence national development policies?

admin - March 31, 2010

Expect a lot of soul searching around the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) this year, in the run up to the UN high level event in September (see previous posts here and here). A recent issue of the IDS bulletin covered ‘The MDGs and Beyond’. The piece that caught my eye was an analysis of national Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) by Sakiko Fukuda-Parr (former director of …

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Urinals; development songs; nail salons; economics v physics; state-building; Obamacare; Global Health Fund; apologies to Haiti; guns and anthropologists and more data for aid geeks: links I liked

admin - March 30, 2010

A graphic history of the urinal [h/t a seriously underemployed John Magrath] It’s a brave man who publishes his musical preferences, so hats off to IDS director Lawrence Haddad for this list of top development songs Job  clusters among US immigrants – Bill Easterly finds that Vietnamese work in nail salons and Chaldeans (Roman Catholics from northern Iraq) in liquor stores ‘Economics achieved coherence as …

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Final Thoughts on Vietnam and the American War

admin - March 29, 2010

As you’ll probably have realized by now, I spent last week in Vietnam, managing to take in everything from debating industrial policy with the IMF in the Hanoi Hilton to discussing survival strategies with lottery ticket sellers in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City (working for an NGO can be amazing sometimes). Everywhere you go, the ‘American War’ hangs unspoken over a foreigner’s experience …

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What makes Vietnam's informal economy tick?

admin - March 26, 2010

Inside Vietnam’s informal economy – heroic struggles! Spent Wednesday talking to a range of people in the ‘informal economy’ of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). I was accompanying our excellent Vietnam team, who together with Action Aid Vietnam, are running a 5-year ‘poverty monitoring programme’ in 9 rural and 3 urban sites, including this one. More on that in another post – this one …

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How to insure crops with a mobile phone – an experiment from Kenya

admin - March 24, 2010

For technophiles everywhere, an uplifting story from a recent issue of The Economist: ‘One of the things holding back agriculture in developing countries is the unwillingness of farmers with small plots of land to invest in better seed and fertiliser. Only half of Kenyan farmers buy improved seed or spend money on other inputs. Many use poor-quality seed kept from previous harvests. That is understandable …

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How does change happen in Vietnam?

admin - March 24, 2010

Fascinating talk with an academic insider in the Vietnamese establishment, who set out some thoughts on how big changes happen in Vietnam (eg the introduction of the Doi Moi process of economic opening or the land reform of the early 1990s). Particularly important because Vietnam’s record on growth with equity, and poverty reduction, is second to none. He saw certain features as characterizing big change …

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The IMF debates the crisis and industrial policy

admin - March 23, 2010

The Hanoi Hilton, IMF, Robert Wade and jet lag. One strange day. [any feedback on these wonku summaries, introduced in response to the reader survey?] My week in Vietnam kicks off with a weird jet-lagged day at the Hanoi Hilton c/o the IMF and the Vietnam State Bank, who organized a conference on ‘Post Crisis Growth and Poverty Reduction in Developing Asia’. The conference was …

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Today's World Water Day, and here's what you need to be reading/watching

admin - March 22, 2010

It’s world water day Bad watsan ruins lives but gets ignored. So act! Today is world water day, and reader Steve Cockburn, coordinator of a global coalition called End Water Poverty, of which Oxfam is a member, has kindly done my job for me by sending over some links and analysis. This is all him, not me:  ‘UNICEF/WHO last week released their Joint Monitoring Programme …

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What do readers think of this blog? Results of audience survey

admin - March 19, 2010

Executive wonku (see below): Lots of folk like it but want fights, shorter posts and more southern voices Wow. As promised here are the results of the online survey of users of this blog, crunched by the amazing elves in Oxfam’s market research department. Just as well, as the response was far greater than I ever anticipated – 266 completed questionnaires, and a pile of …

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Why no-one believes what scientists tell them

admin - March 18, 2010

The Guardian’s George Monbiot is a former environmental scientist turned journalist-activist. Many moons ago I studied physics, before joining the development and human rights dark/light side (depending on your point of view). So his recent meditation on the nature of science and ‘public reason’ as Amartya Sen would call it, struck a chord, (and not just with me, if the 1200 comments on the article are …

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