August 2010

Live where you want; powerpoint MLK; world's most isolated man; Aid data galore; development jobs and Soviet Union meets tetris on youtube: links I liked

admin - August 31, 2010

So if everyone in the world could live wherever they wanted, where would they all end up? Not the countries you might suspect – biggest proportional population increases would be in Singapore and New Zealand, according to a survey by Gallup. Biggest losers less surprising – Sierra Leone, Haiti and Zimbabwe would each lose half their population. The powerpoint version of Martin Luther King’s ‘I …

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Is food the new oil? Fertiliser wars and Brazil as food superpower

admin - August 30, 2010

In the Financial Times, Javier Blas gives us the back-story to the attempt by the world’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton, to buy its largest fertiliser company, PotashCorp. Suddenly fertiliser is big business: in the first eight months of the year, deals valued at $61bn have been announced by companies in the industry, a high that more than doubles the peak hit in 2008. Why? “Countries …

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How about some MDGs for the TOP billion?

admin - August 27, 2010

In the run up to the big UN MDG summit next month, this sweet idea comes from Andrew Revkin on his dot earth blog: “Here comes a question to ponder over the weekend. There is a set of Millennium Development Goals for the poorest of the poor – a cohort of humanity sometimes described as the the “bottom billion.” But, as yet, there is no …

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Locked latrines, meat offsetting and development apps

admin - August 26, 2010

I just spent an enthralling couple of days at a get together of Oxfam GB’s country directors (CDs). A combination of group discussions and speed-dating as I talked to as many as possible of the incredibly impressive people who are on Oxfam’s frontline, lobbying ministers and officials, consulting poor communities and doing (lots of) management stuff. I picked up some examples of effective development work that …

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Africa's four different kinds of economies

admin - August 25, 2010

I’m a sucker for typologies. I guess they’re a wonk’s equivalent of those ‘what were the ten best punk/ska/heavy metal albums of all time?’ discussions in the pub. Here’s a nice one from ‘Lions on the Move’, a breathlessly upbeat new McKinsey report on Africa. It finds four clusters of African economies + a few outliers. Click on the scatterplot for a clearer picture. The clusters …

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Missing revolutionaries; food regulation; localism is wrong; China v Japan; invasion of the Austerians; liberalism and 21st Century enlightenment and hello, humanitarian workers: links I liked

admin - August 23, 2010

‘What have all the African Revolutionaries Gone?’ muses Chris Blattman (I think he means ‘where’) Food corner: It’s time to regulate food markets, reckons former IFPRI director-general Joachim von Braun, reacting to the wheat price spike caused by the Russian export ban. Is eating local food environmentally virtuous? Nope, says James Choi in the New York Times, taking aim at the ‘locavores’ [h/t Chris Blattman] Last …

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Visual metaphor of the week – the hanging donkey

admin - August 20, 2010

My colleague Kate Raworth includes this gem in her presentations on research methods. It illustrates the tendency for policy papers to endlessly expand their remits – ‘just add it to the terms of reference’. Sharp, focussed initial ideas come to resemble Christmas trees decorated with everybody’s particular passion. From working on many Oxfam papers over the years, I feel a terrible sense of affinity with …

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What are African countries already doing to adapt to climate change?

admin - August 19, 2010

While climate change negotiators seem to be wading through metaphorical cement, national governments have no choice but to get on with adapting to current and future climate change, as far as they are able. A recent review of 10 African countries’ adaptation plans by IFPRI shows some patterns to the response. (The countries were Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan, …

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How much does US corn dumping cost Mexican farmers?

admin - August 18, 2010

Remember dumping – the rich country farm subsidies that allow them to dump their products in poor countries at artificially cheap prices, thereby wiping out local agriculture? Tim Wise on the Triple Crisis blog has been running the numbers on the impact of NAFTA (US-Canada-Mexico Free Trade Agreement, in force since 1994). He calls it a the ‘controlled experiment’ “because NAFTA liberalized agricultural trade dramatically …

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