June 2011

Is taxation better than aid for state-building? The case of Somaliland

admin - June 30, 2011

Domestic taxation is one of those absolutely crucial development issues that too often drop through the cracks. It’s important not just because, at a time of huge pressure on aid budgets, it is a vital source of ‘financing for development’, but also because taxation has been at the heart of politics and state-building, ever since the creation of nation states in Europe and the ‘no …

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Poverty reduction v well-being: a cash transfer experiment from Malawi

admin - June 29, 2011

What difference does it make to development interventions if you worry about well-being rather than income poverty? A rather neat example has just come through from some new research by Sarah Bair, Jacobus de Hoop and Berk Özler for the World Bank Poverty and Inequality team. They looked at the impact on girls’ mental health of cash transfers in Malawi (why do so many researchers work …

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New international rules on domestic workers – will they make a difference?

admin - June 28, 2011

It’s probably just because I’m getting more right wing in my old age, but The Economist seems to be getting better. This week’s issue covers a new ILO Convention on domestic workers. A quick skim of Google News suggests it was the only magazine from the mainstream UK media to do so. “Without them many an economy would grind to a halt: the global army …

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India's first Dalit solar engineer; resource nationalism resurgent; results agenda; extreme weather pics; rich people bounce back; rational self interest in Somalia: links I liked

admin - June 27, 2011

‘Santosh Devi, a 19-year-old, semi-literate woman from the backwaters of Rajasthan has broken through India’s rigid caste system to become the country’s first Dalit solar engineer.’ ‘African countries are not profiting enough from the surge in prices, while oil and mining companies make windfalls. Activists and non-governmental organisation are demanding better terms. Officials largely agree.’ Resource nationalism is on the rise again, according to the …

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Verdict on G20 food summit? Dismal, please try harder

admin - June 24, 2011

Agriculture is a hot potato (sorry…) in most countries’ domestic politics. Think rioting French farmers, US agribiz lobbies or the long death-by-agriculture of the WTO Doha round. So perhaps the most notable thing about the G20 agriculture ministers’ meeting that ended yesterday was that it took place at all – it was the first ever meeting of its kind. It shows just how globally important …

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Living on a spike – how are high food prices actually experienced by people living in poverty?

admin - June 22, 2011

The G20’s Agriculture Ministers are meeting for the first time today and tomorrow, in Paris, a sign of the rising importance of food security and related issues, following the recent chaos in global food prices (see graph). Oxfam is focussing its lobby efforts on biofuels (in many cases, a bad thing, diverting food to fuel and not even helping reduce carbon emissions) and food reserves …

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What does a theory of change look like?

admin - June 21, 2011

I’ve been working on ‘how change happens’ for a few years now, as regulars to this blog will know, but in the last few months, ‘theories of change’ has gone viral as a new development fuzzword. In meetings and documents, people earnestly enquire ‘what’s your theory of change?’ and you’re in trouble if you don’t have an answer. (Quite a good answer is ‘could you …

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How can research funders work better with international NGOs like Oxfam?

admin - June 20, 2011

I spoke recently to a meeting of the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences. It’s a great initiative, bringing together 13 UK funders and stakeholders with an interest in international development research, but is ‘collaborative’ really a noun? Anyway, the topic was how research funders (mainly state funded) can link up more effectively with large INGOs like Oxfam. Let me talk you through the powerpoint…… First, …

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Are pro-poor renewables approaching a tipping point? Guest post by John Magrath

admin - June 17, 2011

I was at the annual conference of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy this week in London to hear presentations by this year’s award winners, watch films of their work and listen to a panel debate that included Matthew Lockwood and Mike Mason (of which more below). As always, the winners – both from the UK and internationally – were fascinating and inspiring. In the …

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