July 2011

Maasai v investors in Ngorongoro, Tanzania: guest post by Jane Lonsdale

admin - July 28, 2011

Ngorongoro district in Tanzania, home to the famous Ngorongoro crater and bordering the Serengeti national park, must surely be one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. Maybe this explains its hotly contested land disputes.  Everyone seems to want a piece of it, but those in danger of being left without are the indigenous Maasai tribe, often used as a lucrative Tanzanian tourism symbol. For …

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By 2015 Nigeria will have more poor people than India or China

admin - July 27, 2011

The remarkably upbeat Brookings report on global poverty that Charles Kenny discussed in his recent post has some striking stats. “Between 2005 and 2010, the total number of poor people around the world fell by nearly half a billion people, from over 1.3 billion in 2005 to under 900 million in 2010. Looking ahead to 2015, extreme poverty could fall to under 600 million people—less …

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The Duke of Wellington on the aid bureaucracy

admin - July 26, 2011

Just read the much quoted paper from former USAID boss Andrew Natsios, ‘The Clash of the Counter-bureaucracy and Development’. The counter-bureaucracy is his term for the bean counters within USAID and the development sector in general, who are currently in the ascendant. Of it, he says simply. ‘The counter-bureaucracy ignores a central principle of development theory—that those development programs that are most precisely and easily …

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$66bn ends world poverty; the Great Divergence; bashing BAE and the China-bashers; the UK and Africa; talk v action on greenhouse gases; ultra-low tech lighting: links I liked

admin - July 25, 2011

How much would it cost to eradicate (that’s right – not halve, but end) world poverty? “If we could accurately and directly supplement the income of each poor person in the world to bring his or her daily income up to $1.25, it would have cost $96 billion in 2005. But by 2010, as the number of poor people fell, that cost had dropped to …

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How do we talk about resource limits, fair shares and development?

admin - July 22, 2011

Fascinating morning earlier this week discussing Alex Evans’ new paper for WWF and Oxfam on ‘Resource Scarcity, fair shares and development’. Alex summarizes the paper in the Guardian, so I won’t rehearse his arguments for adding ‘fair shares’ to the more accepted topics of responding to resource scarcity by increasing production and strengthening resilience. Instead, here are some reflections coming out of the discussion + …

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A morning with Ena Conteh in Freetown, Sierra Leone: guest post by Penny Lawrence

admin - July 21, 2011

Our international director, Penny Lawrence, regularly educates me with stories from her field trips, and this time I managed to persuade her to write it down: “I recently spent a morning in one of Freetown’s slum areas. Since the horrific civil war (1991 – 2002), which was finally ended by the UK military, elevating Tony Blair to superhero status in Sierra Leone, Freetown has doubled in …

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Why do we know so little about how poor people 'do' development?

admin - July 20, 2011

I’ve just been reading the draft of a review by Charlotte Sterrett of climate change adaption experiences in South Asia. It’s great, and I’ll link to it when it’s published, but one conclusion set me thinking more widely: ‘While autonomous adaptation is likely to become more common and widespread than planned adaptation, most research and policy dialogue so far has focused on the latter. Research …

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Playing games with the climate – a great way to explore difficult choices in complex systems

admin - July 19, 2011

By pure coincidence, the day after linking to Jane McGonigall’s impassioned plea that gamers can save the world, I ended up playing a rather more low-tech climate change game with a load of DFID staff. We were farmers, taking decisions on risks and returns for different crops in accordance with the unpredictable weather patterns (represented by the roll of a dice), in a series of …

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Interactive Africa; fairtrade goes foul?; CIA vaccinations; GAVI wonk wars; Zambia and Ghana graduate; IMF on taxing capital inflows: links I liked

admin - July 18, 2011

Political History of Africa since 1900 – great interactive map from the Guardian (not this one, that’s just a screen grab – click on the link) Has Fairtrade become the victim of its own success? So you want to catch Osama bin Laden. I know, let’s do it by risking the reputation of one of the public vaccination campaigns. Way to go, CIA. (And apparently, …

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