October 2013

The Idealist: a brilliant, gripping, disturbing portrait of Jeffrey Sachs

admin - October 31, 2013

For The Idealist, Nina Munk, a Vanity Fair journo, stalked Jeffrey Sachs for six years, focusing on his controversial Millennium Villages Project (MVP). She interviewed the man, sat in on his meetings with bigwigs, and hung around the Millennium Villages to find out what happened when the Prof’s entourage moved on. The result is more subtle than a simple hatchet job. She portrays Sachs as a …

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Getting to the ‘so whats': how can donors use political economy analysis to sort out bad governance?

admin - October 30, 2013

Close but no cigar. Just been reading an ODI paper from a few months ago, Making sense of the politics of delivery: our findings so far, by Marta Foresti, Tam O’Neil and Leni Wild. It’s part of the ODI’s excellent stream of work on governance and accountability (see my review of David Booth and Diana Cammack’s book) and repays close study. The starting point is the …

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Social inclusion and concentration of wealth – what the World Bank gets right and what it misses.

admin - October 29, 2013

This guest post comes from Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva, Oxfam Head of Research, (@rivefuentes) No one expects the World Bank to be a simple organization. The intellectual and policy battles that occur inside the Bank are the stuff of wonk legends – I still remember the clashes around the poverty World Development Report in 2000/2001. This is not a criticism. One of the strengths of the World …

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Impressive progress in guaranteeing the right to food in poor countries (Olivier de Schutter’s final big report to the UNGA)

admin - October 28, 2013

UN Special Rapporteurs are independent experts, appointed (but not paid, I think) by the UN to beaver away to raise important issues such as disability, indigenous peoples, or torture. They include some bright stars – important thought leaders on the international development stage such as Magdalena Sepulveda, UNSR on extreme poverty and human rights. But the star that has shone brightest, at least in my …

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Aid’s segmented future

admin - October 25, 2013

This piece was written for a blog discussion on the future of aid, which will double up as a Global Policy ebook, organized by Andy Sumner’s new outfit, the Kings College International Development Institute, King’s College London. It’s all part of the build up to their launch conference on Emerging Economies and the Changing Global Order, 7-8 November. One of the most pressing challenges for …

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Why does climate change adaptation in Africa ignore politics? Great broadside from Matthew Lockwood.

admin - October 24, 2013

My friend Matthew Lockwood has a habit of asking really big, sensible questions about politics that change the way you see the world. He was so fed up with what he saw as the lazy, apolitical thinking behind aid in general and Make Poverty History in particular, that he abandoned the development scene, writing The State They’re In: An Agenda for International Action on Poverty …

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Governance for Development in Africa: Solving Collective Action Problems: Review of an important new book

admin - October 23, 2013

The last year or so has been a bit quiet in terms of big new books on development, but now they are piling up on my study floor (my usual filing system) – Angus Deaton, Deepak Nayyar, Ben Ramalingam, Nina Munk etc etc. I will review them as soon as I can (or arm-twist better qualified colleagues to do so). But I thought I’d start …

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What use is a theory of change? 6 benefits, and some things to avoid.

admin - October 22, 2013

Whether in the back of a 4×4 in Tanzania, or in seminar rooms in Oxfam house, I seem to spend an increasing amount of my time discussing theories of change. Oxfamers seem both intrigued and puzzled – what are they? What are they for? The answers aren’t simple and, as social scientists like to say, they are contested. But here’s what I currently think. What …

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Some feelgood for Monday morning. 500 Ugandan women entrepreneurs lipsynching to Jessie J.

admin - October 21, 2013

Can’t find that much info about it, but this video was made by a Dutch NGO called SYPO to publicise its microfinance crowdsourcing site, microbanker.com. There’s also a couple of youtube clips of the making of the video and the afterparty – which looks a lot of fun. The afterparty clip eased a few qualms (do all women speak enough English to fully understand the lyrics? Do 500 entrepreneurs …

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When we (rigorously) measure effectiveness, do we want accountability or learning? Update and dilemmas from an Oxfam experiment.

admin - October 18, 2013

Claire Hutchings, Oxfam’s Global MEL Advisor, brings updates us on an interesting experiment in measuring impact – randomized ‘effectiveness reviews’. For the last two years, Oxfam Great Britain has been trying to get better at understanding and communicating the effectiveness of its work. With a global portfolio of over 250 programmes and 1200 associated projects in more than 55 countries on everything from farming to gender …

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