September 2017

The new Gates Foundation aid report: great at human stories; but where’s the power, politics and mess?

Duncan Green - September 29, 2017

I’ve been reading the new Gates Foundation report, The Stories Behind the Data (lots of jazzy webstuff and graphs of bad stuff going down here – and if you dig hard enough, you can even find a good old-fashioned report to read here). On one level it is exemplary, setting out both an optimistic story of progress, and a warning that this could all be in jeopardy, not …

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Are grassroots faith organizations better at advocacy/making change happen?

Duncan Green - September 28, 2017

As part of thinking about how power operates in fragile/conflict states (for the LSE’s new Centre for Public Authority in International Development, CPAID), I’m doing a bit more reading around the role of different kinds of ‘non state actors’. One of the most influential in many fragile/conflict settings are faith organizations, so I finally got round to reading ‘Bridging the Gap: The role of local …

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Legitimacy: the dark matter of international development

Duncan Green - September 27, 2017

Guest Post by Aoife McCullough, Research Fellow, ODI Many donors work on the premise that a state can move from fragile to ‘stable’ if its legitimacy is strengthened. Accordingly, there’s a broad donor consensus that interventions in fragile states should include a mix of activities likely to contribute to increased state legitimacy – what the World Development Report 2011 calls ‘restoring confidence’. In practice, the …

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Should the World Bank become more adaptive by weakening its safeguards?

Duncan Green - September 26, 2017

The World Bank wants to become more agile, to speed up its grant/loan-making, be less bureaucratic, leap on the ‘adaptive management’ bandwagon etc. In its rush to change direction, it hasn’t had too many discussions with NGOs, so I thought I’d raise some of the issues on the blog. Perhaps  the lack of discussion is because the Bank sees NGOs as a potential roadblock to …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - September 25, 2017

Nice cup of Nambian covfefe anyone? Ht Calestous Juma Clickbait and impact: how academia has been hacked, Nice piece on THAT ‘in praise of colonialism’ Third World Quarterly paper Strategic litigation is getting going on climate change: San Franciso becomes the 1st major U.S. city to sue the fossil fuel industry for knowingly causing it. How I lost my past. Beautiful and poignant exploration of …

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What does Artificial Intelligence mean for the future of poor countries?

Duncan Green - September 22, 2017

What do the multiple overlapping new technologies currently breaking in tsunamis over the world’s economies and societies mean for the future of low and middle income countries (LMICs)? Last week I went along to a seminar (Chatham House Rule, so no names) on this topic, hoping for some interesting, preferably optimistic ideas and examples. I came away deeply, deeply worried. Houston we have a very …

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Two top authors compared: Hossain on Bangladesh and Ang on China

Duncan Green - September 21, 2017

OK, so this week I’ve reviewed the two important new books on the rise of China and Bangladesh. Now for the tricky bit – the comparison. The books are very different in their approach. Where Yuen Yuen Ang focuses on the ‘how’ in China, Naomi Hossain is more interested in the ‘why’ in Bangladesh. Hossain traces the ‘why’ to the critical junctures that littered Bangladeshi’s …

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Book Review: How China Escaped the Poverty Trap, by Yuen Yuen Ang

Duncan Green - September 20, 2017

Update: this review is now available in Chinese Following on from yesterday’s book review on an account of Bangladesh’s success, here’s a great book on another developmental superstar – China. The macro-story on China is well known, but always bears repetition. Emerging from the carnage of the Mao era, China in 1980 had a GDP of $193 per capita, lower than Bangladesh, Chad or Malawi. …

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Book Review: The Aid Lab: Understanding Bangladesh’s Unexpected Success, by Naomi Hossain

Duncan Green - September 19, 2017

Over the summer I read a few absolutely brilliant books – hence the spate of book reviews. This week I will cover two new studies on development’s biggest recent success stories – China, but first Bangladesh. How did Bangladesh go from being a ‘basket case’ (though ‘not necessarily our basket case’ – Henry Kissinger, 1971) to a development success story, claimed by numerous would-be fathers …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - September 18, 2017

Handy acronyms for online reviews (h/t Shit Academics Say)  The awesome Gates Foundation lobby machine went into overdrive to defend aid budgets last week, with a report on past progress in 18 areas now in peril, Bill in the Guardian saying they are lobbying Congress rather than wasting breath on the President and Melinda talking to the FT (video) Owen Barder kept us up to …

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