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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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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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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: 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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Can the UK become a Human Economy?

Duncan Green - September 15, 2017

Rising inequality is a global problem. Oxfam inequality guru Deborah Hardoon appraises a new report on its manifestations in the UK. Last week the IPPR, a progressive policy think tank, published a new report, ‘A time for change: A new vision for the British Economy’, which argues that “the economy we have today is creating neither prosperity nor justice. This is not inevitable, but the …

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Book Review: The Road to Somewhere, by David Goodhart

Duncan Green - September 13, 2017

There was a moment a few years ago when I was walking through Brixton with my son, Calum. I was tediously droning on about how much I loved the cultural and ethnic kaleidoscope, compared to the plain vanilla places where I grew up. Calum suddenly turned on me – ‘you’re just a tourist; you visit on Saturdays. It’s different growing up here’ and proceeded to …

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DFID is 20 years old: has its results agenda gone too far?

Duncan Green - September 12, 2017

DFID just turned 20 and Craig Valters (right) and Brendan Whitty (left) have a new paper charting its changing relationship to results  Focusing on results in international development is crucial. At this level of abstraction, how could one argue otherwise? Yet it matters how development agencies are managed for these results. We know that with proper management systems, aid interventions can be very effective; but if poorly managed, …

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Living in interesting times: one year in the life of Oxfam’s Women’s Rights Director

Duncan Green - September 8, 2017

Nikki van der Gaag looks back on her first year as Oxfam’s Gender Justice and Women’s Rights Director. ‘May you live in interesting times’ is a Chinese saying that could equally be a promise or a curse. In the past decade, there can’t have been many more interesting times to be working on women’s rights and gender justice. I began my new post three months …

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