The Five Standard Excuses of all politicians, everywhere, for everything: this week’s Friday Formula

November 1, 2010

Are Grey Panthers the next big thing in campaigning?

November 1, 2010

My first podcast; Jeff Sachs v the rest; Stiglitz meets Robin Hood; disability and development; men and gender; women's economic empowerment and Africa's middle classes: links I liked

November 1, 2010
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Want to hear me rant on about food security, hunger and development? Now’s your chance on this Guardian podcastMDG--Food-Crisis--Ears-of-002. Interviewer is Felicity Lawrence, clips from Olivier de Schutter, Jayati Ghosh and Raj Patel.

Very promising wonk-wars building over quite what the Millennium Villages Project is trying to achieve, and how it will assess its success, judging by these latest posts from Aid Watch and Chris Blattman. Late news: an online petition to reschedule a cancelled debate between Sachs and his critics. That is as rough as it gets in aid-land……

Joe Stiglitz, nobel laureate and enfant terrible of the international economics circuit held a press conference recently to discuss financial transaction taxes and the state of the international economy.

Lawrence Haddad reviews a book on a Cinderella issue in development – disability. About time.

“The way men and women are portrayed in the field of Gender & Development (GAD) does little to encourage men to see gender equality as their issue too”, argue Andrea Cornwall and Emily Esplen in the latest edition of the ejournal ‘Contestations’. After 30 years of feminist engagement with development, they say ‘it is proving harder than many of us had hoped for gender and development policy and practice to move beyond familiar stereotypes – women as abject victims or splendid heroines, men as all-powerful perpetrators’. It may have an esoteric title, but Contestations clearly knows a thing or two about marketing. The last edition, entitled “Sexual pleasure empowers all!”, got more than 240,000 hits when it was translated into Chinese. [h/t Guardian]

Yay, another online consultation, this time from DFID on women’s economic empowerment

African MCs 4Africa’s middle classes – a photo project [h/t Texas in Africa]


  1. Duncan, just been listening to your post. Great. Just one comment.
    On the question of why high prices are not good for farmers, it is important to make it much clearer up front that some 50% or more of smallholder farmers are net food buyers in many countries in Africa not because they are better off cash crop specialists, but out of inability to raise enough production to satisfy their subsistence requirements (see for example Barrett 2008).
    You talk about farmers selling cheap and buying dear in the hungry gap, but basically for high crop prices are a very major problem for these many food insecure and poor farmers. This poses severe problems for agricultural development as while higher food prices may be needed to stimulate greater investment in increasing productivity, this (a) damages poor people’s incomes and food security and (b) is not as effective as it ought to be because in impoverishing such people it actually reduces their already limited ability to invest in higher productivity.
    I and Ephraim Chirwa explore some of these issues in the beginning of a paper on the Malawi agricultural input subsidy available for download from .
    Best wishes, Andrew

  2. Perhaps some people fail to understand the reality of what victimhood means even to smallholder farmers.

    Is it correct to assume that (a) high food prices “damage poor people’s incomes and food security” and (b) is “not effective” as it seems to be because in “impoverishing such people it actually reduces their already limited ability to invest in higher productivity”?

    I suspect Mr. Andrew Doward and Ephraim Chirwa do not care what the true merits of victimhood means in regards to people in rural areas around the world.

    Their study must be subjected to public scrutiny because of the mis-characterisation over high crop prices which is disputable to a varying extent in both developed and developing countries. It is also misanthropical to do that and it will add insult to injury to rural people who actually live there on the world’s farms.

    There should have an explanation on how the wide philosopical & ideological phenomenon of “growth skepticism” has become. I believe that excessive politicking has allowed the situation to happen at a specific time and a specific place. If that may come true, be wary – be very wary – of some people who want to speak on behalf of the world’s rural people yet, at the same time, they use the definition of victimhood as a justification for them to stay poor – and pretend that the “inability to raise enough production to satisfy their subsistence requirements”.

    It is time for both of them to have their work cut out – and it would be better for them to tell the truth about what is the meaning of this? It is not joking that the definition of victimhood really means to Mr. Dorward and Mr. Chirwa who choose to ignore at their own peril.

    It is time to discuss with caution about the existence of growth skepticism – and challenge the perceptions about rural development around the world.

    Time to keep on going – and get things right. Thank you.

  3. Correction: I would like to add that “it is misanthropical to do that and it will add insult to injury to rural people who actually live (and work) there on the world’s farms”.

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