What does global aging mean for development?

admin - October 13, 2010

Following on last week’s post on obesity, here’s another trend that’s rarely talked about (at least in development circles, with the honourable exception of Helpage International) – global aging. c/o Phillip Longman in Foreign Policy magazine. “The global growth rate dropped from 2 percent in the mid-1960s to roughly half that today, with many countries no longer producing enough babies to avoid falling populations. Having …

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Is the aid industry's audit culture becoming a threat to accountability?

admin - October 12, 2010

I’m a big fan of Rosalind Eyben, of IDS, so got her permission to cut and paste her note of a meeting she organized recently while I was wandering around Ethiopia. It brought together some 70 development practitioners and researchers worried about the current trend for funding organisations to support only those programmes designed to deliver easily measurable results. Here are some highlights. “Funding agencies …

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Crowdsourcing v bribes; top temperatures; the decaffeinated Other; food sovereignty; decoupling 2.0; praying for the MDGs; referendums are cool: links I liked

admin - October 11, 2010

Crowdsourcing bribe payments (and the occasional honest official too) in India. ‘You can report on the nature, number, pattern, types, location, frequency and values of actual corrupt acts on this website. We will use them to argue for improving governance systems and procedures, tightening law enforcement and regulation and thereby reduce the scope for corruption’ Could catch on. [h/t Eddy Lambert] Countries that set new temperature …

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Why Facebook and Twitter won’t be leading the revolution

admin - October 8, 2010

Bah humbug. Great piece by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker taking apart the hype over twitter and facebook as a tool for social change. And being Malcolm Gladwell of tipping point fame, it’s much more interesting than that. Here are some highlights: “The world, we are told, is in the midst of a revolution. The new tools of social media have reinvented social activism. With …

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Is Obesity a Development Issue?

admin - October 7, 2010

At a recent meeting of Oxfam’s country directors, I asked if they thought Oxfam should treat obesity as a development issue, just another form of ‘mal-nutrition’. The reaction was pretty negative. Innocent Nkata, from South Africa (left), summed it up by saying that whereas hunger was an issue of rights, obesity is a ‘question of morality’ i.e. is it right or wrong that some people …

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What should aid focus on, poor people or poor countries?

admin - October 6, 2010

Finally got round to reading the paper that’s been making waves in wonk-land, ‘Global poverty and the new bottom billion: Three-quarters of the World’s poor live in middle-income countries’, by Andy Sumner from the UK’s Institute of Development Studies. In a classic bit of number crunching, Andy takes a fresh look at where poor people now live, and comes to a striking conclusion: ‘In 1990, we …

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What will future generations condemn us for?

admin - October 5, 2010

That’s the intriguing question tackled by Ghanaian philosopher, novelist and Princeton professor Kwame Anthony Appiah in a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post. “Once, pretty much everywhere, beating your wife and children was regarded as a father’s duty, homosexuality was a hanging offense, and waterboarding was approved — in fact, invented — by the Catholic Church. Through the middle of the 19th century, the United …

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MDG narratives; Barder v Bono; the world's forests; aid data crunching; Ha-Joon Chang fanclub; dictators and growth; the girl effect: links I liked

admin - October 4, 2010

Best analysis I’ve seen so far of last month’s UN development fest in New York: Owen Barder identifies three competing development narratives at work: the big heave; accountability; inequality. Owen also spells out why a dollar of trade is not better than a dollar of aid, whatever Mr and Mrs Bono say An excellent (and occasionally optimistic) Economist special report on the world’s forests Handy data crunching …

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Education: an Ethiopian Success Story

admin - October 1, 2010

By 7.30 a.m, the roadsides in rural Ethiopia are thronged with hundreds of kids rushing, exercise books in hand, to school. Conversations with farmers are dotted with references to the importance of education. Are they just saying what they think their NGO visitors want to hear? Not according to a new report from the Overseas Development Institute in London, one of its new series of studies …

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How can Ethiopia’s coffee farmers get more from your $3 latte?

admin - September 30, 2010

According to legend Kaldi (left), a 9th Century Ethiopian goatherd, discovered coffee when he saw his flock start leaping around after nibbling the bright red berries of a certain bush. He gave them a try, and the ensuing buzz prompted him to bring the berries to an Islamic holy man in a nearby monastery. The holy man disapproved of their use and threw them into the …

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