Is taxation better than aid for state-building? The case of Somaliland

Domestic taxation is one of those absolutely crucial development issues that too often drop through the cracks. It’s important not just because, at a time of huge pressure on aid budgets, it is a vital source of ‘financing for development’, but also because taxation has been at the heart of politics and state-building, ever since […]

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Poverty reduction v well-being: a cash transfer experiment from Malawi

What difference does it make to development interventions if you worry about well-being rather than income poverty? A rather neat example has just come through from some new research by Sarah Bair, Jacobus de Hoop and Berk Özler for the World Bank Poverty and Inequality team. They looked at the impact on girls’ mental health of […]

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New international rules on domestic workers – will they make a difference?

It’s probably just because I’m getting more right wing in my old age, but The Economist seems to be getting better. This week’s issue covers a new ILO Convention on domestic workers. A quick skim of Google News suggests it was the only magazine from the mainstream UK media to do so. “Without them many […]

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India's first Dalit solar engineer; resource nationalism resurgent; results agenda; extreme weather pics; rich people bounce back; rational self interest in Somalia: links I liked

‘Santosh Devi, a 19-year-old, semi-literate woman from the backwaters of Rajasthan has broken through India’s rigid caste system to become the country’s first Dalit solar engineer.’ ‘African countries are not profiting enough from the surge in prices, while oil and mining companies make windfalls. Activists and non-governmental organisation are demanding better terms. Officials largely agree.’ […]

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Verdict on G20 food summit? Dismal, please try harder

Agriculture is a hot potato (sorry…) in most countries’ domestic politics. Think rioting French farmers, US agribiz lobbies or the long death-by-agriculture of the WTO Doha round. So perhaps the most notable thing about the G20 agriculture ministers’ meeting that ended yesterday was that it took place at all – it was the first ever […]

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Trains v markets; Dalai Lama jokes; feeling lucky?; farewell Gil Scott Heron: clips I liked

OK, it has been pretty heavy going on the blog so far this week, so how about some time out for a few videos? Let’s start vaguely on topic, and then drift towards the random (kind of describes my typical day): This is the Maeklong market in Thailand. It answers the age old question: “Just […]

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Living on a spike – how are high food prices actually experienced by people living in poverty?

The G20’s Agriculture Ministers are meeting for the first time today and tomorrow, in Paris, a sign of the rising importance of food security and related issues, following the recent chaos in global food prices (see graph). Oxfam is focussing its lobby efforts on biofuels (in many cases, a bad thing, diverting food to fuel […]

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What does a theory of change look like?

I’ve been working on ‘how change happens’ for a few years now, as regulars to this blog will know, but in the last few months, ‘theories of change’ has gone viral as a new development fuzzword. In meetings and documents, people earnestly enquire ‘what’s your theory of change?’ and you’re in trouble if you don’t […]

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How can research funders work better with international NGOs like Oxfam?

I spoke recently to a meeting of the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences. It’s a great initiative, bringing together 13 UK funders and stakeholders with an interest in international development research, but is ‘collaborative’ really a noun? Anyway, the topic was how research funders (mainly state funded) can link up more effectively with large INGOs […]

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Are pro-poor renewables approaching a tipping point? Guest post by John Magrath

I was at the annual conference of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy this week in London to hear presentations by this year’s award winners, watch films of their work and listen to a panel debate that included Matthew Lockwood and Mike Mason (of which more below). As always, the winners – both from the […]

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The Simpsons and aid; biofuels update; shooting camels from helicopters; food geopolitics; poor countries out-promise rich ones on climate change; me and my suit; aid is how much? Links I liked

Simpsons Quotes for aid agencies [h/t John Magrath] Alex Evans miscellany: Nice (and optimistic) update on biofuels. Why would Australians shoot camels from helicopters? To combat climate change. Of course, how silly of me….. More on positive framing and climate change. Lester Brown on the new geopolitics of food (h/t Kate Raworth and John Magrath) […]

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Is the blogging bubble about to burst?

I’ve been worrying about the viability of blogging recently. Partly it’s finding myself squeezing this kind of thing in before breakfast and wondering if I really ought to get a life (although I’ve always thought work-life balance was over-rated – depends on the work, depends on the life….). But it was also the raised eyebrows […]

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