Topic: NGOs

Cleaning up Dirty Elections – what works?

The Centre for the Study of African Economies in Oxford (home to Paul Collier, among others) is putting out some fascinating two pagers on its work, including two recent papers on ‘dirty elections’. In ‘Cleaning up Dirty Elections’ Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler go to work  on a new data set spanning nearly 30 years […]

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Can we say climate change 'causes' extreme weather events?

Every time a flood, cyclone or drought makes it into the media, my colleague John Magrath is asked whether climate change is to blame. In a valiant attempt to avoid the researcher’s reflex but annoying ‘it’s more complicated than that’ response, he has produced this briefing. ‘There’s a natural tendency to blame major disasters solely […]

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Portfolios of the Poor – a great new book

Portfolios of the Poor gave me the same feeling of excitement as the World Bank’s epic ‘Voices of the Poor’ study. Both of them are the fruit of intense scrutiny of the real lives of poor people that uncovers insights and destroys stereotypes. Poor people are most definitely not financial illiterates, but often sophisticated managers […]

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Jasmine Rice in the Weeping Plain: successful adaptation to climate change

Lured by its wonderful title, I’ve just been reading a new briefing about some successful adaptation work in Northeast Thailand. Here’s a summary: In 2007, farmers in Yasothorn Province, north-east Thailand, experienced the longest dry spell during a rainy season in decades. Yasothorn, one of the 10 poorest provinces in the country, is part of […]

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What comes after the MDGs?

Gave a presentation on this last week. I’ve blogged before on the strengths and weaknesses of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but if you want more,  ‘Promoting Pro-poor Policy after the MDGs’ a recent conference organized by EADI, ActionAid, IDS and others has dozens of background papers (prize for most world-weary title goes to Pietro Garau […]

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Sensibilist or Swivel Eyed? Weighing the arguments for greater radicalism in NGO advocacy

At what point does an advocacy NGO cease being ‘ahead of the curve’, ‘visionary’ etc (choose your own cliché) and instead become simply bonkers, a prophet ranting in a wilderness uninhabited by anyone with a smidgeon of decision-making power? This subject kept cropping up at an Oxfam internal discussion the other day. Unfortunately, I framed […]

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The great Microfinance debate: Comments on the Comments, some loose ends and some new info

Back from Bangladesh and still processing both the real life and blog discussions on microfinance institutions (MFIs), following last week’s post and the good debate in the comments. A few final (probably…) observations: Microcredit v Microfinance: point taken. A lot of the doubts and criticisms apply to microcredit (loans), not to the wider range of […]

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Microfinance again – the views of some Bangladeshi farmers

I spent some time yesterday with a group of 20 Bangladeshi small farmers (13 men, 7 women) linked to a sustainable agriculture NGO, Unnayan Dhara (sorry, they don’t yet have a website). Among other things (climate change, access to markets etc) I asked them about microfinance, given my post on Wednesday and the subsequent discussion […]

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What can you do if teachers don't show up?

There has been significant progress in recent years in getting kids into school, but what’s the point if the teachers don’t show up for work? In general, the poorer the country, the higher the level of absenteeism. The explanations are both obvious (wages are so low, teachers need to look for second jobs, or funnel […]

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The backlash against microfinance

The intellectual battlefield of development is littered with magic bullets. New ideas or technologies such as the internet or mobile phones are picked up, promoted as panaceas that will end poverty and transform societies, and then rapidly cut down to size by scrutiny and research. That process seems to be well under way on microfinance. […]

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The Global Campaign for Education – a model of international activism

‘Global campaigning’ is sometimes criticised for being driven by northern agendas. As one frustrated Indian activist interviewed in the paper discussed here asked ‘what is a global campaign? Does it mean you get a lot of people together in UK, have a Bono concert and ask us here in India to get together and shout? […]

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What does the British Conservative Party think about development?

This week I attended the launch of ‘One World Conservatism’, a ‘Green Paper’ (i.e. discussion document) in which the Conservative Party (who if you believe the opinion polls, are highly likely to take over from Gordon Brown’s Labour at the next election, due before next June) set out its thinking on international development. The Green […]

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