Topic: Aid

Development v Climate Change: a new UN report tries to square the circle

September is the start of report season, an avalanche of global roundups from UN agencies, thinktanks etc that seems to grow in number every year. As it coincides with the party conference season, start of the college year in the Northern hemisphere etc etc, it all makes for a horrific backlog. So to ease the […]

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Game on (finally) in climate change talks

After months of futile and wearying paralysis, marked by interminable meetings full of little more than posturing and the endless repetition of fixed positions, the climate change talks seem to be entering full negotiating mode, and not before time, with the Copenhagen climate summit only 3 months away. For the ‘glass half full’ optimistic version, […]

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Update on US aid reform

These are exciting times for anyone who wants to reform the US aid system, as years of preparation and lobbying start to bear fruit (see my previous blog and click here for an excellent introduction to US aid from Oxfam America). Congress has taken an early lead on reform – with three pieces of legislation currently […]

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How to find $280bn for poor countries this weekend

This weekend the finance ministers of the G20 – the world’s most powerful nations -will meet in London.  While the rich world’s green shootists apparently feel that the worst of the economic crisis is behind us, the poorest countries are being hammered, with those living on the margins of the global economy paying the highest […]

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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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How has DFID's thinking evolved since 1997? Four White Papers provide a rough guide.

Last month, the UK’s Department for International Development, (DFID), published its fourth White Paper since it was created as a fully fledged ministry by the incoming Labour Government in 1997. So what?  Well, it sets out the thinking for one of the more cutting edge bilateral aid organizations, so it’s at least worth a skim. […]

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Cash on Delivery: a big new aid idea? Actually, the EC’s been doing it for years!

One of the more exciting proposals in the UK Conservative’s recent Green Paper on development (see previous post here) is the idea of making aid ‘Cash on Delivery’ (CoD). ‘We will commit to pay a certain amount to a recipient government for a specific measure of progress – for example £100 for every extra child […]

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Poverty scorecards – a cheap way to identify who's poor?

Finding out which people in any given community live below the poverty line is actually quite hard. Why do it? To target services like microfinance  (let’s not get into the targetting v universal provision argument here); comparing poverty rates in different regions and countries, and tracking changes over time. But both income and consumption poverty […]

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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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