Topic: General

Somaliland v Somalia: great new paper on an extraordinary ‘natural experiment’ in aid and governance

Could someone please clone Sarah Phillips? The University of Sydney political scientist has a great new Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) paper out on Somaliland, following her excellent paper a few years ago on Yemen. Political Settlements and State Formation: The Case of Somaliland may not sound like much of a page turner, but it is […]

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Fighting inequality one city at a time: reclaiming public water and electricity in Delhi

There’s a political earthquake going on in Delhi right now. Biraj Swain (Exfam India, now campaigning and researching on water) looks at its immediate impact on poor people’s access to water and electricity. Last month marked the first month in office of the anti-corruption movement turned political party, the Aam Admi ‘Common Man’ Party government […]

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How to build accountability in fragile states? Some lessons (and 2 new jobs) from an innovative governance programme.

One of my favourite Oxfam programmes is called (rather arcanely) ‘Within and Without the State’. It is trying to build civil society and good governance in some pretty unpromising environments – Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan and OPTI (Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel). It’s currently advertising two new jobs (one on learning and communications, the other […]

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What makes a perfect short field trip (and a top village power analysis)?

I had a pretty perfect one-week field trip to Tajikistan last week. Two days down in the South, talking to villagers, activists, officials, and our own local staff about the hardware part of our Tajikistan Water and Sanitation (TajWSS) project – working with local government to install water systems under their ownership and local Water […]

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Voices of the Hungry; killer indicators, and how to measure the social determinants of health. New thinking on measurement with Gallup Inc.

About once a year, I head off for the plush, Thames-side offices of Gallup Inc, for a fascinating update on what they’re up to on development-related topics. In terms of measurement, they often seem way ahead of the aid people, for example, developing a rigorous annual measurement of well-being across 147 countries. Not quite sure why […]

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Can aid donors really ‘think and work politically’? Plus the dangers of ‘big man’ thinking, and the horrors of political science-speak

Spent an enjoyable  couple of days last week with the ‘thinking and working politically’ (TWP) crew, first at a follow up to the Delhi meeting (nothing earth shattering to report, but a research agenda is on the way – I’ll keep you posted), and then at a very moving memorial conference for the late Adrian […]

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Carnage on the roads v good news on malaria and guinea worm disease (and a brewing Opium War on Tobacco)

This week’s Economist resembles a reader on some of development’s top Cinderella issues (which are becoming a bit of a thing on this blog), covering road traffic, ‘tropical diseases’ and tobacco. First up, the contrast between the falls in road deaths in rich countries (deaths there peaked in the 1970s), and rising carnage in the […]

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Lant Pritchett on why we struggle to think in systems (and look for heroes and villains instead)

This passage in Lant Pritchett’s new book, The Rebirth of Education, (reviewed here yesterday), had me gurgling with pleasure. It explains, in vintage Pritchett prose, why we all find it so hard to think in terms of systems, rather than agents (i.e. heroes and villains). He totally nails the origins of that glazed look I […]

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How do we move from getting kids into school to actually educating them? Provocative new book by Lant Pritchett

I approached Lant Pritchett’s new book ‘The Rebirth of Education’ with glee and trepidation. Glee because Lant is one of the smartest, wittiest and best writers and thinkers on development. Trepidation because this issue is an intellectual minefield of Somme-like proportions (remember the epic Kevin Watkins v Justin Sandefur battle?). And sure enough, Lant took […]

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‘Working for the Few’: top new report on the links between politics and inequality

As the world’s self-appointed steering committee gathers in Davos, 2014 is already shaping up as a big year for inequality. The World Economic Forum’s ‘Outlook on the Global Agenda 2014’ ranks widening income disparities as the second greatest worldwide risk in the coming 12 to 18 months (Middle East and North Africa came top, since […]

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‘Rage may overwhelm us all.’ Vintage Martin Wolf in the FT

Superb writing from Martin Wolf in the FT: “In the past three decades we have seen the emergence of a globalised economic and financial elite. Its members have become ever more detached from the countries that produced them. In the process, the glue that binds any democracy – the notion of citizenship – has weakened. […]

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Carbon emissions per person, by country etc – here's the latest data (and it doesn't look good)

The Guardian has an excellent interactive table summarizing the latest data on carbon emissions (for 2010). There’s also a nice interactive map where you can click and get the trajectory for any given country (see below). The data are published by the US Energy Information Administration, and our climate wonks tell me they are solid. […]

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