Topic: General

Q: How many people is one rich man worth? A: 6.3 million. Extreme Inequality in the UK

Following his uber killer fact paper (assets of world’s 85 richest individuals = 3.5 billion poorest) Ricardo Fuentes (@rivefuentes) turns his jaundiced but numerate gaze to the UK (and triggers another media splash – see end for links) Economic inequality is much talked about these days. Two documents have made a splash over the last […]

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Fairtrade: celebrating the first 20 years. What’s next?

Rachel Wilshaw, Oxfam’s Ethical Trade Manager looks back on the astonishing 20 year rise of Fairtrade. The Fairtrade Foundation launched its first products – coffee, chocolate and tea – 20 years ago. As one of the Oxfam types who sat around in the late 80s debating whether UK supermarkets would ever stock ‘alternative trade’ products, this […]

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What do White House Policy Makers want from Researchers? Important survey findings.

Interesting survey of US policymakers in December’s International Studies Quarterly journal. I’m not linking to it because it’s gated, thereby excluding more or less everyone outside a traditional academic institution (open data anyone?) but here’s a draft of What Do Policymakers Want From Us?, by Paul Avey and Michael Desch. The results are as relevant to […]

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How is India’s iconic NREGA social protection scheme doing? Interesting research from Tamil Nadu.

Some social programmes act as honey pots for busy bee researchers. A few years ago Brazil’s Bolsa Familia was the subject of choice, but it seems to have been overtaken by India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) which has researchers all over it. A Global Insights paper from the University of Sussex […]

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What Makes Big Corporations Decide to Get on the Right Side of History?

For the past year, Oxfam’s Erinch Sahan (right) has been working on the ‘Behind the Brands’ campaign. Here he reflects on some successes and lessons from his time in the advocacy trenches. On 19 May 1997, the CEO of BP, John Browne, made a speech at Stanford University. Browne: “We must now focus on what can […]

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What do we know about food riots and their link to food rights? Some interesting new findings from IDS

Went off to a rain-drenched Institute of Development Studies last week for one of those great workshops where a group of country researchers come together with case studies on a similar issue and then swap ideas on what general conclusions are emerging. The topic was the rash of food riots that struck 30+ countries in […]

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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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