Welcome to From Poverty to Power

This platform explores the latest thinking and action on international development, highlighting issues of power, politics, hope and justice. It is curated by Duncan Green and Maria Faciolince.

Latest Posts

'Denial is everywhere': the traumas of an intelligent green

Some beautiful writing and public agonising from George Monbiot on the impasse of the environmental movement, and whether it should follow the path of the story tellers or the number crunchers: “Denial is everywhere. Those opposing windfarms find it convenient to deny that climate change is happening, or that turbines produce much electricity. Those promoting […]

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Land grabs update: (a lot) more hectares than we thought, and definitely bad for development

This week’s Economist has an excellent update on the recent spate of ‘land grabs’. It argues that the balance of evidence against them as a development tool has shifted decisively (and negatively) over the last couple of years. The overall conclusion is damning: ‘When land deals were first proposed, they were said to offer the […]

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Africa's academics and new middle class; Ugandan Spring?; a year of free healthcare in Sierra Leone; tax property not people; the $300 house; this year's WDR; existentialist Star Wars: links I liked

Mahmood Mamdani worries that academic research and higher education in Africa are dominated by a “corrosive culture of consultancy.” Africa’s emerging middle class now at 34% of the continent’s population, or about 313m people – up from around 111m (26%) in 1980 and 196m (27%) in 2000. [Update: Andy Sumner thinks the definition of ‘middle […]

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Bluesky-tastic: comparing three future trends papers on the international system and INGOs

Apologies for blog going down over night – now fixed thanks to wonderful blogmaster Eddy. In the meantime, I’ve been catching up with some of the rash of recent 2020/2025 reports, published in the last couple of months, namely two reports for international NGOs: Alex Evans – 2020 Development Futures (for ActionAid) and Trocaire’s Leading […]

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The death of Doha? But the WTO lives on.

This piece of mine appeared on the Guardian development page yesterday (plus here, I include a few afterthoughts at the end) “The Doha round of global trade talks, launched by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in November 2001 amid a surge of solidarity after the 9/11 attacks, is experiencing the long slide into irrelevance that […]

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The trouble with targets: what would happen if we won all our campaigns?

For any campaign (aid, health, education, climate change, small farmers), persuading governments to sign up to a spending target on ‘your issue’ is often the crowning moment. But what happens when governments start signing up to several targets at once? In a recent briefing, Jessica Hagen-Zanker and Anna McCord at ODI ran the numbers for five countries […]

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Women & Arab Spring; Glencore as food bad guy; Political fertilizers; ODI fellows; the verdict on microfinance; street youth v RCTs; Keynes v Hayek rap battle round 2: links I liked

What’s happening to women’s rights in the Arab Spring? “For a major player like Glencore to take an undisclosed position on rising wheat prices, and then to warn one of the world’s largest wheat producers that its security of supply could be at risk unless it suspends wheat exports… that is really pretty dodgy.” Glencore, […]

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Where has the social protection debate got to? What's still missing?

I always find debates around social protection strangely slippery. The language is fuzzy, the boundaries vague (what’s the difference between social protection and social policy? Depends who you ask). So a couple of weeks ago, I was secretly appalled when asked to give a 5 minute blogger’s input to a big IDS conference on ‘Social […]

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The Chinese in Africa – is there a backlash?

The debate in aid circles on China’s expanding role in Africa is often pretty crass – the demonisers v the rose-tinted spectacles. What has always struck me most in the past is how many Africans, both in government and elsewhere, prefer the businesslike approach of China to the finger-wagging of the ex-colonial powers. But China’s […]

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Test your jargon, Rodrik's parable, bamboo is grass, Google future, an Asian Norway, 6 theories of policy change, the history of the universe in 18 minutes: links I liked

Test your knowledge of development jargon (and yes, ashamed to say I got 100%, but it is pretty easy). A nice parable for the world economy, from Dani Rodrik and an accompanying explanation of its underlying economics. ‘This single move can rid economies of the growth-without-jobs syndrome. This is the new green growth model the […]

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Africa Power and Politics – David Booth responds

ODI’s David Booth responds to my post on the ODI’s Africa Power and Politics Programme “The APPP could hardly have hoped for a more encouraging reception for its first policy brief than the one provided by Duncan’s blog of 15 April. Encouraging and suitably challenging! The point of a policy brief is to be, well, […]

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The case for Microfinance: responses to Milford Bateman from Malcolm Harper and Thankom Arun (and your chance to vote)

Yesterday Milford Bateman tried to pop the microfinance bubble. Today Malcolm Harper and Thankom Arun urge us not to throw out the baby with the bathwater (please excuse mixed bubblebath metaphors). After reading this, I urge you to vote in the highly unscientific opinion poll to the right – time to see where the blog-reading public […]

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Managed and curated by

Duncan Green

Duncan is strategic adviser for Oxfam GB, author of ‘How Change Happens’ and Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics.

Maria Faciolince

Maria is an anthropologist, activist - researcher and multimedia communicator working with Oxfam GB.