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

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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Do the poorest countries need industrial policy? The UN says yes.

Jetlag is a wonderful way to catch up on your paper backlog. Just been reading UNCTAD’s 2009 Least Developed Countries report (published in July). Limpid prose it ain’t, but it sets out a coherent case for a post-Washington Consensus push for state-led industrialization in the world’s poorest countries. (I blame the turgid nature of UN-speak […]

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Private v public provision of water and sanitation: what works?

The International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (a UNDP-funded thinktank, based in Brazil) has published an excellent 35 page ‘Poverty in Focus’ on public v private provision of basic utilities, especially water and sanitation, (but also touching on electricity). Some highlights from the overview, based on a series of country case studies: ‘Rapid urbanisation and […]

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A great insider's take on the financial crisis

Normally I’m not a big fan of those ‘roundtable’ pieces in current affairs mags that usually feature 3 or 4 big egos all scoring points and showing off to each other. But the roundtable on the financial crisis in this month’s Prospect magazine is an exception. Featuring Adair Turner, (the chair of the Financial Services […]

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Ugandan comic books; cash transfers in New York; praise for Jacob Zuma; Reaganite timewarp on healthcare reform and wonderful Magnum pics: links I liked

Chris Blattman raves (in a good way) about a comic book (sorry, graphic novel) about the civil war in Uganda And links to a fascinating attempt to apply the lessons of conditional cash transfer programmes in Mexico and Brazil to…… New York The FT finds much to celebrate in Jacob Zuma’s first hundred days ‘The […]

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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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Up to our knees in Climate Change in Bangladesh

Wading through tidal salt water pouring across a rapidly eroding road in an area of the coast that had never previously seen anything on this scale, climate change has never seemed so immediate. In May, Cyclone Aila breached the embankments and produced a humanitarian disaster, killing hundreds and affecting some 5 million Bangladeshis. Three months on, […]

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Snapshots of Bangladesh: inequality on wheels, evil prawns, resilient garments, acid attacks and dodgy infrastructure

Just spent a week on a ‘busman’s holiday’ (where the distinction between work and leisure gets very blurred), visiting Bangladesh with younger son Finlay (17). A few headlines, and then tomorrow, something more substantial on climate change. Prawns, raised in paddy fields for export, have long had a bad press in Bangladesh, and no wonder. […]

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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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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.