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

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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When farmers and weather men disagree, who's right?

I recently blogged on an excellent new paper by Steve Jennings and John Magrath on the changing nature of the seasons across a range of developing countries. One of the interesting side issues that emerged is that, while in most countries farmers’ perceptions fit the meteorological data, in a few others, farmers say that seasons, […]

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Failed States Index 2009, with interactive map

Foreign Policy magazine has teamed up again with the Washington DC-based ‘Fund for Peace’ thinktank to produce an interactive map of state fragility, to illustrate their Failed States Index 2009, covering 177 countries. Most fragile are Somalia, followed by Zimbabwe, Chad, Sudan and DRC. Most stable are (inevitably) the Scandinavians – Norway, followed by Finland […]

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New evidence on family size v wealth; US v UK on healthcare; the reversal of globalization; whistle blowing on corruption and getting fired on Facebook: links I liked

The Economist reports research published in Nature that argues that the old story of fertility rates declining as countries become wealthier has changed – since 1975 a kink has appeared and family size starts to rise again (see graph) as welfare (as measured by the Human Development Index) improves. The US health care reform is […]

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A good new update on land grabs

Two very good summaries of the state of play on the spate of ‘land grabs’ which came to prominence last year with Daewoo’s attempts to acquire half of Madagascar (for free) on a 99 year lease (see previous overview and Daewoo blogs ). A July paper from the International Land Coalition argues that the problem […]

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Measuring wellbeing – the latest from UN and OECD. But can Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Jamaica really be the world's happiest countries?!

The criticisms of GDP as a pretty unreliable measure of well-being have been around for decades, but policy makers persist in using it as a proxy for success, in part because of the lack of credible alternatives. Now there’s an encouraging flurry of international activity at both the UN and OECD that seeks to fill […]

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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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Economists v the Queen; bashing the banks; piracy is falling and weird cakes: links I liked

A Pythonesque set of posts from various economists in reply to Queen Elizabeth II’s (no really) challenge on why their profession failed to predict the credit crunch. Pick up the trail with Thomas Palley, Lawrence Haddad or William Easterly, (among  a lot of others) As Wall Street moves into BABble (‘bonuses are back’) mode, Paul […]

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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.