Why we should buy more from developing countries and other tips on pro-poor shopping

March 2, 2009
My long-suffering research team colleague Richard King has a paper out today that will hopefully ruffle a few feathers. It argues that how we shop, what we eat, and what we throw away are becoming frontline issues in the effort to tackle climate change. In the UK, we need to change how and what we consume, while helping people living

How is Climate Change affecting South Africa?

February 27, 2009
Here’s my ‘summary of the summary’ of a report published today by Earthlife Africa and Oxfam International. ‘In climate terms, South Africa is already living on the edge. Much of it is arid or semi-arid and the whole country is subject to droughts and floods. Even small variations in rainfall or temperatures would exacerbate this already stressed environment. Most South African

Can NGO advocacy influence states? Social Protection in Georgia

February 25, 2009
Here’s an example from Georgia of how well designed advocacy gets results: in this case helping 34,000 poor families gain access to state benefits and winning the introduction of an appeals procedure for those who feel unfairly excluded. It’s not glamorous, but it made a real difference, so bear with me. Like other post-Soviet Eastern European governments, the Georgian government

They don’t half butcher your prose at The Economist

February 24, 2009
In a strictly personal capacity, I recently sent in a whimsical letter to The Economist in response to its piece on the changing names of London coined by journalists – ‘Reykjavik-on-Thames‘. What I sent: ‘Sir Given the combination of accelerating disappearance of the polar ice caps, and slow motion (glacial?) climate change negotiations, we could be looking at sea level rises

From Poverty to Power in South Africa

February 23, 2009
Just spent a week promoting the South African edition of From Poverty to Power, published by Jacana Media with a nice foreword from Francis Wilson, an authority on poverty and labour markets in SA who also chaired the launch event at the Book Lounge in Cape Town. Jacana put on a great programme of public events, university lectures and got

How are effective states going to emerge in Africa?

February 19, 2009
[Sorry to anyone who got a premature alert yesterday – hit the wrong button!] There’s nothing like a visit to Africa – in this case ten days of book promo and financial crisis impact interviews in South Africa and Zambia, to get you thinking about the role of the state. In Southern Africa, as on earlier launches in Uganda, Kenya

Another 100m in poverty; 700,000 dead children in Africa: the latest World Bank predictions on the crisis

February 18, 2009
Chilling new numbers from the World Bank on the human impact of the global economic crisis. New estimates for 2009 suggest that lower economic growth rates will trap 46 million more people on less than $1.25 a day than was expected prior to the crisis. An extra 53 million will stay trapped on less than $2 a day. This is

Can 17th Century Britain help us design better social protection?

February 17, 2009
I recently listened enthralled to Simon Szreter of Cambridge University at an ODI conference on growth and equity (more on that later). Simon set out some of the history of social protection in the UK and its possible implications for today’s developing countries. For the two centuries before the industrial revolution, the UK had a universal system of decentralized social protection

Who reads this blog? Analysis of the first hundred posts

February 16, 2009
Google Analytics is a wonderful thing – it means I can see how many people read this blog, and which country and even city they come from (don’t worry, I can’t get your emails). So what does a trawl of the results for the first hundred posts reveal? Overall the site received over 25,000 visits from about 16,000 people (i.e.

Peasant activists v King Arthur; future geopolitics; nuclear self-love and an environmental good news story: links I liked

February 13, 2009
Monty Python and Development part 2: peasant activists debate good governance with King Arthur (thanks to Richard Cunliffe for that one) Katharina Pintor sets out some alternative geopolitical orders emerging from the crisis Extreme self promotion from AQ Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, c/o global Dashboard Ngaire Woods and co at Oxford’s Global Economic Governance project  and an

Medical myth-busting: Why public beats private on health care provision

February 12, 2009
Today Oxfam publishes Blind Optimism: Challenging the myths about private health care in poor countries, written by my colleague Anna Marriott. She summed up the arguments in this op-ed on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website, and was in Washington this week driving the message home to the World Bank, whose default position of ‘private good, public bad’ has so far proved remarkably

How Open is Your Government? Find out here

February 11, 2009
The latest ‘Open Budget Index‘ (2008), produced by the Open Budget Initiative, ranks governments according to the information they make available to the public throughout the budget process. The main findings are: Only five countries of the 85 surveyed—France, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States—make extensive information publicly available as required by generally accepted good public financial