Featured image for “Africa is so rich in farmland – so why is it still hungry?”

Africa is so rich in farmland – so why is it still hungry?

July 13, 2022
Guest post from Oxfam’s Anthony Kamande and Dailes Judge, ahead of this week’s African Union meeting It’s been more than two months since it rained in Nakuru County, Kenya, and Jane’s bean crop is long gone. Her only hope on her small plot of 0.8 hectares is the maize crop – but it will also be gone if it doesn’t
Featured image for “Starving civilians is an ancient military tactic, but today it’s a war crime in Ukraine, Yemen, Tigray and elsewhere”

Starving civilians is an ancient military tactic, but today it’s a war crime in Ukraine, Yemen, Tigray and elsewhere

July 5, 2022
Aid organizations, including Oxfam, where I work part time, have been trying to draw attention to the looming hunger crisis across much of Sub-Saharan Africa. But some have been criticised for portraying the causes as mainly about drought, when in fact, war and conflict in countries such as Somalia and Ethiopia have been crucial factors. So I’m reposting this excellent
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Latin America in turmoil, an update

June 29, 2022
Throughout the 1980s and 90s I was a ‘Latin Americanist’, living and travelling in the region, writing about it first as a journalist, then as a writer of region-wide books on the rise of market economics, child rights or, well, everything. Most of what I’ve thought and done since then has been shaped by those years, but living in the
Featured image for “Why We Fight: This Year’s Big Book on Development?”

Why We Fight: This Year’s Big Book on Development?

June 24, 2022
Why We Fight, by Chris Blattman, a prof at the University of Chicago, is shaping up to be this year’s Big Book – it’s everywhere on my timeline, the FT book of the summer etc etc. A summary and some thoughts. Usually I decide early on if I like a book or not, on the basis of a) does it
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Is behavioural economics (aka nudge theory) blocking the path to progress?

June 14, 2022
There’s been an upsurge in recent decades in tackling problems by trying to change the behaviour of individuals – behavioural economics, nudge theory and a proliferation of government ‘nudge units’. Now two disillusioned proponents, Nick Chater and George Loewenstein, have written an important critique of the whole thing, contrasting what they call the ‘i (individual) frame’ with the ‘s (system)

Billionaires made more in the 24 months of the pandemic than they did in 23 years. Oxfam on Davos

May 25, 2022
Max Lawson on Oxfam’s latest Davos broadside and his worries that his salary is about to get cut We are living through extraordinary times. Extraordinarily bad for the vast majority of humanity.  Extraordinarily good if you are one of the richest people in the world. Normally they meet in January at Davos, but that face-to-face meeting was postponed, due to

Hunger, Inequality and the Birth of Oxfam

May 18, 2022
This post by Oxfam’s Max Lawson first appeared on its Equals blog. I’ll be summarizing our new paper on the East Africa hunger crisis tomorrow. The other day I was speaking to Nellie, an old friend and primary school teacher in Malawi, about the rapidly rising prices: ‘Prices have risen, just since last month.  Imagine a loaf of bread was

How Should Academics talk to Decision-Makers? Some Interesting New Research

May 11, 2022
I’m not a great fan of post-growth/degrowth debates – not enough emphasis on how to actually change policy for my liking (compared to the ‘I’m right, the planet is frying, why won’t you listen!’ school of advocacy). But a new paper by the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity caught my eye because it explores precisely that interface between

Political Gambles on Development

May 5, 2022
Stefan Dercon introduces his new book, published today in the UK (review to follow) I am starting to appreciate why historians rarely study contemporary history. Interpreting the present is always hard. I have felt this weight in my two core activities over the last two years: providing advice on global affairs and development issues pertaining to development to a politician,

21st century food riots

April 20, 2022
Guest post by Naomi Hossain & Patta Scott-Villiers In March FAO’s global food price index jumped by 17% to a level unprecedented in its 30-year history. The food riots predicted by the head of the World Trade Organization have already kicked off in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Deadly fuel riots in Peru, rising discontent in Kenya and the rising price
Featured image for “Want to Challenge the Elite? Then first Understand What Makes Them Tick”

Want to Challenge the Elite? Then first Understand What Makes Them Tick

March 22, 2022
Understandably, perhaps, progressive researchers often prefer to try to understand the lives, challenges and struggles of the poor. Who wants to spend their time talking to sleazy fatcats? But if you want to change things, it’s often necessary to understand the people in charge. So I was very happy when public philosopher and political scientist Roman Krznaric sent over the

Sunshine, elephants, and boomerangs: Is a dramatic rise in global income inequality looming?

March 16, 2022
Guest post by Ravi Kanbur, Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez and Andy Sumner Global Inequality 101: Global inequality is the distribution of income across all people on the planet from the poorest to the richest. It can be measured with the ‘Gini’ which ranges from 1 (a totally unequal planet or one person gets everything) to 0 (a totally equal planet). Global inequality