Doing a big Alaska: the case for a global social protection fund

March 14, 2013
Olivier de Schutter, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, is consistently interesting and provocative. This call to action is currently circulating on the interwebs (although the paper it’s based on came out last October): ‘If protecting human rights could be translated into a single political action, the creation of comprehensive social protection schemes would be it. Health

How poor people get through crises: some excellent 'rapid social anthropology' from IDS and the World Bank

April 19, 2012

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

April 28, 2011

Cash Transfers: what does the evidence say?

April 12, 2011

What does global aging mean for development?

October 13, 2010
Following on last week’s post on obesity, here’s another trend that’s rarely talked about (at least in development circles, with the honourable exception of Helpage International) – global aging. c/o Phillip Longman in Foreign Policy magazine. “The global growth rate dropped from 2 percent in the mid-1960s to roughly half that today, with many countries no longer producing enough babies

Social Protection for Cows?

September 17, 2010
Cows, camels and goats are a crucial store of value in many countries. They provide meat, milk and clothing, they can be a quasi currency and can be passed on to children. In some countries, they are used as a kind of high interest revolving loan – you borrow a pair of breeding animals, look after them til they have

We love road blocks; flushing toilets and murder rates: random facts about Latin America

September 16, 2010
The Economist has a big report on Latin America this week, to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the start of its struggle for independence (unfinished business, some would say). Here are some of the more striking statistical nuggets and other bits and pieces. The region has 15% of the world’s oil reserves, a large stock of its minerals, a

Last post from Manchester: social protection and how do we get to grips with politics and power?

September 10, 2010
More thoughts (increasingly incoherent as workshop fatigue sets in) from the Manchester conference. What are the big changes in thinking from ten years of research on chronic poverty in dozens of countries? First, social protection, which has mushroomed from fringe issue to magic bullet with extraordinary speed. If the SP advocates really have won the argument on this, the next

Random Highlights from the Manchester War on Poverty Conference

September 9, 2010
Some random observations from the ‘Ten Years of War Against Poverty’ conference in Manchester, before I head off to Edinburgh for tomorrow’s conference on ‘Making the Most of Scotland’s Aid (it’s that time of year…) Ravi Kanbur (one of my heroes for his paper on why NGOs and the  big institutions disagree all the time) has an intriguing proposal for

New books on development: bad microfinance; climate change and war; what works; inside the World Bank; mobile activism

July 21, 2010
One of the perks of writing a blog is that I can scrounge review copies of development-related books. I’m sure they’re all fascinating and I really want to read them but alas, they don’t come with extra hours in the day attached. So I now have a growing pile by my desk that is in danger of becoming a health

Social protection – have aid agencies got it wrong?

June 24, 2010
‘Has social protection in sub-Saharan Africa lost its way?’ asks a brilliant new paper from a consortium of thinktanks, including IDS and ODI. Their overall finding is that donors’ preference for evidence and pilots, and lack of engagement with national political realities, have undermined their impact. Hard to summarize – it’s a treasure trove – but here are some highlights:

Just Give Money to the Poor: the Development Revolution from the Global South, an excellent overview of cash transfers

May 24, 2010
Cash transfers (CTs – regular payments by the state directly to poor people) are all the rage at the moment, prompting heated debates across the development sector. As its title suggests, a new book, ‘Just Give Money to the Poor’ has no doubts about their merits. But Joseph Hanlon, Armando Barrientos (see his blog on the book here) and Hulme