World Bank President Jim Kim resigns: what’s his legacy and what happens next?

January 10, 2019
Speculation is swirling about the reasons for World Bank President Jim Yong Kim’s abrupt departure this week. But what’s his legacy, and what happens next? Nadia Daar, head of Oxfam’s Washington DC office, gives a steer. On Monday when I drafted Oxfam’s reaction to news of World Bank Jim Kim’s abrupt and unexpected departure from the World Bank, I said

The Rise of Social Protection, the art of Paradigm Maintenance, and a disagreement with the World Bank

November 8, 2018
Spent a mind-stretching day last week with a bunch of social protection experts from the LSE, IMF and assorted other bodies. Social Protection includes emergency relief, permanent mechanisms such as pensions and cash transfers, and ‘social insurance’ based on people’s personal contributions. LSE boss Minouche Shafik set the scene really well: ‘The failure of safety nets is partly responsible for

One step forward, two steps back? Why WDR 2019 harms the World Bank’s role as a thought leader on employment and gender equality

October 25, 2018
Guest post on the new World Development Report by Shahra Razavi (left) and Silke Staab of the UN Women Research and Data Section. (The views expressed here are in their individual capacities and do not reflect the position of UN Women). Diego Rivera’s 1931 mural, The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City, makes an alluring cover for

Scott Guggenheim defends Community Driven Development

June 26, 2018
Scott Guggenheim, one of the better known names in Community Driven Development (CDD), comes out with a take-no-prisoners critique of the critique of CDD by 3ie (apologies for acronym overload), featured in my recent post. It’s long, but I just couldn’t find places to cut it. Duncan obviously thrives on controversy, so he’s asked me to adapt my comment on

How to decode a UN Report on Global Finance (and find an important disagreement with the World Bank on private v public)

May 15, 2018
A giant coalition of UN-affiliated aid organizations (3 pages of logos!) recently published Financing for Development: Progress and Prospects 2018. These big tent reports are a nightmare to write, and not much easier to read. Anything contentious is fought over by the participants, and the result tends to be pretty bland. I’m not sure how many people read them, tbh.

The World Bank’s flagship report this year is on the future of work – here’s what the draft says

April 26, 2018
The World Bank’s 2019 World Development Report will be on ‘The Changing Nature of Work’ and It’s worth reading because, even though this kind of annual flagship format feels a bit dated, WDRs are always a treasure trove of references and ideas, while what they miss out adds important insights into mainstream thinking in the aid biz. In late March

Is there a new Washington Consensus? An analysis of five World Development Reports.

November 3, 2017
Alice Evans earns my undying admiration (and ubergeek status) by casually revealing that she has read the last 5 WDRs on the day of their publication. Here she summarizes what they show about the Bank’s evolving view of the world. A new Washington Consensus is emerging… It recognises complexity, context, learning by doing, politics, and ideas. Hitherto fringe perspectives have

The World Bank’s 2018 World Development Report on Education: a sceptic’s review

October 18, 2017
Guest post from Prachi Srivastava (@PrachiSrivas), Associate Professor in the area of education and international development at the University of Western Ontario. When the World Bank announced that the 2018 World Development Report (WDR) would be on education, I was sceptical. I’m not denying the Bank’s research expertise. It devotes substantial money and staff and has a trove of reports that

Should the World Bank become more adaptive by weakening its safeguards?

September 26, 2017
The World Bank wants to become more agile, to speed up its grant/loan-making, be less bureaucratic, leap on the ‘adaptive management’ bandwagon etc. In its rush to change direction, it hasn’t had too many discussions with NGOs, so I thought I’d raise some of the issues on the blog. Perhaps the lack of discussion is because the Bank sees NGOs as

Are top academic and aid institutions getting away with bad writing?

June 6, 2017
Guest post from the ODI’s Caroline Cassidy I almost choked on my porridge last week when I read about the World Bank’s chief economist Paul Romer being sidelined for wanting his team to communicate more clearly. I re-read the article to check I wasn’t missing something, but there it was: Romer had pushed his staff to write more clearly ‘asking

WDR 2017 on Governance and Law: great content, terrible comms, and a big moral dilemma on rights and democracy

March 2, 2017
Spoke yesterday at the London launch of the 2017 World Development Report on Governance and The Law. Although Stefan Kossoff did a great job in summarizing the report on this blog a few weeks ago, I thought I’d add a few thoughts from the discussion. The current debates on governance, of which the WDR is part, bear some of the hallmarks

The WDR 2017 on Governance and Law: Can it drive a transformation in development practice?

January 31, 2017
  Stefan Kossoff (DFID’s governance czar) reviews the new WDR, published this week. For those of us working on governance this week’s publication of the 2017 World Development Report on Governance and Law (WDR17) has been hotly awaited. And I’m pleased to say the report–in all its 280 page glory–does not disappoint (there’s a 4 page summary for the time-starved).