Category Archives: Poverty
When the new head of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, engages the wider public, he asks, “What Will It Take to End Poverty?” When the prime minister of the United Kingdom touts his accomplishments in the development field, he writes about “Combating Poverty at Its Roots.” And when NGOs fundraise, they stir your heart by telling you, “Sponsoring a child is the most powerful way you can fight poverty.”
But given great reductions in absolute poverty (from 55 to 22 percent of the developing world’s population over the past three decades) and great improvements in the lives of the poor, is this focus on poverty reduction detracting from more important issues? (more…)
A key challenge faced by those engaged in international human rights policy and practice is adopting an effective framework for protecting and promoting human rights around the world in a way that preserves and articulates their universal nature, while at the same time respecting local values and practices.
One way to approach this challenge is to examine values, norms, customs and practices in non-Western cultures which can act as ‘receptors’ for human rights principles and practice. A new Dutch collaborative research project adopts just such an approach (and is thus called the ‘Receptor Approach’). It brings together experts from around the world and from a variety of disciplines – law, anthropology, sociology, political science, international relations and philosophy among others. (more…)
Although we may not always agree on the specifics – or the application of the concept given its political sensitivities – there is a degree of consensus on the general traits of state fragility. These include, for example, weak capacity to provide basic services, public security and rule of law; inability to manage political conflict; and delegitimization of the state. But this year’s Global Monitoring Report, produced by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, threw a new trait into the mix. “Fragile states,” it argued, are characterized by, among other things, a “lack of timely and reliable statistics on the basis of which policies can be formulated.” (more…)
There is a sharp dichotomy in opinions about foreign aid.
Aid money can and does work. It improves people’s lives and makes the world a better and safer place. . . . Wasteful and corrupt aid projects are probably inevitable, and they should never be tolerated. But overall, when you look at the big picture, quite a lot of good things are happening.
Each foreign aid bureaucracy is responsible for everything, all the aid bureaucracies together are collectively responsible for all this “everything,” and in this bureaucratic maze with no exits, nobody is individually responsible for anything. . . . It is a fallacy to think that overall poverty can be ended by a comprehensive package of “things,” like malaria medicines and clean water.
Is there any logical explanation for this divergence beyond the biases that these personalities have? Is there any way that both groups might be right (or wrong)? (more…)
What policies and governance conditions are needed in Africa for it to match the economic and social achievements of Asia? This video, from a presentation at Johns Hopkins University, presents some answers. It presents the findings of two research projects, with important implications for the future of development in Africa. Note the focus on developmental states. It is the nature of the regime more than the way it gains power that matters. (more…)
In the aftermath of the conference in London on Somalia, I offer a wrap-up of the best articles and books to read on the country.
In the past week, there has been a number of excellent pieces on what the international community has done wrong in the past, and how it might do better going forward.
In general, they all suggest that the focus should be on what is working—in places such as Somaliland, Puntland, and Galmudug—rather than on any foreign blueprint for success.
Past initiatives have repeatedly attempted to impose a centralized bureaucratic governing structure on the country, a structure ill-suited to Somali society. Such efforts have never been effective and have only aggravated domestic tensions. (more…)