Mega Sunday Morning Reading

This is a bumper late edition of Saturday Morning Reading because I was lucky enough to be away the last couple of weekends in Rwanda and Uganda. Normal service will resume next week (then be cut off again when parents come to town the next week!)

1. Working In Aid Without Volunteering | Development Intern
On alternative routes into a career in the development sector:
“One colleague of mine began his aid career working on the factory floor of car company. Another started as a corporate lawyer, another was a journalist, and another was a policy analyst for a US congressman”

2. I’m getting tired of ‘corporatization’ claims regarding the development industry | Aidnography
“Did you read the news recently? It is full of the same old stories: How MSF struck at huge tax evasion deal with British authorities, how PLAN is essentially a foundation based in Liechtenstein, how Save The Children is stashing away hundreds of millions of dollars of their donations in Caribbean bank accounts and how the WFP is basically a one-person entity with headquarters in Guernsey.
Obviously none of these are true stories. They cannot be true, because no humanitarian or development charity, foundation or NGO works like a corporate entity”

3. Sanitation in India: The final frontier | The Economist
“Evidence is growing that India must urgently correct its cultural practices, though it is sensitive to say so. Studies of India’s population show how since at least the 1960s child mortality rates have consistently been higher in Hindu families than Muslim ones—though Muslims typically are poorer, less educated and have less access to clean water. Today, out of every 100 children, 1.7 more Muslim than Hindu ones survive to five years, a big gap.”

4. South Sudan: An Elite Pact’s Baptism of Blood | Campaign for Boring Development
“States usually end up being formed by coalitions of their most dangerous and most violent people. Each player would prefer to take over the whole area for himself – and sometimes that’s possible. But in many cases, it’s not possible, and the “violence specialists” fight one another to exhaustion. Eventually, though, a moment comes when they’re all fought out and they’ve given up the dream of killing all their most dangerous opponents. Only then can the process of elite-bargaining that gives rise to a political settlement arise.”

5. A book that help change the way I think about politics in developing countries | Chris Blattman
Museveni’s Uganda: Paradoxes of Power in a Hybrid Regime, by Aili Mari Tripp – an “essential book on Ugandan politics and development”
“It’s a mistake to think of regimes in most underdeveloped counties as coherent governments. Rather, most are delicate and shifting alliances of influential groups and elites. The strongman who sits atop this look and act like Presidents (and many have a tremendous amount of power) but their first priority is to manage this shifting network of alliances. This overrides everything else.”

6. Why ‘political economy analysis’ has lost the plot, and we need to get back to power and politics | From Poverty to Power
“Structures and institutions provide opportunities and resources that agents can use – and hence also provide room for manoeuvre. The point is that structures and institutions of power not only constrain political actors, but can also provide the resources which they, as agents, can find and use to initiate or bring about change.
Political analysis does not ignore interests, incentives or institutions, but goes further and deeper. It differentiates and disaggregates interests, ideas, incentives and institutions, and also has the analysis of power (and the sources and forms of power) at its core.”

7. Top-down versus bottom-up development: where does evidence fit in? | kirstyevidence
“For me, evidence-informed policy making is not about pushing out more and more research-based solutions. It is about supporting the appropriate decision-makers to consider the appropriate evidence as they are struggling to come up with solutions which are appropriate for them.
In other words, I place myself, and my concept of eipm, firmly on the left-hand column. I recognise the need for struggles, learning, adaptation as local people deal with local problems. I would simply argue that one of the sources of information which can be immensely useful in informing this process is research evidence.”

8. Juma on Piketty’s Capital: can Africa avoid the trap of unequal growth? | Global Development Professionals Network – Calestous Juma
“There are at least two important implications of Piketty’s work for Africa. First, the continent does not have the kinds of social institutions that can help to reduce the social, economic and political impacts of widening inequalities. European nations experimented with a wide range of social programmes aimed at addressing the challenge.”

9. Building a Think-and-Do Tank | Stanford Social Innovation Review
Lawrence MacDonald and Todd Moss write about how the Center for Global Development has achieved success in influencing policy with tips including:
“Start fresh to stay fresh”, “Give great people plenty of freedom and responsibility”, “Share ideas early and often” and “Partner with people not individuals”

10. Development and entrepreneurship: Business formal | The Economist
“Messrs La Porta and Shleifer argue that “informal economies are so large in poor countries because their entrepreneurs are so unproductive”. They warn that taxing or regulating informal firms in an attempt to bring them into the formal economy may drive them out of business, causing even greater poverty and underdevelopment.”

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