Saturday Morning Reading #36

Here’s your Saturday morning reading (actually posted in London for a change!) featuring TOMS shoes, reviews of a new aid novel, breastfeeding, development finance, gap yah and the UK as a development cluster…

1. The Impact of TOMS Shoes | Bruce Wydick – Across Two Worlds

According to this study, TOMS shoes do little damage to local markets, are well-used but don’t have any life-changing impact, with kids receiving them much more likely to say others should provide for their family.

“We didn’t find statistically significant damage to local markets, but our estimates consistently indicated a small negative impact on local markets.  Specifically, local shoe vendors sell about one fewer pair of shoes for about every 20 pairs of shoes donated into a local community.”

“The good news is that 95% of the kids in El Salvador had a favorable impression of the shoes, and they wore them heavily: 77% of the children wore them at least 3 days per week, and the most common response by children was wearing them every day.”

“The bad news is that there is no evidence that the shoes exhibit any kind of life-changing impact, except for potentially making them feel somewhat more reliant on external aid.  We did find that children receiving the shoes reduced their time watching television, but they also spent about 15 fewer minutes per day doing homework relative to the control group, as kids with the shoes re-allocated their time to outdoor activities.”

2. Honour amongst aid workers | Terence Wood – Devpolicy Blog

A review of J.’s new book. I’m working my way through it at the moment and rather enjoying it.

“This book shows just how much well-written aid novels can teach us. Noam Chomsky once said we may well “learn more about human life and personality from novels than from scientific psychology”. As an aid researcher I hope social science has something useful to offer aid practice too. But Honor Amongst Thieves is an exemplar of what aid fiction can teach us. It’s a page turner too. As you learn, you will enjoy the ride.”

Also see other reviews:
Home, Sanity and the Politics of Aid | Alessandra Pigni – Mindful Next
Love, Compromise and Capitalism | Alysia Antonucci – WhyDev

3. Is breastfeeding associated with increased earning later in life? New paper by Victora et al. from Brazil | Lawrence Haddad – Development Horizons

“The study found that adult IQ was significantly increased by duration of breastfeeding and by duration of predominant breastfeeding, as were educational attainment and adult income. […]
How big are the income changes?  For the difference between lowest and highest duration of breastfeeding the effects are big: nearly one year of additional education, 4 points in IQ and about an additional one third of the average income.”

4. First Look at Addis Development Finance Accord: What’s in It and What Should Be | Charles Kenny – Center For Global Development

“The “Addis Ababa Accord” will be the main outcome of the upcoming Addis Financing for Development Conference in July, billed as the event where we figure out how to pay for the Sustainable Development Goals. The draft is a strong one: it is wide ranging, ambitious and contains enough specifics to suggest it really would make a difference to global development.”

Possible improvements: more targets on the quality of aid, more specifics on transparency and more detail on migration, infrastructure and innovation (and better acronyms).

5. Gap yah volunteers not all bad, says new report | Joe Sandler – Global Development Professionals Network

“Among the report’s central findings was that having volunteers embedded in the local community they are supposed to be supporting helps promote trust and effective partnerships. Volunteers were also found to be engaging in meaningful projects to share their skills with local workers and help alleviate their workload, while simultaneously fostering a new spirit of altruism within the communities they worked in.
However, it was not all good news. According to the report, problems occur when the relationship between the community and volunteers becomes too one-way, with community members dependent on volunteers for skills and NGOs reluctant to share their knowledge.”

6. Why is Britain such an outlier on aid? | Duncan Green – From Poverty to Power

“The UK now accounts for roughly 1 in every 7 of the world’s aid dollars, and DFID is the only remaining cabinet level, operational aid ministry. The UK-based INGOs are disproportionately large and influential (4/11 of the largest are headquartered in the UK, and of the remainder ActionAid , now based in Johannesburg, has British roots). We have IDS, LSE, ODI and a bunch of other consultants and top academic institutions on developmental issues. So why is the UK such an extreme outlier on development? Is this just about a hangover of post-colonial guilt? Or is this more like an industrial cluster – a developmental Silicon Valley?”

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