Wild, Booth and Valters’ “Putting theory into practice: How DFID is doing development differently” should have been 5 pages long so more people would read it. The ODI authors spent one year helping DFID change its practices and they document the experience in this paper. At the programme level, these changes look like moving from giving grants to CSOs to using DFID’s political savviness to help CSOs strategically connect with governments, parliaments and the media; or moving from financing the construction of a water and sanitation rural infrastructure to a pay-by-result system that pushes district authorities to construct and maintain the infrastructure. That means a problem driven approach with an emphasis on DFID’s facilitation role and the use of ‘everyday political analysis’. At the process and procedure level, these changes look like distilling mountains of guidelines into a handful of principles, smart rules or top tips.
I spent my Tuesday lunch break listening to NYU CIC’s Sarah Cliffe give an overview of conflict-related trends. Here is my summary. Four main trends: (i) there are more and more protracted crises, and humanitarian work has become development work; (ii) following a drop in international wars after WWII, conflicts and crises are increasingly internationalized again; (iii) multiple and combined sources of risks (eg populism, population growth, resource scarcities) make crises and conflicts harder to solve; (iv) populations are losing confidence in the ability of national and international entities to solve conflicts. Four underlying factors to these trends: (a) decades of inattention to inequalities; (b) lack of investment in shared identities; (c) shifting geopolitical patterns; (d) innovations in ICT. Three big picture solutions: 1. Strengthen the humanitarian-development continuum for better prevention; 2. Join the political/security part of the international system with its humanitarian-development part; 3. Rethink economic and migration models. I found this helpful in structuring my thoughts.
My graph this week is from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s new “Inclusive internet index”. Commissioned by Facebook’s Internet.org, the index codes four enablers of internet inclusion for 75 countries: availability, affordability, relevance, readiness. At the aggregate level, no big surprise in terms of who comes first. But breaking down results by country or enabler gives less expected results. Malaysia comes first and Chile fourth for readiness with Kazakhstan and Argentina at the 10th and 11th places. And Nepal, Tanzania and Senegal have the highest overall rankings of low income countries (56th, 57th, 58th).
My quote this week is from Anthony Heyes in “Air pollution brings down the stock market”: “Animals that breathe polluted air fight more than those that breathe cleaner air. People perform less well across a variety of tasks on polluted days than on less polluted days. Peach pickers pick fewer peaches. Baseball umpires are worse at calling balls and strikes. Call center employees field fewer calls.”