27 Aug 2014
By Kate Pruce.
Research in the sector of international development is often well-suited to engaging with policy and practice, dealing as it does with questions about and potential solutions to real-world development challenges. There are also significant benefits to reaching a wider – including non-academic – audience in terms of contributing to current debates, and being in a position to offer policy-relevant recommendations in your field of expertise.
It is important to remember that impact is a process, not an event, which is not always recognised by tight deadlines and time-limited funding contracts. Results are often not immediate. Achieving impact requires long-term relationship-building (think 6-10 years), and ideally stakeholder engagement from the outset of the research. ESID’s project on India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act adopted this approach, and has successfully engaged key representatives from the Indian Planning Commission and National Advisory Council with the findings and implications of the research. Continue Reading →
15 August 2014
In July ESID hosted a small research workshop devoted to the question of whether and how the concept of ‘political settlements’ can be deployed to study urban poverty and development. Much of the discussion pivoted around presentations by Tom Goodfellow, who has recently published an article about the political settlement in Rwanda and specifically Kigali, and by Diana Mitlin and Gayatri Menon, whose ongoing work – including their ESID project on urban poverty in India – raises a number of issues about the applicability of the political settlements model to developing country cities. Here are five of the key questions raised: Continue Reading →
13 August 2014.
On 1st August 2014, the Government of Ghana (GoG) announced that it would approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance to help stabilise the economy. For watchers of Ghana, this decision is long overdue. What is, however, puzzling is how Ghana, Africa’s donor darling, paragon of democracy and good governance, the fastest growing economy in the world in 2011 (after becoming an oil producer at the end of 2010), and one of the world’s newest lower middle income countries, could experience such a dramatic turn of fortunes in just two-and-a-half years.
The Ghanaian currency, the Cedi, is now the worst performing currency in the world, depreciating against the US Dollar by 33% as at July ending 2014. Worst still, the gross debt to GDP ratio is 66.5% as at April 2014; inflation is 15% since the beginning of the year while the GoG has been running an average deficit of over 10% since 2012. The extremely high cost of living engendered by the economic crisis, has led to protests on the streets from labour unions and for the first time under the 4th Republic, a largely middle-class group, known as Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Governance, has also taken to the streets demanding immediate government action to mitigate the difficult economic hardships.
So what explains Ghana’s rapid economic deterioration in just over 2.5 years? Continue Reading →
11 August 2014.
By Leni Wild.
Another week, another review of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID): yet, amongst the scrutiny, not enough attention is paid to ensuring how DFID can learn from why certain approaches work better than others.
Last week, another enquiry into DFID’s internal workings was published, this time by the Cabinet Office and DFID’s Evidence into Action team. This is the latest addition, with others including the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI)’s evaluation of how DFID learns, an internal review of DFID’s programme management incentives, capabilities and processes, and an inquiry, still underway, by the International Development Select Committee into the future of the UK’s approach to development. Continue Reading →
7 August 2014.
ESID‘s latest working paper investigates how ideas and beliefs held by India‘s elites – political, bureaucratic, business – have shaped the country’s political settlement and thereby state performance. The paper is authored by Pratap Bhanu Mehta of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, and Michael Walton of Havard’s Kennedy School of Government.
‘Ideas, interests and the politics of development change in India: capitalism, inclusion and the state’: a sweeping title which reflects the authors’ ambition to redefine how Indian politics is conventionally portrayed, crafting a history of the country’s recent development that moves beyond the old dichotomy between market-based reform and populist social provisioning. In particular, Mehta and Walton highlight how competing cognitive maps and policy designs have shaped the evolution of Indian development at key junctures. They believe that the country may be facing such a juncture right now, and that the transformation of the state in response to the demands of a more aspirational electorate will be the central challenge of this new phase. Continue Reading →