8 May 2014.
Along with corruption, a stagnant economy and high inflation dominate the concerns of voters in the current general election in India. Like voters elsewhere, Indian voters seem likely to vote the incumbent government out for poor economic performance. On the face of it, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)’s travails on the economy is surprising, given that economic growth has been the strongest on record during the UPA’s tenure, as compared to previous governments. However, economic growth declined significantly since 2010, and the current rate of growth is not very different to what was observed in the pre-reform period. For voters who have become accustomed to strongly rising incomes for much of the 1990s and 2000s, and especially the young, who are about to enter the labour market in large numbers, stagnant incomes and weak employment prospects were key concerns leading up to the elections, and the UPA government was seen to have presided over such an adverse economic situation.
7 May 2014.
By Pablo Yanguas.
“Politics matters for development”. From project officers all the way up to the heads of multilateral development agencies, from lowest-rung civil servants to cabinet ministers, everyone who has ever worked trying to enact social, economic or political change knows this basic fact. But that does not mean that they can talk openly about it, let alone plan for the eventualities of politics or set aside budgetary items for dealing with it. Aid agencies in particular seem to be trapped in a nether realm where everyone discusses the politics of development in private, but few dare to risk their careers by engaging with it in public. That is why the rise of political economy analysis (PEA) poses an interesting dilemma. The basic principle is intuitive and almost elegant in its simplicity: many projects flounder due to limited understanding of local politics, so the answer is to build more analysis into projects to ensure greater effectiveness. And yet turning this principle into practice has proven to be less than simple.
6 May 2014.
By Pablo Yanguas.
I have been working as part of ESID for a little over 15 months now, but last week was the first time that I actually saw the faces of many of our partners and realised their passion for what they do. The Cape Town workshop was a whirlwind tour of the latest work on a panoply of policy issues (growth, education, oil, health…) across India, Bangladesh, Ghana, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa, Rwanda, Peru, Bolivia… By the end of it I felt a bit overwhelmed, but also satisfied that I finally had a good grasp of what ESID has achieved so far, and what interesting challenges lie ahead for us over the next three years. Here are some of the things I learned.
1 May 2014
One of the best ways to understand the complex power structures that stand in the way of people moving out of poverty is to walk streets where people live and talk to them about their living conditions. So the ESID Cape Town conference attendees were fortunate to be given this opportunity on a visit to Langrug Township with Slum Dwellers International.
The visit was organised by Professor Diana Mitlin of the University of Manchester. The Community Organisation Resource Centre also facilitated a visit from representatives from an informal settlement in Durban to see what learning could be shared with those in Langrug.
30 April 2014.
By Rowena Harding.
35 researchers, some policy makers and media, three days, and at least eight hours of meetings a day. What have we learned? In true research style, we could provide a working paper of evidence on our learnings from the conference, but to embrace our new accessible style of communications, here’s a summary of what we feel we have learned, after a short lunch break for reflection!