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14 May 2018
A drive of little more than an hour from the eastern edge of Tigray into Afar serves to illustrate some of the many extremes of Ethiopia: a drop in altitude of more than 1,000m; an increase in temperature from the moderate (albeit far from Mancunian!) temperatures of the highlands to the unforgiving heat of the Rift Valley; and, the focus of this blog, a transformation of the form and reach of the state.
Looking up to the highland plateau of Tigray from Abala, Afar
The second phase of ESID’s work on the politics of social protection (for the first phase, that examined the political economy of national level policy processes, see here) examines how the implementation of social protection is shaped by the legacies of long-term processes of state formation and the more proximate influence of political competition and party legitimacy. A recent field trip to two of the Ethiopian research sites illustrates exactly the dynamics we are looking to examine. Continue Reading →
Tom Kirk, Researcher at the LSE’s Centre for Public Authority in International Development
Every so often you read something that brilliantly articulates an idea or issue you have been struggling with for a while, but could not properly capture. Why We Lie About Aid is one of those books. Full of pithy quotes, punchy anecdotes and insightful case studies, it draws upon an eclectic mix of ideas from across the social sciences to craft an argument that the public and institutional discourses surrounding aid and development interventions are reductive to the point of self-harm. That is both because they make aid spending a political football and because they force practitioners to focus on what can be measured. This prevents donors from seizing opportunities for transformational change in recipient countries and does a disservice to reformers who could use their support in contentious political struggles. Continue Reading →
30 April 2018
What’s responsible for the high and stable growth rate in Bangladesh?
For many economists, Bangladesh case is a paradox since such steady and reasonably high growth took place in the context of ‘bad’ or ‘weak’ governance. The fundamental assumption of this view is that standard ‘good governance’ institutions or ‘market enhancing governance institutions’ are pre-conditions for a high and sustained growth rate in the economy. Market-enhancing governance institutions enable the market to be efficient since these reduce transaction costs, guarantee credible commitment of the state through the establishment of formal and universal property rights, and allow an efficient enforcement of contracts.
In contrast, we argue that the existing trend in growth rate has been possible in Bangladesh (despite lacking in or weaknesses of many of the market-enhancing institutions) since a reasonably robust form of ‘growth-enhancing governance’, characterised by de facto rent sharing (across political divides), political elites’ ability to separate economic and political rents (based on contingent needs), and (more critically) a largely ordered deals (explained below) environment (irrespective of being open, closed or semi-closed in various sectors of the economy), has created the enabling conditions (de facto credible commitment of the state, transactional certainty, etc., which are critically important to the private market actors) for economic growth to take place. Continue Reading →
23 April 2018
An independent consultant and social science researcher, Amdissa Teshome reports from Addis Ababa with a fascinating insight into the inaugural speech of Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister.
Background to the speech
For the past four years in Ethiopia there have been unprecedented protests demanding political reform and fair utilisation of regional and national resources – mainly land. The protests were ignited in the Oromia region and spread to Amhara. The conflict along the borders of Ethiopian Somali and Oromia added to the already complex situation.
Unable to manage the crisis with the normal administrative and security systems, the government declared a state of emergency. This was for six months, from October 2016 to March 2017, and was then extended for a further four months. In August 2017 the state of emergency was lifted, but it was reinstated when the protests continued and there was concern that they were unfortunately taking ethnic dimensions. Continue Reading →