‘Randomistas’ and microcredit: Shutting the evidence gate after the policy horse has bolted?

By Susan Johnson

Microfinance is one area of development intervention that has experienced increased use of randomised control trials (RCTs) in the last few years, now seen by many as the ‘gold standard’ methodology for assessing impact.  The gold standard approach to telling us what the findings impact studies collectively amount to is the systematic review. Since great claims for poverty reduction have been made for the impact of microcredit programmes in the past, the demand for evidence in this field is very high.  Two  recent DFID funded systematic reviews in this field have between them been downloaded more than 15,000 times, whereas DFID funded systematic reviews on other topics have had a few hundred downloads at most. Continue reading

Advertisements

Can DFID really work with faith communities?

By Severine Deneulin

In June 2012, DFID launched a new partnership with faith communities, working together for poverty reduction and sustainable development. Amongst other things, it calls for  for mutual understanding between DFID and faith communities.  The question of whether this was really possible was vividly highlighted to me when I was in Ecuador last year attending a government-sponsored conference on sustainable development alternatives. The conference opened with a religious ceremony by a Kichwa man and an altar of harvested goods. He began by singing songs of praise to God for giving abundant food and sustaining human life. He then gave a short introduction to the Kichwa indigenous cosmovision which is encapsulated in the Kichwa greeting: Not ‘how are you?’ ‘Fine’ but ‘You are me’ ‘I am you’.  This was to expresss how our individuality is found in our relationships to others and our lives are intertwined with the natural environment. He finished by some petition prayers that we may live in harmony with each other and nature. Continue reading