On Ghana’s cocoa farms, Fairtrade is not yet working for women

(This blog was oringially posted at – The Guardian)

By Roy Maconachie

Fairtrade Fortnight brings us some inspirational images of smiling farmers in Africa. Smiling female farmers. But although European cocoa consumption contributes €9.8m (£7.6m) to the Fairtrade premium received by farmers, women are yet to reap the rewards. Continue reading

Brittan’s neoliberal legacy

By Ludek Stavinoha

(This blog was oringially posted at – openDemocracy)

Much of the press commentary following Leon Brittan’s death last week has been confined to his record on the British political scene and recent allegations of sex abuse. Strangely absent amidst the obituaries of this ‘clever and hard-working’ man, however, is any meaningful discussion of Brittan’s ten-year stint as EU Commissioner for Competition and Trade. While the Guardian’s commentariat ignored his EU career entirely, discussion elsewhere rarely ventures beyond vacuous statements, describing Brittan as ‘an “inspiring leader” who helped shape the EU’, and a ‘committed European’ whom the Tory Eurosceptics suspected of having gone ‘native’. Yet, a closer look at Brittan’s role in EU politics reveals a rather more problematic record of the Bulldozer—his nickname in the Brussels bubble—than would appear from the platitudes.

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The state-of-the ART Project – Update 2

By Fiona Remnant

One year, two countries, four pilots and eight increasingly cunning versions of the Excel spreadsheet further on – it’s time for an update on what the Assessing Rural Transformations team has been up to. Part of the answer is that we’ve been reminded (not for the first time) that cost-effective evaluation hinges as much on how efficiently data is analysed as well as collected.

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The Ebola epidemic and small-scale mining in Kono District, Sierra Leone

By Roy Maconachie

Since the formal declaration of peace in 2002, Sierra Leone has travelled far in overcoming the devastating impacts of a decade of civil war during the 1990s. In recent years, the country has experienced dramatic economic growth on the back of an extractive industry-led development trajectory. Continue reading

Faith in a post-development world?

By James Copestake

Still from the Book of Mormon

Still from the Book of Mormon

Musicals aren’t really my thing, but reviews of The Book of Mormon were intriguing and we went. It lived up to its billing: fast, foot-tapping fun; irreverent and unrestrained in lampooning zealous religiosity and revelling in our bodily obsessions. But what, you may ask, has it got to do with international development? The answer Continue reading

Kenyan mobile money and the hype of messy statistics

By Susan Johnson

The hype around the success of mobile money in Kenya has been growing as mobile payments develop both there and worldwide. This week’s Economist cites a figure that 43% of Kenyan GDP is being channelled through M-Pesa each year, attributing the statistic to Safaricom itself. The figure has been rising from 31% last year, which was cited by both The Economist and the Financial Times. In August 2013, GSM Association released an infographic on “The Kenyan Journey to Digital Financial Inclusion”, which also used the 31% figure. The World Bank, CGAP, AFI and others have also used or cited such measures of progress in this field. Continue reading

Key learning points from the results measurement for sustainable private sector Development and the DCED global results seminar 2014

By Anne-Marie O’Riordan

How can we capture and understand the true extent of impact that aid channelled through challenge funds can have on poverty reduction? This question lies at the heart of my current job as a University of Bath ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate‘ working with the firm Triple Line Consulting on the management and evaluation of challenge funds as a way of supporting business-led innovation, job creation and poverty reduction. Last month I attended two events in Bangkok Continue reading

Why the Gender Dummy doesn’t speak: Explaining the gender gap in financial inclusion

By Susan Johnson

Recent research has given us much better data on the difference in access to formal financial services between men and women.  The figure below gives these gaps by region based on the Global Findex dataset.  With this evidence for the gender gap, what we really want to know is: what it is about being a woman or man that creates the gap?   That is, are these gaps the result of factors such as women having less education, lower incomes and being less likely to have formal employment? Or do they arise from legal factors such as property rights, inheritance rights, gender norms about autonomy, mobility, etc.? Or, perhaps women behave inherently differently and are more risk averse. Or does being a woman matter for another reason, even when all these factors are taken into account?  If it does, then we might need to look further for other sources of discrimination in the market. These might include the behaviour of the financial institutions themselves.

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Complementary currencies – contrasting fates?: M-Pesa and Bangla Pesa in Kenya

By Susan Johnson

M-Pesa in Kenya is lauded as the world’s leading example of a mobile money transfer service. Users walk into an agent’s shop and hand over Kenyan shillings, in return for which e-value is loaded onto their mobile phone at a one-for-one exchange rate. The menu in the phone is then Continue reading

The state-of-the-ART Project (Update 1)

By James Copestake

“I never publish anything that hasn’t been through five drafts” is what the celebrated economist Kenneth Galbraith reportedly said when asked the secret of his ability to write so well. Well, I confess this blog doesn’t meet his standard, but I can report that a sixth draft of the Qualitative Impact Protocol (QUIP) for Assessing Rural Transformations can now be downloaded Continue reading