how China sees Africa: We get commodities, you get infrastructure. Cool?

H/T Paul Kedrosky! On the shopping list for my next civilisation run is the latest bestseller "The Ascent of Money: The Financial History of the World" of Niall Ferguson, a Scottish intellectual gifted with breaking down history, finance and politics into simple understandable language. Here he talks about China and Africa in an interview: Q Is China’s rise to power a bad thing? A It is not a bad thing that the most populous country in the world is emerging from grinding poverty and hundreds of thousands of people who were in subsistence agriculture now have better paying jobs. That can’t be a bad thing. The problem is that in the realm of politics, China’s [position] is not necessarily benign. They [do not] remotely share our … [Read more...]

the good news on maternal mortality, and the politics of aid

A good discussion in the Columbia Journalism Review on science versus advocacy, on the heels of The Lancet's piece on declining Maternal Mortality Rates (MMR) worldwide (using new, more rigorous modeling on countries with estimates available): On Wednesday, The New York Times gave its lead front-page slot to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet, where, “For the first time in decades, researchers are reporting a significant drop worldwide in the number women dying each year from pregnancy and childbirth, to about 342,900 in 2008 from 526,300 in 1980 … The study cited a number of reasons for the improvement: lower pregnancy rates in some countries; higher income, which improves nutrition and access to health care; more … [Read more...]

crisis innovations

One of the frustrations of working on a development project with a focus on policy work is that the impact on very urgent needs is years away. There is certainly value to shaping the legal environment to pave the way for changes to set roots. But as I mentioned in an earlier post about why I use twitter, I'm interested in how social issues are tackled now, across different continents. So check out the practical ideas borne out of  crises around the world. One of them hit the NY Times lately, Africa's Gift to Silicon Valley: How to Track a Crisis. @Ushahidi suggests a new paradigm in humanitarian work. The old paradigm was one-to-many: foreign journalists and aid workers jet in, report on a calamity and dispense aid with whatever … [Read more...]

…since we’re on the topic of Development!

What happens when well meaning aid and development 'experts' find a hungry man?Bought this gem of illustrations from the author years ago in Cambodia. It's a riot read for anyone in the field (and managers sitting in headquarters). Available online here.. … [Read more...]

An old poem on Development

The Development Setby Ross Coggins Excuse me, friends, I must catch my jet I'm off to join the Development Set; My bags are packed, and I've had all my shots I have traveller's checks and pills for the trots! The Development Set is bright and noble Our thoughts are deep and our vision global; Although we move with the better classes Our thoughts are always with the masses. … [Read more...]

Foreign aid in economic crises…

In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Bill Gates called for a doubling of foreign aid commitment. Even though historically, economic crises tend to suppress aid packages, I couldn't agree more that maintaining and increasing aid is in the US' strategic interests. No, I'm not affiliated with USAID. Not surprisingly, Germany increased aid-- knock on wood-- ...When this administration blundered into war it soon became apparent that our goal isn't finding and killing the enemy. It's about rehabilitating zones of chaos where dangerous ideologies grow and breed. The world’s path to progress and stability is increasingly threatened by alarming headlines of terrorist nature, troubling in the fact that their roots lie in failing or failed states, … [Read more...]

Aid frustrations: A Doctor’s View Into Humanitarian Aid

Guest Poster: J Chan. She captures quite nicely the frustrations of development work:I'm back in Mozambique again, now in the 2nd largest city in the country- Beira. It's nice to be back in Mozambique and the 30hr plane rides are getting more monotonous. I hope to spend a little bit more time checking out the towns along the way while I'm working.I'm here for the 2nd phase of another project. We were able to get the lay of the land of the flood situation back in May and now we are back to perform a more rigorous assessment of the water and sanitation activities in the resettlement camps (like refugee camps in some ways) by the Zambezi River. We will try to link this information with the risk for cholera outbreaks to help the project guide … [Read more...]