Rows of people in suits, many looking at blackberries or laptops, in the UN Conference Centre

Addis: A Good First Step, but a Terrible Last Word, for 2015

The Financing for Development Conference in July 2015 in Addis Ababa was never going to solve all the world’s development problems. The policy framework is pretty good, but will only be important if government, companies and organisations now take specific actions. Read the full post »
An old wooden chest on a beach

Financing for development – where the treasure is buried

We won’t get development from global and domestic “tax and spend” alone. We should be focusing more on the huge untapped wealth locked up by policies and behaviour which distort the global economy, creating massive economic, environmental, and welfare losses for most of the world’s population. Read the full post »
Nine month old Emabet is about to receive her measles vaccination, in Ethiopia's Merawi province

Malaria vaccine setback: what can we learn?

There has been bad news about the effectiveness of the leading candidate for a malaria vaccine. Has the time has come for donors to make an Advance Market Commitment? Read the full post »
Women preparing food in mud hut on March 20 , 2014 in Jaisalmer,India

End of year reflections

The Guardian development blog is running a series of end of year reflections on development, including one by me. Many of the articles are upbeat about progress in developing countries, but pessimistic about the short term economic prospects for … Go to to read the rest

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Boris Johnson in the Conservative Party Political Broadcast - East Africa Appeal

Conservative Party gives up party political broadcast

This is very impressive.  Here in the UK we do not have paid political advertising: instead political parties are given a limited number of slots on British TV for a ‘party political broadcast’ to put their point across.

This year … Go to to read the rest

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The BBC website showing the aid or immigration programme

Aid or immigration?

There was an interesting programme on BBC Radio 4 on Monday night, Analysis, which looked at the following question:

The government is committed to protecting the aid budget. Frances Cairncross asks whether a more relaxed policy on economic migration

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A woman holding her young malnourished baby queues for food at the Badbado camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IPDs). Famine has been declared in two regions of southern Somalia – southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle. The United Nations indicates that 3.7 million people across the country, that’s nearly half of the Somali population, are now in crisis and in urgent need of assistance. An estimated 2.8 million of those are in the south.

Famine and drought

Two things to keep in mind about famine and drought. First, famine is not caused by drought or overpopulation or insufficient food production. Second, development aid works. Read the full post »
Map view of Monrovia on a geographical globe

The Liberia Marathon and 10km

The first Liberia Marathon is on 28 August 2011. Read the full post »
Kenya. Mombasa. January 25, 2012 African students. School.

In school not learning

George Bush famously asked, ‘Is our children learning?’. That’s also the question by Uwezo, a coalition of NGOs working in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.  Their report published today makes dismal reading about the quality of schools.

First, a word … Go to to read the rest

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A pair of headphones wrapped around the globe

Tony Blair on Development Drums

Tony Blair is my guest on the latest Development Drums. He talks about his Africa Governance Initiative, and more broadly about democracy, leadership, globalization, DFID, and his own future. Read the full post »
A pair of headphones wrapped around the globe

China in Africa – Deborah Brautigam [podcast]


The latest edition of the Development Drums podcast is now online. It was the last one I recorded before leaving Ethiopia.

Deborah Brautigam, a scholar renowned for her work on China-Africa relations, discusses her book, The Dragon’s Gift: The Go to to read the rest

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Election Poster for Bingu wa Mutharika

Malawi success and donor fallibility

On the Oxfam blog, Max Lawson has an excellent guest post telling the story of how Malawi has used an extensive programme of fertilizer subsidies to generate seven years of economic growth, reduductions in poverty and child deaths.

Max cites … Go to to read the rest

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Economic growth and poverty reduction in Africa

A perennial question in development economics is whether economic growth, by itself, is enough to reduce poverty.

The question came up in the most recent edition of Development Drums. Claire Melamed argued that the fact that so many of … Go to to read the rest

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Development 3.0: is social accountability the answer?

Shanta Devarajan, the World Bank Chief Economist for Africa, describes in an important new blog post the evolution of development policy in terms of changing ideas about market failures and government failures.   In the 1950s and 1960s, he says, development … Go to to read the rest

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