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Month: April 2011

The Silver Bullet of Conditional Cash Transfers

The Silver Bullet of Conditional Cash Transfers

There is a new paper from DFID (the British overseas development assistance authority) about the usefulness and effectiveness of conditional cash transfers.  I have written a few times about this topic in early 2011 and way back when in 2010 (see here and here) and have always been pretty bullish on the use of them as tools for poverty alleviation.  Conditional cash transfers effectively pay the poor in exchange for meeting certain requirements regarding healthcare and education.  Welfare programs for…

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Kiva Launches Green Loans Category

Kiva Launches Green Loans Category

A little more than one year ago, I was working with Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, a microfinance in the Philippines.  NWTF was distributing low-cost solar lanterns to its clients.  The clients were prone to constant brownouts due to the poor state of the electrical infrastructure in the rural areas, so the lanterns gave them a way to keep their businesses open after dark or let the children do work after the sun goes down.  Having limited access to light,…

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Cutting Foreign Aid: How the Tea Party Is Hurting America

Cutting Foreign Aid: How the Tea Party Is Hurting America

“We must address the root causes of terrorism to end it for all time. I believe putting resources into improving the lives of poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns.” – Muhammad Yunus Today I went to visit a large-scale maize farmer in Wamale, thirty minutes outside of Tamale, the capital city of the Northern Region in Ghana and home to a predominantly Muslim population.  We had a discussion in the home of the village chief,…

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A Lesson about Statistics in Development from David Simon

A Lesson about Statistics in Development from David Simon

David Simon, the creator of the greatest television show ever made, The Wire, is interviewed by Bill Moyers in Guernica magazine.  The topics vary, but one particular answer to a question about the relevance of “facts” in understanding the nature of a problem – or the progress and impact of the solution – resonated with me. One of the themes of The Wire really was that statistics will always lie. Statistics can be made to say anything. You show me anything…

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CNN is a Joke

CNN is a Joke

CNN is supposed to be a serious news outlet.  To see its penchant for outrageous self-calls, one need look no further than its slogan, “the worldwide leader in news.” Of course, it’s not, and never has been.  If BBC and Al Jazeera are Hemingway, CNN is R.L. Stine (though CNN International, and specifically Fareed Zakaria, are pretty good).  But CNN.com, the website component of CNN, makes the television network look like The Sun Also Rises. Its hard-hitting news stories, with titles…

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The UN’s Successful Intervention in Cote D’Ivoire

The UN’s Successful Intervention in Cote D’Ivoire

I hear people badmouth the United Nations…a lot.  “What the hell is the point of a United Nations?  They don’t actually do anything.”  In the back of my mind, I always sort of disagreed, but wasn’t really sure because I actually didn’t have any tangible examples to back up my position.  The World Food Program maybe?  The UN High Council on Refugees?  I have always felt that an open and transparent forum to discuss global issues between countries, even if…

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Islam is a Religion of Peace

Islam is a Religion of Peace

On long bus rides and flights (of which there have been many during the last 18 months of traveling through Asia and Africa, for a combined total of at least 200 bus-hours), I listen to podcasts.  It is a way of depositing knowledge into my brain while still admiring the scenery.  The one I listen to the most is an NPR podcast called “Intelligence Squared.” It is described as “Oxford-style debating on America’s shores.” It is both intellectually-stimulating and fits…

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Product (RED) and the Dishonesty of Cause Marketing

Product (RED) and the Dishonesty of Cause Marketing

There is a good blog post on Aidwatch, Big Willy Easterly’s cynical aid-takedown machine, about the role of celebrities in promoting development and their relative benefits.  This post is just Bill being Bill, railing against the status quo.  In this post, two guest bloggers, Lisa Ann Richey and Stefano Ponte, who have just authored a book about the topic, titled Brand Aid, discuss the problem of “cause marketing”: In the book, we examine what happens when aid celebrities unite with…

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Market Facilitation and the Benefits of NGOs

Market Facilitation and the Benefits of NGOs

I don’t usually write follow up posts, though I received a thought-provoking comment from longtime Develop Economies reader Ed Center on my post about the negative impacts of NGOs on economic development in Northern Ghana. It is worth quoting in full: This insight then begs the question; why are you working for an NGO in Ghana? I have a friend in Cambodia who went to an excellent school that provides education and job skills to street kids. The thing is,…

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Microfinance Documentary: “To Catch a Dollar”

Microfinance Documentary: “To Catch a Dollar”

In an example of the relatively smallness of the world, a new documentary called “To Catch a Dollar” about the Grameen Bank and Muhammad Yunus’ good works has just been released. I hadn’t heard about it before, but my old man sent me a link yesterday to a news outlet called wickedlocal.com. As it turns out, the director, Gayle Ferraro, hails from my hometown of Westwood, Massachusetts, a small suburb located 20 minutes south of Boston, on exit 16B off…

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