Thoughts from an agricultural development gal in Ghana

Archive for April, 2011

Development Digest – 28/04/11

Here’s your weekly development digest. Enjoy!

If you only have time to read 5 articles, read the ones with the *star*.

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Global news:

Toyota car production disrupted until November – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/toyota-car-production-disrupted-until-november/article1995599/
Bahrain sentences protesters to death – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/04/201142881322769709.html
Sweatshops are still supplying high street brands – http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/apr/28/sweatshops-supplying-high-street-brands
Syria’s unrest: between myth and reality – http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/04/201142413450323305.html
US storms kill over 200 – http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2011/04/28/united-states-storm-death-toll.html
Global forces: an introduction – https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Strategy/Globalization/Global_forces_An_introduction_2625?gp=1
Grameen bank cleared of financial breaches by Bangladeshi government –  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/25/grameen-bank-cleared-irregularities-bangladesh
*Doha trade talks’ killing has no shortage of suspects – http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/apr/25/doha-trade-talks-death-suspects
Yemen’s other crisis: the daily struggle for food – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/26/yemen-crisis-food-fuel-prices-aid

Canada news:

Anti-Harper voters may be reassessing leaders as campaign nears end – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/bruce-anderson/anti-harper-voters-may-be-reassessing-leaders-as-campaign-nears-end/article1995614/
Margaret Atwood: my paper napkin guide to the election – http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/980209–atwood-my-paper-napkin-guide-to-the-election
Group sues auditor general to release G8 report – http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/story/2011/04/26/cv-election-avaaz-g8.html
*Layton jumps well ahead of Ignatieff as voters get off ‘the political couch’ – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/layton-jumps-well-ahead-of-ignatieff-as-voters-get-off-the-political-couch/article2000297
Liberal-NDP merger possible, Senator says – http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/04/27/cv-bc-larry-campbell-merger.html
Globe and Mail endorsement: Conservatives (!) – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/editorials/the-globes-election-endorsement-facing-up-to-our-challenges/article2001610/
As voter numbers decline, online voting would help boost engagement – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/as-voter-numbers-decline-online-voting-would-help-boost-engagement/article1997243/
Globe readers weigh in: one big idea to fix our democracy – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/readers-weigh-in-one-big-idea-to-fix-our-democracy/article1996993/
When satire shows go off the air, do Canadian voters tune out? – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/when-satire-shows-go-off-the-air-do-canadian-voters-tune-out/article1998542/
On the internet, it’s anybody but Harper – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/on-the-internet-its-anybody-but-harper/article1999982/

Africa news:

*Ivory Coast: A ragtag army falls apart – http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/04/27/ivory_coast_a_ragtag_army_falls_apart
Ivory Coast militia leader killed – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/04/201142821358719869.html
Sunshine and shadow in Rwanda’s rural housing program – http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=55410
Libya: Filling the void of a stateless state – http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/04/201142583536319618.html
As Sierra Leone celebrates its 50th birthday, a look back – http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/Africa-Monitor/2011/0427/As-Sierra-Leone-celebrates-its-50th-birthday-a-look-back
Museveni agrees to meet Besigye – http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/1152208/-/c262naz/-/index.html
Uganda police arrest opposition leader Besigye – http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/Uganda+police+arrest+opposition+leader+Besigye/-/2558/1152392/-/c0ookd/-/index.html
Malawi expels British ambassador – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/27/malawi-expels-british-ambassador
Burkina president Compaore takes charge of defence – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13166783
Another round of protests in Burkina Faso – http://sahelblog.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/another-round-of-protests-in-burkina-faso
Hundreds killed in Nigeria post-election violence – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/24/hundreds-killed-nigeria-post-election-violence
Nigeria: uneasy finale to general elections – http://www.ips.org/africa/2011/04/nigeria-uneasy-finale-to-general-elections/
Nigeria: Fair vote, fragile future – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/22/opinion/22olojede.html?_r=2

Ghana news:

Ghana cocoa purchases up 45% – http://www.africanagricultureblog.com/2011/04/ghana-cocoa-purchases-up-45-pct.html
Bolga: reckless moto driver costs woman her life – http://allafrica.com/stories/201104270225.html
Gang of Nigerian robbers arrested in Ghana – http://allafrica.com/stories/201104280613.html
FDI inflows to country up 1st quarter of 2011 – http://allafrica.com/stories/201104280739.html

Agriculture news:

*Conservation and farming must learn to live together – http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028085.100-conservation-and-farming-must-learn-to-live-together.html
Sowing bubbles – http://www.economist.com/node/18586884
Future farm: a sunless, rainless room indors – http://www.africanagricultureblog.com/2011/04/future-farm-sunless-rainless-room.html
Small-scale farmers at risk from global land-grabbing – http://www.africanagricultureblog.com/2011/04/small-scale-farmers-at-risk-from-global.html
“Farming out” agricultural advice through radio and SMS – http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/04/26/%E2%80%9Cfarming-out%E2%80%9D-agricultural-advice-through-radio-and-sms/
Sustainable farming helps to boost cotton crops in Uzbekistan – http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/apr/26/sustainable-farming-water-uzbekistan-nabiyeva
Barclay’s faces protests over role in global food crisis – http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/apr/25/barclays-faces-commodity-protests

Development thinking:

Behavioural economics: a review of the literature – http://financialaccess.org/node/3711
*More than 1 billion people are hungry in the world – http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/25/more_than_1_billion_people_are_hungry_in_the_world?page=full
Let’s refocus our plan of attack on global poverty – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/lets-refocus-our-plan-of-attack-on-global-poverty/article1999890/
Untying the knot – http://www.economist.com/node/18584122
Banerjee and Duflo’s Poor Economics: micro-steps towards a quiet revolution? – http://blogs.worldbank.org/impactevaluations/banerjee-and-duflo-s-poor-economics-micro-steps-towards-a-quiet-revolution
Limitations of RCTs: a post-script – http://findwhatworks.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/limitations-of-rcts-a-post-script/
The problem with the big picture – http://kmonadollaraday.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/the-problem-with-the-big-picture
In developing countries, equity beats microfinance – http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2011/04/20/in-developing-economies-equity-beats-microfinance/
Carrots and marketing to the poor – http://sashadichter.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/carrots-and-marketing-to-the-poor/
Haiti and the international aid scam – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/apr/22/haiti-aid
China publishes first report on foreign aid policy – http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/apr/28/china-foreign-aid-policy-report
Is social protection the next big idea to combat poverty? – http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/apr/27/social-protection-combat-poverty

EWB blog posts

Jordan: What’s a night in Malawian jail like? – http://whatyoumightbemissing.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/whats-a-night-in-malawian-jail-like/
Franck: Really, guys? – http://franckvachon.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/really-guys/
Dan B: No pennies in Ghana – http://questionstoquestions.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/no-pennies-in-ghana/
Bernard: Beauté Terrifante: El Mina – http://bernardauburkina.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/beaute-terrifiante-el-mina/
Brian: Sharing a bottle – http://liveworklearnbrianinghana.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/sharing-a-bottle/
Erin: Always something going on in Tamale – http://erinantcliffe.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/always-something-going-on-in-tamale/

Specials:
G&RI team 1st Quarter Update – http://ewbgari.posterous.com/gri-2011-first-quarter-update
Ben’s Friday Flims – http://theborrowedbicycle.ca/

Amusing and interesting things:

I predict the Gifted will foresee the Punchline – http://crookedtimber.org/2011/04/23/i-predict-the-gifted-will-foresee-the-punchline/
Fragility – http://shotgunshackblog.com/2011/04/25/fragility
Taking the 10,000 hours of practice theory seriously – http://jamesjchoi.blogspot.com/2011/04/taking-10000-hours-of-practice-theory.html
Patterns, patterns everywhere [HT Laura McGrath] – http://tanyageisler.com/patterns-patterns-everywhere/
How centered leaders achieve extraordinary results – https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Organization/Talent/How_centered_leaders_achieve_extraordinary_results_2678?gp=1


Always Something Going On In Tamale!

A few weeks ago I was hurrying from my office on one end of town to a meeting on the other end, when my taxi was diverted off the main road. I thought to myself, “oh great, I’m going to be late” when suddenly a bicycle passed us. Wait… what?! I did a double-take and sure enough, a Ghanaian wearing a helmet, bike shorts and clip-in shoes on a fancy-looking road bike was zooming ahead. When you compare this to the rest of the cyclists I regularly see in Tamale (no helmets, sandals, sometimes scrappy-looking bikes) you realize why it was so shocking. I had inadvertently found myself in the Tamale leg of the National Cycling Tour of Ghana!

I decided to be late for my meeting to explore this phenomenon. It was a great time! I snapped a bunch of photos, which you can see below. It was pretty Tamale-esque as they hadn’t quite closed the road for the race. The traffic cops would hold back the traffic for a while then let a big group go through and they would mingle with (and almost knock down) the cyclists on the way to their destinations. Almost-like-a-bike-race-in-the-West-but-not-quite.

I was impressed by these serious guys with their huge legs, but laughed out loud at the “Ghanaianisms” that still came out in the race. For example, instead of water cups or bottles, race volunteers were handing out water sachets to the cyclists (that’s how most people drink water here, in small bags). Also, the cyclists were akin to taxi drivers, yelling out “hey Charlie, hey!” (a common name to call each other, like “hey friend”) and yelling at length when someone cut them off, then getting over it in 20 seconds. Hilarious.

Anyway, it was a welcome little break from my work day, and a reminder that there’s always something going on in Tamale. Enjoy the photos!

Banners announcing the event

FAST serious racers!

The peleton approaches

Cyclist drinking a water sachet

Up and down the other side of the road

Schoolboys watching the race

A final word from our sponsors!


Development Digest – 22/04/11

Here’s your weekly development digest. Enjoy!

Special thanks again to Sylvie Spraakman for contributing the Canada news section!

If you only have time to read 5 articles, read the ones with the *star*.

—–

Canada news:

Strategic voting groups have lofty goals – http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/story/2011/04/15/cv-election-vote-swap.html
Coalition talk returns to campaign: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/story/2011/04/21/cv-election-day27.html
Elections agency to probe harassing calls: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/04/19/cv-election-liberal-harassing-calls.html
Anti-abortion groups shaped Tory funding policy on Planned Parenthood: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/978054–anti-abortion-groups-shaped-tory-funding-police-on-planned-parenthood
Guergis: Harper ‘tossed me under a bus': http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/story/2011/04/15/cv-election-day21.html
*CIDA: A broken agency that needs to be overhauled (featuring EWB staff James Haga!) – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/editorials/cida-a-broken-agency-that-needs-to-be-overhauled/article1990159/

Africa news:

*Ivory Coast’s develoment failures – http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/apr/18/ivory-coast-development-failures
Nigerian elections: the good, the bad and the ugly – http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/04/18/nigerian_elections_the_good_the_bad_and_the_ugly
Nigeria riots leave many dead and hundreds injured – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/19/nigeria-riots-dead-injured
AU lifts sanctions on Ivory Coast – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/04/2011421145057736714.html
*Burkina Faso to hear soldiers’ grievances – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/04/201142002837350459.html
Cote D’Ivoire: hesitant steps toward normal life – http://www.ips.org/africa/2011/04/cote-divoire-hesitant-steps-towards-normal-life/
China puts its mark on Malawi – http://www.ips.org/africa/2011/04/china-puts-its-mark-on-malawi/
Trade: “A Doha round collapse is a betrayal of poor countries” – http://www.ips.org/africa/2011/04/trade-a-doha-round-collapse-is-a-betrayal-of-poor-countries/
Libyan choice: starve or run – http://www.ips.org/africa/2011/04/libyan-choice-starve-or-run/
Burkina Faso: the protest/mutiny movement is not over – http://sahelblog.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/burkina-faso-the-protest-mutiny-movement-is-not-over/

Ghana news:

Rawlings’ wife joins presidential race in Ghana – http://allafrica.com/stories/201104181842.html
Isam, politics and development: negotiating the future of Dagbon – http://allafrica.com/stories/201104190585.html
The Ya-Na murder trial: muddying the waters – http://allafrica.com/stories/201104190636.html
Of the local child and the cocoa farm – http://allafrica.com/stories/201104210769.html
New initiative to improve agric policies out – http://allafrica.com/stories/201104190934.html

Development thinking:

Got ‘Em: An Evaluation Story – http://www.how-matters.org/2011/04/17/got-em-an-evaluation-story/
*Big Business – http://talesfromethehood.com/2011/04/18/big-business
Ten things I didn’t want to know about aid ineffectiveness – http://bottomupthinking.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/ten-things-i-didnt-want-to-know-about-aid-ineffectiveness/
Aid blogging matters – beyond the front lines – http://kmonadollaraday.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/aid-blogging-matters-beyond-the-front-lines/
Collecting “Three Cups of Tea” Posts (related to scandal with Greg Mortenson and his organization CAI) – http://goodintents.org/aid-debates/3-cups-of-tea
Has the microfinance bubble really burst? – http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=5161
RESPONSES to above – http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=5174
When users = funders – http://www.denniswhittle.com/2011/04/pleasing-your-users-rather-than-your.html
Owen Barder: sad farewell, exciting horizons – http://www.owen.org/blog/4540
Evidence and engagement: debating the UK Government’s new paradigm for water, sanitation and hygiene research – http://blogs.odi.org.uk/blogs/main/archive/2011/04/21/Nathaniel_Mason_water_sanitation_hygiene_WASH_evidence_lessons_Alan_Duncan.aspx
Decline and Fall (of Malawi as a development darling) – http://aidthoughts.org/?p=2391
*Confusing Success with Failure – http://www.aviewfromthecave.com/2011/04/confusing-success-with-failure.html
Fundamentally unknowable? Can we learn whether our firm policies in Africa are working? – http://blogs.worldbank.org/impactevaluations/fundamentally-unknowable-can-we-learn-whether-our-firm-policies-in-africa-are-working
What is success, anyhow? – http://blogs.worldbank.org/impactevaluations/what-is-success-anyhow
Six theories of policy change – http://aidontheedge.info/2011/04/20/six-theories-of-policy-change/

EWB blog posts:

Jordan: The joys of EWB field-work: Part 2 – http://whatyoumightbemissing.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/the-joys-of-ewb-field-work-part-2
Erin: Big John’s Self-Help Super Microfinance Scheme – http://erinantcliffe.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/big-johns-self-help-super-microfinance-scheme/
Untapped Markets: Association-building: back in vogue in development-speak – http://untappedmarkets.ca/2011/04/association-building-back-in-vogue-in-development-speak/
Robin: Development work: a wild ride – http://addictedtoimpact.blogspot.com/2011/04/development-work-wild-ride.html
Dan B: Why do so many PDPs get abandoned? – http://questionstoquestions.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/why-do-so-many-pdps-get-abandoned/
Marie-Claire: On n’a pas le choix – http://extraitsduburkina.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/on-na-pas-le-choix/
Ben: Friday Flims: If the rains rain well – http://theborrowedbicycle.ca/2011/04/if-the-rains-rain-well-friday-flims-6/

Amusing and interesting things:

Development jargon quiz – http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/quiz/2011/apr/22/global-development-jargon-quiz
xkcd: The Future according to Google search results – http://xkcd.com/887/
The Grand Tour (an expat’s take on a Chinese tour of Europe) – http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/04/18/110418fa_fact_osnos?currentPage=all
Online Colour Challenge – http://www.xrite.com/custom_page.aspx?PageID=77&Lang=en


Big John’s Self-Help Super Microfinance Scheme

Meet John Alhassan I. He is an Agricultural Extension Agent (AEA) at my office of the Ghanaian Ministry of Food and Agriculture. His job is to deliver agricultural information to farmers in his operational area and to help them improve their farms, whether that means reducing the level of poverty in a household by adopting better agricultural practices, or helping commercial farmers to get in touch with the market. John sees all types of strengths and needs in his daily work as an AEA.

One of the farmer groups that John works with is a women’s group of 24 members. He started building up this group using EWB’s Agriculture As a Business program last June. Through the program, group members were encouraged to contribute group savings to a bank account that John had helped the group to open a few years ago. Each member contributes 50Gp (about $0.35CAD) per week. After a few months, the group had built up their savings and they were ready to invest.

John was concerned that the group was too large to give a loan to each woman. If they divided the savings 24 ways, it wouldn’t really make a difference. Instead, he divided the group into four groups of six women each. He randomly selected one group to receive loans first by drawing the numbers 1-4 on pieces of paper and selecting one from a pile in front of the women. Each of the six women in the first group received a loan of 100GhC (about $65CAD) to invest however she wanted, but with the understanding that in two months time she would have to pay back the full 100GhC, plus 5GhC of interest. Most of the women are processors, so they elected to invest in bulk purchases of rice, groundnuts or shea nuts to process and sell at a profit. After two months, 100% of the money and interest were paid back to the group bank account, and the next round of loans were given out to six new women.

After each group had received the loan once, John upped the stakes – the next round of loans were for more money (120GhC), but the interest also increased (10GhC). Again, the repayment rates have been 100% so far. The group is currently on this second round of loans and their bank account balance is still increasing. The women are dedicated and determined and John is encouraging them every step of the way. The goal is to make enough money for the group to buy a grinding mill, a purchase which will give them an even higher return on investment.

John Alhassan I.

Why do I think this is such a great story?

John is really passionate about helping people in his role as an AEA. Though many farmers have been trained over the years to sit around and wait for government money to come, John knows it isn’t coming any time soon. He also knows that the banks aren’t often willing to help; he already took this women’s group to the bank for a loan and they were rejected. Help isn’t coming from outside, so John is helping the group to help themselves. This group is serious, dreaming big and working hard to achieve their goals.

John has now taken this scheme to other farmer groups, where it is also working successfully. But why is he so successful in this approach? There are a few key elements of this grassroots project that have made it work so far:

  1. There is no time limit on this project. This is John’s own initiative, so he has taken the time to build up and groom his farmer groups until they are ready to handle serious money. He is not under pressure from donors or banks to report quarterly on his progress, and his funding isn’t going to dry up in 3 years. Instead, this home-grown approach gives the group and the AEA time to build up their skills and capacity to handle these loans.
  2. The group members have a personal relationship with John and a high degree of trust in him. He visits the group often to check in on their progress, encourages them when they need a kind word and keeps them accountable to each other. He hasn’t just come in to tell them what to do “for their own good”, but he has taken the time to build a trusting relationship with the group.
  3. The approach is tailored to the needs of the group. This isn’t some monolithic project coming in and prescribing a microfinance approach to fit all smallholders. Instead, it’s one AEA who knows the nuances of this group and has created a program that will work specifically for them. He has decided on the timing, the group sizes and amounts of the loans in collaboration with the group so that it best fits their needs. And this completely changes for each of the groups he works with.

This is an approach that is working for John’s farmers. Of course, it wouldn’t work if you tried to scale it up. It would be too complex, with too many variables and little things that would invariably go wrong – the farmers don’t trust the facilitator, the groups are thrown together to access loans, the money is too much or too little, the ToT didn’t teach trainers to visit the groups often enough. Farmers are smart – they’ve seen it all before, and they know how to manipulate the system. If you tried to scale this project, it just wouldn’t work.

The beauty of this approach is that it was developed out of a clear need: to find financing for the group to meet their goals. It’s a tailored approach that is based on a strong relationship between the AEA and the group members. The problem presented itself and the AEA was pushed to find a solution. In the development world, where we often find solutions in need of problems rather than the other way around, this is a refreshing turn of events.

I admire John for his dedication and creativity in meeting the needs of his groups. I wanted to highlight him as one of the many AEAs in the Ministry who are working tirelessly with inadequate pay and resources to do the best they can for farmers. These are the small beacons of hope that keep me motivated to keep working for change in the Ministry. John is truly an inspiration!

So I say, to all of you, keep doin’ it for Dorothy!


Development Digest – 17/04/11

Here’s your weekly development digest. Sorry it’s late again… but enjoy!
Special thanks to Sylvie Spraakman for contributing the Canada news section!

If you only have time to read 5 articles, read the ones with the *star*.

—–

Global news:

Tepco to compensate Japan’s nuclear plant victims – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13090304
Plant operator to ‘end’ Japan nuclear crisis – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia-pacific/2011/04/201141755954143715.html
Battles for Libyan cities rage on – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/04/201141741541217692.html
Libya’s Pathway to Peace (by Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy) – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/opinion/15iht-edlibya15.html

Canada news:

Tories come under attack for Auditor-General’s ‘shocking’ G8 spending report: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/972725–tories-come-under-attack-over-ag-s-shocking-g8-spending-report
Pot laws quashed by Supreme Court – lawmakers react: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/974409–lawmakers-police-seek-guidance-after-pot-laws-quashed
*Students might actually vote in this election (let’s hope so!): http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/thanks-a-heap-rick-mercer-the-students-might-actually-vote/article1985368/
Tories may release Afghan detainee documents: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/story/2011/04/14/cv-election-afghan-detainees.html?
‘Ethnic costumes’ email gets people angry: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/story/2011/04/14/cv-election-ethnic-counter-rally.html?
Wet start to planting season could lower grain yields: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/wet-start-to-planting-season-threatens-grain-yields/article1986078/
For the next generation of Inuit, hope lies in education – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/for-the-next-generation-of-inuit-hope-lies-in-education/article1972023/

FEATURE Canadian Election news:

These stories are from earlier, but since we missed Canada news last week, let’s catch up:
If you’ve been living in a hole, here’s the rundown on the entire election so far (it’s a bit old, but still valuable): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12978645
Good overview of the election platforms so far: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13021359

Leader’s Debate:
Watch it here: http://watch.ctv.ca/news/election-2008/english-debate/#clip98314
Fact checking on various statements throughout the debate: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/realitycheck/2011/04/fact-checking-the-leaders-debate.html
Race tightened in the hours prior to English debate – http://ipolitics.ca/2011/04/13/race-tightened-in-the-hoursprior-to-english-debate-ekos/
Analyses of the debate:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13057442
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/story/2011/04/12/cv-election-may-debate.html?
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/ndp-trends-up-after-debate-while-liberal-support-stays-stagnant/article1985114/

Africa news:

Alassane Ouattara begins difficult task of rebuilding, reuniting Ivory Coast – http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2011/0412/Alassane-Ouattara-begins-difficult-task-of-reuniting-rebuilding-Ivory-Coast
‘A very highly systematized and orchestrated campaign of violence’ in Ivory Coast –  http://www.undispatch.com/a-very-highly-systematized-and-orchestrated-campaign-of-violence-in-ivory-coast
Gbabo party leader calls for reconciliation – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/04/201141755150915480.html
*The Ivorian Endgame – http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67728/mike-mcgovern/the-ivorian-endgame?page=show
Cote D’Ivoire round-up: The Civilian Toll – http://sahelblog.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/cote-divoire-roundup-the-civilian-toll/
Burkina Faso traders riot over lootings – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/04/2011416135127178281.html
Soldiers ‘continue to mutiny’ in Burkina Faso – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/04/2011417103043486641.html
Blue-sky thinking – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704559904576228391344450766.html
Nigeria poll points to north-south divide – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/04/2011416233540878922.html
Google appoints female country manager for Nigeria – http://macjordangh.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/google-appoints-female-country-manager-for-nigeria/
REPORT: A New Era of Transformation in Ghana (IFPRI) – http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/rr171.pdf

Agriculture news:

Food for Thought – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704608504576208481176749062.html
RELATED: Vilsack: Jobs will be lost if ethanol subsidy ends – http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011104140339
Four lessons for transforming African agriculture – https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Public_Sector/Management/Four_lessons_for_transforming_African_agriculture_2785
Don’t plant rice, Japanese farmers told – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10718297
Women are central to feeding Africa – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13049176
RELATED: Teach a woman to farm (infographic) – http://www.farmingfirst.org/2011/04/teach-a-woman-to-farm/
Indonesia is all over this problem like white on rice – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703905404576164212551766804.html
Zoellick warns on food, oil prices – http://blogs.wsj.com/dispatch/2011/04/14/zoellick-warns-on-food-oil-prices/
Five reasons carbon markets won’t work for agriculture – http://iatp.typepad.com/thinkforward/2011/04/five-reasons-carbon-markets-wont-work-for-agriculture.html
African broadcasters trained in the ‘whole station approach’ – http://blog.farmradio.org/2011/04/african-broadcasters-trained-in-the-whole-station-approach-by-pauline-kalumikiza-program-officer-farm-radio-malawi/
An analysis on Malawi’s fertilizer subsidy program – http://www.eldis.org/go/display&type=Document&id=57990

Development thinking:

REPORT: World Development Report 2011 (World Bank) – http://wdr2011.worldbank.org/fulltext
RELATED: The economics of violence – http://www.economist.com/node/18558041?story_id=18558041
Core principles for aid providers – http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/apr/14/core-principles-aid-providers-relief-rights
Questions over Greg Mortenson’s stories – http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/15/60minutes/main20054397.shtml
RELATED: Mortenson under fire from ’60 Minutes’ – Bozeman philanthropist denies allegations – http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/article_4d3125cc-67d7-11e0-b861-001cc4c002e0.html
Reform School – http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/12/reform_school
BRIC wall – http://www.economist.com/node/18560195?story_id=18560195
*Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% – http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105
No Innovator’s dilemma here: In Praise of Failure – http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/04/in-praise-of-failure/
The ‘Business’ of International Aid – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704425804576220524034207558.html
COMMENTARY on above: The ‘Business’ of International Media – http://aidnography.blogspot.com/2011/04/business-of-international-media-what-if.html
Five stories from Africa – http://web.me.com/mmuspratt/mmuspratt.com/NOTES/Entries/2011/4/12_Five_stories_from_Africa.html
The ‘Top Think Tanks’ in the World – http://africasacountry.com/2011/04/13/the-top-think-tanks-in-the-world/
Is giving the greatest moral challenge of our time? – http://www.whydev.org/is-giving-the-greatest-moral-challenge-of-our-time/
Aid blogging matters (?) – http://talesfromethehood.com/2011/04/14/aid-blogging-matters/
Two years of giving all I can (consider giving to this GREAT site if you can spare some change for making change!) – http://goodintents.org/good-intentions-blog/two-years-of-giving-all-i-can
Cash transfers: what does the evidence say? (related to the DFID research paper I posted last week!) – http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=5042
*IRL (In Real Life) – http://kmonadollaraday.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/irl-in-real-life/
Lessons Learned: A Day Without Dignity – http://www.aviewfromthecave.com/2011/04/lessons-learned-day-without-dignity.html

Impact evaluation, behavioural economics & RCTs:
*Is Nudging really enough? – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703385404576259030599041442.html
When will we learn how to learn? – http://blogs.odi.org.uk/blogs/main/archive/2011/04/14/Ben_Ramalingam_knowledge_learning_impact_evaluation_evidence.aspx
Why most aid won’t be good aid – http://shortsentences.org/2011/04/why-most-aid-wont-be-good-aid/
Stuff you cannot randomize – http://blogs.worldbank.org/impactevaluations/stuff-you-cannot-randomize
Things I Like (and a contest!): More Than Good Intentions – http://www.aviewfromthecave.com/2011/04/things-i-like-and-contest-more-than.html
Dean Karlan’s new book: RCTs – this time it’s personal – http://blogs.worldbank.org/impactevaluations/dean-karlan-s-new-book-rcts-this-time-it-s-personal
Limitations of RCTs (Part 3): How context influences program execution – http://findwhatworks.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/limitations-of-rcts-part-3-how-context-influences-program-execution/

EWB blog posts:

Geneviève: What are we ready to cope with? – http://alittlegirlintheworld.blogspot.com/2011/04/what-are-we-ready-to-cope-with.html
Franck: Élections Fédérales: VOTEZ!! / 2011 ELECTIONS: VOTE NOW!! – http://franckvachon.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/elections-federales-votez/
Geneviève: Galerie de la souris mini – http://alittlegirlintheworld.blogspot.com/2011/04/galerie-de-la-souris-mini.html
Robin: Social Entrepreneurship: “the last thing a fish would ever notice would be water” – http://addictedtoimpact.blogspot.com/2011/04/social-entrepreneurship-last-thing-fish.html
Mike Klassen: Peaks and Valleys – http://doorwaytotheuniverse.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/peaks-and-valleys/
Untapped Markets: Is Zambia missing out on a windfall? – http://untappedmarkets.ca/2011/04/is-zambia-missing-out-on-a-windfall/
Franck: Argumentaire pour le vote stratégique – http://franckvachon.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/argumentaire-pour-le-vote-strategique/
Franck: Dépenses du G8: la verité avant les élections! – http://franckvachon.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/depenses-du-g8-la-verite-avant-les-elections/
Franck: G8 expenses: know before you vote! – http://franckvachon.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/g8-expenses-know-before-you-vote/
Franck: Condensé de nouvelles: élections fédérales 2011 – http://franckvachon.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/condense-de-nouvelles-elections-federales-2011/

And don’t forget our regular features:
Jo’s Zam-servations – http://zambiajo.wordpress.com/
Ben’s Friday Flims – http://theborrowedbicycle.ca/

Amusing and interesting things:

Distilling the wisdom of CEOs – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/business/17excerpt.html
Ethical businesses with a better bottom line – http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/ethical-businesses-with-a-better-bottom-line/
Royal Canadian Mint reveals special coins to commemorate royal wedding: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12993812
Gangster Fashion – http://africasacountry.com/2011/04/03/despot-fashion/
Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like (always a good joke!): Blogging to display their superior thinking – http://stuffexpataidworkerslike.com/2011/04/13/45-blogging-to-display-their-superior-thinking/


New tab: Publications!

I just added a new tab at the top of the blog entitled “Publications”. This is where I intend to share the various publications that our team is producing.

I just gave a presentation today at the AFAAS Symposium (African Forum on Agricultural Advisory Services) entitled “Innovations in Agricultural Advisory Services”. I’ve uploaded the presentation, so feel free to take a look and ask questions if you like!

I’ve also uploaded the two Briefing Papers our team wrote in January – one on business approaches in FBOs, one on leadership development in the public sector. Again, please take a look, ask questions, and give feedback!

I hope this will help me better articulate my work with you, my lovely blog readers. But let me know – feedback is always encouraged and welcome!


Development Digest – 09/04/11

Here’s your weekly development digest. Enjoy!

(Sorry, I didn’t have time to read any news articles this week, other than a few that were linked on Twitter – some of it might be out-of-date, and I know NOTHING about what’s happened in Canada this week. Still looking for a partner-in-crime to help with news – I’ll share all my resources, I just don’t have time to read!)

If you only have time to read 5 articles, read the ones with the *star*.

—–

Global news:

In Israel, time for peace offer may run out – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/world/middleeast/03mideast.html
Grameen founder Yunus loses final dismissal appeal – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12968349
Fresh clashes in restive Yemeni city – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/04/20114593648199344.html
Libyan rebels reject Gaddafi ‘peace’ overture – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/04/20114555816181123.html
Development aid reaches an historic high in 2010 – http://www.oecd.org/document/35/0,3746,en_21571361_44315115_47515235_1_1_1_1,00.html

Cote D’Ivoire news:

Ivory Coast: was it a massacre? – http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/andrewharding/2011/04/ivory_coast_was_it_a_massacre.html
The road to peace in Ivory Coast: or why did Outtarra turn to violence? – http://africaworksgpz.com/2011/04/03/the-road-to-peace-in-ivory-coast-or-why-did-outtarra-turn-to-violence/
Gbabo must go – and so should other African leaders who overstay –  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/03/ivory-coast-massacres-africa-un
UN moves to stop another bloodbath in Ivory Coast – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/un-moves-to-stop-another-bloodbath-in-ivory-coast-2262427.html
Outtara overshadowed by Ivory Cost killings – http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE73701F20110408?sp=true
*Nightmare in Abidjian: history in photos of the crisis – http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/07/nightmare_in_abidjan
Manufacturing Cote D’Ivoire’s ‘good guy’ – http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/04/201147101815313980.html

Agriculture news:

Delivering agricultural inputs in Tanzania – http://www.farmingfirst.org/2011/04/delivering-agricultural-inputs-in-tanzania/
Lack of policy programmes affect agriculture – AGRA – http://www.businessghana.com/portal/news/index.php?op=getNews&news_cat_id=1&id=143698
Urgent actions needed to prevent recurring food crises: IFPRI Policy Brief – http://www.farmingfirst.org/2011/04/urgent-actions-needed-to-prev/
Canadian Farm Radio Network informing Africans – http://blog.farmradio.org/2011/04/canadian-farm-radio-network-informing-africans/
RESOURCE: Food Security Aid Map – http://foodsecurity.ngoaidmap.org/
*More African countries seen growing GM crops – http://www.africanagricultureblog.com/2011/04/more-africa-countries-seen-growing-gm.html
RELATED: Gene-modification: more, better crops or imperiled food system? – http://www.africanagricultureblog.com/2011/04/gene-modification-more-better-crops-or.html
Opposition building to Great Green Wall – http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportId=92422

Development thinking:

Report: Impact and Aid Effectiveness: Mapping the Issues and their Consequences – http://www.ids.ac.uk/go/idspublication/impact-and-aid-effectiveness-mapping-the-issues-and-their-consequences
Five reasons I’m a fan of Cash on Delivery, and 5 ways to make it sharper – http://blogs.cgdev.org/globaldevelopment/2011/04/guest-post-five-reasons-i-am-a-fan-of-cash-on-delivery-and-five-ways-to-make-it-sharper.php
5 reasons to fail fast and cheap – http://www.marsdd.com/2011/04/08/5-reasons-to-fail-fast-and-cheap
How do Aid agencies deal with Wicked Problems? – http://aidontheedge.info/2011/04/05/how-do-aid-agencies-deal-with-wicked-problems/
Fordlandia: A development review – http://aidnography.blogspot.com/2011/04/fordlandia-development-review.html
*Limitations of RCTs Part 1: Politics and context – http://findwhatworks.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/limitations-of-rcts-politics-and-context/
Limitations of RCTs Part 2: How politics and context confound measurement – http://findwhatworks.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/limitations-of-rcts-politics-context-and-measurement/
*It’s good enough for me, but not good enough for you – http://kmonadollaraday.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/sharing-its-good-enough-for-me-but-not-good-enough-for-you/
Listening – http://kmonadollaraday.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/a-day-without-dignity-listening/
Ten steps for meaningful aid transparency – http://www.owen.org/blog/4486
A Day Without Dumbassery – http://talesfromethehood.com/2011/04/04/a-day-without-dumbassery/

EWB blog posts:

Franck: Un transport a l’Africaine, Part 2 – http://franckvachon.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/un-transport-a-lafricaine-part-2/
Franck: An update on Libya – http://franckvachon.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/an-update-on-libya/
Colleen: World of Water – http://www.whereintheworldiscolleen.com/archives/1471
Franck: A great case of revisionism – http://franckvachon.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/a-great-case-of-revisionism/
Marie-Claire: Histoires de sorcellerie- http://extraitsduburkina.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/histoires-de-sorcellerie/
Genevieve: Perspectives – http://alittlegirlintheworld.blogspot.com/2011/04/perspectives.html
Duncan: Development without Dignity – http://waterwellness.ca/2011/04/05/development-without-dignity/
Jordan: How to screw up Malawian greetings, and other joys of EWB field work – http://whatyoumightbemissing.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/how-to-screw-up-malawian-greetings-and-other-joys-of-ewb-field-work/
Don: Understanding Technology Adoption – http://impactnotintent.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/understanding-technology-adoption/
Jordan: Connecting with Africans… on the court – http://whatyoumightbemissing.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/connecting-with-africans/
Genevieve: How does it work? – http://alittlegirlintheworld.blogspot.com/2011/04/how-does-it-work.html
Mina: Life updates & photos – http://zikomoafrica.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/life-updates-photos/
Anthony: Tomorrow, we get back to work – http://www.investinpeople.ca/iip/780
Franck: The Passport Saga (Intro) – http://franckvachon.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/the-passport-saga-intro/
Untapped Markets: Improving Profit Margins, a story of failing, and learning – Part 1 – http://untappedmarkets.ca/2011/04/improving-profit-margins-a-story-of-failing-and-learning-part-1/
Part 2 – http://untappedmarkets.ca/2011/04/improving-profit-margins-a-story-of-failing-and-learning-part-2/

Untapped Markets also featured a number of APS posts for the Day Without Dignity Campaign (a response to TOMS shoes “Day without Shoes”).
Day Without Dignity entries – http://goodintents.org/in-kind-donations/a-day-without-dignity
Untapped Markets: Day Without Dignity (click through to see other APS entries) – http://untappedmarkets.ca/2011/04/a-day-without-dignity-duncan-mcnicholl/

And don’t forget our regular features:
Jo’s Zam-servations – http://zambiajo.wordpress.com/
Ben’s Friday Flims – http://theborrowedbicycle.ca/

*Ben has also been working on a series of posts about the MoFA team’s new Strategy Development process, specifically explaining the new Impact Model we’re using. Very interesting stuff, we’re looking for lots of feedback, so check it out – the first post of this series is at http://theborrowedbicycle.ca/2011/03/strategy-development-in-small-meal-sized-chunks/

Amusing and interesting things:

Twitter Rules – http://www.bethkanter.org/twitter-rules/
Green Jelly Beans and Subsamples – http://aidthoughts.org/?p=2309


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