Newsletter: Rethinking capacity building | Inequality and aid | Dialling up data | Anyone for a Coke?

Rethinking capacity building: a ten-point reform agenda

Former World Bank Vice President for Asia and the Pacific, Jim Adams, takes a hard look at capacity building (in two posts, here and here). Despite the lack of success by aid-funded efforts in this area, Jim argues that this is simply too important an endeavour to give up on, but calls for a major rethink in the way donors and partner governments view capacity building. To get the discussion going, and given “a vacuum of new approaches”, Jim sets out his own ten suggestions for reform, based on longer time-frames, more selectivity and coordination, an end to poaching of government staff, and much more use of twinning, going beyond commercial arrangements.

These posts are taken from Jim Adams’ keynote address at the June 2015 PNG Update. More posts to follow in the coming weeks. The full address is available to download here [pdf], and you can also listen to a podcast of it here.

Economic inequality: not an issue for aid

Devpolicy Research Fellow Terence Wood bucks the orthodoxy to argue that aid workers shouldn’t be particularly worried about economic inequality. Most aid goes to countries that are poor rather than unequal, and in any case there are more important types of inequality than disparities in income – gender inequality, for example.

Dialling up data

In this post, Amanda Watson, a consultant and Visiting Fellow at the ANU School of International, Political and Strategic Studies, shares with us some of the lessons of her extensive experience with remote data collection in PNG, and advocates for much greater use of mobile phones for both monitoring and research. One of Amanda’s mobile research projects was presented at the PNG Update last month, which looked at the potential for using mobile phones to increase corruption reporting.

Anyone for a Coke?

In other parts of the world, donors have used partnered with Coke to deliver drugs. Should this be tried in the Pacific? Sam Byfield doesn’t think so, noting the potential moral hazards of such a deal, given the burden of non-communicable diseases in the Pacific.

Staff news

We will soon sadly be saying farewell to one of Devpolicy’s originals – Jonathan Pryke is set to commence a new role at the Lowy Institute next month, as a Melanesia Research Fellow.

Jonathan has been involved in nearly all aspects of the centre’s work in his four years with us as a Research Officer, from the aid conference, to the stakeholder survey, aid budget coverage, supervising interns, providing research support, and of course, editing the Devpolicy Blog. We all wish him the best in his well-deserved new role, and we hope he comes back to visit us regularly!

Research Officer Camilla Burkot has now taken on the editorship of the blog, with Stephen Howes remaining as co-editor. Thanks to Jonathan for his dedication to the blog since 2011, and a big welcome to Camilla in her new role.

In other staff news, we have recently welcomed our most recent Greg Taylor Scholar, Serena Sumanop. Serena has just completed her final semester of her Masters of Business at the Queensland University of Technology. Serena is working on family and sexual violence in PNG with Femili PNG.

Leveraging the benefits of Asia’s integration and growth for Pacific economies

How can Pacific island economies, including those of Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste, tap into projected growth in Asia? Two authors of a recent Asian Development Bank (ADB) book on this topic, Christopher Edmonds and Matthias Helble, will explore these issues at an event on Tuesday 21 July. Register here.

Upcoming events

Leveraging the benefits of Asia’s integration and growth for Pacific economies
Tuesday 21 July, Seminar Room 3, Crawford School. 2pm—3pm. Register here.

The fish is the friend of matriliny: reef density and matrilineal inheritance in Melanesia
Friday 31 July, Acton Theatre. 12.30pm—1.30pm. Register here.

2016 Australasian Aid Conference
10-11 February 2016. Call for papers open. Details here.

Blog highlights

China’s rise as an aid superpower

DFAT’s new health strategy

Australians and aid: more insights from the polls

On the blog

Capacity building: important but unsuccessful by Jim Adams

Capacity building: how to do better by Jim Adams

A welcome new commission on the measurement of global poverty by Scott Wisor

Should Australia partner with coke in the Pacific? By Sam Byfield

Why Australian aid cuts are harmful for Afghanistan by Nematullah Bizhan

China’s emergence as a development leader: a historical perspective by Patrick Kilby

DFAT’s new health strategy: a new approach? By Joel Negin

A finger on the pulse: new polls of Australian public opinion on aid by Camilla Burkot

Remote data collection in Papua New Guinea: an aid to policy deliberations by Amanda Watson

Should aid practitioners worry about economic inequality? By Terence Wood

In brief

Weekend links: Iran deal, catalytic aid, Chinese well-being, solar power, health subsidies, and the value of celebrities

More details on the Australian Volunteers cuts

New US government website ups the ante on aid transparency

Weekend links: Tehran, the nature of the state, industrialisation, inequality in Mexico, indicators, and effective altruism debated

Phase 1 of the 2015 aid stakeholder survey now live

This is the fortnightly newsletter of the Development Policy Centre at Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University, published every second Friday.

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