There are 50 entries in this category.
Jun 02, 2010
It’s often discussed that philanthropy has a fad problem. Philanthropic attention tends to gravitate to the “new”, and even when these “hot” areas show success, they are infrequently carried to scale. In other cases, donors simply declare victory and move on, leaving programs that require on-going funding to spiral downward into failure.
Agriculture is one area that has been a victim of philanthropy fads. Investment poured into the sector during the 1960s and 1970s and yielded perhaps the greatest success in the history of global philanthropy: the green revolution. But the success of the green revolution in Asia led many funders to focus on other sectors, believing the problem was solved. As a result, investment in agriculture and agricultural research declined and progress on improved varieties of global staple crops slowed—and the green revolution never reached Africa.
Recently there has been some movement on this front. The Gates Foundation in particular has become vocal about agriculture in Africa in particular, initiating the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and bringing other funders on board.
But the neglect of the agricultural sector has exposed us all to a counter-revolution, a brown revolution.
May 31, 2010
Apr 15, 2010
The past few weeks have provided some insight into the impact of rigorous evaluation of philanthropic programs on charities, donors and policymakers. Unfortunately those insights show that we’ve still got a long ways to go if the goal is evidence-based philanthropy and policy.
Dec 21, 2009
Recently I was listening to Rory Stewart’s The Places In Between, the story of his walk across Afghanistan. Near the end of the book Stewart turns his attention to the aid agencies, public and private, that had come rushing into Afghanistan. His observations are worthwhile reading for anyone interested in making international aid more effective, so I’m excerpting them here.
Nov 16, 2009
Impatient optimists are like investors in subprime mortgages in 2007. They can be so blinded by the upside that they fail to do their due diligence. In the end, their impatience and pursuit of outsize returns fuels waste and disappointment. Patient optimists, by contrast, have lowered their expectations of any particular program or intervention, but not their belief in a better world over the long term. If we’re going to succeed in making the world a better place, we need to convince more people to lower their expectations, too.
Oct 28, 2009
This has been a banner year for gathering real evidence about microfinance. But does all of this research matter? Will it change what donors believe about microfinance? In other words, is microfinance more like autism or Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Oct 12, 2009
Today I saw a Kiva document that, for me, points to a far bigger problem with Kiva than those already pointed out. Two points in the document floored me. First, all losses from Kiva-securitized loans are borne by the Kiva user. Second, Kiva’s monthly repayment reports are not based on actual repayment data.
Jun 22, 2009
A year ago the global food crisis was front and center in international circles. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find the phrase appear at all. But the problems so evident last year have not been solved, they’ve mostly just been displaced from their position at the top of the crisis list. With the rapid spread of Ug99 wheat stem rust, we could be facing a food crisis soon that utterly dwarfs the last two years.
May 24, 2009
Some readers may think the report is fairly damning to the marketing claims of the impact of microfinance—more studies like this in other areas and over longer periods are necessary before we can reject the traditional views though. Ultimately, though, this study is very good news for microfinance because it begins to illuminate what is really happening among borrowers. That information, in turn, can be used to improve the product to make sure that the best products are offered to clients—and the impact of microfinance can improve.
Dec 03, 2008
A recent study of cell phone use by grain traders in Niger adds evidence that cell phones can have a strongly positive development impact by improving information flow in markets. As a result buyers see lower average prices, while sellers get higher average prices. Nokia’s introduction of a low cost handset and Internet service in India may be one of the most promising development initiatives, public or private, of the late 2000’s.