Pablo Yanguas

Political Analysis & Aid Effectiveness

Tag: Foreign aid (page 1 of 4)

Book project: Why We Lie About Aid

(And The Messy Truth About Promoting Development)

It is now official: I am writing a book under contract with a publisher. Until the end of the year I will be posting updates and excerpts as I write it. But I can start today with the initial pitch:

Donor publics have been misled about the nature of development: for decades they have been told that it is about charity and technical fixes, when in fact it is as much about fights as our own policy-making is at home. Aid practitioners work in a world of struggles for reform, but they are forced to misrepresent and obfuscate the reality of development in order to comply with very restrictive and selective interpretations of principles like accountability, transparency, ownership or harmonisation. That is the dysfunctional aid system that we in donor countries have built, and then shackled with a discourse that mistakes short-term results for long-term transformation. A different approach is possible, and indeed has been quietly applied by innovative development practitioners around the world who provide political coverage for reformers or build coalitions that open up spaces for change. With real stories from aid practitioners in Britain, the US, Spain, Uganda, Honduras, Nigeria, Liberia, Rwanda and Ghana, this book explains what lies behind the much-criticized pathologies of aid, and challenges us to have a more honest conversation about development assistance.

La cooperación española en la nueva encuesta sobre influencia y utilidad de donantes

La organización AidData ha publicado una encuesta de líderes y responsables públicos en países receptores de ayuda en la que se les pregunta si consideran que los donantes con los que trabajan son útiles, sirven de ayuda, o influyen sobre la agenda de desarrollo. El documento final está disponible online. Varios investigadores del Center for Global Development han decidido revisar los resultados en base al número de respuestas recibidos (por ejemplo, Luxemburgo aparece como el cuarto donante más útil, pero este resultado se basa solamente en 18 respuestas de un total de 6.731 participantes). Esta es una de las tablas revisadas por el CGD:

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Barriers to Political Analysis in Aid Bureaucracies

WD2015

Is foreign aid more like Batman or Catwoman?

Recently I have been renewing my fondness for the DC Comics universe, with such pop culture mainstays like Superman or Batman. There is some excitement among online nerds for upcoming films like Batman v. Superman or Suicide Squad, but DC and Warner Bros. have also been good at stimulating my reptilian brain with addictive free-to-play games like Injustice (mobile) and DC Universe Online (pc), or with the solid storytelling of the the Arkham series. It turns out that making super-powered metahumans kick the crap out of each other is the perfect corrective to a day’s work reading and writing about foreign aid and political science. As usual, however, when I am in writing mode my mind makes strange leaps to justify a connection between work and fun. Here’s the latest one: I will argue – in a totally unscientific manner – that the international development community can reflect on its own potential and shortcomings through the lens of super-powered humans. Let me tell you how it works. Continue reading

Revuelo en 3500 Millones

Esta semana ha aparecido en 3500 Millones un post mío que parece haber causado un poco de revuelo en la comunidad de cooperación al desarrollo en España. El argumento original era sobre especialistas vs generalistas; pero inevitablemente una de las interpretaciones ha sido funcionarios vs profesionales (un campo de minas en el que ya me adentraré más adelante). Entre las respuestas más ofendidas se cuenta una persona que decidió que mi idea era que solamente se trabajase en cooperación si se tiene un doctorado: se nota que no conoce a muchos académicos, que apenas pueden hacer funcionar sus propios departamentos! Y tampoco sabe lo cómodo que se está analizando desde fuera, en lugar de tener que lograr resultados en el mundo real. En fin: debate generado, misión cumplida.

Respecto al modelo británico como panacea… Tampoco hay que glorificar a nadie. Aunque por un lado acaban de aprobar una ley para cumplir el 0,7% en cooperación, y por otro son capaces de reírse de sí mismos así:

Development is Good, Politics is Bad, Governance is Hard

[Originally posted on the ESID blog.]

These days I am reading psychologist Daniel Kahneman‘s book Thinking, Fast and Slow (2012), in which he outlines two aspects of our brains which determine how we process information, associate ideas and solve problems. Kahneman speaks of two systems: System 1, which is quick, intuitive, and effortless; andSystem 2, which is slow, analytical, and costly.

The first chunk of the book is devoted to the interaction between these two systems, and in particular how System 1 is prone to bias by jumping to unwarranted conclusions on the basis of what’s familiar or sounds right, even without us consciously realising what we are doing; System 2 can then jump in to check our intuitions against facts and avoid logical mistakes, but doing so requires willpower and freedom from disruptive stimuli (we all have a limited budget for effort, be it mental, emotional or physical).

As I read the book, I started wondering whether the proponents of political analysis in aid agencies could learn something from the interaction between these two systems in our brains. Continue reading

“Investigadores por una cooperación de calidad” (post en 3500 Millones)

¿Puede la investigación ayudar a la cooperación al desarrollo? Más importante aún, ¿pueden las agencias y profesionales internalizar las implicaciones de los proyectos de investigación? Estas son las preguntas que me hago cada día como investigador en un centro sobre política de desarrollo basado en la Universidad de Manchester pero financiado por el Ministerio para el Desarrollo Internacional del Gobierno del Reino Unido. …

Sigue leyendo mi post en el blog 3500 Millones (y sígueles en Twitter).

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