These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Corruption? The developing world has bigger problems
Few challenges in international development ignite as much passion as corruption. Perhaps ironically given the recent Panama Papers scandal, the UK government has encouraged the “zero tolerance” approach to corruption in international development. This approach may be the ideal, but an effective strategy for tackling corruption must acknowledge that it is a social and political problem, rather than purely a moral one. In March, we contributed to the UK parliament’s International Development Committee inquiry on tackling corruption overseas. In our evidence, we argued that corruption in the developing world is not the worst of all evils—and that it cannot be wiped out without collateral damage.
Time to let go: remaking humanitarian action for the modern era
The humanitarian sector is suffering a crisis of legitimacy. Despite a decade of system-wide reforms, the sector is failing to adapt to meet the needs of people in crises. As humanitarian emergencies become more frequent, more complex and last longer, the need for radical change is ever growing. Drawing on four years of research, this report argues that the humanitarian system needs to let go of some fundamental – but outdated – assumptions, structures and behaviours to respond effectively to modern day crises. It argues for a new model of humanitarian action, one that requires letting go of the current paradigm.
Violent groups aggravate government crackdowns on civil society
Academics, donors, journalists and political leaders are paying greater attention to intensifying governmental efforts to crack down on civil society organizations (CSOs) and constrain the space in which they operate. Freedom House, for example, has documented efforts to undermine political and civil liberties in a growing number of countries, causing a worldwide decline in freedom for the last ten years. Yet, in this struggle over the enabling environment for civil society, governments are not the only culprits. Armed non-state actors, criminal networks and violent extremist organizations are responsible for an alarming number of attacks against civil society—human rights defenders, bloggers and journalists, environmentalists, labor unionists and even social service delivery organizations—who advocate for values and policies that these groups reject. However, rather than using laws, regulations, caps on foreign funding, and complicated registration and reporting requirements—the preferred tactics of most governments—these armed actors often deploy brutal force against civil society.
Can insurance help the poorest cope with extreme weather?
Public Finance International
Zemada is a smallholder farmer who lives in the village of Abraha Atsbeha in Tigray, Ethiopia. Throughout her life, recurring droughts have left her and her four children teetering on the brink of chronic hunger. When one drought hit, she found herself in court, unable to pay back the small loan she had used to buy seed and fertiliser for her small plot of land. People like Zemada, who have played no part in causing the climate crisis, are now finding themselves on its frontlines. Smallholder farmers, pastoralists, and others whose livelihoods depend on predictable weather patterns are especially vulnerable. One failed crop can wipe out years of hard work and precipitate a descent into a vicious cycle of poverty.
How to meet SDG and climate goals: Eight lessons for scaling up development programs
Brookings Institution Future Development
To achieve the desired outcomes of the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the global targets from the Paris COP21 Climate Summit by 2030, governments will have to find ways to meet the top-down objectives with bottom-up approaches. A systematic focus on scaling up successful development interventions could serve to bridge this gap, or what’s been called the “missing middle.” However, the question remains how to actually address the challenge of scaling up.
One year after Nepal was devastated by an earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people and left a million more homeless, the situation on the ground is bleaker than ever. Anup Kaphle returned home to find a country that has been failed by its government — and ignored by the world.
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