If you only read one thing this week…

Cattle and Conflict by Anna
June 30, 2011, 2:19 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Mercy Corps has just released an assessment report looking at the relationship between cattle raiding and economic development in the Karamoja region of Uganda. The assessment found that economic interests are the primary drivers of cattle raiding, that most raids are conducted by youth for their own personal gain, and that cattle raiding is becoming increasingly commercialized and sophisticated. In addition, the assessment identified a number of systemic market weaknesses that can be addressed in order to provide viable economic opportunities and reduce incentives for raiding. In line with the World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report on conflict, security, and development, Mercy Corps argues for an integrated approach that addresses both poverty and conflict incrementally and in tandem. The report concludes with recommendations for integrating economic development and peacebuilding programming in Karamoja.


What do rising food prices mean for world politics? by Anna
June 29, 2011, 1:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In March 2011, food prices were at an all-time high and had been climbing steadily for 8 months running. We all know that for the world’s 2 billion poorest people – who spend 50- 70% of their income on food – the likely consequence is going from eating two meals a day to eating only once. But what do rising prices mean for world politics?

In this Foreign Policy article , Lester Brown shows how rising demand (219,000 more people to feed every night due to population growth, and 3 billion people with enough income now to increase demand for meat), and limited production gains (with more grain than ever going to bio-fuels, and crop yields leveling off as farmers max out gains from green revolution technologies) are combining to place new and extreme strain on the global food system. The result is what he calls “food nationalism” – where rich countries compete for grain imports against poorer countries, and grabs for land, for water and for food replace an international food system that has for decades been characterized by cooperation. Brown shows quite clearly how the price of grain is already tied to the price of oil, and how conflict within and between states over land, food and water is likely now a permanent feature of global geopolitics.

Where is it most dangerous to be a woman? by Anna
June 20, 2011, 2:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

TrustLaw has just put out an article on countries where women are the most at risk. TrustLaw is an organization that provides legal aid and information on women’s rights. They polled more than 200 international gender experts on general perception of danger and six other issues – health threats, discrimination, cultural and religious norms, sexual violence, nonsexual violence, and trafficking. TrustLaw determined that women were at the most risk in the following five countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Congo, and Somalia.

As a BBC article on the study noted, “ the survey shows that ‘hidden dangers’ like a lack of education or terrible access to healthcare are as deadly, if not more so, than physical dangers like rape and murder which usually grab the headlines,” Monique Villa, chief executive of Thomson-Reuters Foundation, said.”

The methodology for this study is not highly rigorous and there is better quality data from other sources; however, it is helpful food for thought based on the opinions of professionals in the field. For an overview click here.

Why does being (organizationally) healthy matter? by Anna
June 17, 2011, 1:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

McKinsey just published an interesting article  in their quarterly newsletter, based around a new book, Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage  by Keller and Klein (Wiley, June 2011). The book talked to 600,000 employees at 500 companies globally and found a strong correlation between the organizational health of an organization and it’s growth. They then further tested the hypothesis using a control group. The findings are discussed as well as an interesting table that looks at both performance and health imperatives.  While based on examples in the private sector I think they have some strong connections to our work in relief and development. You have to register to get the full article but it’s free and quick to do.

ALNAP’s new study on humanitarian leadership by Nick
June 9, 2011, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Articles, If you have 30 mins, Management

The Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (yes, that’s really what they are called) has just released the most recent in a series of reports on the state of the humanitarian system. This one focuses on leadership in humanitarian operations, and features several interesting case studies of successful leadership as well as a sobering survey of humanitarian workers, most of whom, according to the study, believe that a lack of effective leadership presents the main challenge to effective humanitarian action today.

Decide for yourself here. Full PDF here.

Thanks to Ruth Allen for bringing this one to our attention.