28 March 2012

Development in the real world

The March/April edition of Foreign Policy is the "The War Issue" where most of the articles are on, erm, war.

What is striking is that there is no reference to international development in any of the pieces (note to Susan Glasser).

The most interesting article was about Patrick Ball "a statistician who has spent his life lifting the fog of war". Accurate data are one of the big casualties of war, we know. But this article is interesting because Ball argues that, yes, we need true data and accurate numbers, but we also need representative numbers--whether the data accurately reflect events--and we focus too much on the former and not the latter. We need to know more about what we don't know. We need to link more what happens in a database with what happens in the real world.

We got a glimpse last week of what happens in the real world of war and conflict through ICAI's report on DFID's work in Afghanistan (pdf). DFID overall gets an Amber/Red ("the programme meets some of the criteria for effectiveness and value for money but is not performing well. Significant improvements should be made"). Most of the report focuses on leakage (a fuzzy word which can cover inaccurate targeting of resources, inefficient distribution, diversion into other activities, legal or otherwise). It is very good that the report is hard hitting, but it would have been good to have the impact discussion go beyond leakage.

My colleagues Jeremy Allouche and Jeremy Lind are leading some work on how do and should development and security combine in contexts that are fragile, conflictual and violent. A couple of weeks ago they organised a workshop on this subject. I prepared the table here to help me situate my thinking in this area. I share it with you not because I think it is so wonderful, but because it struck me that most of us probably operate in-or think in--only one of the cells in the table--the very upper right cell--non fragile contexts and developmental states.

Of course much of the real world is in the other cells.
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richard jolly said...

Dear Lawrence, To some of us, shifting from war thinking to development is best achieved by a paradigm shift - to human security. On Monday in Leeds, I gave the Olav Palme lecture on Human Security, which is to be found here.


Best, Richard

Liny Suharlim said...

The article and "self-confessed" part is refreshing.

One of my reason in studying at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) carrying my personal interest and passion in conflict related development was that I intent to look at development in and post conflict situation from different angle. Rather than the approach of the usual conflict analysis, post war reconstruction, stabilisation, etc.

However, I am struggling with my ideology and plan here. I have tremendous support to pursue my interest through different lenses offered within IDS, but finding guidance and support, is another story. (to be fair, it's not the quality, it's the scarcity of their time..)

Constantly writing about conflict related papers in every course that I took; I believe that your reflection on focus mostly on “the very upper right cell” is quite apparent at my beloved institute (for now…).

I am writing this comment in the middle of a break in trying to write about (transformative) social protection in conflict-affected situation. I have been warned from the beginning that the course that I found very useful and interesting, will not be talking about conflict specific situation, but here I am, even more stubbornly believe that this transformative concept, introduced by IDS, in fact, a MUST in a conflict-affected situation. I found that is an irony…and a potential..

Lawrence Haddad said...

Hi Lily, yes, I agree--not enough of IDS is working outside of the top right hand cell... (developmental state, non-frragile context)

Great that you are applying the transformative SP work to conflict affected states... you will inspire us!

I have long though that the SP, conflict and climate communities go together much better than the 3 silos would care to admit...