30 March 2014

The World Needs DFID. But DFID Also Needs the World.

Folks, this is my last post as IDS Director. The blog will move to IFPRI and I don't think you will notice the difference, save for the different background and disclaimers.

For my last post I thought I would summarise some thoughts on UK development assistance, some thoughts that I shared at a panel last week for my wonderful farewell event.

How does UK development policy need to change for the post 2015 world?

Next year is a big one for global development and for the UK. In September 2015 the new development goals will be unveiled and in May 2015 we will have a new Government in place, no matter who wins. So it is timely to ask: is UK development policy fit for purpose? I am proud of the UK’s development efforts, but I do have my worries about the future. 

First, I believe that an increasing proportion of the world’s problems will be solved collectively, for example, climate, trade, financial flows, drugs, firearms and tax. DFID’s bilateral programme is focused on 28 countries. This makes is very difficult to contribute to collective solutions via this route. One obvious way forward is to work through the multilaterals. The Multilateral Aid Review should give UK politicians some confidence that their money is contributing to things that support development, but a smaller and smaller proportion of the multilateral spend is going into the UN, the EC and even the World Bank. Instead it is increasingly going through Global Funds, which often are not set up to solve collective action issues. If collective action problems require DFID to work better multilaterally, they also require the UK’s contribution to go beyond DFID. However when this is tried (for example, Ed Davey’s Energy and Climate Change Department and their £15m grant to Colombian climate mitigation by reducing cattle flatulence) it does not exactly fly terribly well with those who are aid sceptics. There is almost a sense among some that if UK development spending is not focused on the 28, it is wasted. The UK needs to get better at being a leader on collective action issues—this will benefit the 28, the rest, and the UK. 

Second, I am worried about the UK’s engagement with the international development assistance (IDA) “graduates”, those countries that have GDP per capita above the $1195. The economic growth of many of these countries disguises the fact that very large proportions of their populations remain extremely poor.  Seventy percent of the world’s poor live in middle or low middle income countries. How can the UK support them? The DFID focus seems to be almost exclusively on helping these countries focus on economic growth and jobs, with side benefits for the UK’s own trading interests. Nothing wrong with that. However the lack of nuance in this growth focus is somewhat alarming. The World Bank’s World Development Report on jobs tells us that some jobs are development promoting and some clearly are not. We also know that some economic growth delivers what we want--poverty reduction, health improvements, wellbeing--while some does not. Why does this matter? Well the UK is squarely behind the World Bank’s Zero Poverty goals (getting $1.25 a day poverty down to 5% or so). But the World Bank’s optimism on this is derived from analysis that assumes the average growth rates of the past 10 years will persist in the next 15—but in every country! This proviso is wildly unrealistic. As work by Richard Bluhm has shown the only chance we have of getting anywhere close to zero poverty, even if average growth rates are maintained, is by improving equity. We actually have a pretty good idea about what to do on equity, but we also have a pretty good idea about how difficult that is in a political sense. But this is an issue for UK leadership. The quantity of growth only matters if the quality is above a certain threshold. And reducing inequality is a big part of growth’s quality. The UK has been very silent on this issue. It needs to step up to the plate and be a leader if it has any hope of seeing extreme poverty rates continue to decline at current rates.

Finally, UK development assistance has to get a better balance of accountability and flexibility. I don’t know a single person who has said to me in the past couple of years “DFID is getting easier to work with”. The transactions costs are mind numbing and resource consuming. They have been put in place to demonstrate value for money. We all want value for money. I’m a UK taxpayer too. But when, by the very nature of the work, it is easier to track the money than the value, the focus will be too much on the former and not enough on the latter. This can lead to strange investments, where cost control is wonderful but value is not interrogated. The other side of this is that only really large partners can afford to engage with DFID. This is a problem because creative ideas often come from the smaller groups and organisations. These creative ideas are needed more than ever in the world of collective action, fragile contexts and persistent poverty in middle-income countries. The recent appointment of a Head of Procurement within DFID in response to the recent Independent Commission for Aid Impact review (pdf) is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done.

Wherever I travel it is easy to see that the UK Government’s development efforts are held in very high regard. That is a massive credit to David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and the rest. But if our leaders want the UK to stay at the top of the tree, DFID and other UK development agencies need to start showing more leadership on collective action problems, on worrying more about the quality of growth and inequality and on reducing the costs of engaging while still relentlessly focusing on accountability. Fit for purpose? Yes, but creaking. The world still needs DFID. But DFID also needs the world.

21 March 2014

Richard Longhurst: It's time for the UK to learn lessons on development from "developing" countries

Here is a guest blog from Richard Longhurst, a ResearchAssociate of IDS. We know the old model of "you have the problems, we have the solutions" is dead. We all have problems, increasingly common and collective, and we all have solutions, increasingly from outside the West. Richard outlines some of the issues where the potential for cross learning is high. 

His intervention is timely, not just because of the recent floods in the UK, but because of a recent series of articles in Prospect on Poverty in Britain, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. There is a nice introductory essay by AC Grayling on "What is Poverty?" and interestingly he finds he cannot talk about poverty in the UK without referring to poverty elsewhere--he says there is a moral connection within and across nations. The difficult truth is that it is very difficult to get any such comparative work done because of how research funding is divided up in the UK and elsewhere: developing and developed. Time to tear down these artificial walls and learn, learn, learn. 

Time for the UK to learn some lessons on "development"?

By Richard Longhurst

There has been a great deal of speculation recently in some parts of the media about whether the UK international aid budget might be better spent on flood recovery here in the UK rather than be sent abroad.  

But the historic UK flooding disaster has opened up another and perhaps more helpful argument about the use of our aid budget, raised by several commentators, including George Monbiot for one. This is: Wouldn’t it be sensible to try and apply some of the technical advice and support we provide for poorer countries, right here in our own back yard? Certainly the Prime Minister’s recent assertion of ‘money is no object in the relief phase’ must have struck a chord with many development professionals involved with water management and disaster risk reduction projects overseas for which significant rates of return on the original investment can be achieved. 

This general concept of ‘Development in Britain: Lessons from the Developing World’ is not new. Here at IDS these arguments were initiated in the 1970s with an IDS Bulletin co-edited by Richard Jolly and Robin Luckham, (See Britain: A Case for Development? IDS Bulletin 9.2, 1977). As we move towards the Institute’s 50th birthday in 2016, which will inevitably entail quite a bit of reflection on a changing world, we hope to vigorously pursue these ideas once again.

Why is it that so many people think that ideas and actions can only flow from richer countries to poorer ones? Why do no formal mechanisms exist to channel ideas and programmes that have worked in low resource contexts to higher resource areas, despite much anecdotal evidence about ‘what works’. Surely with so many ‘Diaspora’ communities in the UK there must be a lot of informal sharing of experiences. As we approach the end of the current MDG framework and a new settlement is developed that will hopefully recognise the end of the traditional North to South development paradigm, surely it is time to reverse the flow of appropriate development innovations?

We want to raise questions in sectors such as governance (decentralisation in particular), health, education, social protection and livelihoods and science and technology. For example, can the lessons of conditional cash transfers be applied to the UK welfare programme? The development of food banks in richer countries could learn from experience in developing countries. In early childhood development, what can Sure Start learn from experiences in Latin America and Asia? The small-scale credit model from Bangladesh has been trialled in the US. Finally, from this list, the use of mobile phone technology has galvanised communities in developing countries in ways that we could learn from in the UK.

In IDS we are starting to draw together some of these experiences. This is a huge topic and there may be organisations interested in working with us. So do keep an eye on the IDS website as our work on this topic progresses.

Audio podcast: India's malnutrition puzzles

Here is an audio podcast of my lecture on India's malnutrition puzzles. (Prakash Shetty, right, was the chair).  About 45 minutes.

Slides also there.

Sound quality not great, so turn up the volume if you want to listen.  For enthusiasts.  

17 March 2014

Tony Benn: Outspoken, Principled and Too Easily Ignored

Last week Tony Benn died.  He was  the longest serving MP in the history of the Labour Party.

For those who don't know him, to give you a sense of the man, when he left the House of Commons in 2001 after more than 50 years as an MP he said it was to "devote more time to politics" -- a terrific riposte to the politicians who leave Parliament, usually in disgrace, to "devote more time to their families" or perhaps it was a condemnation of the UK parliamentary system which he felt was too focused on spin and not enough on the issues. More great quotes here.

He was also a keen diarist (he would surely have been a blogger) and I recommend the 1991-2001 edition in particular.

I've been catching a lot of commentary about him on the radio talk shows as I drive the kids to school and back.  He clearly divided people.  On the one hand:  "A toff who doesn't speak for working class people like me." and "His failure to help Labour towards the centre ground let in politicians like Margaret Thatcher." On the other: "A politician who spoke his mind and upheld his convictions" and "one of the most charismatic and wide ranging thinkers in politics".

Back in 2006 we invited him to IDS to be interviewed by Natasha Kaplinsky as one of our 40th Anniversary celebrations (above picture).  He was a great internationalist, never a Little Britain type.  It is no coincidence that one of his sons, Hilary, was the Secretary of State for International Development (a good one at that).

I have always admired him, not necessarily for his politics (I share some of his views, but he was too radical for me) but for his convictions.  And of course for his mischievous sense of humour.  When, in 2003, the newspapers reported his "platonic" relationship with Natasha Kaplinsky (daughter of one of IDS' most famous Fellows, Raphie Kaplinsky) and 40 years Benn's junior, he wrote a tongue in cheek letter to the newspaper saying he was outraged at the article assuming the relationship was platonic.

I do think his unwillingness to compromise was a shame.   Preserving principles while compromising to make deals--can anyone do that?  Not easy, but I wished he had tried a bit harder.  I would have loved to have seen him wield some real power.  He was too easy to ignore, and that was a great pity.

14 March 2014

The ICN2: So far, too food focused

The ICN2 (the second International Conference on Nutrition--the first was in 1992) is currently holding a public web based consultation on the zero draft of the political outcome document that will emerge from the Conference.  

The ICN2 website says:

"The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) is an inclusive high level inter-governmental meeting on nutrition. It is jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), in cooperation with the High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis (HLTF), IFAD, IFPRI, UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank, WFP and the WTO. The ICN2 will be the first global intergovernmental conference to addressing the world’s nutrition problems in the 2lst century. Its overall goal is to improve diets and raise levels of nutrition through policies that more effectively address today's major nutrition challenges. It also aims to enhance international cooperation on these challenges"

My comments:

1. The Zero Draft kicks off by saying "malnutrition poses one of the greatest threat to people’s health and well-being". 

This is true, but it also poses a severe threat to their livelihoods and their ability to escape poverty as well as the economic growth of their nations. This should be stated very clearly up front.

2. Soon after the Draft says we: "recognize that the causes of malnutrition are complex and multidimensional, while food availability, affordability and accessibility remain key determinants."  

So this frames the Draft around food, which is puzzling given that food is just one of 3 sets of underlying factors and one of 2 sets of immediate factors driving bad nutrition. If the focus is to be food (and there may be good reasons) tell us why.  

3. Then it says "Together with inadequate physical activity, dietary risk factors account for almost 10% of the global burden of disease and disability."  

This feels a bit underwhelming, and does it really tally with the data? The table below is from the Lim et. al. GBD paper in the Lancet last year and suggests more than 10% (you can't just add up the risk factors because many of them are co-determined, but a diet low in fruits alone is over 4% of the burden of disease measured by DALYs). (The colours relate to different diseases.)

4. This takes us to points 9-20 in the Draft, "Reshaping the Food System to Improve People's Nutrition."  

This section goes like this. Food systems should focus on quality as well as quantity (paras 9 -11); Food and nutrition require multisectorality, but seen through a food perspective (paras 12-13); consumers need to be protected (para 14) as do people with special needs who are particularly vulnerable (the poorest, pre and antenatal maternal health, child health, school feeding, para 15); development assistance should support nutrition enhancing initiatives at national level (para 16); government leadership is key (paras 17 and 18), civil society, data and accountability are vital for holding governments to account on what they do as well as on outcomes (paras 19-20).

There are a few nods to nutrition outside of food systems, but not much.  

5. Committing to action. Para 21 starts out by recognising the need for a framework for "collective commitment, action and results is needed to reshape the global food system to improve people’s nutrition, particularly that of women and children" and then has 7 action points that are all food systems based. Para 22 says that there will be a Decade of Action on Nutrition guided by this framework and para 23 says it should be integrated into post 2015 global development efforts.

None of the action points relate to anything other than food systems.  


Overall, this would be a superb manifesto for FAO, but as a International Conference on Nutrition it is unbalanced.  It is too food focused. We do need to know how we can make the food system deliver more for nutrition, but we also need to know how to make family planning, social protection, health systems, water and sanitation provision, education, poverty reduction and governance more nutrition sensitive.  

If you feel the same (or not), please comment on the web forum, there is one week to go (March 21).

10 March 2014

Global Nutrition Report: Status update and call for nominations to the Independent Expert Group

One of the commitments made at the Nutrition for Growth Summit last year was the publication of a Global Nutrition Report to maintain momentum in nutrition efforts and further build support and commitment. The draft outline of the proposed Global Report is here, with comments still open until March 21.

A Stakeholder Group has now been established to guide the process of producing such a Report, co-chaired by the Governments of the UK and Malawi. IDS has been helping the stakeholder group flesh out the outline of what such a report should aim to do and how it might be produced. 

The Stakeholder Group is now calling for nominations to the "Independent Expert Group". The Independent Expert Group (IEG) will be held accountable for the independence of the Report and will vouch for the quality of the data, will develop the narrative around the data, and be held accountable for the quality of the Report and the process that produces it. 

Nominations for the IEG should be submitted to Andrew Pollard (a-pollard@dfid.gov.uk) at DFID by 21 March 2014.

Requirements for the IEG
The Independent Expert Group will be held accountable for the independence and quality of the report. The Group will:
  • Need to have a diverse range of skills and perspectives, small enough to function - preferably 12-14 members. Half the members from countries where undernutrition rates are high, half from other countries;
  • Be supported by a small but dedicated Secretariat located in IFPRI (in the first instance for the 2014 report);
  • Have two Co-Chairs, with as much balance between them as possible in terms of skills, perspectives and positions;
  • Have members who need to be as independent as possible (signing a public disclosure of any conflict of interest) and expert in some attribute required to produce the report: 5 will lead on data quality working, 1-2 on data access, 6-7 on data analysis. All members will be responsible for data narrative and will delegate writing to 4-person team to include both co-chairs. All members of the IEG will be collectively accountable for the quality and independence of Report;
  • Will have internal and External Validation: The Stakeholder Group, external technical reviewers (outside IEG) and stakeholders outside the SG will have the opportunity to review and comment on Report outline and drafts. Subject to concerns around media reporting, documents will be made as widely available as possible for comment – learning from the model established by the Committee on Food Security’s High Level Panel of Experts;
  • Will work very collaboratively with the Stakeholder Group.

06 March 2014

The Double Burden of Malnutrition in SE Asia and Pacific: An Opportunity for Australian Leadership

I was in Australia last week, reporting on a review IDS and Monash University did for the Government on the Double Burden of Nutrition in the region (summary powerpoints here). Here is my report out, which is also featured in the terrific Development Policy Blog run by Stephen Howes' Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University.  

The saying goes “when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today, the weight becomes more than anyone can bear”.  This is precisely the situation the countries of South East Asia and the Pacific are facing today.  They already have some of the highest undernutrition rates in the world and now they are having to deal with premature death, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease due to another variant of malnutrition—diets high in fat, sugar and salt—often associated with the consumption of highly processed foods--and physical inactivity.`  

Welcome to the Double Burden of Malnutrition.  It is a world where stunted infants can, within the space of a couple of years, become overweight children. Where obese adults and stunted infants are part of the same nuclear family. Where money for expensive treatments for diseases like diabetes is being diverted away from inexpensive measures to prevent stunting, such as breastfeeding promotion and micronutrient supplementation.  

Unchecked Malnutrition will thwart Economic Ambitions.  The countries of South East Asia and the Pacific have had the least time to deal with this problem. Most other countries have had more time to deal with undernutrition before its twin, overnutrition, emerges.  Not in this region.  Indonesia, the regional power, is particularly worrying.  Good economic growth, some successes in poverty reduction, yet stunting rates that are flatlining at very high levels, with high and increasing rates of overweight at the adult, and most worryingly, childhood levels.   How on earth will Indonesia and the other countries in the region fulfil their economic aspirations?  High quality longitudinal evidence confirms that the adult wage rates of young infants who were not stunted at 3 years of age was nearly 50% higher than those who were stunted.  And these individuals were 33% less likely to live in poverty.  That is just for undernutrition.  Overnutrition costs are a time bomb waiting to happen.  In the USA 1 in 5 health dollars is spent in treating diabetes.  The USA has 22 million people suffering from diabetes, Indonesia has 7 million—imagine what the treatment costs would do to the Indonesian public health budget and the livelihoods of low income Indonesians.

Regional Leadership for the Global Good.  The double burden – one sandbag filling up fast while the other is emptying at a trickle—has hit South East Asia and the Pacific fast.  Like a slow moving never ending typhoon it will wreck human infrastructure.  Here is a clear opportunity for Australia to be a leader of a regional effort to combat this juggernaut of a problem.  Everyone else is hoping it will go away.  Well, it won’t.  But while the double burden may have landed in this region most rapidly, it will not stop here—other regions such as South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa will feel its full force in 5-15 years.  Leadership by the region will be a massive contribution to other parts of the global community.  The world will beat a path to the region’s door for strategies and solutions. 

A New Age of International Development and Cooperation.  A regional initiative to tackle the double burden would herald the new age of international development that we have all talked about for so long.  Gone would be the “us and them” mentality—you have the problems—we have the solutions.  This is a burden carried by Australia too—diabetes, hypertension and heart disease are massive problems in the region’s richest nation.  Dealing with it would be a collective effort—one of mutual self-interest.  Gone would be the “just spend aid money on it” mentality—this is an issue that requires the full range of public policy instruments are brought to bear.   We are talking about tweaking policies, not spending lots of new money: plant breeders focusing on raising yields of fruits and vegetables; social safety nets that promote healthy eating; schools that teach students about healthy growth and the importance of physical activity; community health workers that know about over as well as undernutrition and how they are linked; incentives for the private sector to further develop markets for inexpensive healthy foods; food labels that help rather than hinder consumers to exercise personal responsibility and protectionism that leaves healthy foods out of the trade wars.

Nutrition—the bridge between economic and human development.  Australia is the chair of the G20 in 2014.  As such it has a platform to inspire the world.  The recent announcement of the goal of an extra 2% economic growth over current projections is a good start.  What about Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s (pictured) other priority, human development?  Well, dealing with malnutrition in its various forms provides the perfect bridge between economic growth and human development.  A bridge that shows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Australian political leaders care about people as well as economies, about human development as well as economic development, and about child growth as well as economic growth. 

Leaders in Hope.  Australia has a real opportunity to be the leader of a collective movement that deals with the region’s burdens of today and tomorrow.  It will have developed the innovative policies, together with the accompanying evidence base, that everyone outside the region will look to emulate.  Most importantly, it will have given the rest of the world hope. Hope that there are answers to the double burden. Hope for a healthier workforce.  Hope for a world in which countries can come together and solve problems that affect them all.  Hope that that burdens of today and tomorrow can be borne. Together. 

03 March 2014

Eyes to the future: Why we need a Scholarship Fund

A guest blog post by Anna Shepherd, IDS Partnership Fundraising Manager

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela 

How true this is.

And we all know how much there is in the world that needs to be changed for the better. For every action that must take place – to eradicate poverty, to tackle injustice, to promote respect and equality – there must be a sound underlying theory and strategy, a logical and evidence-based rationale that will win over any doubters and ensure sustainability.

IDS research and teaching provides the underpinning for development theory and action. Our international Alumni go forward equipped to engage with global issues, to make those changes and to go on to teach others.

We receive many applications for our prestigious development masters programmes and requests for PhD supervision. But in too many instances talented men and women are unable to take up their well deserved offer of a place due to financial constraints. This situation produces a class and geographical imbalance amongst our students and unfairly curtails talent and commitment. It is something that our Alumni, students and staff recognise and often identify with – many of us did not get where we are today without a helping hand. (I myself went to university with 2 small children and my PhD was only made possible by substantial support from a well-known medical charity.)

So who are these students who need our support? Let me give you two of many examples:

Twice, a young woman who works in advocacy and support for sex workers in South Africa has applied to IDS and twice she has been accepted. Her NGO work involves striving for human rights, and supporting policy, legal and other interventions; a masters from IDS would both strengthen and inform the important on-the-ground work that she does day in and day out. On each occasion she has tried valiantly to raise the necessary money for her tuition and living costs, only to fail to secure the full amount needed.

Another gifted young man from Pakistan was the fortunate recipient of a fees only scholarship from an outside agency, but this first class candidate had his visa refused by the British High Commission as he was unable to raise the money to make up the difference between the scholarship he had been granted and the full amount required to cover his maintenance. He is from a family that is not well off and lost his father as a young child. As a local government worker, his salary is simply not enough.

The loss of such talent, of the opportunity to educate and collaborate with strategically placed men and women who can make a difference in some of the most challenging corners of the globe, is a loss to us all and to our collective future.  

This is why we have the IDS Scholarship Fund. It is the right to education, the striving for betterment of the individual and of society that has impassioned all of us here at IDS, not least our director, Lawrence Haddad, who has recently requested that any tokens of respect and admiration being considered for his imminent departure, be translated into donations to the IDS Scholarship Fund.

Join us. Make a real difference. To one. To many.

01 March 2014

How do you write about development research for a fashion magazine?

I'm not sure if I have an answer to the above question, but when I was asked by Absolute to write an article about the kinds of research IDS does and make it relevant to your average fashion magazine reader it was a challenge I could not refuse. So here it is. The text is below and the link to the magazine is here (the article is on the back inside cover--you have to flip through the magazine to get to it). I figured I would appeal to issues that were also relevant in Brighton and so I focused on land, drugs, sex, tax and hunger. It was easier to write than I thought. Whether any of the Absolute readers read it and what they made of it I have no idea. (By the way the interview with singer Peter Andre, Brighton resident, is perhaps even more fun than my article. Perhaps.)

Absolute Article

"OK, so what does international development have to do with your average Absolute reader? Never mind that, what is “international development” and why is it interesting? 

I’m writing this article to try to pique your interest in what my organization, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), is completely passionate about: ending global poverty. How can a research organization do that? It’s simple, we do the analysis that drives people like Oxfam, Save the Children and the Government’s overseas development programme, UKAID. 

Let’s start with tax and move on to land, food, drugs and sex. 

Tax. You’ve probably heard about the “Robin Hood Tax”—the idea of taxing financial flows at very low rates to help tackle poverty here and abroad. Well, IDS research showed that what we really need is a Panic Tax, something that taxes the speed of financial flows, a bit like a resistor that regulates the flow of electricity. We found that it is not the only the size of the flows that contributed to the financial crash of 2007-8, but the speed of the flows. So a tax to discourage panic buying and selling of stocks and shares can stabilize markets and raise funds for those who are the worst hit by financial turbulence, hence a Panic Tax (catchier than Keep Calm and Carry On, don’t you think?). 

Land. You may also have heard about “Land Grabs” – the buying up of thousands of square miles of land in Africa and elsewhere by wealthy countries and companies to secure supply chains. Many say this is terrible—it’s ripping off poor countries, while many say it’s a windfall investment that wouldn't happen otherwise.  Our research shows that the facts fall somewhere in between. If the government is weak or lacks integrity, ordinary people will suffer from the Land Grab. Where the government is responsible and responsive, they probably will benefit. 

Food. Did you hear about the big NGO IF campaign last year and the concert in Hyde Park? That was all about global hunger and malnutrition. One in 3 kids on our planet are malnourished. Do you remember the tragic case of Hamza Khan from last year? He was the child whose mummified body was found under a pile of rubbish in his cot. He was 5 and yet he was found in jumpsuit for an 18 month old toddler. He was starved, not taken to the doctor and not cared for. There are 170 million of these kids in the world. But unlike Hamza, their parents can’t afford to take care of their kids and their governments don’t recognize the problem. Our research helps to give these kids a voice in the world of decision makers. We are working with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, one of the largest in the UK to advise them on how to spend $700 million over the next 7 years in turning this situation around.  

Drugs. Sadly, as residents of Brighton and Hove, we are all too familiar with the problems of drug addiction and abuse. The big debate in drug enforcement is whether to reduce demand, reduce supply or decriminalize the non-class A drugs. But did you know that the drug control policies often don’t work to reduce supply and even worse, they make poverty worse by ruining fields, damaging roads and markets, and sowing fear and distrust in previously closely knit communities.  

Sex. As a final example of the work we do, think about sexuality. Go on. The Winter Olympics is shining a light on sexual rights in Russia. But our research on the legislation that denies lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender individual their rights shows how pervasive the fear of difference is. All over the world, those in power attempt to legitimize this denial of rights it by encoding it in law in countries as diverse as India, South Africa, Thailand and Uganda.

Sex, drugs, land, food and taxes. IDS does research on the fundamental human issues that matter to people all over the world.  We do the research that fuels the legislation, the policy initiatives the charities and the media attention that can make positive change happen. That is international development. But it is also relevant to development in Brighton and the UK. When food prices shoot up, children in poor families suffer the most.  When banks default, tax rates increase. When drug enforcement is destructive it risks fuelling the problem.  When land is bought without due process we all feel disempowered. When our friends are beaten up for being different we all die a little. 

But shouldn't the money from UKAID be spent on these issues here in the UK? It’s a valid question and one that is difficult to answer in value for money terms. It’s better to answer it in terms of values. How do we want to be seen in the world? If a pound can buy a months supply of vitamins for a baby in Bangladesh or a bag of Haribos in Brighton, where is that money best spent? These are not easy questions. There are no easy answers. The UK government says it is willing to spend slightly more than half a penny in the pound on it. It doesn't feel like much to make a big difference to the lives of millions of people in the wider world--and in the process help us to solve problems closer to home."