Politics, Private Sector Aid, Fair Trade, and DevNet – August 2014

Given just how acute New Zealand’s own governance issues have been revealed to be in the last few weeks, it feels distracting to focus on international development and the woes of other countries. Yet — in addition to having written to the World Bank imploring them to send TA in the direction of our government (ideally in the form of ethicists) — we have some goodies for you.

The Social Dimensions of Inequality in the Pacific
In the lead up to next month’s Small Islands Developing States conference in Apia, Associate Professor Yvonne Underhill-Sem has written an NZADDs commentary on social inequality in the Pacific.

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Does fair trade really work? Who will pay for Shane Jones’ work? and blogging on NZ aid

NZADDs Devpolicy Blog Series
We have some great new additions to the NZADDs/Devpolicy blog series on New Zealand aid and development policy: Gerard Prinsen writes on New Zealand aid to Africa, Pip Bennett on the need for gender mainstreaming, and Luke Craven about carefully considering how to maximise the benefits of seasonal migration on sending communities. You can access these posts, and the earlier ones in the series from this page. Keep watching, as we have more great blogs to come.

Does fair trade really work?
A friend of NZADDs got in touch in the wake of the last update, asking about the recent SOAS study on the impact of Fairtrade on farm workers in parts of Africa. Reporting the results of the study the Guardian had claimed that: “Sales of Fairtrade-certified products from Uganda and Ethiopia are not benefiting poor farmworkers as profits fail to trickle down to much of the workforce, says a groundbreaking study.”

What is one to make of this? Should we conclude Fairtrade does no good?

The short answer is no: such conclusions are not justified on the basis of the study.

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Aid Budget 2014/15

The budget delivered in Wellington last week contained no major surprises for aid. We’ve had a National Party government for nearly six years, and those years have already proven lean ones for aid. This year’s budget does not change that.

As it is budgeted, New Zealand’s aid spend for the coming financial year is effectively identical to this year’s. Although starting July 2015 (which is the first year of a new three year spending tranche) aid is – as Figure 1 below shows – forecast to rise in nominal terms.

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May 2014: aid indices, reading, and condolences

Last week a team of Australian academics and development practitioners launched The Pacific Index, an endeavour — modelled on the Center for Global Development’s Commitment to Development Index — which attempts to measure and rank the extent to which the countries of the OECD contribute to development outcomes in the Pacific. Each OECD country’s score on the index is a combination of measures of its contributions to global public goods (such as attempting to tackle climate change) and its more direct contributions to the Pacific (particularly its level of trade with the Pacific, the number of migrants from the Pacific it is home to, and the quality and quantity of aid it gives to the region). Gathering data of this sort is hard work, and the dataset alone will be useful when it is released, so the team involved deserve to be congratulated for what they’ve achieved.

A two page summary of the index is here, while a somewhat longer report is here. Media reports on the index are here and here. As you can see from looking at the results chart on page 2 of the report, New Zealand ranks highest on the combined index, which in part reflects our very commendable efforts in areas such as migration and our Pacific focus as a country more generally.

New Zealand also scores higher than any other country on the individual aid component of the index. While technical details on the formulas which drive the index scores have not been released, I exchanged emails with one of the authors of the index over the week. From what he was able to tell me I think it would be a mistake to conclude the index suggests New Zealand’s gives better quality aid to the Pacific than other donors do.
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Aiding police brutality in West Papua? economists arguing theology, and something to do help you help the world

Welcome to another NZADDs update.

Aid and Police Violence
First up, if you haven’t already seen it, the New Zealand Herald has two very interesting reports on allegations of Indonesian police violence in West Papua.

The significance for those of us interested in New Zealand aid is captured in the first paragraphs of one of them:

“A New Zealand police training project about to start in the troubled Indonesian territory of West Papua this year has been described by Papuans as “the same as sending money to kill us”.

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