March 2014: Modernity, the MVP and the TPP

Promissory Notes on West Papua Policing and a New Zealand Aid Stakeholder Survey
First, thank you to those of you who got back to us with more information on the NZ aid funded West Papua policing project. We are hoping to work with colleagues to get something together on this over the next month.

Similarly, along with others we are still looking into a New Zealand aid stakeholders survey, and we’ll update you as that progresses.

More on the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership
Meanwhile, the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership continues to trundle along undemocratically, and continues to look (whenever we get to peek in) like a bad deal. VUW economist Geoff Bertram and Simon Terry of the Sustainability Council recently published an analysis and critique of the modelling used to justify the deal. You can read the paper here. You can read a news report based on it here.

Australian Parliamentary Inquiries on Aid Related Matters
The Australian Government is currently holding parliamentary inquiries in two aid-related areas. The first of these is “the challenges facing women and girls in the Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific region.” You can find out more about this here. The second is to do with the “role of the private sector in development”. You can find information on this here.

Both inquiries are calling for submissions, and if you are an Australian resident or citizen, this is your chance to have a say! [correction: you do not have to be an Australian to make a submission; the office in question has written to us to say that they welcome submissions from anyone, regardless of nationality and that “We are particularly interested in hearing about projects underway that support development and improve in the lives of women and children across the region.” They have also advised us we would be better referring to the subject matter as “aid and human rights related matters” rather than just aid. We are very happy to note these corrections.] Please consider contributing your insights as these are important subjects. And while we disagree with much of what the current government has done to aid in Australia, it does seem as if Minister Bishop is open to learning.

The closing date for submissions on the women and girls inquiry is 22 May. The closing date for the private sector inquiry is 8 May.

An Aid Worker Survey and Australian Aid Tales
Two other ways you can contribute your thoughts and experiences to the world of aid are:

1. By participating in this (large international) survey of aid workers
2. By helping out the Development Policy Centre, which is currently calling for people to provide them with their experiences working on Australian aid projects. If you have been involved in the delivery of Australian aid this is a great chance to help others learn from what you’ve learnt.

Reading, reading, reading…
In the other country currently wracked by aid turbulence the McLeod Group has published what looks to be a very interesting analysis of the road ahead for Canadian foreign policy amidst a changing world (the paper has a very interesting focus on civil society). Read it here.

Roger Riddell was a star turn at the recent Development Policy Centre’s Aid Policy Workshop. For those of you who didn’t get to see him in person you can read is conference paper “Does Foreign Aid Really Work? An Updated Assessment” here, and you can listen to his talk here (scroll down to you find him).

On the subject of star turns, Nina Munk puts on a remarkable one in the most recent issue of the podcast Development Drums. Munk is a journalist who followed, and subsequently wrote a book on, Jeffrey Sachs and the Millennium Villages Project. Despite not being from a development background, despite witnessing the MVP’s problems first hand, and despite seeing Sachs’ hubris writ large, she has emerged with a wonderfully nuanced and intelligent take on Sachs and aid more generally. Definitely worth a listen.

For those wanting some more aid reading, the the Asia and Pacific Policy Studies Journal has just published Stephen Howes’ paper “A framework for understanding aid effectiveness determinants, strategies and tradeoffs”. This is an excellent overview of critiques of aid and proposals for its reform. You should be able to download it via this link. (If you can’t email me and I’ll find a better link for you).

Not to be out-nerded, your own humble NZADDs admin scribe is a co-author of a paper just published in the Quarterly Journal of Political Science looking at the impact of U.S. aid for HIV on the popularity of the United States in recipient countries. Across the OECD politicians are currently preoccupied with extracting donor country benefits from the aid they give. In this paper we provide pretty good statistical evidence to show the U.S. benefited from its HIV-related aid in the best possible way: the aid helped people, who then felt more positively inclined to the United States. Surely this a better way of doing well from doing good than subsidising donor businesses? You can read the paper (ungated link) here.

And, on the subject of doing good, your same NZADDs Admin scribe has a (qualified) defence of development against its data-poor post-modern critics here.

Have a great month.