What’s the link between land grabs, trade rules and climate change? Good new briefing from Sophia Murphy

You can rely on Sophia Murphy for crisp, credible analyses of agricultural trade and food issues. Her latest paper, Land Grabs and Fragile Food Systems, is up to her usual standard. She locates the current row over land grabs in some broader debates that have rather fallen off the agenda, namely globalization and trade rules. […]

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The state of Africa – report from a 23 country road trip (and I’m in South Africa for a couple of weeks)

I’m in South Africa this week, speaking at various events, including a panel on the developmental state and inequality at Wits in Johannesburg (Tuesday 12th), a book launch in Durban on Thursday 14th, a panel on active citizenship and food justice at the Sustainability Institute in Cape Town on Monday 18th and a lecture on […]

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What I’m up to – podcasts, videos, speaking in UK, South Africa, US

We interrupt this blog for a brief commercial….. Been doing a lot of multimedia ranting recently, and have FP2P promo tours coming up in South Africa and the US, as well as UK. Here’s what I know is out there. First up, I was subjected to a viva-like experience by Owen Barder, being grilled for […]

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Are you a Progressive? If so, what’s your footprint?

I get irritated sometimes when a nameless Oxfam colleague (and no, there aren’t any prizes for guessing) asks ‘yes, but are you/they left wing?’, to which I of course, respond ‘depends what you mean by ‘left wing’’ (I think he finds me pretty annoying too). So in an effort to improve on this rather un-nuanced […]

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If we can’t prove that speculation drives food prices, should we regulate it anyway?

One of my more wonk-mind-blowing moments last year was refereeing a debate about financial speculation and commodity prices between Oxfam’s Rob Nash and a UK Treasury wonk who wished to remain nameless. I couldn’t understand either of them (even by international development standards, the language is really weird – try ‘contango’ or ‘backwardation’).  I tried […]

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Community-based tourism in Ethiopia – aka where I’ve been for the last two weeks

Just got back from something of a busman’s holiday – two weeks in Ethiopia with my wife Cathy. The highlight was some community-based tourism, a magical four-day trek across the highlands near Lalibela. First the community bit. The trek consisted of daily walks, with the next village providing a donkey for the bags (v welcome […]

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Theory’s fine, but what about practice? Oxfam’s MEL chief on the evidence agenda

Two Oxfam responses to the evidence debate. First Jennie Richmond, (right) our results czarina (aka Head of Programme Performance and Accountability) wonders what it all means in for the daily grind of NGO MEL (monitoring, evaluation and learning). Tomorrow I attempt to wrap up. The results wonkwar of last week was compelling intellectual ping-pong. The […]

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Arab Spring v Muslim Tigers: what’s the connection between human development and revolution?

Just before the Arab Spring kicked off in early 2011, I was happily linking to some really interesting work by Dani Rodrik (one of my development heroes) on ‘muslim tigers’, pointing out that in terms of human development, the top 10 performers since 1970 were not the usual suspects (East Asia, Nordics) but Muslim countries […]

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Has Zimbabwe’s land reform actually been a success? A new book says yes.

I’ve never been to Zimbabwe, so tend to get my messages from the news coverage. On land issues, that means a picture of a predatory state driving white farmers off the land and handing it out to cronies and bogus war veterans, who fail to produce anything much in the way of crops. Zimbabwe Takes […]

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From pinstripes to poverty: a refugee banker’s first 100 days at Oxfam

Oxfam is always keen to employ unusual suspects, none more so than Will Martindale, a banker turned “do gooder” (right, and no, that isn’t his Oxfam desk). Here he reflects on his first 100 days working among the (supposed) angels. Banking. Most hate it. Few understand it. And I miss it. I miss the pace, the […]

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