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Month: July 2017

July 7, 2017 (links edition #21)

Few topics (at least in my view) are as exciting as state formation: a new report presents South Sudan as an example to interrogate people’s perceptions of the state, asking what – if not service delivery – fosters state legitimacy. Relatedly, another paper looks at the linkages between taxation and social protection in Ethiopia (pointing to limited domestic resource mobilization capacity). By the way, talking of capacity, according to this blog capacity building in development need serious rethinking.

Two new systematic reviews in humanitarian contexts: one examines in-kind assistance in pastoralists areas, with a handy brief summarizing main results. Czuba et al. scanned about 25,000 publications, with only 25 meeting the review standards. These show that food assistance had both positive effects (asset protection, no dependency, decrease in malnutrition) and some less-positive ones (changes in mobility patterns, some erosion of livelihoods, and intra-community targeting controversies). A second systematic review takes on the complex theme of unaccompanied and separated children in humanitarian crises (with a brief here too). This provides a thoughtful reflection on issues like family tracing and reunification, interim care, child protection programs, mental health and psychosocial support.

Zuckerberg doubles-down un Universal Basic Income, this time being impressed by the widely studied Alaskan oil revenue dividend scheme.

More on (targeted) cash transfers: a new excellent edited volume by IDB’s Ibarrarán, Medellín, Regalia and Stampini provide a fresh look at CCTs in Latin America, including around a range of design, nuts and bolts features. Bonus: short Q&As by on Prospera’s co-responsibilities by Mexico’s Sedesol.

From hard to soft conditionalities: Hoddinott et al. just published the long-awaited Bangladesh study on the PLOS medical journal. The authors demonstrate the literally huge impacts of nutritional behavioral change communication measures. More on nutrition: how did Thailand halved its stunting rates? A case study identifies main lessons from the national integrated nutrition strategy.

In a newly-released UNICEF-Innocenti working paper, Pereira et al. present first-ever estimates on food insecurity among children (under age 15). Using FAO’s Food Insecurity Experience Scale in combination with Gallup data from 147 countries, the paper estimates that 605 million children are moderately food insecure, and 260 million are severely so.

A UNISDR report examines what can urban local governments do to make cities resilient. The stocktaking identifies seven types of authorities and capabilities to undertake 13 different risk and resilience-building activities. More on resilience: a shot blog reassesses the conceptual links between climate change and social protection, with an application to India.

Some materials on mobility and displacement: a report by WFP shows that a 1 percent increase in food insecurity was found to have increased migration by nearly 2 percent; a Brookings blog reflects on the state of IDPs; a Clemens at CGD reconciles different findings on effects of migrants on native workers (which remain small).

Last week I shared CGD’s new book on US food assistance: this week Barrett and Lentz set out recommendations for improving US food aid, namely eliminate cargo preferences and buy food locally.

In perhaps the shortest working paper I have ever seen, Arndt et al. argues that past poverty-growth elasticities provided potentially misleading estimates of poverty response to growth due to biased initial poverty levels.

There is growing empirical interest around the direction of structural transformation in Africa (e.g., it has been argued that the region is ‘urbanizing without industrializing’): a new JAE article sets out priority actions across the agricultural, non-farm and peri-urban space. Talking of urbanization, we know that over half of urban dwellers in Africa live in slums: a new piece in The Lancet provides an interesting review of the slums’ history, sociology, geography, and health conditions.

Final compilation: two notes discuss insurance in the Philippines – one on health and one on agriculture; the Millennium Villages are back in a new report on Ghana providing a bit of disappointing results; GIZ, OECD and ISSA are hosting a juicy workshop on the future of social protection next week, with agenda and links to materials are available here.