13 June 2011

The Right and Wrong Maps of Africa: ODI vs Shoe Aid for Africa

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has put together a report based on a series of case studies called Mapping Progress: Evidence for a New Development Outlook (see special site here). In the report, ODI highlights how nations have been successful in addressing various poverty-related issues. The below chart is a representation of the nations studied and gives a rating of sorts to certain aspects of what is being done in the given country.
In addition, ODI notes the following commonalities that have 'driven progress.'
Smart Leadership - Pragmatic leaders that make tough decisions. In other words, they do what is right not what everyone wants or what benefits them politically.
Smart Policies - The usual suspects are here "long-term policy principles, which include sound macroeconomic management, an increasingly competitive market environment and investment in education, health and infrastructure."
Smart Institutions - Stronger, more responsive, less corrupt institutions and allow citizens to engage.
Smart Friends - Work well together, cooperate with multilateral orgs, and share knowledge. Of note, the section says, "International support has been most effective when the government has had a strong coordinating role and has linked donor support to coherent sectoral strategies"
My summaries are crude at best, but I have done so to highlight that the report affirms what is already known. It is why I added the 'ish' to my title. Yes, the report is new and very well done, but the conclusions are many of the same ones which have been shared for years. Development is complex, it takes cooperation, it requires reform and it is not going to be done with top-down interventions from outside actors.

If anything, this serves as a great development 101 report.  I would suggest anyone who is interested in learning about development from the side of finding what works to give this a read.  Those already reading about these issues will find the case studies interesting.

In complete contrast, this map of Africa from 'Shoe Aid for Africa' does just about everything wrong.  My only comments will be to note the pirate ship in the Horn of Africa and to say again that flooding existing markets can have negative consequences which can potentially do more harm that good.

HT Dave Algoso, Aid Thoughts, and Texas in Africa for the Map.