22 February 2012

The Best Debate of 2011 Went On and On and On

Just when you thought the only game in town was Bill Easterly and Jeffrey Sachs, in come a set of researchers who sparked a whole new debate with Sachs. There is no doubt that the most talked about and read aid debate this year centered around Sachs's Millennium Village Project (MVP).

It all stared in late 2010 when Michel Clemens and Gabriel Demombynes published a paper calling into question the rigor of the MVP. A rather quiet back and forth ensued between the researchers and the MVP camp that simmered to the point of scheduling an open debate. People anticipated the chance to see the two sides discuss the MVP in a public setting, but were let down when it was ultimately canceled. Ultimately, a debate between John McArthur and Gabriel Demombynes did take place.  A year after the release of the paper, Madeline Bunting of Guardian Development picked up on the debate by writing an article that veered a bit towards the questions raised by Clemens and Demombynes.

Jeffery Sachs is provided the opportunity to respond by the Guardian and sets off a series of posts by Michel Clemens, Lawrence Haddad, David McKenzie, Berk Ozler, Charity Ngilu, and many more (a rundown of the posts). It is still unresolved, but the flurry of posts and discussions pulled in many researchers and advocates.

The New Bottom Billion
Randomized Control Trials
#SWEDOW (Stuff We Don't Want)
Treatment as Prevention
The Millennium Village Project
Microloans vs Microsavings
100k Shirts
A debate that emerged this past year that has yet to reach its peak is that over RCTs. If I had to make a prediction, we will see it in the next edition of the ABBAs. The criticisms have been written, but have yet to grow into a rapid debate and buzz as seen in the MVP debate and 100k shirts last year.