Chris Blattman

Poverty professionals and poverty

those of us, including me, who analyze poverty and discourse about poverty, seem to do rather well out of it.

That is Ravi Kanbur reflecting  on poverty professionals and poverty. His proposal:

each poverty professional should engage in an “exposure” to poverty (also known as “immersions”) every 12 to 18 months. I do not mean by this rural sector missions for aid agency officials, nor the running of training workshops by NGO staff. What I mean is well captured by Eyben (2004); these are exercises that “are designed for visitors to stay for a period of several days, living with their hosts as participants, as well as observers, in their daily lives. They are distinct from project monitoring or highly structured ‘red carpet’ trips when officials make brief visits to a village or an urban slum….”

I’m inclined to agree. As readers of my blog know, I also think the IFIs ought to halt business class tickets for staff.

Before leaping to comments I suggest you read the full account, where Ravi addresses some of the knee jerk responses.

Via Suvojit’s interesting blog.

8 Responses

  1. As a guy with long term health issues, this would chase me even further out of development. Maybe not a big deal, but I wanted to mention it.

  2. The ADB HQ is in Manila. Do you think ADB “behaves” any better than other IFIs? Sounds more like another cheap shot from Dani than a carefully considered recommendation. Dani, by the way, seems to being doing pretty well as another poverty professional who doesn’t live anywhere near Lagos or Jakarta.

  3. Agree completely. I’m reminded of Dani Rodrik’s recommendation for moving the head offices of the IMF and World Bank to respectively Lagos and Jakarta. He suggested this would have more of an impact on how these institutions behave than any other policy recommendation. (Though I probably got the countries wrong, it was quite some time ago…)

  4. A related point that I’d make is that (some) Peace Corps volunteers are among the few “poverty professionals” who actually undergo something approaching this kind of exposure or immersion experience over a sustained period of time. I think Peace Corps has a lot of problems and people make a number of legitimate arguments about whether it’s a program worth having, but I’ve always felt that as an educational experience for individuals who go on to work in development, it’s unmatched, undervalued, and way to often and too easily dismissed as somehow lesser than “real” development work.

Why We Fight - Book Cover
Subscribe to Blog