Chris Blattman

Come hear another way we can fight Kony’s legacy

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There are two upcoming events in New York and DC. You are invited, provided you RSVP.

We’re finishing a 3-year study of a women’s economic recovery and empowerment program, run by AVSI Uganda with some of the areas and individuals most heavily hit by the 20 years of Kony’s war.

By experimentally cross-hatching different approaches to aid, we’re able to answer some important questions:

  • What are the returns to business skills training and capital among some of the world’s poorest women, and what does this tell us about humanitarian aid more broadly?
  • What are the social and psychological consequences of rising incomes and employment?
  • Does costly advising and monitoring by the NGO result in women making better investment decisions? Is it worth the cost?
  • Are unsupportive husbands a barrier to business success and empowerment, and what mitigates that risk? Programs that bind women into support groups?  Programs that include and empower the males as well?

The results are exciting and surprising. Please attend if you are in the area. I will present in New York event, where my wife Jeannie will also present results from a similar program in Burundi. My co-authors Eric Green and Julian Jamison are presenting our results in DC.

For those who cannot attend: We are writing up the results and will have something to share on the blog shortly. In the meantime, you can also see my studies on the impacts of the northern Ugandan war on youth people, and the effects of a post-conflict cash transfer programsex-combatant reintegration, and conflict resolution programs.

Now, the events:

New York, Friday March 23, 1:00-3:00 PM:
The International Rescue Committee, 122 East 42nd Street, New York
RSVP by email. Please include your name, organization and position.

Washington, Monday March 26, 4:30-6:30pm:
Johns Hopkins University SAIS, Room 500, Bernstein‐Offit Building 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
RSVP online. Please include your name, organization and position.

7 Responses

  1. I haven’t seen much research centering on the role of indigenous business people. These people are extremely important – the guy who imports a second lorry from Europe and uses it to transport goods under extremely arduous conditions in Congo DRC, will give you better insight as to what needs to be done to kick-start the local economy than a hundred villagers that have never left their villages.

    Africa really isn’t a research problem to be solved, I don’t think we have quite grasped that fact. If Dangote could create an Africa-wide cement empire at a time when most foreign manufacturers were pulling out of Africa, is there something Dangote knows, that we don’t and are we humble enough to admit it?

  2. Hey Maduka, I agree with you generally about American advocacy in developing countries, but I think that’s what things like these studies are trying to address. People are trying to come up with better ways to help countries help themselves. We legitimately need to care about the poor, but we need to learn what empowering looks like, over enabling. So I hear your angst, but I really think that these studies are more than a mathematical equation; they’re people taking a step back and looking at what hasn’t worked to shift their methods to what will work.

  3. I like what you guys are doing and I love the passion of the development world. However, sometimes I get the feeling that you guys think that Africa’s problems can be solved like some economics research problem or that academics have most of the answers to Africa’s most challenging developmental problems.

    One thing I have noticed is how little input there is from the business world. Occasionally, Western businesses send staff to “mentor” the locals, but the involvement of local businesses is extremely rare.

    Finally what exactly is “development”. Does development result from randomised trials, millennium villages and endless debates among academic economists. Or does it occur when people like Kenneth Nnebue in an attempt to sell empty VHS cassettes, shoots a film and in the process launches a $300 million a year local movie industry, employing thousands of people.

    Development is not some mathematical equation. You don’t just plug input values and expect a predictable output. There is something unexpected that comes from engaging with different people, from different cultures and with different competencies.

    Sadly, I feel you guys are not communicating sufficiently with the African people.

  4. Please do publish something on the blog! The east coast’s a bit too far for this Californian to go on such short notice, but this is a topic that seriously interests me. And not just for Uganda, but for other impoverished or war-torn countries we seek to aid. Having been overseas myself and seen how damaging our efforts can be, I’m excited to hear about new strategies!

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