Recommended reading for aspiring development practitioners

As aspiring development practitioners are thinking of what to read before they apply or enter degree programmes that will help get them dev jobs, I thought I’d suggest some accessible books. Shout out if you have any further suggestions!
1) King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild << Berkeley journalism lecturer demonstrates how blatantly development has been used as a facade for raping people of their resources (in this case residents of what is now known as the DRC)
2) Orientalism by Edward Said << late Columbia prof’s critique of 19th Century discourse on Asia and Africa. Still very relevant when you read things such as the  aspersions cast on Islam in The Idealist by Nina Munk. Also should keep the practitioner in check from ‘othering’ target groups
3) Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (fiction) << late Bard prof on  how unwanted changes in culture can be, forced or not
4) Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda by Peter Uvin << Amherst Dean notes how, because Rwanda was performing well on donor performance metrics, donors continued to fund the Rwandan government that was discriminating against and eventually committed genocide against Tutsis
5) Globalisation and Its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz << Former World Bank Chief Economist and Econ Nobel argues that wealth does not trickle-down of its own accord, and that E Asian economies benefitted by making an effort to distribute profits equally; the IMF’s “shock therapy” interventions (of the past) contributed to economic disasters
6) The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly << (haven’t yet read this myself), NYU prof and formerly at the World Bank
7) Creating a The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor by William Easterly (this is due to come out soon)
8) The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities of Our Time by Jeffery Sachs << Columbia University prof advocates increased aid to Africa, and talks about the Millenium Villages Project he was launching
9) The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty by Nina Munk << Vanity Fair journalist follows Jeff Sachs for 6 years and notes the Millenium Villages Project’s successes and failures, such as the slapdash approach to agriculture – not considering off-takers, route-to-market/cost of transportation,  domestic tastes (aversion to a particular grain), the local culture (of not selling camel) or the particularities of the environment (low water-table, prone to droughts – suitable at best for nomadic pastoral grazing, not regular arable output).
– Read this 2011 Guardian article by Michael Clemens and Gabriel Demombynes of the Center for Global Development and the World Bank respectively in which they say there is no way to assess the impact of these villages
10) It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistleblower by Michela Wrong << FT journalist notes how aid agencies, such as DfID and the World Bank, increased their direct budgetary aid to Kenya in spite of fresh evidence of rampant corruption – thus demonstrating aid agencies’ desperation for disbursing funds, no matter how inappropriate it is to do so
11) Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working, and How There is a Better Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo << Goldman Sachs economist advocates business for development, and increased ties with China
– Jeff Sachs’ Huffington Post response to Dead Aid – Aid Ironies, May 24, 2009
– Dambisa Moyo’s riposte – Aid Ironies, A Response to Jeffrey Sachs, May 26, 2009
– Jeff Sachs’ counter-response – Moyo’s Confused Attack on Aid for Africa, May 27, 2009
12) How to get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel by Mohsin Hamid (fiction) << humanises the hero that Moyo seeks – a village kid born into a level or two above the poorest, who accompanies his dad, a domestic cook,  to the city, and works hard to make it big. Only his education is subsidised. Loses his mother and sister prematurely due to conditions that could have been prevented had they had more money

Might also be useful to read the autobiographies of a couple of successful real entrepreneurs, who drive development in their own economies. I enjoyed Richard Branson and Michael Bloomberg’s
13) Freakanomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt << shows how econometrics can be used to identify cause and effect, and how microeconomic theory on incentives can predict behaviour in the real world. Two important chapters are on the affect of abortion on crime and also its broken window’s theory in explaining crime reduction
14) Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty by Muhammad Yunus << one of the founders of micro-finance and the 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate, explains how he started Grameen Bank as a lender to co-operatives of society’s poorest women in Bangladesh and got them to invest wisely and repay their loans
– Look up articles on the for-profit SKS Microfinance, a publicly-listed Indian microfinance institution, and how its usurious loans lead to the suicides of impoverished borrowers
– Look up academic literature critiquing microfinancet
– Wikipedia ‘randomised trials’ and ‘randomised impact evaluation’
– Look up the microfinance institutions Kiva and MicroVest Capital Management and see what makes them different
15) Creating a World without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus
This is Not Charity by Jonathan Rauch in The Atlantic Monthly, Oct 2007, on Ira Magaziner and Clinton’s initiative to help solve imperfections in the market to increase economic benefit for all
16) The Blue Sweater:  Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz << (haven’t yet read) – by the founder of the Acumen Fund on how traditional charity often fails, but how patient capital can help make people self-sufficient
17) Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen << Harvard prof & Econ Nobel notes that under the pressures of a vibrant media, democratically elected governments respond to disasters-in-the-making to ameliorate their effects
18) The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier << Oxford prof identifies common themes between the poorest countries, and a mix of policy prescriptions, including encouraging exports from developing countries, military interventions supporting democratic governments and concentrating aid in the most challenging environments

Friends’ recommendations:
– Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo
– Millions Saved: Proven Successes in Global Health by Ruth Levine and Molly Kinder
– Getting Better: Why Global Development is Succeeding and how We Can Improve the World Even More by Charles Kenny
– Just Give Money to the Poor: the Development Revolution from the Global South
– Let Their People Come: Breaking the Gridlock on Global Labor Mobility by Lant Pritchett
– Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures by Kenneth Cain and Heidi Postlewait


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Join 1,157 other followers

%d bloggers like this: