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El Niño vs El Tío: What’s Causing Food Insecurity in Southern Africa?

The UN’s World Food Program now estimates that some three million Zimbabweans, or roughly one-quarter of the population, may require food aid this year. Zimbabwe is suffering from erratic rainfall this year, blamed in large part on the El Niño weather phenomena. An estimated 70% of Zimbabweans rely on agriculture, so the impact on poverty and human welfare will no doubt be severe. But in reading about Zimbabwe’s current predicament, something struck me:  neighboring Zambia seems to have no urgent food aid requirements.

Why Is DfID Pushing Solar-Only When Africans Say They Want On-Grid Electricity?

Yesterday the UK government formally launched its much-awaited Energy Africa campaign, which aims to accelerate electricity access for rural Africans. In a surprise move, DfID’s new plans include only support for small-scale solar power solutions. Typically these systems provide just enough power for a LED light bulb or two and a cellphone charger (see here and here for a few DfID favorites).

The Political Paradox of Cash Transfers

Rigorous evaluations show giving poor people cash is a very effective policy. But polls show poor Tanzanians would rather have government services.

This is part II in our blog series about poll results from Tanzania on managing the country’s newfound natural gas wealth. Read part I on fuel subsidies and stay tuned for part III on transparency.

Guess Who’s (Not) Coming to Dinner? The Unrepresentative Statistics of White House State Dinners

Here at the Center for Global Development we’re concerned with how the practices of rich countries affect developing countries.  So with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff visiting President Obama this week, it’s a natural time to ask, who gets invited to White House State Dinners and who gets left out in the cold?  It turns out that Europe and Latin America get wined and dined, while Sub-Saharan Africa has gotten snubbed.  So, for that matter, has Southeast Asia.

US Energy Policy Hypocrisy vs. Global Energy Poverty

The Electrify Africa Act is back, re-vamped for 2015 and a new session of Congress. Representatives Royce, Engel, and Bass introduced the bill this week (the House passed an earlier version last year, but the Senate didn’t vote on corresponding legislation before the end of the last congressional session). It includes many important provisions that aim to help African countries extend access to electricity to at least 50 million people by 2020.

Talking about Tax Is Taxing: Pretending It Is Simple Will Hurt the Poor

Here’s an obvious truth: tax lost to trade misinvoicing in Africa does not equal tax lost to transfer mispricing by multinational corporations in Sierra Leone, which does not equal lost health-care spending. Unfortunately, a policy paper released on Tuesday by Oxfam makes exactly these equivalences. This sort of imprecision is widespread, and it’s not going to help the poor.

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