Development research with impact
“One of the fundamental challenges facing development research today, is the assumption that economic growth is a good thing for long term poverty reduction,” says Professor Lawrence Haddad.
He was the key note speaker at the NORGLOBAL dissemination seminar 25 October.
Professor Haddad, Director of Institute of Development Studies in Sussex, suggests there should be more focus on how to generate growth that leads to poverty reduction.
“I have not seen enough research around that fundamental issue”.
Haddad’s experience is that development research can make an impact.
“I see lots of examples. Sometimes it can make an impact next year, sometimes in 20 years’ time. Even if we see an impact, we are a bit shy of claiming it,” he explains.
Haddad does work on nutrition in India, where 40 per cent of the children are still underweight, despite a GDP per capita increase of 53 % between 1993/94 to 2004/2005
“I see lot of research coming up on where to put the nutrition centers, who is eligible, which age group is to be targeted and on the need for resource staff in the centers. That type of research makes a difference in terms of helping the Indian government in planning their interventions. And those interventions have strong impact on children’s life,” he states.
More focus on rights in Scandinavia
When asked about the differences between development research in Scandinavia and in the UK, Haddad finds that the Scandinavian researchers tend to be more rights focused, more focused on governance and politics of development issues, than researchers in the UK.
“UK used to be good at that, but we tend to be quite obsessed with numbers and quantitative approaches. I think you more than us have a blend of qualitative and quantitative data.”
When it comes to funding of development research, Haddad emphasizes the importance of keeping a balance between those funding the research and those allocating the funding.
“Obviously one can get too close, where those funding development research are distorting the research process, which is all about enquiry and finding the truth. On the other hand, if you are too far apart, then the policy makers can’t be intelligent consumers of the research”.
Failed development assumptions
The theme for Haddad’s key note lecture was “What have the crises of the past 4 years told us about some of our core development assumptions”.
He explains how the strong belief that economic growth reduces poverty, and the belief that economics should be the dominant discipline in the policy discourse, have been increasingly challenged by even leading development economists.
Haddad emphasizes the need to integrate different perspectives from around the world in the political discourse, and to a larger extent integrate business, diplomacy, defense, religion and law in development research. He also called for more focus on poor people rather than just poor countries.
Norglobal Dissemination seminar 2011The NORGLOBAL dissemination seminar is a meeting place for ministries, researchers, and other stakeholders. The researchers are given the opportunity to present results from their ongoing research and to discuss future research. Dato:01.11.2011
Haddad says it is important to bring in new voices through media and blogs. He is an active blogger himself, and says that an increasing number of researchers in UK have their own blogs.
“We have to talk more to the policy makers and give them really good evidences. Media coverage and blogs are useful tools to reach out to a wider audience and to policy makers”.
More contact with researchers
22 NORGLOBAL projects were presented at the seminar. Representatives from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) summarized the dissemination sessions.
Bjørg Skotnes is policy director in Norad, and she stated that this seminar helps policy makers to establish closer contacts with the researchers.
“We have very high ambitions, we want to see change and we want to see it rapidly. But we don’t understand as much as we should about the local contexts, the institutions and the norms at the local, regional and national level. This seminar helps us to do that, and we have to be in regular contact with researchers in order to see results from our development policy”.
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