Thought of the day

My tango friends sent me an email that started with the following thought by J. Tarrant:

“Change itself is sudden; like harvest. It is preparing the ground that takes time.”
It’s oh so true and not just for tango…

They can’t steal what you share

Last Sunday I learnt this in a quite direct “slap in your face” kind of way. After returning from a nice outing to Baltimore with my family, we found that someone had entered the house through a (previously) blocked dog-flap, had had a good look around and left with an arm full of stuff (the amount of stuff he – she?? – took and left indicates one individual), including my laptop computer. No, I’m not good at making regular backups. But, just by the nature of my work (and my personality) I tend to collaborate, share, put stuff online before it’s a 150% polished product. And, guess what, you can’t steal the internet. At least our little neighborhood hoodlum can’t.

So everything I shared, I still have. Whatever I kept to myself, the thief got. I decided to see it philosophically – for what else can I do, after the fact.

Just because they can?!

Why do policy makers push for certain decisions? Together with a group of IFPRI researchers I work at better understanding how agricultural policy making processes in Malawi (and other African countries work) and how research results can play a bigger role in it. This question, how to bridge the gap between research and the rest of the world, has been bothering me for a while now. So instead of jumping into action, I actually sat down and brainstormed (in my own brain… what a storm) about the question what makes policy makers tick, what gets them to prefer a certain direction over another, what makes them push really hard for their solution. My very preliminary first list is this:

Why do actors push for specific directions?

* because of political negotiations, compromise
* because of voter pressure, public opinion
* because of media
* because of trusted advisor
* because of external shock: drought, market crash etc.
*because they can, because they personally benefit (abusive power)
* because of cultural norms
* because of past experience
* because of research findings
* because of general paradigm shift, “development fashion”
* because of donor priorities and funding.

(The order of the list signifies nothing) Any more ideas?