Global Development Institute Blog

Global Development Institute Blog

Critical visions of development from the Global Development Institute: Uniting the strengths of IDPM and BWPI.

Find out more
In Conversation: Dr Mercedes González de la Rocha and Prof Diana Mitlin

In Conversation: Dr Mercedes González de la Rocha and Prof Diana Mitlin

In this episode, Prof Diana Mitlin, Managing Director of GDI, and Dr Mercedes González de la Rocha, an anthropologist and sociologist at CIESAS and an alumna of the University of Manchester, discuss inequalities, clustered disadvantages, urban social isolation, why Dr González de la Rocha loves Immanuel Wallerstein’s definition of income. They also discuss Dr González de la Rocha’s research on poverty and vulnerability in Mexico, including the ten-year research project she led to evaluate the impact of Mexico’s conditional cash transfer programme Oportunidades (now called Prospera).

read more…
Staff Spotlight: Professor Phil Woodhouse

Staff Spotlight: Professor Phil Woodhouse

Phil Woodhouse is Professor of Environment and Development at GDI, and Director of the Rory and Elizabeth Brooks Doctoral College, and a Managing Editor of the Journal of Development Studies. He told us about his research, his science background, and of course GDI’s PhD researchers.


What is your research background?

I did a degree in Agricultural and Forest Science at Oxford, followed by a PhD in Soil Science at the University of Reading. After graduating, I went to Tanzania for a few months – partly because I just wanted to get out of England at the time – and then got a job in Mozambique working at the National Agronomy Research Institute as a soil scientist, assessing soil fertility problems in various parts of the country. I became interested in what stops farmers from being productive, trying to understand what the constraints were, specifically: (1) as a soil scientist, how to manage soils in such a way that you retain more water, for example, after intense rains that run off the surface without reaching the roots of the plants, and (2) whether the solution could come from diagnostic work of interdisciplinary teams of scientists. I joined the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) as a regional co-ordinator for a farming systems research project in Mozambique.

When I left Mozambique, I continued to look at similar issues initially focusing on Senegal, while based at the Open University, before I joined The University of Manchester in 1990. Since then I’ve been researching how farmers manage water in agriculture, and, since this is often an issue that demands management beyond the scale of an individual farm, the scope of collective action. This has led me into the social sciences: how do people organise, how do they get access to land, what are the land tenure rules, how do those rules change when people develop new technologies?

As the debates around agriculture and water have evolved over the years, the overall problem is still the same: how do you better manage water to improve productivity of farming, and what does that mean for the local communities and the benefits they receive? read more…

How are Digital Financial Services used by poor people in Bangladesh?

How are Digital Financial Services used by poor people in Bangladesh?

By Stuart Rutherford, Honorary Research Fellow at The Global Development Institute

In developing countries like Bangladesh, Digital Financial Services (DFS) usually refers to transactions made over the mobile phone, using variants of the system pioneered in Kenya by m-Pesa.

There is much optimism that DFS can revolutionise financial inclusion: for example, the incoming CEO of CGAP recently said that ‘what took banks over 100 years to do in Africa has been achieved by mobile operators in 10’. Others are far more cautious, pointing out that just having a mobile money account doesn’t mean someone is ‘financially included’ and that the range of services offered by DFS still falls short of the real needs of low-income people.

In this context, we looked at what the Hrishipara Daily Diaries show us about DFS use in central Bangladesh: read more…

Global Development Institute launches its brand new podcast

Global Development Institute launches its brand new podcast

The Global Development Institute (GDI) has launched a brand new podcast series bringing listeners the latest thinking, insight and debate in development studies. The series will feature lectures, seminars and workshops from across the Institute as well as discussions between world leading experts in development studies.

The first few episodes are online and include GDI Executive Director Prof David Hulme on his book, ‘Should Rich Nations Help the Poor?’ and Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) Dr Saleemul Huq on how the least developed countries are negotiating climate change with the UN.

Upcoming episodes will feature a lecture from Prof Richard Heeks on the move from ICT4D to ‘Digital Development’ and a conversation between Prof Diana Mitlin and Dr Mercedes González de la Rocha on urban development and inequalities.

If you have any topics or GDI academics you’d like to hear from then let us know!

You can subscribe to the podcast on

What factors affect the occurrence of crimes against women in India?

What factors affect the occurrence of crimes against women in India?

By Geetika Dang, Vani S. Kulkarni and Raghav Gaiha

One in three women throughout the world experience physical and/or sexual violence from a partner. In South Asia, the figure rises to nearly 40%.

In India, the incidence of serious crimes against women, including rape, kidnapping and abduction, dowry deaths, and cruelty by husbands and relatives, rose by about a third between 2001 and 2015, according to National Crime Records Bureau reports. Of the 313 crimes committed against women in India each day in 2015, around 30% were instances of rape (including the intent to rape).

Yet, the conviction rate for crimes against women is low, currently at 21%. The high and rising number of crimes committed against women combined with the fact that most of the perpetrators remain free, shows that women in India are very vulnerable to serious violent and sexual crime. However, the vulnerability of women varies enormously across states. read more…

Learning from local experts in Bangladesh

Learning from local experts in Bangladesh

by Anja Ruehlemann

While I was doing my Masters in International Development at The University of Manchester my mentor Dr Joanne Jordan not only triggered my passion for climate change topics, but also laid the path to one of my most memorable experiences. The Manchester-Dhaka exchange programme, recently established by Dr Jordan, gave me the exciting opportunity to explore a new culture and apply my theoretical knowledge at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in ‘disaster prone Bangladesh’. So, after finishing my dissertation on the impacts of culturally created vulnerabilities and perceptions on climate risks, I was ready to leave the comforts of Manchester to throw myself into a buzzing new world.

Truth be told, when I arrived in Dhaka I was exceptionally overwhelmed during my first few days; not just because my white skin drew a lot of attention, but I constantly jumped away from cars and rickshaws, nearly fell through huge holes in the pavement into the sewers, stumbled over goats on my way to work every morning and had to haggle down the ‘white skin tax’ while being soaked in my own sweat after hardly taking a step out of our guesthouse. What didn’t seem pleasant in the beginning became, however, a beloved new home where I was surrounded by the most welcoming people I have ever encountered.  read more…

Inspiring alumni give GDI students an insight into their success

Inspiring alumni give GDI students an insight into their success

Amelia Olvera De la O, MSc Public Policy and Management ‘17, Nayaret Inaipil Leal, MSc Public Policy and Management ‘17

On a warm Friday evening in May, we joined 130 of our fellow postgraduate students on fieldwork from the Global Development Institute at our hotel in Paris, France. We had gathered to meet two outstanding alumni of The University of Manchester and get career advice. Most of us were initially a little sceptical. Could two very successful men from different countries with very different pathways from most of us really give us relevant insights into how to succeed in our careers?

As the speakers introduced themselves, we got to know Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO and Mr. Christopher Sharrock, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the OECD, both now settled in Paris and remarkable members of the Manchester alumni network. Our initial thoughts quickly gave way as we listened in. read more…

Staff Spotlight: Dr Tom Gillespie

Staff Spotlight: Dr Tom Gillespie

Dr Tom Gillespie joined GDI in January 2017 as Lecturer in International Development, and holds a PhD from the University of Leeds. His research looks at urban development, and we chatted with him about how that research relates to global inequalities and his upcoming fieldwork in Accra, Ghana.

What does your research focus on?

I study global urban development. We live in an increasingly urban world, and this raises important questions about who and what cities are for. I’m interested in how people living in cities use urban space and how those uses become threatened as this same space becomes an increasingly valuable commodity and a target for speculative activities. I’m also interested in how city dwellers take collective action to defend their access to urban space. All of this relates to the question of whether cities are for people or for profit.

Why is urban development an important topic to research?

Rapid urbanisation around the world is raising pressing questions about how are we are going to house growing urban populations and provide them with decent work, sanitation, water, and so on. And this is often particularly challenging in the Global South, where, in some cases, urban growth is occurring without industrialisation. This means that when people move into cities, there may not be job opportunities for them. In addition, in many cities in the Global South both state and market have failed to provide low-income city dwellers with decent housing and basic services. It is increasingly important that we understand and get to grips with these issues as we now live in a world in which more people live in urban than rural areas.  read more…

Sign up for Global Development Institute mailing list

* = required field

powered by MailChimp!

Archive of posts

August 2017
« Jul    
%d bloggers like this: