Is access to justice for poor communities really so risky for British business interests?

April 8, 2014 by

justiceimagesIn 2011 and 2012 the UK Government submitted official briefings to the US Supreme Court in relation to two high profile legal cases alleging corporate involvement in grave human rights abuses in the Niger Delta and Papua New Guinea.

These briefings questioned the right of the affected communities to use the US Courts to bring cases against Shell and Rio Tinto respectively. On 7 April the Guardian reported on the backstory to this decision, including the links between Shell and Rio Tinto and the Foreign Office’s official intervention in relation to these US Court cases.

The article is based on documents drawn from the CORE corporate responsibility coalition’s freedom of information requests.

They raise key questions about how and why the Government chose to prioritize what it saw as business interests in the Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum & Shell case.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ensuring an Energy Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) delivers for poor people and the planet

March 25, 2014 by



Collecting water from a solar-based purification system supplied by
CAFOD. Chila Union, Mongla District, Bangladesh.

In late February, discussions over the post-2015 development agenda reached a milestone. The co-Chairs of the Open Working Group (OWG), the body tasked with preparing a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposal for consideration by the UN General Assembly in September 2014, issued a “Focus Areas Document”.

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The Chronic Poverty Report and post-2015: matching policy with people’s lives

March 19, 2014 by

Last week the ‘Chronic Poverty Report 2014-2015: The road to zero extreme poverty’ was launched. The report has an eye towards the post-2015 agenda and the global development framework that will follow the MDGs, suggesting a goal and targets to take extreme poverty to a minimum. I’m going to reflect on the Chronic Poverty Report (CPR) based on CAFOD’s participatory research how change happens in the lives of some of the poorest people in Bolivia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and the Philippines.

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COMPASS 2015: a faith perspective

March 12, 2014 by

CAFOD’s participatory research project, COMPASS 2015, engages with the perspectives of poor and marginalised people and communities as a resource for formulating development policy after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015. The research involved 1,420 participants from 56 different communities in four countries – Philippines, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Bolivia – and guides CAFOD’s policy priorities in the global debate.

But what does this mean from a Catholic perspective?

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Helping Developing Economies Grow: the UK Government Approach

March 10, 2014 by

By Geoffrey Chongo: Head of Programmes, Jesuit Centre for Theology Reflection


The last week of February has been an eventful week for me. I have had a rare privilege of participating in a trade out of poverty event in Parliament, an event that was graced by the Minister of State for International Development, Mr. Alan Duncan. My role in the event was to give a Zambian perspective as a response to the UK’s new approach of supporting developing countries’ economic development agenda.

The UK’s new focus on economic growth through private sector development is welcome. Like they have rightly put it, economic growth is an important means of raising people’s incomes and reducing poverty in the developing world – it creates jobs and opportunities for poor people to support their families and build more stable futures. However, I hasten to say that from my experience, the manner of this growth will determine whether it will raise incomes and reduce poverty in an equitable way. Growth alone is not sufficient to reduce poverty unless it is guided so that it is inclusive. Otherwise it creates other concerns like income inequality.

UK Government should therefore ensure that the growth it supports is inclusive by way of including small businesses, where most poor people work, in its growth approach. Small businesses should be consulted on the support that the UK Government intends to give to private sector development so as to incorporate their needs.

It is also important to note that small businesses in developing countries particularly Zambia have developed entrepreneurial mindsets and thus any support given to them is not likely to be treated as aid simply for consumption but for applying in their small businesses. Reflecting on the blog comments on the article that we wrote on how to achieve pro-poor economic development it is evident that the role of small businesses in equitable economic development cannot be ignored. Small businesses’ challenges need to be addressed if they have to be helped out of poverty.

It was interesting to see Government agreeing to an open discussion on a very important government policy. It is my hope that CAFOD will continue to work in this area to effectively influence government policies as they relate to the poor.

What’s missing from the data revolution? People.

February 10, 2014 by

This blog was originally posted on the data revolution series:

I find the post-2015 data debate both fascinating and disappointing, failing as it does in one key area.

It’s ignoring power.  

The UN High Level Panel report on the post-2015 development agenda confirmed that the data revolution is high on the political agenda by including it as one of their five transformational shifts. Since then, the conversation has snowballed, with some heavy weights adding their support.

Will these participants from a ground level be heard in the data revolultion?

Will these participants from a ground level be heard in the data revolultion?

Read the rest of this entry »

What 2014 might bring for 2015 and beyond

January 30, 2014 by

[Dowload graphic]

The New Year brings new plans for the way forward, which will hopefully lead to a post-2015 development framework being agreed in September 2015.

At the 7th Open Working Group (OWG) session on SDGs in January, the co-chairs suggested a process forward which you can also find outlined in their letter from 17 January. It will be discussed and probably even agreed in an additional meeting on 4 February. Here a little overview of the suggested next steps:

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Shame of belly politics in county governments taxation and budgeting

January 30, 2014 by

Prior to Ghana’s independence; Kwame Nkrumah, the young Pan-Africanist would chant “Seek ye first the political kingdom and all things shall be added onto you.” Kenyans just got political kingdoms at county level.
On-going county revenue collection and budgeting processes should be giving us good news of ‘creative local development’ processes. In sober societies local governance has better understanding of local priorities than national governments. Our paradox is that of misplaced priorities.

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Trademark Southern Africa – what could be done differently?

December 18, 2013 by

Paul Spray


By Paul Spray (Traidcraft) with inputs from Sarah Montgomery (CAFOD)

Paul is the Director of Policy and Programmes at Traidcraft. CAFOD and Traidcraft have been working together for a number of years on the aid for trade and small business agenda (see the footnotes below). It is great to welcome Paul as a guest

This month, DFID for the first time cancelled a programme as a result of a review by the government’s Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI). It was a flagship programme called Trademark Southern Africa, whose purpose was “to improve southern Africa’s trade performance and competitiveness for the benefit of poor women and men”.

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When Public information is like Father Christmas!

December 18, 2013 by

Father ChristmasIn midst of advocacy accompaniment, over a lunch meal is when I realise how powerful the meal is in building oneness in social activism as we share our varied uncertainties over that meal.  The stories start with everyone being keen to be my best Venda (local language) teacher as I struggle to get one or two basic words in the vocabulary.  The themes are varied indeed. Read the rest of this entry »


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