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Africa Books

Africa Renewal
From Africa Renewal: 
More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics Is Helping to Solve Global Poverty
** Please note: books are not directly available from Africa Renewal,
they must be obtained directly from the publishers **

Book review
More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics Is Helping to Solve Global Poverty

by Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel (Penguin Group, New York, USA, 2011; 320 pp; hb $26.95, pb $16,
ebook $12.99)

50 ans après, l’Afrique

With their book More than Good Intentions, Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel seek to stimulate debate on better and more efficient ways to address global poverty, beyond foreign aid or other common approaches. By combining anecdotes with straightforward explanations, the authors ask good questions about what works and what doesn’t. They also keep the reader anchored with simple and clear explanations, even when they cite complex social science notions, such as using control groups to measure the impact of particular interventions. “For each dollar donated,” the authors ask, “how much good can be done?” To illustrate, they contrast different school attendance programmes. They find that $1,000 in “conditional cash transfers” (direct payments conditional on participants’ behaviour), can bring one year of improved school attendance. But the same result can be obtained with $100 in “uniform give-aways” (such as giving school uniforms to all students) and just $3.50 spent on deworming children.

The book also criticizes microfinance as an alternative to foreign aid. Although microfinance has been popular, the authors argue that it may not be suitable to everyone and that people’s specific needs must be thoroughly examined before handing out loans. People’s needs can be very complex, and may not be met by just obtaining a loan. In the long term, such loans can at times be more detrimental than beneficial.

The emphasis, say Karlan and Appel, should always be on helping people to improve their basic living conditions, including through better access to health services, more investment in education and better monitoring of school attendance. The book concludes with seven prevalent ideas that have been proven to work: microsavings instead of microcredit, reminders to save (banks sending text messages and mail to their clients), fertilizer bought at harvest time before the next season to improve usage, deworming to increase children’s health and school attendance, remedial education in small groups, chlorine dispensers for clean water and locked-in savings accounts to help people reach their goals and make better choices. Although very stimulating, the proposed options are based on microanalyses — studies of small groups of people. But a macroanalysis of a wider population would have enhanced the validity of their research.

— Rebecca Moudio


Indigenous Knowledge and the Environment in Africa and North America, eds. David M. Gordon and Shepard Krech II (Ohio University Press, OH, USA, 2012; 368 pp; hb $59.95)

Coping with Global Environmental Change, Disasters and Security, eds. Hans Günter Brauch et al (Springer, New York, NY, USA, 2011; 1872 pp; $399.00)

Vulnérabilité, insécurité alimentaire et environnement à Madagascar by Jérôme Ballet and Mahefasoa Randrianalijaona (L'Harmattan, Paris, France, 2011; 246 pp; pb €22.50)

Petite histoire de l'Afrique. L'Afrique au Sud du Sahara, de la préhistoire à nos jours by Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch (La Découverte, Paris, France, 2011; 222 pp; pb €15)

Issues in Women's Land Rights in Cameroon, ed. Lotsmart Fonjong (Langaa RPCIG, Bamenda, Cameroon, 2012; 178 pp; pb £18.95)

Que vivent les femmes d'Afrique? by Tanella Suzanne Boni (Karthala, Paris, France, 2011; 168 pp; pb €19)

Global Exchanges and Gender Perspectives in Africa, eds. Jean-Bernard Ouédraogo and Roseline M. Achieng' (Codesria, Dakar, Senegal, 2011; 212 pp; pb £20.95)

ECOWAS and the Dynamics of Conflict and Peace-building, eds. Thomas Jaye and Dauda Garuba (Codesria, Dakar, Senegal, 2011; 252 pp; pb £24.95)

Sustainable Intensification: Increasing Productivity in African Food and Agricultural Systems by Jules Pretty, Camilla Toulmin and Stella Williams (Earthscan Publications, London, UK, 2011; 200 pp; hb $99.95)

Les dessous de la Françafrique: Les dossiers secrets de monsieur X by Patrick Pesnot (Nouveau Monde Editions, Paris, France, 2011; 511 pp; €9)

Nation-States and the Challenges of Regional Integration in West Africa: The Case of Gambia by Siga Fatima Jagne (Karthala, Paris, France, 2010; 140 pp; pb €15.20)

G20 and Global Development: How Can the New Summit Architecture Promote Pro-poor Growth and Sustainability?, eds. Thomas Fues and Peter Wolff (German Development Institute, Bonn, Germany, 2010; 113 pp; free e-publication)

L’Afrique condamnée à l’espoir by Ibrahima Signate (L’Harmattan, Paris, France, 2012; 158 pp; pb €15.68, ebook €12.38)

L'Afrique en face: Dix clichés à l'épreuve des faits by Vincent Hugeux (Armand Colin, Paris, France, 2010; 192 pp; pb €16.20)

Challenging the Rulers: A Leadership Model for Good Governance, eds Okoth Okombo et al (East African Educational Publishers, Nairobi, Kenya, 2011; 300 pp; pb £32.95)

L'Afrique subsaharienne face à la mondialisation by Mahmoud Ben Said (L’Harmattan, Paris, France, 2012; 86 pp; pb €8.55)

Au Cameroun de Paul Biya by Fanny Pigeaud (Karthala, Paris, France, 2001; 276 pp; pb €24)

Sud-Soudan, conquérir l'indépendance, négocier l'Etat by David Ambrosetti (Karthala, Paris, France, 2011; 232 pp; pb €19)

Côte d'Ivoire : La réinvention de soi dans la violence, ed. Francis Akindès (Codesria, Dakar, Senegal, 2011; 272 pp; pb £24.95)