Development Blog

Remember one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent history? 11 years ago, a Tsunami killed over 230,000 people in Asia and Africa, and devastated large parts of Indonesia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka. The latter country was in the middle of a bloody civil war, which had lasted almost 30 years. Sri Lanka was not a good place to be, despite the beauty of its landscape and its people. 

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CARE International General Secretary Wolfgang Jamann visiting a women's group in Sri Lanka CARE International General Secretary Wolfgang Jamann visiting a women's group in Sri Lanka

Last month I visited Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, to interview farmers and livestock traders faced with the drought effects of one of the most devastating El Niños in 50 years. What are their coping strategies in the face of extreme weather patterns? How are those strategies linked to national and international market systems? And how, through these systems, can we bring about a better deal for those in the supply chain typically made more vulnerable by drought – namely, women?

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Sindayo, a sheep farmer in Tigray, Ethiopia Sindayo, a sheep farmer in Tigray, Ethiopia

A recent IMF ‘staff paper’ (i.e. this is not the official view of the organisation, but they’re not disagreeing with it either...) provides additional support to CARE’s fight for financial inclusion by showing that four of the dimensions of financial development – access, depth, efficiency and stability – can significantly reduce income inequality and poverty.

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Women in Jordan participate in a savings and loan group supported by CARE Women in Jordan participate in a savings and loan group supported by CARE

Banks have clear needs for support in bringing more people living in poverty into the formal financial sector, but the banks could push forward by working more cooperatively with one another in key areas.

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The panel at the Within Reach meeting in Bangladesh The panel at the Within Reach meeting in Bangladesh

As outlined in my previous blog, with so many people in all three countries preferring informal saving methods to banking, how large are these markets? How much total capital do they possess? And what can we learn from this?

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Members of the Tusoy Youth Group savings and loan association in Embu, Kenya Members of the Tusoy Youth Group savings and loan association in Embu, Kenya

As mentioned in my previous blog about savings groups in Tanzania, there are massive amounts of capital circulating informally in East Africa. CARE has pointed out time and time again that serving this market is a social and economic win-win for providers and clients, but the persisting geographic, educational and affordability challenges continue to deter providers from making a long-term investment in the lowest-income market. Could an analysis of the size of the market opportunity help to change their minds?

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Members of the Tusoy Youth Group savings and loan association in Embu, Kenya Members of the Tusoy Youth Group savings and loan association in Embu, Kenya

50 per cent of DFID’s budget is now allocated to conflict-affected and fragile states. The UK government is also demonstrating a leading role on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda with ambitious commitments made at the High-Level Review of UNSCR 1325. But is political commitment to WPS stuck at the global level? What is being done to improve the situation for women and girls on the ground?

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Nyanor Miakoh (centre) walked two days from her hometown of Panyang to Yida, in the far north of South Sudan's Unity State, to escape the violence that saw her lose her home, her livelihood and two members of her family (August 2014) Nyanor Miakoh (centre) walked two days from her hometown of Panyang to Yida, in the far north of South Sudan's Unity State, to escape the violence that saw her lose her home, her livelihood and two members of her family (August 2014)