Latest Issues
Volume 48 Issue 4
August 2017
Edited by: Siri Eriksen, Lars Otto Naess, Ruth Haug, Aditi Bhonagiri and Lutgart Lenaerts

Humanitarian crises appear dramatic, overwhelming and sudden, with aid required immediately to save lives. Whereas climate change is about changing hazard patterns and crises are in reality rarely unexpected, with academic researchers and humanitarian and development organisations warning about possible risks for months before they take place. While humanitarian organisations deal directly with vulnerable populations, interventions are part of global politics and development pathways that are simultaneously generating climate change, inequities and vulnerability. So what is the level of convergence between humanitarian interventions and efforts to support adaptation to climate change, and what lessons can be drawn from current experience on the prospects for reducing the risk of climate change causing increased burdens on humanitarian interventions in the future?

This IDS Bulletin is a call for increasing engagement between humanitarian aid and adaptation interventions to support deliberate transformation of development pathways. Based on studies from the ‘Courting Catastrophe’ project, contributors argue that humanitarian interventions offer opportunities for a common agenda to drive transformational adaptation. Changes in political and financial frameworks are needed to facilitate longer-term actions where demands move from delivering expert advice and solutions to vulnerable populations to taking up multiple vulnerability knowledges and making space for contestation of current development thinking. Yet while the humanitarian system could drive transformative adaptation, it should not bear responsibility alone.

In this issue, alternative pathways and practical ways to support local alternatives and critical debates around these are illustrated, to demonstrate where humanitarian actions can most usefully contribute to transformation. 

Volume 48 Issue 3
May 2017
Edited by: Seife Ayele, Samir Khan and James Sumberg

Who are the youth and what is the problem? Are entrepreneurship and self-employment the solution? And what about youth aspirations? Such questions are addressed in this issue of the IDS Bulletin, drawing from the literature on how development research affects policy and noting that it says little about how young researchers move into policy engagement. Articles consider the evidence on youth employment policy and interventions, the politics of youth policy, the changing nature of young people’s work, and the promotion of entrepreneurship. They are authored by the ten members of the first cohort of the Matasa Fellows Network (a joint initiative by the MasterCard Foundation and IDS), which has a particular focus on the youth employment challenge in Africa.

Youth and employment concepts are not new to development discourse in sub-Saharan Africa but over the last decade interest has increased dramatically, becoming an increasingly important focus for policy, intervention and research throughout the continent (and globally). Fundamental to the Matasa initiative is the proposition that no matter how innovative or rigorous the research, policy influence will seldom be achieved by adding policy recommendations to a research paper. Rather, influence requires reflection, strategy, planning and tactics, and above all a nuanced understanding of the context and the politics that shape any given policy process.

This IDS Bulletin reflects these challenges in Africa and demonstrates how political context shapes youth-related policy. It illustrates the need to critically reflect on the multiple and divergent meanings of work and employment and to re-think interventions that promote entrepreneurship and self-employment. The scope for quality research and effective policy engagement is tremendous. 

Volume 48 Issue 2
March 2017
Edited by: Shandana Khan Mohmand and Miguel Loureiro
What are the smaller stories hidden within the larger trends on governance in Africa, and to what extent has decentralisation affected change in these areas? What are the factors that keep local government reforms from achieving more complete outcomes? These are the main questions asked by this IDS Bulletin, with articles focusing on explanations for the impact of decentralisation at the local level through detailed case studies of five countries – Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. This issue deals with all three of the main aims for decentralisation reforms in Africa: improved service delivery, democracy and participation, and a reduction in central government expenditure. It analyses micro, comparative stories by accumulating evidence on how decentralisation works differently within each featured country, and the factors that are responsible for differential outcomes. Contributors are mostly African scholars who live under the region’s decentralised systems and study them with a proximate lens often denied to visiting scholars. Their research questions, on their countries’ respective policy agendas, are joined by the common belief that more innovative methods should be applied to these questions in order to get at better explanations. While decentralisation is an important issue, systematic analyses of its outcomes are limited. This IDS Bulletin represents first efforts to use more innovative and incisive methods to understand decentralisation and its impact – with more resources, such enquiries can be strengthened to provide deeper understanding. The set of studies presented here already represent exciting and important new contributions to a field that requires more attention.
Volume 48 Issue 1A
October 2017
Edited by: Richard Longhurst

Development policy, practice and research have largely adhered to a North–South, geographic and aid-driven view of the world. Over the last ten years the approaches of South–South cooperation have also come to prominence. However, more attention is being paid to universal development based on the assumption that development challenges are as relevant for the North as for the South, with many common problems. Discrimination, exclusion and intolerance occur everywhere. Many people in developed and developing countries suffer from the same problems, and sharing ways of dealing with these problems is likely to improve policies.

This IDS Bulletin reviews research previously published in IDS Bulletins and other, selected research on universal development, with examples of practice, and looks ahead to suggest how ideas could be applied generally to make development studies and practice more universal.

With the advent of the Sustainable Development Goals, there is now a framework in place with which to address a universal approach to development. The universal development approach is particularly relevant against the backdrop of shared and interconnected challenges such as climate change, resource degradation, migration and trafficking, shared technology, and growing inequality.

The articles chosen for this IDS Bulletin show how South and North approaches to development can be interlinked.  They also demonstrate that this topic has been debated for many years. The selected articles cover the last 40 years and while the importance of the lessons they provide are generally relevant in the present day, obviously context has changed. Therefore, where possible, a ‘then’ and ‘now’ perspective is addressed. 

Volume 48 Issue 1
February 2017
Edited by: Pauline Oosterhoff, Catherine Müller and Kelly Shephard

Exploring sex and sexual relationships is an important part of adolescence, and therefore sex education should have a central role in adolescent emotional development as well as dealing with crucial public-health issues. Good sex education reduces maternal and child mortality by helping to prevent unwanted, early and risky pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, yet in many parts of the world unmarried teenagers are excluded from receiving information and sexual health services because – according to unrealistic and conservative religious and socio-cultural norms – they are not supposed to be sexually active.

Much of the research on sexuality in the digital era is moralistic and slanted, so for those working on sexual/reproductive health and youth/digital development issues, learning more about the subject is a major challenge. There has never been a collection of scholarly work on this topic for a mixed audience of researchers, policymakers and practitioners until this issue of the IDS Bulletin. A collaboration between Love Matters and IDS, articles discuss experiences with digital sex education in many countries and in a range of settings. The issues confronted are diverse, yet the common themes encountered are often as striking as the differences.

Young people need help in critically examining the sexual messages they receive, as well as access to new types of digital sex education environments that are realistic, emotionally attuned, non-judgmental and open to the messages they themselves create. Contributions in this IDS Bulletin suggest an urgency for academics and practitioners to understand and develop digital literacy skills in order to help build such environments.