Determining a country’s development status without economists

There are numerous ways to determine the development level of a country, both economic (Gross Domestic Product) and social (Gross National Happiness). But those of us who spend our years bouncing from one country to another begin to establish our own. This list started when I realised that a city or village should be classified by whether or not you could get Coke Zero. Sounds silly but it reflects two key determinants: one the logistical infrastructure of a country and two the dietary concerns of the people. Coke zero can only be popular where obesity or a healthy lifestyle have become relevant.

So here are a few others that I’ve collected over time – add yours in to the comments below.taxi1

  • Number of attendees invited to a wedding
  • Importance of driving or motor boat licences
  • Prevalence of corrugated iron sheets
  • Number of shopping malls
  • Prevalence of rubbish on the streets and number of people employed (formally and informally) to collect and sort rubbish
  • Number of stray dogs/cats
  • Noise pollution which transfers to light pollution as a town develops
  • Air conditioning temperatures in public places like trains, coaches and shopstx3
  • Visibility of cleft palates amongst the population
  • Accessibility and availability of pirate goods
  • Number of passengers allowed in one taxi
  • Number of national tourists
  • Number of people and animals on a motorbike

Top Ten Books on Humanitarian Aid

It’s difficult to imagine that there is someone out there who has read all the books about humanitarian aid ever written – perhaps Slim, Randy K or P Walker? Therefore we have to start with the caveat that this list is our list and not scientifically drawn up based on a detailed methodology or algorithm.

In fact we settled on nine books and one documentary. In chronological order, our top ten are:

1. Amartya Sen’s ‘Poverty and Famines: An essay on entitlement and deprivation’ 1983
2. Mary Anderson’s ‘Do No Harm: How aid can support peace – or war’ 1999
3. Tony Vaux’s ‘The Selfish Altruist: Relief work in famine and war’ 2001
4. David Kennedy’s ‘The Dark Sides of Virtue: Reassessing International Humanitarianism’ 2005
5. Samantha Power’s ‘A Problem From Hell: America and the age of genocide’ 2010
6. Peter Gill’s ‘Famine and Foreigners: Ethiopia since live aid’ 2010
7. Claire Magone, Michael Neuman and Fabrice Weissman’s ‘Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed: The MSF experience’ 2011
8. Hugo Slim’s ‘Essays in Humanitarian Action’ 2012
9. Ben Ramalingam’s ‘Aid on the Edge of Chaos: Rethinking international cooperation in a complex world’ 2013
10. MSF’s ‘Living in An Emergency: Stories of doctors without borders’ 2008

Thank you to everyone who sent us tweets or comments to add to the list. A full list of the books sent us can be downloaded here and we of course welcome further suggestions in the comments below.