Key leader in the Burkina Faso tri-border area interviewed about… how to spend lots of money!

Great interview with Le Pays.

L’Emir du Liptako est l’autorité coutumière suprême dans la province du Seno. Sa Majesté a bien voulu nous accorder une interview à travers laquelle il nous fait remonter dans l’histoire de l’Emirat du Liptako. Vu le contexte sécuritaire dans la région du Sahel, l’Emir du Liptako a aussi abordé la question du terrorisme qu’il dit être liée à «l’explosion démographique et aux conditions de vie précaires des populations de la région du Sahel ». Pour Sa Majesté, le Programme d’urgence pour le Sahel (PUS) est une aubaine en ce sens qu’ « avec ses réalisations, c’est la population elle-même qui va se dresser contre le terrorisme ». Mais pour y arriver, l’Emir du Liptako pense qu’il faut plus de concret dans le PUS car, dit-il, « l’époque des vaines promesses pour plaire est révolue ». Tout compte fait, Sa Majesté estime que « c’est par l’appropriation de son destin que la communauté de la région du Sahel arrivera à bout de ses problèmes ».

Source: OUSMANE AMIROU DICKO, EMIR DU LIPTAKO A PROPOS DU PROGRAMME D’URGENCE POUR LE SAHEL : « L’époque des vaines promesses pour plaire est révolue » – Editions Le Pays

Posted in Burkina Faso | Leave a comment

Who would have thought in other countries there is also demand for protectionism? Ghana’s footwear manufacturing industry

“We are no longer able to compete with the influx of imported and inferior products on the Ghanaian market, and this is a worry to all stakeholders,” he noted, adding that this called for prompt intervention on the part of government to save the situation. The Association, amongst others, is advocating the promulgation of comprehensive policies and regulations to revamp the industry.They are proposing the setting up of a local footwear enclave with state-of-the-art facilities, creation of ready market for local products and certification of manufacturers in order to streamline their activities.Additionally, the footwear makers are asking the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI), to partner the National Board for Small Industries (NBSSI) and related agencies to roll out comprehensive training regime to build the capacity of footwear manufacturers for efficient work.Mr Kuffour said “if possible, the government should also issue a fiat to ban temporarily the importation of foreign footwear products for the benefit of the local industry.

Source: Ghana’s footwear manufacturing industry collapsing – Association | Business News 2018-07-28

Posted in Burkina Faso

Recent reading and viewing recommendations

The Hydrogen Sonata, a science fiction novel by Iain M. Banks, was a long but good read. Infused with Banks’ theme (in all the novels of his I have read so far) of loneliness and, well I have to say it, elementariness, the plot is structured around a good old political thriller, the routinization of the “singularity,” and the quirky “comedy of manners” of the AI ships that are at the apex of Banks imagined interstellar civilization, the Culture.

On a long drive back from Los Angeles to San Jose, I listened on The New Yorker fiction podcast to reading of wonderful Margaret Atwood story- Stone Mattress.  And a story by Sheila Heti- My life Is a Joke, a complex meta-story that I definitely would encourage any good reader to try! And Tessa Hadley, The Surrogate, a lovely story about sex and writing fiction.

Also read Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich, a standard thriller that got attention because of its location in the hills of Georgia and biker bars of Jacksonville. All the standard tropes. Meh.

On Netflix, a four-episode British political detective story, Collateral, was very good. Written by David Hare, so the dialogue and plot is jacked up to level A. Carey Mulligan stars and is very good. There was room for about two more episodes of character exploration, though.

Also on Netflix, I started Gentlemen & Gangsters, a Swedish love story-drama-thriller four episode movie series. The cinematography and sensibility right up my alley. Especially since I just chose it at random and within 2 minutes I was like, “wow this is different.” But having a hard time wanting to finish it up.


Posted in Book and film reviews

Great quote from Teju Cole, “Every Day is for the Thief” about markets!

“One goes to the market to participate in the world. As with all things that concern
the world, being in the market requires caution. The market – the essence of the
city – is always alive with possibility and danger. Strangers encounter each other
in the world’s infinite variety; vigilance is needed. Everyone is there not only to
buy and sell, but because it is a duty. If you sit in your house, if you refuse to go to
market, how would you know of the existence of others? How would you know of
your own existence?”
Teju Cole, Every Day is for the Thief (2014: 57)

Posted in Development thinking

A most disturbing finding about ethnicity in Kenya

Trickle-Down Ethnic Politics: Drunk and Absent in the Kenya Police Force (1957-1970)
Oliver Vanden Eynde, Patrick M. Kuhn and Alexander Moradi  American Economic Journal: Economic Policy Vol. 10, Issue 3 — August 2018

How does ethnic politics affect the state’s ability to provide policing services? Using a panel of administrative personnel data on the full careers of 6,784 police officers, we show how the rise of ethnic politics around Kenya’s independence influenced policemen’s behavior. We find a significant deterioration in discipline after Kenya’s first multiparty election for those police officers of ethnic groups associated with the ruling party. These effects are driven by a behavioral change among these policemen. We find no evidence of favoritism within the police. Instead, our results are consistent with co-ethnic officers experiencing an emboldenment effect. Our findings highlight that the state’s security apparatus, at its most granular level, is not insulated from ethnic politics

Posted in Development thinking

Choices, choices: Radio campaign to reduce rural child mortality or public transport infrastructure for Ouagadougou

Two items of note popped up this week. First, an economic analysis of the cost-effectiveness of a mass radio campaign to encourage women’s use of health centers. Very cost effective, apparently. The direct program cost was $7,749,128 and it apparently (lots of assumptions) may have resulted in 3,000 fewer deaths.

The [paper] uses the mortality predictions for Burkina Faso and other countries to calculate the cost-effectiveness of these interventions. Using Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) as the metric (equivalent to the cost of one year of healthy life added), the results show that mass media campaigns based on Saturation+ principles are among the most cost-effective methods available for saving children’s lives. The authors calculated that scaling-up campaigns in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Niger, Malawi and Mozambique would cost between $7 to $27 per DALY in 2018-20.  (For reference, $7-$27 per DALY equates to approximately $196-$756 per life saved.) According to the recently published Disease Control Priorities Project, Third Edition (the authoritative source for cost-effectiveness comparisons)1, the costs per DALY for reproductive, mother and child health interventions ranges from $2900 down to $5. The costs per DALY of $7-$27 predicted for this intervention are therefore comparable to the most cost-effective interventions available. Only one intervention (treatment with severe malaria with artesunate) is less expensive than the $7-$27 predicted here. Roy Head of DMI who designed and led the study in partnership with LSHTM says: “What this study shows is that using mass media to drive people to health centres is actually more cost-effective than almost anything on earth in terms of saving children’s lives. And that makes sense – it reaches millions of people at a time – but this is the first time it has been shown in a scientific trial.”

Second, an announcement by the government of purchase of 550 modern buses and infrastructure work to create 4 rapid bus lines. The cost will be about $240 million.

So a decision-maker had a choice: fund a radio campaign over the entire country (scale it up by a factor of 30 or so) or buy the buses.  Wonder if they were looked at together?


Posted in Economy

Stata tip: Doing something conditional on existence of a variable in the dataset, using a local

In a program I am writing I want the same utility file to be run on different datasets and certain variables in the dataset. But the datasets have different sets of variables. So a nice Stata tip, adapted for my purpose, was provided by Martin Weiss via Stata listserv.

capture confirm variable name3
if !_rc {
   loc vars_to_use "name1 name2 name3"
   else {
   loc vars_to_use "firstname lastname"
* run utility file 
foreach x in `vars_to_use' {
do something to `x'
Posted in R statistics