Gated Development: Is the Gates Foundation Always a Force for Good?

Gated Development: Is the Gates Foundation Always a Force for Good?

Report for Global Justice Now (January 2016)

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is the world’s largest charitable organisation, with an asset endowment of $43.5 billion. In global health and agriculture policies, two of its key grant areas, the BMGF has become probably the most influential actor in the world. Bill Gates himself has become probably the single most influential voice in international development. But the BMGF’s increasing global influence is not being subjected to democratic scrutiny. Further, this study shows that the BMGF’s programmes are – overall – detrimental to promoting economic development and global justice. The world is being sold a myth that private philanthropy holds many of the solutions to the world’s problems, when in fact it is pushing the world in many wrong directions.

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Improving South Africa’s Mining Revenues and Transparency

Improving South Africa’s Mining Revenues and Transparency

Report for Economic Justice Network of FOCCISA, South Africa (October 2015)

Taxes from mining contribute significantly to South Africa’s economy. Yet the country’s mining sector is insufficiently transparent while companies’ use of tax havens increases the risk of illegal tax evasion and tax avoidance. Together with generous tax incentives given to mining companies, the effect is to reduce revenues to the state. There is a growing sense in South Africa that the minerals in the ground belong to the people and that they should contribute even more to national economic development. This briefing suggests that South Africa could and should raise more revenue from mining by taking action nationally and internationally to review its tax policies and help break open the financial secrecy of tax havens.

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TTIPing Away the Ladder: How the EU-US Trade Deal Could Undermine the Sustainable Development Goals

TTIPing Away the Ladder: How the EU-US Trade Deal Could Undermine the Sustainable Development Goals

Report for Trade Justice Movement (September 2015)

The United Nations has developed a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that world governments are expected to use to frame their political policies over the next 15 years. At the same time, the world’s two largest trading blocs – the European Union and the United States – are negotiating a major trade pact – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – aimed at achieving ambitious cuts in trade barriers and investment regulations. This briefing argues that these two processes are incompatible and that TTIP could undermine the world’s ability to achieve the SDGs. Developing countries have not been involved in the TTIP negotiations – a scandal in itself – but TTIP will revise trade and investment rules between the US and EU that are very likely to become global standards; these will undermine developing countries by further forcing open their markets to US and European companies.

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DFID’s Controversial Support for Private Education

DFID’s Controversial Support for Private Education

(September 2015)

Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) is increasingly funding and supporting private education in developing countries. Indeed, it has become the world’s leading bilateral donor in promoting not only ‘low cost’ private schools but also in promoting the role of multinational companies as funders of education in developing countries. This report documents how DFID is promoting an increasing role for the private sector in education in three main ways: by promoting an enhanced role for multinationals in funding education; by funding a range of private education providers and ‘low-cost’ private schools in other bilateral projects; and by funding research and dissemination of information on private education and aiming to change government policies

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The West African Giveaway: Use and Abuse of Corporate Tax Incentives in ECOWAS

The West African Giveaway: Use and Abuse of Corporate Tax Incentives in ECOWAS

Report for ActionAid International (August 2015)

Curtis Research part-wrote and contributed research to this report, which examines the use of tax incentives in West Africa, focusing on Nigeria and Ghana. Corporate tax incentives are fiscal provisions offered to investors, and include reduced corporate tax rates or full ‘holidays’, permitting companies to pay less tax on their profits than normal, or to benefit from reduced or no tax on services such as water, electricity or land. Tax incentives are used by governments in the belief that they will help attract foreign direct investment into their countries, but evidence shows this to be rarely the case. The analysis shows that Ghana is likely losing up to $2.3 billion a year, Nigeria around $2.9 billion and Senegal (in 2009 at least) up to $639 million. If the rest of ECOWAS lost revenues at similar percentages of their GDP, total revenue losses among the 15 ECOWAS states would amount to $9.6 billion a year.

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New Alliance, New Risk of Land Grabs: Evidence from Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania

New Alliance, New Risk of Land Grabs: Evidence from Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania

Report for ActionAid International (June 2015)

Ten African countries have signed up to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition – the G8 countries’ main strategy for supporting agriculture in Africa that was launched in 2012. As the New Alliance has been under way for three years, some of its likely impacts are becoming clearer. This briefing – covering Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania and Senegal – shows that some large companies involved in the New Alliance are already accused of taking part in land grabs in some countries. It also presents new research to argue that the initiative is further increasing the risk of rural communities losing their access to and control over land to large investors, largely through policy commitments on land titling and land reform. Implicated in these reforms and risks of land grabs are the G8 donor countries bankrolling the New Alliance and the European Union. These governments must stop all engagement in and support for the New Alliance and replace it with genuine initiatives to support small-scale food producers and advance sustainable agriculture.

French version here –  Nouvelle Alliance, Nouveaux Risques

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Fostering Economic Resilience: The Financial Benefits of Ecological Farming in Malawi and Kenya

Fostering Economic Resilience: The Financial Benefits of Ecological Farming in Malawi and Kenya

Report for Greenpeace-Africa (May 2015)

This report analyses ecological farming as compared to industrial farming, assessing how much African governments are currently allocating to each and comparing the relative benefits for small farmers. It is based on field research with the World Agro-Foresty Centre and ICIPE, comparing groups of farmers using chemical pesticides/fertilizers, with those not. It finds that the average profitability of maize (per acre, per year) for small farmers is three times greater for farmers promoting ‘push-pull’ technology (ie, no use of chemical pesticides) than for farmers using pesticides. In Malawi, average profitability of maize (per acre, per year) was $259 for agro-forestry farmers (ie, no use of chemical fertilizers) compared to $166 for chemical farmers. The income benefits are especially large for women farmers. The report calculates that African governments are spending at least $1 billion a year on chemical fertilizer subsidies. It calls for a shift away from chemical farming towards promoting Ecological Farming Strategies.

Click on the link above to read the summary or read the full report here.

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Profiting from Poverty, Again: DFID’s Support for Privatising Education and Health

Profiting from Poverty, Again: DFID’s Support for Privatising Education and Health

Report for Global Justice Now (April 2015)

Britain’s overseas aid programme is being reconfigured to promote the privatisation of education and health in developing countries. The Department for International Development (DFID) has become the world’s leading donor in spearheading a push for profit making companies to manage and deliver schooling and health care in Africa and Asia. British taxpayers’ money is increasingly being used to pave the way for private companies to access new markets in basic services and thus to profit from the current gaps in the public provision of these services. This briefing exposes DFID’s strategy and warns of the dangers to the real need – which is to ensure better public education and health services that genuinely serve poor people.

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Contract Farming and Outgrower Schemes: Appropriate Development Models to Tackle Poverty and Hunger?

Contract Farming and Outgrower Schemes: Appropriate Development Models to Tackle Poverty and Hunger?

Report for ActionAid-International (March 2015)

Out-grower schemes (often referred to as contract farming) are an important component of many current public-private partnerships in developing countries, including the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. Such schemes can benefit farmers because the company often provides inputs and production services, incomes can rise, and such schemes often open up new markets. But they can also exclude the poorest people and women and give companies access to land that would not otherwise be available, thus being a disguised form of land grab. Farmers can often become little more than a form of cheap labour and carry most of the project risk. Many schemes are geared towards (often non-food) crops for export or large urban markets and tend to consolidate the role of large corporations in global agriculture supply chains whether smallholders benefit or not. This report argues that evidence suggests that most existing contract farming and out-grower schemes are not appropriate models to tackle poverty and hunger.

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Take Action: Stop EcoEnergy’s Land Grab in Bagamoyo, Tanzania

Take Action: Stop EcoEnergy’s Land Grab in Bagamoyo, Tanzania

Report for ActionAid International (March 2015)

Rural communities in the Bagamoyo district of Tanzania are opposing a much-lauded sugar cane plantation project planned by EcoEnergy, a Swedish-owned company that has secured a lease of over 20,000 hectares of land for the next 99 years and which is about to push smallholder producers off their land. Although the company has conducted consultations with affected villagers, this research found the majority have not been offered the choice of whether to be resettled or not, and have not been given crucial information about the irreversible effects the project may have on their livelihoods and their rights to food and land. By failing to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of the communities in the area affected by the project, EcoEnergy is grabbing the land of these communities, or risks doing so. EcoEnergy’s plan to develop a sugar cane plantation is a flagship project of the increasingly controversial New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the G8’s African agriculture initiative.

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