Top spring reading recommendations

Published on 9 April 2018

For student’s mid-way through their international development courses and for anyone with an interest in development studies, we have put together a selection of recently published titles that reflect a wide range of themes in development studies.

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Can We Know Better?: Reflections for DevelopmentRobert ChambersThis book is intended for all who are committed to human wellbeing and who want to make our world fairer, safer and more fulfilling for everyone, especially those who are ‘last’. It argues that to do better we need to know better. It provides evidence that what we believe we know in international development is often distorted or unbalanced by errors, myths, biases and blind spots.

Land Reform in Zimbabwe: Challenges for PolicyIan ScoonesZimbabwe’s land reform has been highly controversial. Too often, ideological positions trump empirical realities and detailed analysis. This book aims to fill a gap by drawing on extensive longitudinal research from across Zimbabwe, pointing to policy challenges, as well as solutions.

Food Riots, Food Rights and the Politics of ProvisionsNaomi Hossain and Patta Scott-VilliersThousands of people in dozens of countries took to the streets when world food prices spiked in 2008 and 2011. What does the persistence of popular mobilization around food tell us about the politics of subsistence in an era of integrated food markets and universal human rights? This book interrogates this period of historical rupture in the global system of subsistence, getting behind the headlines and inside the politics of food for people on low incomes. 

The Social Realities of Knowledge for Development: Sharing Lessons of Improving Development Processes with EvidenceJames Georgalakis, Nasreen Jessani, Rose Nadakala Oronje and Ben RamalingamThis edited collection of peer-reviewed papers explores critical challenges faced by organisations and individuals involved in evidence-informed development through a diverse set of case studies and think-pieces. In this chapter we briefly set out the foundations of the trend in evidence-informed decision-making and reflect on a fast-changing development knowledge landscape.

IDS Bulletin

Value Chains for Nutrition in South Asia: Who Delivers, How, and to Whom?IDS Bulletin 49.1Edited by Mar Maestre Morales and Nigel PooleThere is currently much talk of the private sector role in nutrition, and whether the state can ‘shape’ the market to deliver better nutritional outcomes. This issue of the IDS Bulletin presents research findings in this area, developed by the consortium of research partners under the Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) programme.

Green Power for Africa: Overcoming the Main ConstraintsIDS Bulletin 48.5-6Edited by Ana Pueyo and Simon BawakyillenuoInadequate power supply in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) means that only 37 per cent of sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity. Those with access are prone to experience problems with regular power outages. In many SSA countries, electricity access rates are decreasing because electrification efforts are slower than population growth.

Courting Catastophe? Humanitarian Policy and Practice in a Changing ClimateIDS Bulletin 48.4Edited by Siri Eriksen, Lars Otto Naess, Ruth Haug, Aditi Bhonagiri and Lutgart LenaertsHumanitarian 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.

IDS Reports

Decentralisation, Devolution, and Dynamics of Violence in Africa Caitriona Dowd and Jean-Pierre TranchantThis research sets out to understand the effect of processes of decentralisation on violent conflict in Africa, and what entry points these provide for research and policy actors to engage in meaningful and effective governance, peace-building and conflict resolution.

Gender and Intersecting Inequalities in Local Government in South AsiaSohela NazneenThis paper is an evidence review of how intersecting forms of inequalities influence women’s political participation and representation at the local level in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. 

No Time to Rest: Women’s Lived Experiences of Balancing paid Work and Unpaid Care WorkDeepta Chopra and Elena ZambelliThis report provides evidence of the lived experiences of women in low-income families, as they strive to balance their paid work and unpaid care work responsibilities. It presents the findings of a mixed-methods research project carried out in India, Nepal, Rwanda, and Tanzania during 2015–17.


Decent Work in a Digital WorldBecky FaithAdvances in digital technology and artificial intelligence are transforming the future of work. Self-driving trucks are due to be tested on UK roads in 2018 and are already being piloted in the US where around three million truck drivers and 8.7 million other people are employed in trucking-related jobs.

What Are the Implications of Ageing and Demographic Change in Rwanda?Rachel Sabates-Wheeler and Emily WyldeHaving made rapid improvements in life expectancy and fertility as a result of significant investments in the health system and reductions in poverty, Rwanda faces the positive prospects of a ‘demographic dividend’. However, the projected growth in the number of older people over the next 30 years will present significant challenges.

Public–Private Cooperation for Secure and Inclusive Rural EconomiesJodie Thorpe, Mark Lundy, Maria Lopes Uribe and Emily WilsonHow do public–private collaborations enable secure and inclusive rural economies? Alongside private sector investment, government provision of infrastructure, research and extension services and support for farmer organisations remains crucial.

Other resources

  • IDS Bulletin: A fully open access archive with over 2,600 aricles spanning 50 years of development research.
  • OpenDocs: IDS’ e-repository of development publications and peer-reviewed research.
  • Eldis: Sharing the best for development research for policy and practice.

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