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Press Release from 2021-06-18 / Group

KfW and German Economic Association present sponsorship prize for development research

  • 12th award for scientific excellence and practical relevance

KfW Development Bank and the Development Economics Committee of the German Economic Association (Verein für Socialpolitik) awarded the sponsorship prize for outstanding and practice-relevant development research for the 12th time. Awards were presented to three researchers whose doctoral theses combine technical excellence and practical relevance in an outstanding manner.

“Science consistently delivers new and important insights into the strengths and weaknesses of development approaches of various actors. Exchange between research and practice is therefore very important for our work at KfW Development bank. We are constantly learning to manage our projects intelligently and make them even better and more effective. By presenting the sponsorship prize we want to honour practice-relevant research and encourage ongoing exchange”, said Christiane Laibach, member of the Executive Board of KfW Group.

“KfW’s generous support has allowed us to again acknowledge three outstanding works this year that empirically investigate development challenges with the aid of innovative methods from diverse perspectives and disciplines. Not only do the results make a significant contribution to the scientific literature, they also offer specific recommendations for action to policy-makers and international development cooperation”, said Prof Michael Grimm, Chair of the Research Group on Development Economics of the German Economic Association.

The first prize this year went to Dr Simon Hess, who obtained his PhD at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. His thesis addresses the intended and unintended welfare effects of Community-Driven Development (CDD) projects. In this participatory development approach, communities propose development projects themselves and are usually also directly and actively involved in their implementation. Hess demonstrates that CDD projects in Gambia have not just positive effects but lead to a decline in social interaction and informal barter transactions within the communities.

The second prize was awarded to Dr Sabrina Maurus of the University of Bayreuth for her ethnological work on the consequences of introducing universal compulsory school attendance for agro-pastoral societies in Ethiopia. Sabrina Maurus’ work describes how the “school for all” policy initiated by Ethiopia’s central government as an instrument for economic growth and poverty alleviation threatens the way of life of agro-pastoral communities in the Hamar Region and leads to conflicts between them and the central government. The thesis raises awareness of the dilemmas that may arise when fundamental development objectives conflict with traditional ways of life while underscoring the importance of quality public education and raising the important question of how trade-offs can be addressed within the international development agenda.

The third prize was awarded to Dr Selina Bezzola, who obtained her PhD in political science at the ETH in Zürich with her work on the motives and consequences of corporate social responsibility (CSR) measures of private mining companies in Africa. Her work applies a range of methodologies to demonstrate that the provision of social infrastructure and services as well as other CSR measures by private mine operators can undermine the population’s faith in the capabilities and legitimation of the state. Ms Bezzola also demonstrates that CSR measures can generate local conflicts in specific contexts, for example when they excessively favour local elites and thereby undermine social cohesion. Against the background of the growing importance of private-sector involvement in international development cooperation, the research findings are of immediate relevance to practice.

Owing to the pandemic, the award ceremony was held online on 17 June 2021 as part of the annual German Development Economics Conference.

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Portrait von Dr. Charis Pöthig

Dr Charis Pöthig

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