April 2012

African stereotypes; land grabs update; new governance blog; bad aid (malaria and China examples); post MDGs – christmas tree, jigsaw or bullseye?; logical fallacies: links I liked

admin - April 30, 2012

African stereotypes were all the rage on the interweb last week: ‘Africa’s image in the West, and Africa’s image to itself, are often crude, childish drawings of reality’ argues Binyavanga Wainaina. Others think humour works better: ‘Africans shocked by uncivilized antics of European savages’, South African satirical magazine Hayibo takes aim at Europe’s elephant-massacring kings and racist-cake-cutting ministers [h/t Beyond Aid]. Then there’s ‘I am an …

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Building accountability in Tanzania: applying an evolutionary/venture capitalist theory of change

admin - April 27, 2012

A version of this post appeared yesterday on ‘People, Spaces, Deliberation’, the World Bank’s clunkily-named but interesting governance and accountability blog. I’ve been catching up on our accountability work in Tanzania recently, and it continues to be really ground-breaking. Rather than churning out the standard logical framework of activities, outputs and predicted outcomes before the project even starts, the programme, known as Chukua Hatua (Swahili …

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Hunger in the Sahel and international arms control: what's the link?

admin - April 26, 2012

In a second post on the impending UN Arms Trade Treaty, Oxfam arms trade policy adviser Martin Butcher discusses the links between Libya’s arms race and hunger in the Sahel The growing food crisis provoked by drought in the Sahel is affecting millions of people. This crisis has been deepened by the conflict in Mali sparked by the proliferation of arms from Libya in the wake …

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The UN is (probably) going to agree a global Arms Trade Treaty: what's at stake?

admin - April 25, 2012

Ed Cairns, Oxfam’s senior policy adviser on conflict, summarizes a new paper, Stay on Target, which lays out the case for governments to hold out for a top quality Arms Trade Treaty as negotiations enter a crucial phase In the age of austerity it may seem that governments can do nothing but make cuts. But they can still legislate and regulate, and try to make the …

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People power, transformation and existential crisis: the state of global civil society:

admin - April 24, 2012

Civicus, a global network of civil society organizations, recently published a pilot ‘State of Civil Society’ report, which it hopes to repeat at regular intervals. Some excerpts: “2011 marked a critical juncture for civil society. Authoritarian regimes buckled under the weight of citizen pressure, and prevailing political and economic orders faced unprecedented opposition from people power movements in a great wave of protests across many …

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Sudan meltdown; homeland security v secret police; global carbon map; ethical supply chains; Kony2012 ebook; private sector-led aid; stuff organizers say; the dangers of texting: links I liked

admin - April 23, 2012

The anti-bra hunt forces have mustered over the weekend and are now ahead in the poll, by the way The Guardian’s Simon Tisdall warns that the looming conflict in Sudan could be far worse than Syria, but is alarmed that the international community is largely ignoring it. Homeland Security in Washington = Secret Police in Africa: Tom Murphy explores some linguistic double standards in the …

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You can now read this blog in Spanish, French, Chinese or Hindi – how cool is that? Plus the bra poll is a cliffhanger – keep voting

admin - April 21, 2012

Welcome to the Tower of Babel (right). My wonderful blogmeister Eddy Lambert has found a way to put a Google Translate button on the blog (to the right, above the twitter icon). The drop down menu gives you an astonishing range of language options and more or less instantly translates the whole blog. Judging by the Spanish version (my only decent non-English language skill), the …

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Should Oxfam be collecting a million bras from the public and selling them? Time to cast your vote…

admin - April 20, 2012

On this blog, I occasionally feel an overwhelming urge to self-destruct for the amusement of others. It is in that kamikaze spirit that I bring you….. Oxfam’s ‘big bra hunt’. The story so far: on 1 April (but not linked to April Fools’ Day, as far as I’m aware), Oxfam’s trading team in the UK launched a campaign to get women across the UK to …

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How poor people get through crises: some excellent 'rapid social anthropology' from IDS and the World Bank

admin - April 19, 2012

On Wednesday, I spoke at the launch of a new book, Living Through Crises: How the Food, Fuel and Financial Shocks Affect the Poor, by Rasmus Heltberg, Naomi Hossain and Anna Reva. It’s a joint World Bank and IDS publication, also available for free online. I think it could prove quite influential. The starting point for the book is that we live in a world …

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So the world is a complex system – what should aid agencies do differently?

admin - April 18, 2012

Had a fascinating chat with Jean Boulton (right) this week. Jean is a physicist-by-training (a real one, unlike me – I jumped ship after my first degree). These days she is a management consultant and social scientist who has been working to bring ideas of complexity theory into organisations for many years. More recently she has become interested in international development – hence the chat. …

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