May 2013

Be the Toolkit: Discussing complex systems with Oxfam’s next generation of leaders

admin - May 31, 2013

Over the next few months, I’ll be getting stuck into a big Oxfam project on how we understand and work on issues of power and change. As befits its focus on ‘how change happens’, this is already evolving in unexpected directions, such as a stress on how we support Oxfamistas to work in ‘complex systems’ (aka the real world). Last week we had 30 of …

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The best thing I’ve read on Syria’s nightmare: Five conflicts in one; don’t send arms

admin - May 30, 2013

Some excerpts from a great overview of the Syrian conflict in the London Review of Books by Patrick Cockburn. Read the whole piece if you can. It helped confirm for me that Oxfam’s right to oppose the EU’s ending of its arms embargo. Simon Jenkins’ polemic in the Guardian also helped. ‘That Assad’s government is on its last legs has always been something of a …

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What are the secrets of some recent campaign successes?

admin - May 28, 2013

 This guest post comes from Hannah Stoddart, Oxfam’s Head of Economic Justice Policy  It feels like Oxfam campaigners have been celebrating a lot recently. First – after nearly 10 years of hard slog as part of the Control Arms coalition – we got an Arms Trade Treaty. Then just a few weeks later two of the companies we’d been targeting in our Behind the Brands …

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Are illicit drugs a development issue and if so, what should we do about it?

admin - May 24, 2013

I spent Wednesday morning taking drugs seriously. OK that’s the last of the lame do/take drug jokes. What I actually did was have a coffee with Danny Kushlick and Martin Powell of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, and then attend a Christian Aid seminar on drugs and development. Both conversations addressed the same questions: are drugs becoming an un-ignorable development issue and if so, what …

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‘Squeezed': how are poor people adjusting to life in a time of food price volatility?

admin - May 23, 2013

Ace IDS researcher Naomi Hossain introduces the first results of a big Oxfam/IDS research project on food price volatility If the point of development is to make the Third World more like the First, then we aid-wallahs can pack our bags and go home. Job done. The most striking finding of Squeezed, the first year results from the four year Life in a Time of …

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Aid and complex systems cont’d: timelines, incubation periods and results

admin - May 22, 2013

I’m at one of those moments where all conversations seem to link to each other, I see complex systems everywhere, and I’m wondering whether I’mstarting to lose my marbles. Happily, lots of other people seem to be suffering from the same condition, and a bunch of us met up earlier this week with Matt Andrews, who was in the UK to promote his fab new …

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Why building ‘resilience’ matters, and needs to confront injustice and inequality

admin - May 21, 2013

Debbie Hillier, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Policy Adviser (right), introduces ‘No Accident’, Oxfam’s new paper on resilience and inequality Asking 50 Oxfam staff what they think of resilience will get 50 different responses. These will range all the way from the Sceptics (“just the latest buzzword, keep your head down and it’ll go away”), to the Deniers (“really nothing to do with me”) to the Pioneers (“it’s obvious, …

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Citizens Against Corruption: What Works? Findings from 200 projects in 53 Countries

admin - May 20, 2013

I attended a panel + booklaunch on the theme of ‘Citizens Against Corruption’ at the ODI last week. After all the recent agonizing and self-doubt of the results debate (‘really, do we know anything about the impact of our work? How can we be sure?’), it was refreshing to be carried away on a wave of conviction and passion. The author of the book, Pierre Landell-Mills …

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Will horror and over a thousand dead be a watershed moment for Bangladesh?

admin - May 17, 2013

A huge and chaotic conversation over how to respond to the appalling Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh (where the death toll has now passed an unprecedented 1100) is producing some important initial results, in the form of the international ‘Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh’, launched this week. I got a glimpse of the background on Wednesday at a meeting of the Ethical …

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