March 2015

A Novel Idea: Would Fiction be a better induction to a new job than boring briefings?

Duncan Green - March 31, 2015

A mysterious, anonymised, scarlet pimpernel character called J. flits around the aid world, writing a blog (Tales from the Hood – now defunct, but collected into a book, Letters Left Unsent) and fiction. He asked me for a plug for the latest novel, Honor Among Thieves. Here’s the plot blurb: ‘Mary-Anne has left East Africa and traded in her dusty cargo pants for business suits …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - March 30, 2015

The campaign for the 7 May UK election is heating up folks: The areas in red have only ever had white male MPs [h/t Federica Cocco] Global Justice Now’s #FreeTheSeeds campaign: Are outsiders imposing disastrous noble-savageism, or defending Africa’s food security? Can religious groups help to prevent violent conflict? Nice examples from Nigeria, DRC, Most desired jobs in Britain: Author 60% Academic 51% Investment Banker 26% [/h/t …

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1/4 of the world’s people already subject to large annual wealth tax to tackle poverty. Has anyone told Piketty?

Duncan Green - March 27, 2015

A few years ago, I sat next to a young muslim guy from Birmingham on a plane, and he told me how frustrated he was with the way his community’s annual act of alms-giving, known as Zakat, was managed – no accountability, no real checks on where it goes or what it achieves. I’ve wondered about that ever since, so yesterday I went online to …

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Where have we got to on ‘results-based aid’, ‘cash on delivery’ etc?

Duncan Green - March 26, 2015

The Center for Global Development churns out any number of new ideas and energetically hawks them round northern governments and multilaterals: the benefits of migration, oil for cash, the Commitment to Development Index and many more (check out the Initiatives tab on their homepage). In recent years, Cash on Delivery aid has been one of their top products, and a number of donors have started …

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Some healthy scepticism about ‘Citizen Engagement’ (and why I’m excited about MOOCs)

Duncan Green - March 25, 2015

MOOCs are taking over. If you aren’t yet excited about Massive Open Online Courses, you should be. When I was first getting interested in development the only way to bridge the gap between reading the news and coughing up squllions for a Masters was to cycle through the rain every Tuesday evening to London’s City Literary Institute to sit at the feet of Jenny Pearce …

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How can India send a spaceship to Mars but not educate its children? Guest post from Deepak Xavier

Duncan Green - March 24, 2015

Oxfam is going through its own (belated but welcome) process of ‘Bric-ification’, with the rise of independent Oxfam affiliates in the main developing countries. Oxfam India is one of the leaders, founded in 2008 and focussing its work on 7 of the most deprived states in India. It is rapidly becoming an advocacy powerhouse within India, running campaigns on everything from gender inequality to ‘Stand strong …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - March 23, 2015

Bit of a (qualified) feelgood to this week’s links. The IT revolution, Somalia style: goats and sheep carry owners’ mobile numbers for identification [h/t Calestous Juma, photo credit @Lattif] Germany announces record boost to its aid budget to €7.4bn ($7.9bn = 0.4% of GNI) Great idea: a new global fund launched to help developing countries fend off Big Tobacco company challenges to their attempts to …

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Four roles for the Multilateral System – how well will it perform any of them?

Duncan Green - March 20, 2015

Along with a bunch of Oxfam’s specialist policy wonks, I recently helped Francoise Vanni, our new Director of Policy and Campaigns, put together a presentation on the multilateral system. Writing a new powerpoint is also a pretty good way to generate a blog post – key messages, simply transmitted (assuming you obey the ‘less than 20 words per slide’ rule, and avoid sticking up vast …

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Why is Britain such an outlier on aid?

Duncan Green - March 18, 2015

My friend Ha-Joon Chang is Korean, and argues that for a development economist, growing up in South Korea is like being a physicist at the birth of the universe. I was reminded of that when the UK parliament enshrined spending 0.7% of gross national income on aid in national law last week – for an aid wonk, being British means you live, talk and debate …

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