Northern winter, Southern spring + Gramsci rules: looking back on 2011

admin - December 19, 2011

Here’s my contribution to the flood of ‘2011 retrospective’ articles, published on the Guardian site today What you make of 2011 depends on your vantage point. The year’s events look completely different depending on whether you are sitting at the bottom or the top, in the old north or the old south. From the bottom, this was a year of protest and revolution, toppling tyrants …

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Learning, leadership and the case for strategic interns

admin - December 16, 2011

Another good paper from the consistently excellent Developmental Leadership Program, this time on ‘Learning and Leadership: Exploring the linkages between higher education and developmental leadership.’ Its basic argument is that there is ‘a symbiotic relationship between higher education and the broader political, social and economic environment, in which they both influence the development of each other over time.’ i.e. the MDG and aid focus on …

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Mobile phones and farmers – what are the benefits?

admin - December 15, 2011

There’s a ridiculous amount of hype talked about mobile phones, but they clearly are having a significant impact on poor people everywhere in lots of unexpected ways. Last year I met a group of Ethiopian coffee farmers who had no running water or electricity in their homes, but each family had a phone. When I asked what difference they make, the answer was always the …

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Ethiopia's lost wealth; climate change adaptation in action; Busan and Durban unpacked; Britain v Europe; who needs leaders? NGOs send emails: links I liked

admin - December 14, 2011

A giant sucking sound – Ethiopia’s losses due to illicit financial outflows amounted to $3.26bn in 2009, which was more than the combined value of the development assistance it received and the products it exported. [h/t Beyond Aid] Climate change adaptation in Uganda and Ethiopia: What is the impact of climate hazards, variability and change on different livelihood groups? How do development interventions contribute to …

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The next World Development Report is on Jobs, and I'm worried about it

admin - December 13, 2011

Here we go again. Last week, a bunch of us NGO types had an initial discussion with the World Bank on its next flagship World Development Report, the 2013 edition of which will be on jobs (defined as ‘productive activity that is remunerated’), to be published in late 2012. Great subject, and one that is horribly neglected. Income from work is one of the best …

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Investing in people or building more stuff: which is better for reducing disaster risks?

admin - December 12, 2011

This is a guest post from Chris Anderson, Oxfam’s global adviser on disaster risk reduction  While the global humanitarian response system is more effective and sophisticated than ever before, in its current form it’s being outstripped by the pace of increasing risks. The answer is Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), which makes great financial sense if done well. But what does ‘well’ mean and why does …

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Thick problems, thin solutions and the future of NGOs

admin - December 9, 2011

Normally I avoid discussions about the future of NGOs like the plague – they either involve a bunch of academics with only the vaguest idea of what we actually do all day, or a lot of senior managers emitting sonorous pronouncements on how we need to be more agile in a multi-polar world and use twitter a lot. But every six months or so, I …

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Busan washup; lego-relief; supermarket wars; is the Global Fund collapsing?; migration myths; Nandos under fire; economists 4 Occupy: links I liked

admin - December 8, 2011

Nancy Birdsall summarizes the outcomes of a whole lot of talking at the big aid conference in Busan. Headline? China Officially Joins the Donor Club. Another wrap up from the Guardian. Meanwhile on the margins, Jonathan Glennie interviewed Erik Solheim, development minister of one of aid’s unsung heroes: ‘Norway’s model is to pick a few global themes on which it has a “special competence” and …

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How can you regulate the beat of a butterfly’s wing?

admin - December 7, 2011

OK, this may be a bit pointy headed, but it has got me thinking. I ran an early draft of this post past Ben Ramalingam (see pic), who thinks a lot about this kind of thing, and include some of his comments here. Fact one: we NGOs are always calling for the regulation of what are called ‘negative externalities’ – where the actions of one …

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The state of India – an advocacy masterclass from Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze

admin - December 6, 2011

Jean Dreze (right) and Amartya Sen (left) are a longstanding partnership that produces brilliant analysis of India’s development path. Their recent piece ‘Putting Growth in its Place’ draws you in with some great questions, and then uses league tables to taunt India’s decision-makers into action – So you think we’re an emerging world power? Think again. We’re at the bottom of the South Asian table on life …

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